Saturday, April 21, 2007

pupi per tutti!

Ruggiero opened last night. I've had so much fun this week getting comfortable with my roles, working with the musicians and the Carters, all of whom are wonderful, joyous people, learning so much about music, puppets, and life in general, and getting ready for this fabulous show! It's gotten some great preview press, and opening night was nearly sold out, so get your tickets now if you want to come to a performance! Here are some pictures to tempt you. First, the stage. The waves in the front are turned by a hand crank during the prologue and epilogue, and Neptune, sea horses, fish, and various other creatures rise from the depths to sing.

This is one of my characters, Alcina, a sorceress who lures Ruggiero (left) to her island. The Carters let us singers hold some of the puppets last night before the show -- Ruggiero weighs about 20 pounds!

Below is my other main character, Melissa, another sorceress who transforms herself in order to rescue Ruggiero (along with many other of Alcina's ex-lovers, who have been transformed in to enchanted plants) from the island.

Pulcinella, on the left, is a commedia dell'arte character who was added to this production for comic relief. On the right is my favorite of the monsters (because what puppet show would be complete without some monsters?) He talks from the face in his stomach and that huge tongue comes out and slimes Pulcinella during the climactic battle scene. :)

Alcina does not appreciate being double-crossed by Melissa. (the puppet's head spins around to reveal her true nature, below)

How fun, right????

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Every performer or otherwise self-employed person loves tax time, right? Ummmm... yeah, right....

Every year, I dread the day I finally sit down to enter all our information and find out how much we owe, and it's never as bad as I think it's going to be. I should really learn from that and remind myself not to procrastinate so much next year. We'll see how that goes.

For the past couple of years, I've been using this handy-dandy deduction worksheet for artists/performers that was sent to me by an accountant friend of mine. When I finally break down and have someone else do our taxes, I'm sure this will come in very handy. It has an excel sheet for each month and a place to enter your deductions each day in various categories, and then everything magically adds up on a separate sheet with yearly totals. I know, it's not rocket science, but it cuts the amount of time I spen going through receipts and such at the end of the year by probably 75%. My taxes used to take a full day. This year they took 2 hours. Not bad. The good news -- we made 20% more this year than last year on our gross adjusted income, and the taxes we owe are down by about 15% from last year. Woo hoo! We still owe plenty, believe me, but it's not nearly as much as I had feared. This is due mostly to the fact that I was employed full time by a school during the spring semester last year and had taxes being withheld from my paycheck, which doesn't normally happen for me. However, I also ended up with lots more deductions than last year (more audition trips, and more expensive voice lessons). I made significantly more as a performing singer last year than I have in the past -- it's kind of fun to look back and see the numbers ticking up over recent years. The other good news is that the amount we owe is significantly less than what I had saved up in my "tax account." The rest will go into savings or to pay off some debt, but a little will become some extra spending money on our vacation next week. Yes, that's right, a VACATION! Only for 3 days, but still! I'm very excited about it.

Ah, and now I can curl up on the couch and watch a movie, with no feelings of guilt or dread hanging over me. :)

Friday, April 6, 2007

a goal...

I've been thinking a lot lately about gratitude and being truly present in the moments of my life, and how that relates to singing and performing. I am so grateful to have this amazing job that brings joy and communicates to people on a deep level. It seems to me the best way to show that gratitude, and the best means to opening the most direct line of communication, is by being as present as possible, moment to moment, in performance. It's not that I'm generally un-present during performances (in fact, I've always felt very involved, mentally and emotionally) but it has occurred to me as I've explored these concepts in other areas of my life lately that a deeper level of awareness is possible, and the St. Matthew seems the perfect opportunity to play with this idea. At the dress rehearsal on Wednesday night, I experimented with taking a moment before my arias to focus my energy on the beauty of the music, the meaning of the text, and what I wanted to convey in my interpretation, and one of the arias in particular was a truly transformative experience. For me, that is. I can't speak for the audience, though the feedback I got from my fellow soloists was very positive. So tonight, at the performance, my goal is to be completely present every time I breathe to sing a phrase, aware of the power and exquisite beauty of this music and the message I'd like to convey.

Monday, April 2, 2007

a few changes...

I was playing around with my blog layout tonight. I haven't added all the links yet -- I'll have to get to that tomorrow (or soon, anyway!). I have officially taken my first stab at a banner as well. Not sure I'm entirely happy with it, but it's a start!

random thoughts...

  • I had a coaching with PK today for my upcoming St. Matthew Passion on Friday. It's my first St. Matthew, and it's quite a big sing for the alto -- 5 arias, a duet with the soprano, and some recits as well, of course. The pieces take me on a journey that runs the entire gamut of emotions. It's quite an amazing (if a little exhausting) experience! PK is a wonderful coach, particularly for Bach, and it was one of those experiences where I realized halfway through that there was absolutely nothing I'd rather be doing in the world at that moment than to be there, working on that amazing music with someone so completely passionate about it. It's quite a fantastic job that I have.
  • It's my favorite time of year in Seattle right now -- the plum and cherry and magnolia trees are all blooming, and just starting to drop their petals so that a blanket of palest pink covers the ground under the trees. A few sunny, mid-60s days have started to creep in between the 50s and rain of early spring, and everyday there are new trees that have burst with that cheerful, light-green of baby leaves. I celebrated by getting my first pedicure of the season. :) Not really singing related, but fun nonetheless.
  • I just received my final rehearsal schedule for the puppet opera. Turns out that I'll be playing a bit of recorder as well! I was a flutist in a former life, and I've played a little recorder, but I am by no means an expert! Hopefully the part will not be too difficult. :)
  • Other than the puppet opera, I have a growing pile of music to learn on my piano right now, including a newly-added aria on my list for an upcoming audition, and some things I'm considering for a recital in the fall. Debussy's Chansons de Bilitis, and Mahler's Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen are in for sure, and I'm also looking at some Spanish songs, which I'll hopefully be able to use somewhere else in the fall as well. More on both of those things later.
  • I finally came down with my first cold of the winter. It just squeaked in there before the equinox, so I guess it's also my only cold of the winter. It was bound to happen. The woman who is double-cast with me in the school-tour Barber was out for almost 2 weeks with a terrible cold, so I was in the van with 5 other people every day, going to schools full of children with early spring runny noses. During that time, I was also unable to get any swimming in, so it was no surprise when I started sneezing about a week ago. It seems to be about gone now, though. It was actually good timing -- my counterpart got healthy and made up some of her missed shows last week, and I had my first week in quite a while without any other rehearsals, auditions, or gigs, so I had plenty of time to rest and very little singing to do. Now that I'm healthy, it's back in to the pool tomorrow!
  • That thing is happening to me right now that seems to happen every spring, where I suddenly find myself getting back in touch with long-lost friends and colleagues. It's one of my favorite things, catching up with old friends, so it's been fun!
I think that pretty much brings you up to date for the moment. A more in-depth post coming soon!