Tuesday, November 22, 2011

dream achieved!

G________ W________ Opera has offered me a role!!!!!!!!!!!!

First time ever, since college, that I have an actual role. I can't say what it is yet because they haven't announced the cast list yet, but I'm excited!!

Yeah, so I think I might do it. This is a small-ish company that has a reasonable rehearsal schedule, and the performance dates just so happen to fit right in between my end of school stuff and master's degree stuff.

I'll let you know the name of the role once they let me. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

short thoughts....and Carmen.

A couple of days ago, I received an email from a singer-friend who I met a few years back at one of the summer concert series I participated in with the G______ W__________ Opera company. She asked me,

"Have you seen that we are putting on Carmen in the late spring? We would love to have you come audition, and have a few hidden slots available on Sunday. Let me know if I can count you in."

Here's what I thought (in sequential order):


"I think I just got a personal email asking me to audition for one of the ultimate mezzo roles."

"This is not practical."

"I don't have time for this."

"But I really love Carmen."

"But I've been told multiple times that I lack the chutz-pah for Carmen."

"Hmmm...and then there's my new voice teacher."

"She told me that Carmen doesn't really suit my voice either."

"Well, what would it hurt to audition?"

"I could at least have something to shoot for, and then not do it in the event they offer me anything of significance."

"They're probably just asking me to come out of politeness."

"That's absurd. No one would ask a singer to come unless they really wanted them to. There's too many singers out there to be nice."

"I live an hour away; this is stupid."

"Well, everything I would audition for is about an hour away."

"My kids need me. I have no time or energy to do something for myself at this point."

"Ok, if Jon can be with the kids, I'll do it. But I'm not saying I'll definitely do the show."

With that thought process, my mind was made up. (made up?...please tell me you all think in this roundabout fashion...that I'm not on my own here.........hello?)

We hashed out details, as I am unavailable Sunday.

So, I auditioned last night at 8:52.

Which was actually 9:05 because they were running late.

Which was nice, because...so was I.

Man, it was stressful driving all the way there -

- in the rain -

- while speeding profusely -

- and trying to warm up/talk myself out of this mess...(see above conversation)

Yeah, I was a bit of a psycho. But I got there, and feel I did decently well.

The audition coordinator told me that they did need more mezzos auditioning, but also contacted me because of my voice.

And then she said the accompanist they had scheduled for tonight had to cancel last minute and there was someone in there that "was not familiar with opera rep."


I was singing two pieces, Carmen's Seguidilla and "Must the Winter Come So Soon?" from Barber's Vanessa. Neither is that easy to play, even if you know opera rep.

I went in, sang the Seguidilla fairly well, then mucked up the English (partly because of it being the newest piece in my rep, partly because the pianist had zero clue what was going on, so I had to flounder...)

They asked me to read two small scenes. One was of Carmen and Don Jose, right before the Seguidilla, the other was of Carmen and Escamillo. Both were her trying to be seductive, yet aloof.

That's totally me.


Do people say "not" anymore? I don't think so. I only do in my head.

And this blog.


I felt pretty good about the reading.

The audition coordinator told me she thought I rocked the reading.

That was nice...considering I had to try to be seductive and aloof, which, as we've already established, I'm awesome at.

I left feeling like maybe I was a better actress than a singer.

The nice thing is that the rehearsals don't start until April and the show isn't until June. And they are only 2 times a week, max.

Actually sounds do-able to me.

I could be dreaming...but it's nice to have dreams. And nice to have something of only my own to be working toward.

We'll see what comes of it. I'll keep you updated.

And don't tell me new voice teacher. Good thing you don't know who she is! :)

And now, for your viewing pleasure...a great video I found of Rinat Shaham singing Carmen. It gives the scene leading into the Seguidilla, as well as her famous song that seduces Don Jose.

Monday, November 07, 2011


I recently read this on a friend's blog where she was summarizing a sermon she had heard:

"Let's define forgiveness:
The decision to release a person from the obligation that resulted when they injured you.

When you hurt, shame, wound somebody, you've taken something from them - their comfort, dignity, etc. That creates a debt. Forgiveness is saying, "You don't owe me."

I have to admit...for me, the longer I've known someone, it is simultaneously easier and harder to forgive them than those I barely know at all. I know others who say it is WAY easier to forgive those they know, and very easy to judge and dislike and not forgive those they don't know. I guess I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt that they didn't really mean to say that/do that/make me feel that way. And, hopefully they didn't. I just know I can't live with being that angry all the time.

Which makes me wonder...why do I hold on to the little things that someone said to me or that thing they carelessly did or that way they made me feel...holding onto it for years and bringing it back up to myself when it's convenient and I'm frustrated anyway at them, and they just never treat me well and isn't that typical? It spirals and then I have to give it up again to God so I am not poisoned by the root of bitterness that has grown in my heart. Why do these little things stick with me? How can I learn to forgive those that I have known for so long - my mom, my dad, my brother, my husband, my friends? They have loved me so well, why would I want to remember the little things that shamed me, hurt my feelings, or offended me? Why is it so hard to let it go when they are the best people in my life?

Maybe the answer is because they are the best people in my life. I want their approval so badly, and I feel they should know me so well, that it is that much harder when we hurt each other, purposefully or unwittingly. They should know better....I should know them better than to be hurt. That makes it that much more important that I bring them and my relationship with them before my God so I can let the little things go and grow in grace and love alongside them.

"When you hurt, shame, wound somebody, you've taken something from them - their comfort, dignity, etc. That creates a debt. Forgiveness is saying, "You don't owe me."

Forgiveness is being the bigger person...releasing someone from oweing you something. This is NOT easy. God did not say it would be. He just said to do it. Americans live in a culture that tells us, "You deserve happiness/love/fairness/equality/etc." I say, says who? We sure don't deserve anything last time I checked. We are all the same miserable sinners but for the grace of a great God. Because of the great debt that God has forgiven me, I will choose to continually forgive the small debts others owe me. The demons of doubt, insecurity, fear, and resentment tend to bring these small offences up to me at opportune times, but it is never helpful and always destructive in my relationships where I choose to indulge their lies.

Forgiveness is not about them. It's about you.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

2 year tune-up

Today I had my first voice lesson in about 2 years.

It was great.

I walked into a building that I have passed countless times and took an elevator up to the 6th floor, where I waited, listening to a busty soprano singing some flouncy French song. Afterward, I heard them discuss her evening, which entailed family visiting from Colorado, and her visiting briefly, then "shutting up" so she could perform the next day. S. came out and greeted me warmly, ushered me into her studio, and began putting my mind at ease. She seemed like a normal, likeable human being with little trace of diva and large amounts of efficiency. I liked her immediately. Her office was filled with light from the outside - a welcome change from the dark corridor I had been sitting in. There were also some pictures of "old masters" who, I wonder if I looked closer, would be singers I knew. This woman has sung at the Met...I'm sure she knows many folks who I could only dream of meeting.

She talked a bit about breath, before we even got started, letting me know that she really nit-picks this aspect of singing, because it is the most important. I heartily agreed, letting her know that I know I need help in this department because of the recent pregnancies. We got to work with some onset, then vowel exercises.

Once she had me singing, she let me know that I was not singing with the full voice on the breath in my middle-low register. Hallelujah! Exactly what I had been wanting to hear! I mean, not great, but at least I have someone who can help me fix it. She told me to just let it out, and let it sit, fully-supported, where it was. (her words: Don't cover down there). Immediately, the sound escaped and felt so much better. We worked this for a while, and it just kept feeling better. The sound is different than I am used to, as is the sensation, but she said it now sounds like I am one person singing a song all the way through.

One revelation was that I have been simultaneously over-opening through my whole middle voice while not letting the natural chest voice in. Once I let the colors be there and didn't manipulate the placement of sound, it was so much easier to sing! She told me, for my voice, it is best to sing in a small, narrow space for every note on the staff, then slowly open as it gets higher than that. It is a bigger sound than I am used to, but much more natural than what I had been trying to do.

I'm probably not writing this out well, but physically, it made so much sense to me. I am very excited about this teacher, and will probably continue taking with her in the future. She was very complimentary, telling me I had a "lot of talent" and that my voice would "be able to do quite a few things" once the technique was solid. She told me that I was "not at all behind the eight ball" as I was afraid I was, since I have not really been able to consistently sing over the last 5 years. We have to work a lot of language and some technique, but she was pleased with what I was doing through the lesson.