Thursday, January 18, 2007

last one!

I did my last YAP audition of the season today, here at home for Seattle Opera. (I might not actually be done yet, if I get a call-back -- stay tuned!) The day in general was a good reminder to me of why I've never had a ritual before auditions and performances. Many singers have certain things they like to eat, warm-ups at a certain time of day, and lots of other little things. I've always resisted these things. Why? Well, first of all, it seems like it makes the whole day in to a really big deal, when really it's just one small part of what we do as singers. An important part, certainly, but no more important than anything else, in the long run. Also, what happens when something happens in your day to prevent you from having your usual ritual? It's always seemed to me like it's just asking for added stress.

Today, my audition was at 12:15. This morning, I got up, caught up on some emails, took a shower, ironed my audition blouse, hummed a few notes, and tried to print out my resume. No toner! Not to worry, I had a copy from when I was in New York last month. Almost up to date, except that it still listed my December gigs under "upcoming engagements." Whatever, the panel will certainly get over that, if they even notice. Then, my pantyhose had a run. No more pairs of nude hose in the drawer. Oh, well. I found a pair of black ones. I wear slacks at my auditions lately (most of my list is trouser role arias these days), so it really didn't matter much. Still, I got a late start to my 9:00 a.m. staging rehearsal for Rosina. Then, on my way, I was pulled over because my car tabs have expired. They expire at the end of December and I always forget to renew them, with the holidays and all. I thought of it the other day, but there was no time to do it this week, and today my luck ran out. At least the officer was friendly and polite! I was 5 minutes late to my rehearsal, but apparently everyone else got stuck in traffic this morning, so it was no big deal. I hadn't done much warming up this morning, because I figured I'd do plenty of warming up at rehearsal. (I find a little Rossini is a great warm-up in the morning.) Unfortunately, we staged the beginning of the finale of our little show today, and Rosina doesn't do much singing at all for the first pages, so I had only sung a few notes by the time I left for the audition at 11:00. So, no time for rituals this morning! :)

I got a nice little warm-up in the car on the way to my audition (only about 15 minutes from the rehearsal), found a great parking space, and checked in with plenty of time to relax and collect my thoughts before going in. Seattle asked everyone to bring a monologue to auditions this year, and I love my monologue, so I was excited about that. I decided, after a coaching last week, to start with Komponist today. I've never done that at an audition before, but I was encouraged by my coach last week, and it's been feeling great lately, so I thought, why not? The audition went great. I was very happy with Komponist, and they surprised me by asking for Dopo Notte, a showy, Handel da capo aria. Generally, panels will only hear the A section of a long Handel aria, I've found, or sometimes the A and B sections, and then will cut the singer off before the second A section at the end. So I was a little surprised when I got to the end of the B section and I didn't hear any "thank you"s from the panel. I sang the whole thing, all 8 and a half minutes of coloratura and all 12 high As, and I have to say I was very happy with it. It was nice, actually, to get to do all the ornamentation I've worked out for the da capo section, and it occurred to me that I'm not sure anyone other than teachers and coaches have ever heard that section from me before! At the end we chatted for several minutes, mostly about the upcoming Poppea performances, then I did my monologue, and then I was done!

...and, as I've been writing this, I got a call with a call-back for tomorrow! Woo hoo! Now, what to start with tomorrow? This cold I've been fighting off will have to stay away for one more day....

Saturday, January 6, 2007

gratitude 1/6/07

Lately I’ve been feeling tremendous gratitude for many things and people in my life. I suppose it’s sort of a New Year’s resolution – to recognize and appreciate the things I have. I’ve found that, once I start listing the things I’m grateful for to myself, it’s quite contagious and difficult to stop!

When I was younger, I used to keep a “happy book.” It was a tiny notebook, about 3”x3”, and it was filled with a running list of things, big and small, that made me happy. I’m sure I still have it lying around somewhere. I don’t write in it anymore (actually, I think I filled it!), but I was reminded of it today as I was driving to work and feeling grateful. This blog seems like a good place to keep track of a few things in my life that I appreciate. Here are a few that were in my thoughts today.

  • Teachers have been popping up lately in many facets of my life – people who have been so generous with their time and their knowledge, and who continue to inspire me in countless ways. I am grateful for them.

  • I’ve recently gotten back in touch with a dear friend with whom I had lost touch for a few years. Learning about what he’s been doing with his life, and how he’s grown, and being able to reflect on the last few years of my own life as I share it with him is such a blessing. At the same time, some new friendships are blossoming right now, as well. I’m grateful for them.

  • I’m about to start rehearsals for several fun projects, including L’Incoronazione di Poppea (2 small roles) with the Seattle Early Music Guild, and my first Rosina with a school tour – if I can sing “Una voce poco fa” for a gym full of elementary school students every morning at 9:00 am, then I can take on Rosina or Angelina pretty much anywhere, I think.

  • I found a gorgeous, cinnamon-colored cashmere sweater in my size today on sale for $40! (It’s important to be grateful for the small things, too, isn’t it?)

That’s just a few, but I have a feeling I might write more entries like this one from time to time…. What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

...and, we're back!

Happy New Year, everyone! As you can probably tell by the lack of blogging, the end of 2006 was a busy time for me. Hoffmann performances, 2 audition trips to New York, a Messiah, and a Magnificat, followed by the holidays, which of course are always hectic. They were made even more so this year by the aftermath of the huge windstorm that hit Seattle. We were only without power for 12 hours, but some people (including our neighborhood grocery store and Starbucks) were out for over a week. My parents had power after 3 days, but my mom came to stay for a few days because they did not have internet access, and she works from home. I did manage to get a little break, though, between Christmas and New Year's Eve. No singing, no swimming, no teaching. Just some much-needed quality time with husband, family, and friends.

A brief recap: everything went very well. I was blessed this year in New York to be able to rent my own apartment in the Village for a week. I did 6 auditions in NYC this season, and was happy with all of them. Though we can never go by feedback we get at auditions (every singer learns that it really doesn't mean anything), I definitely left most of my auditions this season feeling extremely positive about the experience in general. Luckily, I have a busy few months coming up, so I don't have much time to sit around and wait for responses! I was also happy with all the concerts, especially the Magnificat, which is one of my all-time favorite pieces. For these performances, the group only hired 4 soloists (the score calls for 2 sopranos, but often it's done with 4 people). Unfortunately, this meant that I didn't get to sing my favorite movement, the gorgeous "Suscepit Israel," which is a trio for the three female soloists. When there's no second soprano, that movement is usually done by the choir. However, no second soprano soloist meant that I got to sing the soprano II aria, which is lovely. The more soprano II solos I do in Bach, the more I feel like they suit my voice a little better than some of the alto solos do (not that I don't love singing the alto solos). Unfortunately, there really aren't all that many soprano II solos out there! For my holiday concerts this season, I tried out a new gown. For a while now, I've been on the lookout for a green gown. I find that the soprano often likes to wear red for Messiahs and such (as shown by acb's lovely Messiah gown). Fine by me -- green is a better color for me, anyway. Unfortunately, green gowns are not nearly so easy to come by as red ones! But, over the summer, I found the perfect one. Emerald green silk. I'll post a picture when I have one. I did find that I had a similar experience to acb (in the link above). I got at least as many compliments on the dress as I did on my singing!

For the first time in years, I didn't have any gigs over the actual holidays, which was lovely. I definitely needed the break. It did feel a bit odd, though, not to have to get dressed up on Christmas Eve to go and sing somewhere. The way the family gatherings worked out, actually, Alec and I both had the entirety of Christmas Eve completely free. We slept in, went out for brunch, opened our gifts to each other, did crosswords, and watched movies all day. We might have to make that a holiday tradition.

Looking ahead to 2007: One of the luxuries of having my own space in my favorite neighborhoods of NYC this year was that it allowed me lots of time to reflect on this past year and how far I've come. Sometimes, it seems that when we're making the most progress (both personally and professionally), things are happening so fast that we don't notice until we have some time to reflect on it. I've been so busy this fall because I've been singing constantly, and my spring looks just as busy. I've basically been a full-time working singer this season, which feels great. In the coming year, I need to take that scary step that many young singers face: taking fewer gigs in order to make space for better gigs. It's a leap of faith, trusting that there's more out there. But, I've found that the universe tends to reward the steps that we take in faith on our own behalf. 2007 promises to be an exciting year in many ways. Right now, though, I have music to learn. Vacation's over -- back to work!