Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Hey guys, guess what I did last night that practically changed my life? sight read Brahms lieder with my husband!

In my uptight, type A way, I of course couldn't just have fun sight-reading songs, but was prepared with these little sticky tab things to mark songs that I liked best (for possible later programming) and soon realized we were marking every single one. Instant mood elevator. Brahms.

It is that good, people.

Not a clunker in the bunch. The only sad thing about last night was our observation that you really couldn't get away with going through life ONLY playing or singing Brahms. OR could you?

Monday, June 27, 2011


It's not exactly a red-letter day. I feel funny after a bad experience with a strangely written anthem yesterday, and I had a student cancel today, and a bit of bad news came for Joe. I am a little down on myself, down on ourselves. For the first time in a while, I am not as worried about money as usual. Not that I am rolling in dough, but it looks like the coming year will be busy with gigs, though none so far of the opera variety, making my soul collapse a little. I will just have to go to lots of auditions and sing my arias many times for people, pretending that I am onstage. It sounds silly, but it does help.

However, not every day can be a hopeful day. Sometimes you feel a little bad, and that is life. It's funny, because when I was with my grandmother, I got the sense that she was trying to help me understand something, trying to educate me about how it was going to be, since we had our first real brush with scary health issues this year. That's life, she said, hard things, sad things, happen a good deal of the time. You can't expect to be happy every moment. You also can't expect that people will treat you well, or fairly. Not that you have to stand for it, but you waste your energy on expectations that are unrealistic.

So, it might just be time to put on my big girl panties (as Caroline Manzo would say), and get over it. If I spend today feeling bad, that's a day wasted.

I refuse to feel bad today. I've just decided. I'm going home right after this and practice. After all, shouldn't excellence be my pursuit, and not merely success? And then, I'm probably going to make a nice (healthy, mostly vegetables because I am getting chunky) dinner and eat it at the dining room table.

I know, I live a very edgy and riveting life.

Hell yeah.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Hello there!

I have returned from a visit with my grandmother-- my favorite and most trustworthy confidant. I come bearing a recipe for crunchy baked chicken that I think I am going to make tomorrow. It was that good.

Also, I did not spend much time thinking about singing. It was supposed to be zero, but you know how that goes. I got an email about an offer over the week that I had to spend some pool time mulling over. But that is a very good thing.

I also kind of have a tan.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Things I like today:

- the new Pioneer Woman recipe for smoked gouda pasta salad.

- pre-flight parking services

- Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Extreme Wear color "Grey Area." It makes me look subtly trendy. It's sad when the only rush you get all day is looking down at your manicure.

- going to Subway for lunch for the first time in probably years.

- Extreme Couponing-- the new show on TLC. Wow I get tooo excited every time I see those numbers on the cash register going down down down.

Things I do not like today to the point of hating:

- My voice is dead meat and I have a rehearsal with a pianist with whom I have never worked and that is just bad.

- Waiting to hear back from one person so you can tell the other person a vital piece of information.

- When the wind blows my skirt up around my chin and my hands are full and I cannot get it back down in order to avoid having the entire world see my underwear.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


My voice is so tired and totally shredded from the week. Oh and I wanted to do yoga tonight but somehow that did not happen. Maybe it was the wine tasting I went to this afternoon. Maybe it was the greek salad and two ears of corn. Sigh. I am a failure at yoga tonight. And when I go to visit my grandmother next week, she is going to mention that I need to watch my weight.

That being said, after tonight's rehearsal, I now know that I am probably going to screw up the words in Norina's Aria, because by this time if I am still screwing them up there is practically no hope for me.

Failure. All the way around. Yoga, singing, etc.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Tuesday is always better than Monday, even if you have a full day of work and hours of rehearsal. But it is REALLY good if you get to look at pictures of Olivia Palermo and be inspired by her flawless style.

ZOE-my-god, mark my words, if and when I am stick thin (hahaha), and, well, rich (hahaha), I will be wearing my clothes EXACTLY like this young lady. It's this fabulous femininity without a hint of hollywood trashiness. Praise the lord. If I never see a cleavage-ridden, blonder than god OC Housewife again it will be too soon.

Based on her short-lived turn on that paragon of intellectual viewing: MTV's The City, I'm pretty sure Olivia and I would never be friends. She would disdain me because I am poor, and not thin. But I waited by the television anxiously each week, just to see what she would wear. And I was never disappointed.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Just when you thought you'd heard everything -- I just read on an online forum for singers that some people take asprin before performances in order to thin their blood and allow them to access their high notes more easily. I'd always heard taking blood thinners at a time when you intend to sing was a bad idea, that is, unless you were really in the mood to deal with a broken blood vessel in your vocal cords.

No matter how solid I feel my technique is becoming, there is always that set of circumstances/hormones that makes it feel like I'll never be able to get my voice to go up the way it needs to. Lots of warming up is required, and slowly, and softly, and lots and lots of lip trills. Those are the days I would be tempted to try a quick fix like the asprin idea...but is probably also the time when it would be the worst time to do it, since it's any kind of pushing the voice that can cause damage.

For some reason, I seem to have embarked upon a season of singing very high. At least I feel like my new arias have notes that I had not made a habit of singing in public for a few years. I always had them in there, but I'd been singing the lyric soprano rep that really tops out at around a high B. Now, I'm adding in a few other things that could be considered just slightly more on the coloratura side, to show a bit more range. Although I am not and probably never will step fully onto that other greener side of the pasture. I'm very much happy and fine with that, to be honest.

The true challenge of singing, besides the actual singing part, is trying to figure out what really shows you off to greatest advantage. What you sing just as well or better than anyone else, and what your look and timbre can support. Yes, we all sing things because we can, but I am starting to think that the window of roles for which I am really perfect is not as large as what everyone's teacher would have them believe.

When someone says to me: "You should just go get some Kiri te Kanawa recordings-- I think that you can probably sing anything she sings," don't get me wrong I am flattered. Actually, I might even go out and pop a bottle of Veuve in celebration, sitting out on the park bench in front of that person's apartment building. But I know better than that. I know that that is just too easy an answer. I actually paid a coach good money who said that to me.

What in the heck was I thinking?

Then we start to really think about things logically.

1. How high and with what level of facility can I sing confidently?

2. How much cut and strength do I have in my middle voice?

3. What is my timbre? Bright, dark, Italian, German?

4. How loud am I? How big an orchestra can I sing over without doing myself a harm?

5. How tall am I?

6. Am I thin? (ummmm, I hate that question)

7. As myself, speaking from what I feel about myself as a person, am I a damsel in distress, a coquette, or a strong-willed type? Do I lean more toward a demeanor of elegance or that of fun?

See, I told you. It's a pretty complex matrix. I feel like I need to get a flow chart going or something.

And now, I'm getting stressed. I think I'll go to yoga.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Monday, Part the Second

So true, absolutely love it. Thank you for you gorgeous blog, Opera Chanteuse!


Here it is Friday, already, and I've gone so long without writing. I was busy having fun, I guess! I am so thankful for the friends I have-- they are an amazing support system, and absolutely hilarious and fun to be around. They have been very carefully selected, and I am proud of my choices. :)

Next week I really have to kick myself into high gear to learn these new arias for the trial run next Sunday night. I have to be honest, with synagogue and an important audition the day before, and then church too, I'm a little nervous about A) having learned them thoroughly and B) being too tired to sing them well. They are all VERY HIGH. Actually, very rangy, in general. Which requires a lot of focused work to make it sound cohesive. So, I am saying no to all not previously scheduled fun things, because I have to stay home and practice the whole week. It will be really good for me to focus.

This morning, I woke up with a startling headache-- and no, it wasn't because I was hungover, people. I think it was the heat. It's ridiccccculously hot here, and the ceiling fan in my bedroom has been broken for over a week. I'm wondering when, if ever, the maintenance guy is coming to fix it. I still have the edges of this headache and I have to try really hard to be nice to people.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Monday: a public service announcement

This is hilarious-- a sadly true post on a fantastic blog:

You're going to get a kick out of this.

"How to treat your pianist"

Friday, June 03, 2011


So many times, I think I have finally learned a lesson, but I realize I've gone right back and done that same thing again. I go back to that old place. In singing, in life situations. It really bothers me to see myself in patterns like that, because I feel like real growth is about breaking the negative patterns that aspects of one's upbringing and various insecurities have created.

In my coaching the other day, I left frustrated. Because it felt like she was still having to remind me of the same things now that she did a year ago. I thought I had fixed those things, but I listened to the recording afterward, and was not sure I could even specifically understand how to put into practice the things she was asking me to do. The minute you think you know how to sing, you realize you're still learning how to do everything. So I started thinking that maybe I need to come up with a very specific warm-up mantra that I can use to remind myself when I practice of all the things I should be focused on. The problem is that I think it would be like a paragraph long.

Also, I realize that I am a person with very specific ideas of how things should be. Of how people should behave, and how they should treat each other. It can be a little much. I thought I was learning to lighten up, at least to the point that while I may still have been really annoying other people, I was at least becoming tolerant enough to not drive myself insane. I found I was getting angry or overly annoyed about things that just really are not A) anything I can control, or B) something I could actually set a boundary about and not have to feel bad about enforcing it. I thought I had learned these lessons. But I think it may have actually just been that I hadn't been faced with many situations that tested me in that way.

So here I am, back to baby-dom again. Learning how to really connect a phrase, how to stay completely reliant on my breath, how not to let things piss me off, how not to judge people when they don't act the way I think they should. Also, I have no idea what is going on for the most part in yoga, either. So, maybe I am going through some kind of karmic phase.

It is not a bad thing. But sometimes it is scary.