Saturday, December 27, 2008

Met Opera Tour


Oct & Dec 2008 042, originally uploaded by cherubino88.

I've been to the Met many times. This was the first time I got to see its inner-workings.

The backstage tour was so cool! I saw Renee Fleming's costumes for Thais up close and personal. I touched Roberto Alagna's and Samuel Ramey's costumes. I met the "wigmeister" and seamstresses and stage hands and prop masters. They still had a box of props from Gatsby! I'd think that old stuff would clutter up the place. With the exception of that, everything had its place. How does anyone keep track of all that stuff? I saw some sets they were working on for Orfeo and Boheme.

The most exciting parts were seeing Peter Gelb up close (twice!) and stealing a peek at a rehearsal for the new production of Orfeo. At first all I saw was the dancers. Then I saw her: Stephanie Blythe! She had the guitar prop and she was singing and everything! I'm seeing her play Orfeo on Jan 14. What a great sneak peek!

Of course I was the only one who recognized Peter Gelb (or knew who he was) and Stephanie Blythe. Poor Stephanie, though. She was rehearsing the day after Christmas! No one should have to do anything the day after Christmas.

After the exciting and informative tour (a must for all opera-lovers), we went to the new Met Opera Shop. They had Renee Fleming's gowns from the gala on display. They are so gorgeous. Of course I had to touch the edge of them. I just love the cream-colored one from Traviata. I also smelled La Voce, her perfume. It was very pretty. I wish it wasn't so expensive; I'd buy it in a heart-beat.

I bought a Thais poster. I can't wait to hang it up in my room! Overall, it was a really enjoyable day. Mom, Dad, and Heather went with me. Heather had never been to the Met before; what a strange way to be introduced to it. I'm taking her to see Magic Flute on Tuesday (her birthday present). She's like, "I'm even more excited now!" We actually saw the bird that flies across the stage with the three boys riding on it (for Magic Flute).

What fun!

I'm working hard on my Poppea music. That Baroque recit can be so hard to memorize. The duet is memorized and my scene (recit) is almost done. It's the Fortuna duet/trio that I haven't really worked on for memorization yet. I hope I'm done in time!

I'm sure I'll be fine. When I get back on Tues, I shall give report. Until then, cheerio!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

42 x 28 (or 68 x 32)

We had our costume fitting for the opera. What fun! We have a costumer just for the opera. Her name is Christina and she's so nice! She's making the costumes for us. How cool is that? We're getting custom-made costumes! I'm so excited. I love costumes and getting dressed up. I don't even care what it looks like. I'm not vain in that it has to make me look amazing. I just love dressing in clothes that I normally don't/can't wear. That's the single reason I love Halloween: it's an excuse to dress up and not get labeled as a weirdo.

I asked her what the costumes are going to be like. Christina said that they were going to be reminiscent of Ancient Greece (aka togas), but they're going to be more..."modern" I guess. She's going to be raiding thrift shops (hurray thrift shops!) and getting tunic-y things and cutting them up and layering them and such. Sounds good.

This is like a legit production. It's so thrilling to be part of it. I just get so excited!

Unsurprisingly, I had weird measurements. Christina kept shaking her head and re-measuring. They're just weird. Like the length from my collarbone to my waist is really short and my inseam is really long. My shoulders are pretty big (MAN SHOULDERS, YAY!) and my hands are big (my glove size is ridiculous). This is why I'm playing the pants role! It just makes me laugh how everything in life works out. I happen to have the voice for the pants roles and my body was built for it, too! Those are two things that I have no control over and they work together! The detailed, complex organization of the universe never ceases to amaze me.

I was thinking about this and I started to remember stories. Once, I was outside shoveling some old lady's sidewalk with my brother. I had my big ski jacket on and a hat. When we were done, the lady said, "Thank you boys." My brother automatically replied, "That's my sister."

Story 2: We were at the Bethpage Restoration (cool place, by the way) and again, I was in a winter jacket and hat. The guy in the pub thought I was a boy. He kept staring at me and then he asked my mom how she dealt with three boys. Then I took off my hat and he said, "Oh, you don't look like a boy at all when you're not wearing that silly hat." Granted, the hat was silly, but I'm silly.

I have other stories but they all sound the same after a while.

I can't wait for rehearsals to start for Poppea. Things might be a little hairy for a while, but it will all work out in the end. It's like that scene from Falstaff: a lot of work but worth it in the end. I think that's the definition of opera in general. A challenge, but one worthy of pursuing.

Well...4 days to Christmas. That makes me one happy camper. :)

P.S. "A Million Parachutes" by Sixpence None the Richer = LOVE

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Small Moments of Joy

I can't help it. I just have to talk about the amazing rehearsal we had today. It was Falstaff for 4 hours. 4 hours. It was so much fun! There's nothing better than preparing an opera, even if it's only a scene. It's everything I love: amazing music, singing, acting, characters, plot, intrigue, subtext, community, work, fun, laughter, angst... There's nothing like it!

And it's so great to have a collection of amazing people to work with. I can't get over how lucky I am. Working with these people, my friends, is something that cannot be explained. The emotion can only be described as joy: that deep, bubbling life that cannot be contained or completely understood.

Joy: doing this forever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Summer Programs (Part 1) & Other News

Last summer was...good, but I want this summer to be AMAZING! Therefore, I've begun to look into summer programs. I'm rather overwhelmed by the number of them and how many auditions I'm going to have to do, but all I can say is, "Bring it!" I'm looking at tons of other programs. I'll speak about them as I choose to pursue them. I'm still going through the "weeding out" process. I feel like I'm applying for college again! It's hard to really focus down on a few. It's a million little decisions all in succession and all leading up to one, big decision. It's a strange process. I'm muddling through (as I always do). We shall see what comes of it.

Things are coming down to the wire for opera scenes. The performance is Nov 16th! I have long rehearsals Thurs and Sun. I hope we polish everything up! I feel completely confident with the music (no small task). I just need the staging soldified. I'm really excited for the performance! I can't wait. I'm really happy that there aren't any kicklines in this one. There's only modern strangeness. OH WELL.

Speaking of modern strangeness...I'm going to see Dr. Atomic this Sat. Can't wait! I love Gerald Finley. I hope I get to speak to him! And Sasha Cook. :) They're both such great singers. I'm really looking forward to this production. Besides, there's science (I hope) in this and that makes me happy. :)

I just really want to go to the Met. NOW. I miss it. I'm suffering from Met Opera withdrawal. It's okay though; I've been too busy anyhow and I'll get my fix in Dec/Jan. I'm going once a week for three weeks in a row starting Dec 30. :D I don't know how I managed this, but I'm glad I did!

More to come!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Opera News

Here's my opera news, as promised.

I got two (!) roles in Poppea. I'm playing Fortuna (Fortune), a goddess and Valletto, the empress' page. I shall elaborate.

It's going to be fun playing a goddess; especially an annoying one like Fortune. I get to annoy the heck out of Virtue. This seems rather ironic to be because to my friends (aka Rachel), I'm a "saint." Technically, I would side with Virtue in this opera. Sometimes they play her really straight-laced and obnoxious, but what else is new? Everyone always assumes that just because you're virtuous that means that you're boring. Not so! Anyway--

Fortune is only in the Prologue. She has a long duet (with lots of solo lines) with Virtue. Then Cupid comes in and is like, "I'm going to beat you both! Love conquers all. Whahah!" And then Fortune leaves, never to return.

Unless the director decides to keep the goddesses on stage. Sometimes they have the goddesses watching down over the action. It's cool for the audience but I think that's kind of annoying for the singers because they have to stand for the entire show reacting and not singing. Very annoying.

When I first saw Poppea (on DVD), I said to Mom: "Watch. I'll get that part. I'll sing one scene and then stand around for another three and a half hours." Famous last words.

However, I don't think that will happen because I also have to play Valletto. Can't be two people at once! Whahaha! to Isabel.

Another note: Fortune is often portrayed as a bald woman. Hurray. Typical casting decision for me. Why do I always get cast as the characters that are 1. most unlike me and 2. weird? I don't understand this.

Now, about Valletto. This character makes me super-psyched. Valletto is in about 4 scenes. I have one duet and a bunch of recit (speaking-singing). I'm the comic relief. In an opera about revenge and seduction and murder and Der Will zu Macht, a little comic relief is needed.

Side note: I always seem to be the comic relief. I guess that's a compliment. I was Sarah Good in The Crucible. We all know how heavy THAT show is. I guess it's funny when a crazy lady gets dragged away. Although anything might be funny at that point.

So, Valletto. He's a boy. Yessss. I'm playing my first "pants role." I shall explain for the n00bs:

In opera, young boys are played by women because a young boy would have a high voice. The typical pants role is Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro or Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. It's pretty much what the bulk of my (projected) career is going to be, so this is a big and exciting step for me. I don't have to share this role (as far as I know), so that makes me even more happy. :)

I get to be in my first opera! And I have a decent part. I'm so excited.

I just think that it's kind of ironic that I spent the entire summer growing out my hair for the opera and now I'm playing a bald woman and a boy. Go figure.

So, happy happy joy joy. I can't wait to get started. :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Meg Page

The list for Poppea isn't up yet (darn it!), but the scenes have been given out. I got a part!

I'm playing Meg Page in a scene from Verdi's Falstaff. I really like this opera! The scene that I'm in is especially fun. I haven't completely "discovered" it yet, but I love it so far. I'm really excited because it's a fairly large part and it's a fun scene. (And I don't have to do anything awkward!) It couldn't be any better. :)

I was expecting the full-opera list to be up. I wonder if she (Isabel - the director) is using these scenes rehearsals as another sort of audition. That would be good and it would make sense. She doesn't know any of us yet; she could be tentative about casting large, demanding roles to people that she doesn't know. Also, she can see our strengths and limitations. Operas are tricky to cast. I think this extra-care is a good sign (assuming that my hypothesis is correct).

So I shall languish as I await the verdict.

YEAH RIGHT. I have sooooo much music to learn. It's almost a relief not to have to worry about Poppea. I have Symphony Orchestra, String Orchestra, Chamber, Chorale, Music 20, and Opera Scenes music to learn. Oh, and voice lessons and cello lessons and this random group recital that my private voice teacher is putting on (I was reminded of this just today) that apparently I'm a part of. I don't need Poppea right now.

I'll make it. I know it! God help me (He always does!).

Until I know more,
~Mrs. Meg Page (at least for now)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Furore!

While I'm impatiently awaiting the opera cast list, I present this video of the lovely Joyce DiDonato. It's a promo for her new Handel CD, Furore!. Watch this. The music will make your heart race (if you have any blood in your veins; otherwise, I promise nothing).

Not only does this show off Ms. DiDonato's outstanding singing, but it shows her as a person. She completely dispels the "diva" image and I love that. She's a real person! haha Seriously though, she is really amazing-- definitely one of my favorites.

Grab some popcorn and a heart monitor and watch some clips from the exciting Furore!.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tomorrow = A Big Day

Oh gosh. Where do I start?

A list is always good.

I'm super happy to announce that tomorrow is:
1. my opera audition (THEE opera audition!)
2. my first day of chamber singers (OMGOSH, I ACTUALLY MADE IT! How did this happen?)
3. school, school, school from 9:35am to 10:00pm (if I'm lucky)

I can already tell that I'm going to have a lot to talk about.

1. my opera audition

I've been waiting all summer for this audition and it's finally almost here! I feel ready. I even picked out my outfit (I haven't done that since middle school). It was hard to pick out something appropriate. I'm singing Handel's Bel Piacere (from Agrippina) and Che faro senza Euridice? from Gl├╝ck's Orfeo ed Euridice. Orfeo is a pants role so I have to wear something generic or slightly boyish. That's not too hard for me. I'm going to wear pants and a sweater-vest/collared-shirt thing. I'm still deciding on the shoes. It's going to be a long day. I just might need my Tony Hawk sneakers (complete with piano-key shoelaces!). Besides, I think that if Orfeo were around today, he'd probably wear Tony Hawk sneakers with piano-key laces. I mean, Tony Hawk sneakers are SO comfortable and he was the god of music, so the laces would make total sense. Look at me trying to justify myself.

It's going to be a killer waiting for the cast list to go up. (BTW: The opera is The Coronation of Poppea.) I just really want a part and a part that's on for more than one scene. I hope that's not asking too much. *bites fingernails*

2. my first day of chamber singers

I can't believe I actually got into chamber singers! I'm so excited! That is the best choir in the school. I'm an alto 2 with Jenn Faz (<3) and Allison M (also <3). I'm tempted to go downstairs and practice the recit for Che faro. I have it cold, but...Ahh! I need to leave it alone for two seconds! I will restrain myself.

So, I have a big day ahead tomorrow. I'll keep you all posted on the proceedings. :)

Ciao!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cecilia Bartoli at Carnegie

First of all, I was so excited when I heard that Ms. Bartoli is coming to America (and NY!!). I've really wanted to hear her live and this seemed like my chance.

I stalked the Carnegie Hall website for a few days and when those tickets went on sale, I was on them like a pit bull. To make a long story short:

I GOT TICKETS!!!

I am so pumped for this recital! I don't know what she's singing yet, but I'm going to be on the prowl for the program. It's still a long way off. I have to wait until March :( but it's worth it! I have all that time to be excited about it!

I guess the only question left is: who's going to go with me?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Met Subscription Update

I finally got my tickets back from the Met. I exchanged La Gioconda and Cava./Pagliacci. I got:

La Cenerentola (yay!) - May 1, 2009
Orfeo ed Euridice - Jan 14, 2009

I'm really excited! I got two shows that I really wanted. I can't wait to see Garanca and Brownlee in Cenerentola. Garanca was outstanding in Barber last season and I've heard so much about Brownlee that I just can't wait to hear him.

Orfeo is going to be good just because I love the show and because I'm going with my best friend. It's going to be so much fun. :)

In other news: I start school tomorrow. I'm excited and nervous. It's going to be so much work this year. It's going to be hard, but I'm looking forward to it.

Here's to first-day jitters.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Susan Graham!


I'm writing to wish one of my favorite mezzos, and role models, a very happy birthday. WQXR has joined in on the celebration: they're playing performances by Susan Graham throughout the day. I woke up to her "O del mio dolce ador" (what a way to start the day!) and I hope to hear her sing Debussy's Poemes de Baudelaire at 8:26pm tonight. I actually knew the answer to the trivia question today! It is:
Susan Graham, whose birthday is today, sang in the 2005 world premiere production of an opera based on which of the following Theodore Dreiser novels?
1. Sister Carrie
2. An American Tragedy
3. Twelve Men

It is, of course, An American Tragedy. :) The picture above is from this season's La Clemenza di Tito at the Met. Ms. Graham played a wonderful Sesto. You can read my review of that performance, and a story about meeting Ms. Graham, here.

She's truly an inspiration to us all and to mezzos everywhere. Just a few days ago, I stumbled upon this hysterical song that Ben Moore wrote for Ms. Graham. It's called "(I Can Be a) Sexy Lady," but I like to call it "the mezzo's lament." So, in celebration of Ms. Graham's birthday, please enjoy "(I Can Be a) Sexy Lady," performed by the one and only Susan Graham.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Met Season 08-09

I recently got my 08-09 Met season tickets in the mail. I was so happy! Here's what I have tickets for:

La Gioconda - Oct 2
Doctor Atomic - Oct 30
Thais - Jan 8
Rigoletto - Feb 12
Cavalleria/Pag - Mar 19
Das Rheingold - Apr 23

I intend to trade in the Gioconda and Cav/Pag tickets. I really want to see Elina Garanca in La Cenerentola and I'd rather see most anything instead of Cav/Pag. I'm trying to get tickets to either Faust or Giovanni or Rusalka.

I'm really excited about Doctor Atomic because I LOVE Gerald Finley. I'm not totally into modern opera, though. I hope it's good!

I can't WAIT for Thais for three reasons:
1. Renee Fleming is starring and I've never seen her live.
2. I'm meeting Leah there. :D
3. It's Massenet. I love Massenet.

Rigoletto is going to be great, too (although I think my Mom is more excited about it than I am). Das Rheingold is going to be my first live Wagnerian. :) This is going to be a really good season. This last season was sooo good. I hope this one coming up can match the 07-08 season! It's the Met; I'm expecting great things.

I recently realized that the last performance of Don Giovanni is on my birthday. I think that'd be an amazing way to spend the day. I'm contemplating this...

I'll be sure to post reviews of all the shows I see this season. :)

I hope to be a bit more active in the next few weeks. There's big stuff brewing and I won't let you miss a minute of it (whether you care or not).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Celli

Tonight, I got to rehearse with a new group that I'm in. It's a cello quartet (cool, no?) and two of the cellists are Julliard graduates (cello performance majors)! Man, they were GOOD! It was such a blast! My mom is the other cellist in the group; I just love playing with her in general. We sync well.

I felt so honored to be able to play with the Julliard graduates. And they said that I did a good job (even though my 6th position was a little shaky). I surprised myself when I sight-read fluently in treble clef. :)

They even liked my cello! I was so surprised. They didn't notice my Mom's cello as much (which is more expensive and rare, etc). They liked mine. I absolutely LOVE my cello. It was so nice to hear other people talking about how much they liked it.

The Julliard people (oh, their names are Matt and Stacie by the way) had cellos from the 1700s! They said, "Oh, our cellos are old" and I thought they meant 50 years ago old. I didn't know they meant 300 years ago old! Wow! The instruments were in great shape considering.

It was just so refreshing to play with such talented people. We didn't worry about intonation or technique...we just played. There were moments when we just gelled and it was glorious. It was one of those moments when you're like, "THIS is why I love being a musician!"

Also, Stacie was so nice. I was commenting on her Bartoli CDs and she just gave them to me! She said that she was out of that phase now. Whatever. She gave me 2 Bartoli CDs, 3 Maria Callas CDs, and two other random ones (Caruso and some other guy that I can't remember). I walked out with a stack of new opera CDs! I'm thrilled to say the least. :D

I can't wait to play with them again. We're playing together on Aug 3rd for all three services at church. I'm excited!

A cello quartet is just so nice in general. The cello has such a huge range; you can get all the parts in. I mean, a violin quartet or a bass quartet just wouldn't work like a cello quartet does.

I've been listening to this cello quartet called Cellofourte for some time now. They rock! They play everything from "Evenstar" (Lord of the Rings) to "Stairway to Heaven" to the Muppet Show theme song! They're such talented musicians. They arrange all the music and it's so intricate. :) They don't have much on Youtube (sadness!), but I have their CD. They are so good! I put in one and my Mom is immediately mesmerized. It's really funny.

We were blasting it in the car the other day (with the windows down, naturally) and this guy gave us this look like we had just broken out the mental asylum or something. It was priceless! (It made me remember the time when I was stuck at a light at school and I was blasting Mozart. Similar expressions. PRICELESS.)

Okay, this music-head has to go to bed. I have to get up really early tomorrow to sing!

Here's some head-banging cellists for your enjoyment. I bring you, Cellofourte!

Friday, June 6, 2008

On Performing: A Year In Review

I finally feel like I've completed my first year of college. Summer is here. I'm in that place of preparation again. The pressure's off. It's just me, my time, and the semester to come (and that still feels so far away).

I've learned so much this year. I've become a completely different musician. A part of it is just the huge amount of information and new skills that I have now. When I came into college, I was a natural musician with some vocal training, but I wasn't someone who could sight-read perfectly or who knew all the variations on solfege ("do, re, may"?). Now I can dictate (mostly) and I know so much. I fixed my technique so that my cords meet completely. I can't record everything that I've learned; it's too much!

But the most important thing I learned this year is something that I've always known but have never fully realized.

I don't perform to be the best, or to show off. My goal is never to impress people. That's why I've always been reluctant to perform in the past. But now I understand. I perform because I love music and I love to share it with other people. Music allows for this special, indescribable and incalculable connection between souls. As a performer, I can affect people. I can create something, with the help of music, that they've never experienced before.

I have been given a gift. How selfish of me to not share it with others! What would be the point of having it if I never used it for anyone but myself? I'm ashamed that I've refused when people have asked me to sing. Sure, I don't feel comfortable singing in a small setting, but I have to get over it. I can't be so selfish. I have to learn how to share. This is the barrier that I've broken through this year. When people ask me to sing, I sing!

Performing, when done correctly, is frightening because it makes the performer very vulnerable. I have to open up, to show pieces of my inner-self, in order to truly do the music justice. I have to be willing to share my joy and my grief. It's not easy, but I'm learning.

It's funny. I'm not the performing type. At all. I never would have guessed that I'd be studying this in college. It's such a surprise to me and yet, now that I'm doing it, it feels so natural. It's like I was made to sing opera. It's so rare to feel like you completely belong, that something is right. I love it and I'm glad that I found it. It will bring me happiness for a long time to come.

It's not even that this is the "easy" path. It's hard. I've actually disappointed people that I hold in very high respect. It is a lot of work and I have to put up with what others say.

I thought to write on this after stumbling upon one of Joyce DiDonato's old blogs. She explains it in this way: "But perhaps the most important memory of that period came without warning or lighting bolt...I felt some sort of an 'artistic shift' happening within me. It wasn't "I can sing this as well as her..." as I probably would have arrogantly and ignorantly professed a few years earlier. Not at ALL - she sang it gloriously. It was, instead, a sense that I had something I wanted to say with this music - something that wanted to be heard...consequently, a confidence began to build in me - not a fabricated buffer I gallantly called "stage presence", but something that was growing deep within - something that began a shift in my thinking from "I hope they like me", to simply aiming to express." (source)

This is exactly what I've learned. It was good to see someone else explain it (in a much more eloquent way than I ever could). It's also good that someone older and more accomplished than myself has discovered this. It's confirmation and that makes me happy.

This is the bottom line: I have a gift and I'm going to use it. It's not that I think I have a gift; I have confirmation from many others. From musicians and professionals, most importantly. I finally feel confident enough to pursue this.

God has put me on this path. I can only trust Him to take me where I'm meant to be.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Carmen Opera Scenes

Katy and I suffered through Carmen opera scenes this semester. Then, I found this video and almost died laughing because it showed exactly what we went through (without the kickline, of course)! So, if you want to know what it's like to be an extra in opera scenes, watch this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Una Voce Poco Fa

Everyone says I'm crazy. I agree with them. Who in their right mind would go into Vocal Performance?

Me, I suppose.

My life has taken an unexpected turn. I couldn't be happier.

Welcome to my humble blog. Here I will keep a record of all my musical escapades. It's all so amateur, but oh well. I'm an amateur. Everyone was once. It's just my turn now.

It was only a few months ago that I discovered what I really want to be. I want to be an opera singer. Who knew? And yet, it makes so much sense to me. All my "random" interests finally make sense!