Saturday, December 26, 2009

Resonance, Part II

Smorg, a reader of mine, asked an extremely intriguing question regarding my last post and I feel that the answer deserves its own post. He asked,

"Do you think it is scarier now to sing emotionally loaded duets today when you may also have to also act the romance of it out on the stage while singing than in the pre-Callas days when the singers didn't have to act much and could just put everything in the voice? Or perhaps the other way around (the acting is making it easier?)?"

This question would most likely elicit a plethora of answers depending on who you're talking to, but here's my personal view on it.

I know that, for me, every element of performance works together and as you add more elements, the performance experience gets more intense. For example, simply singing an aria is intense, but when I really allow myself to get into the emotion of it, another dimension is added and it is more intense than just simply singing. But that's obvious. Now, add another person to the mix and it gets even more intense. They don't even necessarily have to be singing -- if someone is there to work off of, the experience is immediately different. And when that other person starts singing, it's a totally new game.

So to answer the question, I find that physicality in addition to singing makes the experience of performance more intense. Also, I think this is due to the fact that when I'm physically involved, my singing is more emotive and "in the moment." I've found that when I'm acting out a scene, there are things that come into my singing that I can't replicate when I'm just standing there singing. It's usually spontaneous and a result of my acting or of my current physical situation or of something that my scene partner has done.

I don't think that acting necessarily makes the singing "easier," but it does effect it. If my singing partner is physically involved, that changes my singing as well. So I personally think it is scarier to sing "emotionally loaded" duets with the physical acting because the experience in general is more intense and when things are more intense, they are obviously more scary. It's not the physicality itself that is scary, but rather the increased intensity of the emotional and musical experience as a result of the added physical acting.

Smorg, I hope that answers your question! I love being stirred to think through these things. What a fun occupation this opera spiel is!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Resonance

I'm beginning to believe that there is something incredibly intimate about singing opera with someone.

Anyone who has performed in tandem with other people knows how intensely you have to depend on your song/scene partners. It's a strange bond that you make with them because you depend on them, and they depend on you, for the success of the performance. So when I sing opera with someone, this is already there and I feel that it's very intense because the voice is so unpredictable and opera is so difficult that it's easy for things to go wrong.

Then there's a connection on the physical level because you have to be physically close in a scene. Boundaries that exist in normal life are broken rather quickly, especially with my opera director. When I joined the opera last year, I lost all sense of personal space. We joked about it, but it's real.

But you can say that about straight acting or musical theater. There is another element that is specific to operatic singing. When you're singing correctly, it's loud and it's intense. When another singer is singing really close (or sometimes not even that close), my face bones vibrate. My sternum resonates. The music is so intense that it makes my entire body respond.

So imagine doing a scene with someone -- first of all they're pretending to be your lover, they're usually saving you from some horrid fate, you're depending on them for the success of the scene and you know they're depending on you, and they're singing right into your face and your very bones are reacting. And to top it all off, the said scene partner is usually singing something passionate (this is opera after all). Isn't it normal to feel a special connection with them? I mean, how could you sing something like the Dorabella-Guglielmo duet from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and not be effected? (I am SO afraid of singing that duet -- it is one of the sexiest pieces of music that I've ever heard. But that's another story.)

Life never ceases to surprise me. I'm continually intrigued by its nuances and hidden idiosyncrasies. And music -- the greatest nuance of life -- never stops making my heart pound.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Want the World...I Want the Whole World!

Opera Theater of Saint Louis is hosting the world premiere of The Golden Ticket, a new opera based on Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of my favorite mezzos, Jennifer Rivera, is playing Veruca Salt. (Of course the mezzo would play the bratty kid...)

Also, I wanted to share something that I read recently that really meant a lot to me: Joyce Didonato wrote this in her last post when she explained Dr. George Gibson's philosophy. He believes in the three Ds: Dedication, Disclipline, and Determination. I think that is such a great motivator and thing to live by.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Winter uncovers distances...

Dear Life,

How can you be so complex and lovely and draining all at once? I've been here so long, trying in vain to peer through you, but all I see are nameless things-- those things which inspire and confound and ignite.

Open to me! Show me your secrets! Explain yourself. Unravel the hand-knit knots that plague my mind. Night and day you stare me down and laugh because I cannot stare back long enough to win against you. Give in just this once--let me beat you!

God, you present such beautiful things: the scent of winter's fireplaces on the night air, the feel of a wool scarf on my fragile throat, the sight of a kiss blown across the room from one so beloved, the sound of enchanting music -- music to break my heart from an abundance of love.

I gather it all about me; I try to let it seep in. My soul desires and yet resists. When will anything make sense?

See, you have tired me out! I can only sleep now. Unconsciousness beckons to me. I cannot push it away; I cannot stop my hearing. I seek it out as it searches after me. Sleep--one of my favorite dance partners. Let us waltz!

Until tomorrow. Only until tomorrow. Then we shall begin all over again. Conflict, love, tension, release, revelation...

Love,
me

Friday, October 23, 2009

Everything = Opera

I love how everything in my life always relates back to opera.

I was doing laundry with my mom last night (or rather, I was watching her do laundry and blabbing on about my life) and she picked up this red V-neck T-shirt and said,

"I've never seen this shirt before. Who's is it? Is this yours?"

"No," I answered. "That must be Ryan's -- it's a boy shirt. I can tell the difference between boy's clothes and girl's clothes." (I am so proud of my amazing skillz at this point.)

My mom laughed and said,

"Yeah, that's because you wear both."

Touché.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Der Rosenkavalier Strikes Again

First things first: SUSAN GRAHAM BOWED LAST!

Ok, now, let me say that the Met's Rosenkavalier last night was divine. The last notes were absolutely heavenly. Overall, the singing was fantastic (I even liked the Faninal!).

Honestly, Susan Graham stood out from all the amazingness. She spun gorgeous, gorgeous lines of nuanced gloriousness that just took my breath away. She was funny and always a treat to watch onstage. I love her Octavian to pieces.

The production was so TRADITIONAL. I was almost in shock from of its traditional-ness. I liked it most of the time. I wasn't as moved by the drama as I usually am. I think there was a bit of stiffness in the joints but overall, the music more than made up for it.

But, Susan Graham...so incredible. She brought the house down for sure and I'm so glad that they gave her last bow because she totally deserved it.

The fact that the Marschallin usually gets the last bow is a major pet-peeve of mine. I mean, she's not there for all of Act II and half of Act III and the opera is named Der Rosenkavalier. Why does the mezzo always get the short end of the stick? Finally, Octavian bowed last and it couldn't have been a better mezzo to do the job.

I am happy. I am tired and over-worked and happy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zitti, zitti, piano, piano!

The opening of Il Barbiere at the Met last Saturday was a real treat. Even though it is THE MET, every performance is not perfect (my college buddies are still grumbling about the Fri night Aida) but this one came real close. Every singer was dead-on and the orchestra was so clean. It was just lovely.

I really loved hearing Joyce Didonato sing live. There's definitely something "lost in translation" when you hear her recordings. There's this special dimension to her voice that I've never heard before until I heard her live on Saturday. She didn't let anyone down (by any means!) with her performance.

There was one moment when I gasped because Bartolo and Almaviva were fighting over her (as they do throughout the entire opera) and she fell over. All I could think was "OH NO! She's still recuperating from her broken leg!" But she bounced right back up like nothing had happened. If you didn't know that she was recovering, you never would have known. She whipped around that stage like it was nobody's business. Actually, I think her Rosina was more active than in the simulcast from the 07-08 season.

In short, the performance was immensely enjoyable from start to finish. What a great way for me to kick off this season!

Less than a week until Rosenkavalier!!! I CANNOT WAIT!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Maybe a Psych Degree is Good for Something After All

My Mom finally put her psychology degree to good use: she helped me with my opera homework.

I'm studying a scene from Werther and I couldn't figure out Charlotte's super-objective. She's a very complicated character and I really needed someone to talk with about it. It took about an hour of conversation, but it was worth it! I went in to Isabel with my idea and she was totally satisfied. I told my Mom and she's like, "I wasn't a psych major for nothing!" hahah

I don't have anything against psych majors; I'm just being silly. My Mom actually did a lot with her psych degree. She went into advertising and eventually got a high-level job with A. C. Nielsen (the people responsible for TV ratings). She's very good at figuring people out and she has given me valuable insight on more than one occasion. It's like having my own personal shrink. ;)

I was reading an interview with Vesselina Kasarova (an EXCEPTIONAL opera singer) and she said something very interesting about acting. She almost alludes to the fact that you can mess up your mind and your emotional state if you take on the wrong characters at the wrong time. She says it this way,

"Beside the vocal range, it’s also very important to know the character of the role. For example, there are roles I could sing now because all the notes are there, but the problem is to bring in the character, and that I couldn’t do right now. Maybe later, with more experience, then it would all come together. With the dramatic repertoire, the point is that you are singing with so much emotion that these emotions really can damage your voice. It's not the notes which are written, but there is so much happening in your mind.. For example, if young singers try certain roles too early, it can be a problem, because on stage these emotions, these feelings, don't fit your personal state of being. Maybe a boy who's thirteen years old isn't ready to do certain things. It's the same for the singer. You will have difficulties to control the balance of all these big emotions. So it's better to be a bit older."

(You can find the entire interview here.)

Interesting, no? I've always wondered about this and I find it very interesting to actually see that someone else has an opinion on it.

This is a whole other discussion in itself (so I'll leave it for the moment), but what I'm trying to say is that this character of Charlotte is definitely stretching my limits. She's my age but she's been through much more than I have and so, in one sense, she's older than I am. It's going to be very interesting learning how to balance the emotions and the music in this scene. This is a very dark, charged scene and I'm going to have to figure out how to let the dark elements of the scene leak in without letting too much in (because that would destroy everything). I have my goals laid out for me.

Oh, and keeping my sanity is always a good thing. ;)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Puttering



It's true; it's all true. The Merchant Marine Academy played (and defeated!) the Coast Guard Academy. I saw half of the game. I really tried to get into it but my brain just couldn't enjoy it. So at half-time, I left and my sister and I watched Vesselina Kasarova on my I-pod, played "guess that artist," and played "cast that opera" (in which an opera is proposed and you make up your dream cast). So I'm a nerd. I can't help it!

Just for the record, we decided that our ideal Cosi would be:
Fiordiligi - Malin Hartelius
Dorabella - Vesselina Kasarova
Despina - Joyce DiDonato
Guglielmo - Gerald Finley
Ferrando - Juan Diego Florez
Don Alfonso - Hakan Hagegard

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fighting the College Stress (or just Life Stress)

School's back in session and that means BRING ON THE STRESS! So, here are 5 ways that I've found to reduce stress and bring a little HAPPY! into your life.

1. Read Jennifer Rivera's blog, Trying to Remain Opera-tional. She's so funny and down-to-earth and you'll always learn something about the "real world of opera." Or you'll learn something about life -- she can be very deep. Either way, it's a great way to add a little flavor to your day.

2. Listen to Mozart on the way to class. There's nothing like Mozart to lift your spirits no matter WHAT is happening. MP3 downloads on Amazon are easy and cheap! I suggest The Overture to The Marriage of Figaro (only $0.99!) or one of the beautiful duets of all time, "Ah perdona al primo affetto" (from La Clemenza di Tito) which is also only $0.99.

3. Take 10 minutes to just sit and drink a cup of coffee (or other comforting beverage of choice). Taking time to just "chill" gets you prepared to face the rest of the day.

4. Read a Psalm. Even if you're not "into the God thing" or whatever, you have no idea how these words can bring peace into your life. They're so reassuring and calming -- definitely worth turning to when you're really stressed out. You can find a "modern" version of the Bible (no "Thou art" and such) online. Here's two really good spots: Psalm 37 and Song of Songs 4:8-15.

5. Write a letter. Writing a letter to someone is such a nice (and unexpected gesture). Not only will it give you time to relax and just enjoy something for a moment, but it will have a nice effect in the future when that person gets the letter. Draw pictures on it for extra stress relief. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Junior

First day of school! Last night my sister asked me what I was going to wear and I'm like, "As if I've actually thought about this already...I'll figure it out in the morning." I guess by the time you're a junior in college, you get over the "first day of school outfit" hype. That, or I'm just a mezzo loser. Probably the latter.

I've already assisted many a wandering freshman and watched the professors/administrators/other-important-people walk to Convocation in their Harry Potter robes and hoods. They had bagpipes playing at the head of the procession! I didn't remember that from last year's convocation. I wonder who sang the National Anthem. You think I'd be up on this sort of stuff...

My first class was sufficiently bogus. It's a "real life math" class (aka "Kim needs a math class and this one isn't Calculus") and I'm sitting in class wondering if the person who created this class was serious or purposely creating something ridiculous. I guess I'll never know. My professor takes it pretty seriously.

Today I still have German and Form & Analysis, my two hardest classes. I'm a bit nervous (especially for German) but I'm sure everything will go well. I have a much easier day tomorrow.

And just to prove that I can do something besides sing and rant about opera, here's the first poem in a set that I'm writing called Songs of Orfeo. Let me know what you think.

1
Euridice

Sunlit sky calls to you:
“Come to me! You are mine!”
Your soul – a gathering of feathered light—
stretches to the heavens.

Can your soul escape its prison,
this slight form of flesh
(this one called Euridice),
to return home?

If the light-crafted soul escapes,
what will become of you,
my own—my Euridice?

Will you melt into the earth, into darkness,
never again to see the sun?
Never again to wake with me in the light?

Monday, August 31, 2009

New

I've been thinking that this blog has become (or always was) rather boring and un-me, which is sad. I want to be able to show off my personality and interests here, but it seems like I've always been tied down by the idea that I have to write a "good" post or that I have to have a "proper" blog. I'm not sure if that idea is right or not, but I think I'm going to throw it out the window. Bon voyage!

From now on, I'm going to write as me. Even that sounds pretentious. OH WELL. I'm sorry if this blog becomes horrible or whatever, but I don't care anymore. I'm just going to write about me and what I'm doing and what I'm dealing with.

This is a new semester, a new year, a new opportunity to be a better human being. I cut my hair pretty short -- it's my version of "growing it out." You have to even it out before it can grow out, right? Right.

*sigh* Haircuts...the bane of my existence. If only my hair was as nice and manageable as it was when I was 10. Then life would be perfect. (ha) Still, why is it that when I was ten years old, my hair looked like it walked right out of a Hollywood dressing room every day? I didn't DO anything! Just more proof that life is never fair. (But mercy makes life unfair just as soon as politics ever did.)

So, this semester is opera-exciting because 1. we have Fledermaus in January and 2. we have opera scenes starting in the next week.

Now I must have two declarations of love.

One, to my new favorite blogger Jennifer Rivera. Her blog Trying to Remain Opera-tional makes me laugh and feel better about myself every day. Much love to her and her honestly humorous antics. The fact that she is a mezzo just makes it all the better. She talks about Sesto and my heart melts (Mozart, honestly). Also, I've learned a lot from her posts on stage kissing and traveling and all those other wonderful things that I have to deal with. Reading about her experiences was like re-living my European Adventure. It's so nice to not be "the only one"! There's something cathartic about reading your thoughts in someone else's words.

Second, my love for a new CD that I just got from my beloved amazon.com: a collection of mezzo arias sung by Vesselina Kasarova. Her singing blows my mind. The one thing that I love most about it is her ability to be so expressive without sacrificing musicality or technicality. She's always spot on with her technique and she never disrespects the music or the composer. And yet, there's something new in her interpretations -- a life and expression that I haven't heard elsewhere. Her "voi che" and "che faro" and "nacqui all'affano" are to DIE for. Actually, the whole album pretty much is worth dying for. Best $7.99 of my life!

It amuses me that I can feel so much for words on a computer screen and the effect of air moving past two folds of cartilage. Words and music...how I love you both!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Safe and Sound and Fighting Jet Lag

I'm home! I've never been so happy to see the United States and my house! It was so fantastic to come home. It was a great two weeks -- I learned SO much and it was a really good experience for me. I'm so glad that it all worked out. The repercussions of this trip will be felt for years to come; I'm sure of that!

I still have to finish uploading and organizing photos. I'm sure I'll be mentioning stories and such for some time still. This trip definitely opened my eyes to so many new things. We'll see how it all turns out. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Glücklich

Salzburg 181

School is over and done. I passed! It was a really incredible experience studying with Edda Moser. She is a wonderful teacher and a fantastic singer. In my opinion, her Queen of the Night is unparalleled. She was uber-patient with us all and I've really taken a lot from the experience.

Tomorrow we have one last day to explore Salzburg. We'll go to the closing concert at night and then be up early the next morning to get on the flight home. It's been an interesting two weeks in Austria. It was an experience that I needed to have and that will help me immensely in the future. I can't wait to really absorb everything that I've learned here and apply it in my life. So much to do!

I've really been blessed -- I'm so glad that I was able to come here and do this. Mom and I have had quite an adventure --and it's not over yet! Here's to tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zwar langweil' ich...

Today was wonderful. A Sound of Music bus tour in the morning, a great lesson in the afternoon, and a beautiful trip to the castle at night.

The Sound of Music tour brought us to places where they filmed the movie and where the actual Von Trapps lived. The tour guide was so cute and entertaining. We sang along with the soundtrack on the way there and back. Overall, it was tons of fun.

The Hohenburg castle was so cool. I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings and hanging out at Helmsdeep. There's a great view of Salzburg from up there and we got to see a gorgeous sun set. We came out from the inner section of the castle just as the sun was setting over the city. Mom said, "Well that wasn't a coincidence. Thank you, God!"

We took way too many pictures. They're still uploading as I type this.

We'll be taking a trip to Munich tomorrow (I have a day off) so I probably won't be updating the pictures until Friday or so. And on Sunday, it's back to the States! It's been quite an adventure here in Europe. There are so many stories to be told and so many things to remember. I have one more lesson with Ms. Moser on Friday. I'm interested to see how it all turns out.

Guten Abend!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The City of Music

A recap of Vienna, the city of music:

First of all, I want to show you some pictures of the locals. (Uncle Bob, this is for you.)

Salzburg - Vienna 222

The main streets of Vienna were a lot like a circus. There was always something going on. Below are some (rather interesting) street musicians.

The square group (playing Chinese music):
Salzburg - Vienna 082

The triangle group (playing "Non piu andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro with a Spanish flair):
Salzburg - Vienna 083

Here's a video of the triangle group:


And, last but not least, the creepy street musician:
Salzburg - Vienna 080

Now, onto the sights. My favorites had to be the Stephansdom (the huge cathedral where Mozart was married), the Vienna State Opera House, and the Hofburg Palace.

First, the Stephansdom. Here's a taste:Salzburg - Vienna 079


Salzburg - Vienna 105

You can see all my pictures of the Stephansdom here.

The Vienna State Opera House was interesting because on the outside it was bigger than I expected but on the inside it was smaller than I thought it would be. It only sits about 2000 (the Met sits 4000). It seemed small to me because I'm used to the Met. I'm spoiled, what can I say?
Salzburg - Vienna 045

Salzburg - Vienna 127

You can see all the pictures of the Vienna State here.

And the Hofburg Palace. This place was crazy. It was beyond huge and it was covered in marble. Floors, walls, ceilings -- all marble. It blew my mind.

Inside the Palace, there were three museums. We went to the musical instrument collection, the arms and armor collection, and the ancient Roman ruins collection. Here are some of the highlights:
Salzburg - Vienna 210

Salzburg - Vienna 168

See all the Hofburg Palace pictures here.

And of course, as always, you can see all the pictures here. For just Vienna, you can start here.

Now, a special section: FOR THE MUSIC GEEKS.

There were many *squee!!* moments during my trip to Vienna. Here are some of the highlights. :)

1. On the streets of Vienna, I started to notice these stars on the ground. I looked and behold - each one was dedicated to a different composer or important music person! You can see them all here.
Salzburg - Vienna 114

2. It's Mozart Land II. Here's another beautiful statue of him and more paraphernalia.
Salzburg - Vienna 163

Salzburg - Vienna 089

Salzburg - Vienna 075

The BEST part of it was standing in his apartment at 5 Domgasse. I stood in the rooms he lived in and stood at his windows and saw the things he saw (the street outside his study window was preserved!). I had goosebumps standing there knowing that he and his family had romped around in that living room, that Haydn and Leopold Mozart had stayed in that guest room, and that Mozart had sat in his study composing The Marriage of Figaro, my favorite opera of all time. They didn't kill the apartment by adding modern things to it like they did to the other two Mozart houses (in Salzburg) and the bare shell of the house made it all the more exciting. There was so much room for imagination and speculation. There are no words to describe my feelings.
Salzburg - Vienna 071

3. This piano was given to the Schumanns as a wedding present by the maker. The Schumanns used it until Robert's death at which time Clara gave it to their good friend Johannes Brahms. Brahms used the piano until his death and he always treasured it as a precious gift. I TOUCHED that piano! How cool to think that less than 200 years ago, it was used by three great composers. How absolutely fantastic.

Salzburg - Vienna 193

What else is there to say? The place was bursting with music and I loved it to death. I want to go back.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vienna Waits For You

How do I even start?

There are no words to describe Vienna. It's everything I could have dreamed it to be and more. It really is the musical capital of the world. You can feel the love and respect for music in the air. All the great composers are like rock-stars there. (As it should be!) Everywhere you turn, there's mention of Mozart or Beethoven or Haydn or Mahler. It was just fantastic.

And the buildings. They blew me away. The Stephansdom was even more massive and gorgeous than I thought it would be. The Hofburg Palace was unlike anything I'd ever seen before -- unthinkably huge and covered (floors, walls, and ceilings) in marble. They had Mozart's Domgasse apartment intact and the view from the window was almost exactly what Mozart saw. As you stood in the room, you could almost hear the ruckus of his household.

And the food! The coffee was out of this world. The Sachertorte was divine and the spätzel was definitely worth hunting down.

It was just win-win-win. The pictures and stories can never do the place justice. Vienna made every moment of annoyance on this trip worth it. I only wish I could have stayed there longer. It is definitely a place that I'll look forward to going back to.

I'm still uploading the pictures (there are A LOT of them) and I'm too tired to tell stories right now. That will have to wait.

Tomorrow is school again and dress up time at night -- we're going to try to get into the Salzburg Festival. Should be fun if nothing else. ;)

Here's to Mozart - the greatest Austrian composer ever!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ah, the Pastries!

This trip has been nothing short of interesting. The best part of this trip is the cafes. Definitely the best part. We found the cutest little place yesterday. It was so cozy. We had these little sandwiches and cappuccinos. I love the coffee here; it's a totally different taste and consistency from coffee back home. However, the cups are really tiny (about half the size of a Starbucks tall - cute but tiny) and they're only half-filled when they give it to you. And it costs about $3 (American dollars). Below is a picture of me in the cute cafe.
Salzburg 015

And here's the rest of it.
Salzburg 016

Speaking of cafes -- I saw Barbara Bonney in the cafe this morning while I was having breakfast. Barbara Bonney! I couldn't believe it! She walked in and ordered something and walked out, but she was 5 feet from me! She's a professor at the Mozarteum (which is across the street from the cafe and where I'm going for school) so it makes sense, but it was SO COOL and so unexpected.

Speaking of opera -- we're going to try to get rush tickets to Cosi fan tutte at the Salzburg Festival on Monday. Miah Persson and Isabel Leonard are singing so the music is sure to be fantastic. As to the staging...we can always hope for the best. Anyway, it's really fun to see all the people walking to the festival. Some people wear the traditional Austrian clothing and some people just get dressed up. This festival is such a huge deal. When we went to get tickets yesterday, the cheapest seats were 297 Euros (aka 450-ish American dollars). If we get rush, they won't be anything near that bad. We'll see what happens...

The churches and gardens here are gorgeous. Mom and I just spend so much time walking around and seeing everything. We find something new every day.

Bis bald!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No FM and No AC

Hello! I finally got a stable internet connection and I couldn't be happier. Things are looking up.

I have tons of pictures to show you. I have a story to go with each of them; if I told all the stories, this post would never end and my fingers would fall off. So I'll tell you a few of my favorites.

We visited the Mozart Geburtshaus -- this is the house where Mozart was born. His family lived there until 1780 when it became too small for them. It's actually the third floor of this bright yellow building. It was so cool to stand in the room where he was born! They had two locks of his hair. He had dirty blonde, wiry-ish hair just like me!

Salzburg 056

One night we had dessert in the Mozart Cafe. I had to try the Salzburg Nockerl, a dessert that has been famous forever. It was really fantastic. It reminded me a lot of Yorkshire Pudding -- it was a cream/whip-filled baked thing with raspberries on the bottom. It was different than anything I've ever had before but it was really good.

Salzburg 059

As you can tell, this town revolves around Mozart. You'll see the various store windows and cardboard cut-outs and so on. It's really crazy and I love it. His name and face are EVERYWHERE. <3 Salzburg 031

My master classes are unbelievably amazing. Edda Moser is a fantastic teacher. She's so patient and she knows exactly how to access and attack a problem. She has such a reverence and love for Mozart. I know exactly how she feels and I love it! She teaches in three languages: German, English, and Italian (depending on what the student wants). The best part is that I can follow them all! I was shocked after the first day when I walked out and said to myself, "I understood almost everything!" That is just so cool. I love being in an environment where I'm surrounded by language.

I'm the youngest one in the class and I'm the only mezzo. It's really interesting to hear all the sopranos and watch Ms. Moser work with them. I'm learning a lot about coloratura and singing high notes just from watching.

Uncle Bob, to answer your questions: I get 25 minutes A DAY of one-on-one time with Ms. Moser and I have been recording our lessons (it is so helpful). I really can't believe how lucky I am.

I need to learn all the German in "Chacon a son gout" before tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Well, there's still plenty of stuff to do and see.

Guten Abend!

Salzburg 029

The Climb

As you can see, I haven't updated yet. This is the first time I've had an internet connection since we got here. Internet access is very limited so I'll do my best. I already have tons of pictures and even more stories.

It's very different here. Just when you think you know something, it's something totally unexpected. It's been interesting and challenging (I am NOT on vacation over here!). The master classes (school) with Edda Moser are OUT OF THIS WORLD and I'm so privileged to be here. I'm the youngest one in the class and the only mezzo soprano. (This place is overrun with sopranos! I've heard some amazing Blondechens, Gildas, Countesses, and Mimis!)

Salzburg really IS Mozart-town. Everywhere you look, he's there! It's like Disney-land and Mozart is Mickey Mouse. It's so great. The town itself is gorgeous and really cute. I love walking around; that's probably the most relaxing part of the trip.

The cafes are fantastic. I love the things that they have to eat here.

I'll try to update later with more pictures/stories/details. Until then, I leave you with this:

Me in the Mozartplatz, hailing a (rather inaccurate) statue of the master of music.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Journey Begins



Here we are, two losers adventurers on our way out to Austria. We still have a ten-hour flight and an early morning layover in Vienna, but by tomorrow we will be standing in Salzburg, no doubt crying our heads off.

I never could have imagined that this day would come so soon -- that I'd be walking on the streets of Austria before my college graduation. I still can't believe that it's all really happening.

I should be updating with news (and pictures!) of our adventures on a daily basis so keep checking back! Comments, questions, requests, etc are very much encouraged and appreciated. Next time I write, I'll be on the other side of the Atlantic!

Until then, I leave you with this quote by the great conductor Sir Georg Solti:

Mozart makes you believe in God - much more than going to church - because it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and then passes after thirty-six years, leaving behind such an unbounded number of unparalleled masterpieces.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Relief


Thanks to God, it did not rain tonight and I had my concert. I had so much fun!

I'm so relieved that it's over because I was so worried that it would be rained out again. I love that I got to sing (and in such a nice place; the sound system rocked!). I now know that there's nothing more disappointing than a canceled concert.

Now I just have to practice my butt off for Austria. Sing for Edda Moser? Piece of cake.



Listen to that perfection! Ahh, so fantastic!

I cannot wait to get to Salzburg!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Hills are Alive (with the Sound of Music-- ahhh!)

This time next week, I'll be overseas sitting in a cafe enjoying Ruhezeit.

But there's so much to do before then!



Traveling is wonderful and amazing but it's a heck of a lot of work. Next time, I'm hiring an agent (aka my mom).

Still, I couldn't be more excited!

My concerts on Friday and Sunday were rained out. :( I have one more left this Wednesday. I'm praying for sunshine!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Susan Graham = <3

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of my favorite mezzos. Her individuality, infectious personality, and incredible singing have inspired me and many others.

In tribute, I offer "Parto, parto" from La Clemenza di Tito, one of my favorite Susan Graham moments.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sadly, This is All True

You know you're a nerd when...

...you and your friends/family play "guess that conductor" instead of charades.

...you look at a shampoo bottle and say, "Hey! There's a comma missing!"

...you look at the daily Google picture and you know what it's commemorating before you scroll over it.

...you fall asleep with textbooks in your bed and you don't notice until halfway through the next day.

...you quote Captain Kirk in real life and your brother laughs because he knows exactly what you're referring to AND he knows the name of the episode is that the quote is from.

...you think of every purchase in terms of how many songs on ITunes that would be.

...you know a random date that your teacher/professor asked for but didn't expect anyone to actually know and you can't remember how/why you know it.

...you play charades and the choices are: movie, book, tv show, play, and opera.

...you know the Dewey Decimal number of a specific subject.

...you talk about famous people by their first names and everyone knows who you're talking about.

...you can answer the questions on Jeopardy that the contestants don't know.

...you know who Petra is and what their greatest hits were.

...you have drawn out conversations about the meaning of Time and whether it actually exists or not.

...you don't notice that you're randomly adding phrases in foreign languages into your everyday speech.

...you have 43 books checked out and think nothing of it.

...you squee over a New York Philharmonic concert (and think that the first-chair cellist is cute).

...you're 10 years old and your role models are Nancy Drew and an android named Data (Star Trek TNG).

...you can read three different alphabets.

...you know the date of every Mozart opera premiere but you can't successfully drive two miles without getting lost (in your home town where you've lived for over 10 years).

...you correct a teacher's/professor's grammatical mistakes when you copy down their notes.

...you're 12 years old and you want to be an astronomical geologist when you grow up.

...you visit three different libraries in the same day and think that it's normal.

...you use opera singers' names in the place of profanities.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When You Live With Me

My sister was allowed to get a Facebook account. So what's the first thing she writes as her status?


I guess that's what happens when you live with me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Beautiful Day in NYC

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 015

My sister Heather and I had a fun little excursion into the City. We went in to see the doctor (I'm fit as a fiddle!) but we made a whole day of it. We didn't do anything of consequence, but that was the best part of all. We just walked and shopped and hung out in Central Park. I staged an impromptu photo-shoot of my lovely teenage sister. You can find the rest of the pictures here.

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 005

I love Columbus Circle -- it is so gorgeous! I love the fountains and the statues. One of my all-time favorite statues (the young boy with his arms out as though he's about to take flight) is in that square.

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 034

This is Heather's version of The Lion King.

NYC with Heather July 8 2009 030

Here's to a great day in NYC. If only there had been an opera playing...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lolz

Vittoria Tesi, a famous singer in the 18th century, refused to play pants roles because it was "harmful to her health." What does that even mean?

Maria Cere was considered so ugly that she was never allowed to take female roles. Therefore, she "specialized" in pants roles. What a compliment.

Metastasio's libretto "Achille in Sciro" tells the story of Achilles who's dressed as a woman until the end of the night where he throws off his trappings and reveals his true gender. However, the part of Achilles was played by a woman at the premiere. Strange, much?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New York Phil: Russian Fest!

Bramwell Tovey led a smashing concert last night with the NY Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. It was an all-Russian program: Tchaikovsky's Polonaise from Eugene Onegin and his Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for Piano and Orchestra, and three pieces from Khachaturian's Gayane (including the Sabre Dance!).

Tovey led the orchestra with his usual deftness. I love watching his left hand; he was always doing something or other. Oftentimes, I thought he was painting a picture up there. He was a brilliant standup comic. He had the audience laughing between every piece. My favorite line of the night was as he was introducing the Romeo and Juliet. He was quickly telling the story and he said,

"And then Romeo did what many of us dream of doing: he killed one of his wife's relations in a bloody sword duel."

He attempted to tell the ending of the story without using the words "poison" or "dagger" or "suicide" so he said,

"And they [Romeo and Juliet] were both lying there on the slab and...well, it's all rather gory."

He was fantastic.

The orchestra, of course, sounded simply exquisite. It was all music that even an uneducated musician would know at one point or another. The Polonaise was sufficiently bouncy and exciting-- a perfect opener. I was shocked by the perfection of the balance between the sections. And the celli-- they rocked the house on this one.

The Rachmaninoff came next with Vladimir Feltsman on piano. He had such a unique touch on the piano; it was much springier than most renditions of Rachmaninoff. I really enjoyed it. Feltsman was absolutely outstanding. He was just sitting there, having a gay old time like he was hanging laundry instead of playing an infinitely difficult piano piece. He did all 25 minutes of music from memory (of course!) and he didn't miss a thing. The Variation XVIII was absolutely otherworldly. I thought I would float away, it was so beautiful. I could listen to that forever.

The Khachaturian was great. The second movement, the lullaby, was gorgeous. I'd never heard that part of Gayane before. They played the Sabre Dance at the perfect tempo. I thoroughly enjoyed this selection.

The Romeo and Juliet is beyond words. That piece is amazing to begin with (it's definitely in my top ten all-time favorite symphonic works) and to hear it played live was just amazing. I keep using the word "amazing" because I'm not sure there's another word to describe it. The music swept me away and the story of Romeo and Juliet became something more than it had ever been before. I heard things last night that I'd never heard before, even though I've listened to that piece a hundred times. The opening was so pious; I could almost see the church. The sword duel was exciting and the love theme swept through the room with a passion that can only be born from live music. I heard Romeo's heartbeat ebb away. It was all truly fantastic--beyond words.

I love Tchaikovsky.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jealous Much?



This is jealousy x2!! Josh Groban AND Kiri Te Kanawa! What is this? How did he get so lucky? I guess I could also say "how did she get so lucky" but Kiri's amazing enough to get a picture with anyone she wants.

This picture made my day. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stuck!

I am such a restless person. I always forget this fact until I'm challenged with it.

I have been stuck on the couch since my surgery on Thursday and it looks like I'm going to be here for at least a few more days. I'm not exaggerating here: I'm even sleeping on the couch because I have to sleep sitting up. Torture!

However, there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. This surgery couldn't have come at a better time. I have time to waste. To rest. My Austrian Adventure is yet to come and my concert series is also far enough away for safety. I have time to sit and think and be with myself. All day long. I best make good use of it.

At the suggestion of my good friend, I've purchased one month's worth of MetPlayer. What a great suggestion! Now I am not limited to my own library of opera DVDs. Today I watched Orfeo ed Euridice and Fidelio. Both are definitely in my top-five favorite operas. I'd seen the Orfeo live in January and I'd never seen a production of Fidelio that I really liked until today.

I enjoyed Mark Morris' Orfeo: the overall concept was good and well-delivered. I love watching Mark Morris' dance troupe and the chorus was fantastic. The music, of course, was sublime.

I watched the 2000 Jürgen Flimm production of Fidelio with Karita Mattila as Leonore. I thoroughly enjoyed this production. The singers were fantastic, the staging was good, and the music... Fidelio is definitely one of my favorites. It is so Beethoven. I really liked Mattila's portrayal of Leonore. It was convincing and moving. She did a fantastic job with this role. I also enjoyed Jennifer Welch-Babidge's Marzelline. I didn't care much about that character until I saw this production. I felt a whole new life in this character throughout and especially at the end. Almost everyone wins in the end; Marzelline is the only one whose fate is unjust. But I guess that's what a good ending is: bittersweet.

There's another light at the end of the tunnel. When I recover, I'll breathe a million times better than I used to. In fact, because of the extent of my surgery, I'll be breathing better than the average person. How's that? Sounds pretty sweet to me.

Further up and further in! There's so much to look forward to!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's Real...

The paperwork came in the mail yesterday. I'm all registered for my master class with Ann Murray at the Salzburg Mozarteum. My Austrian adventure is underway.

I think I could die right now. Here I am, a baby mezzo with so much to prove, stepping out into the wide world-- braving the Atlantic and setting my feet on my homeland for the first time. It feels like a pilgrimage: visiting the birthplace and deathplace of my beloved Composer-Muse. I think I'm going to fall to pieces the second I get there.

Who would have thought this would happen? How could I have guessed that before my 21st birthday I'd be stepping into Austria? This is not how I planned things! Life has a way of going in a different direction than we planned.

But this is so much more exciting than the things I planned! Here I am, a girl who loves her home more than anywhere else in the world and I'm going into a lifestyle that is, by its very nature, transient. But it is so much fuller and rewarding! I can't believe that I've gotten this lucky. I can't believe it!

I leave August 8th. There's much to be done before that...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good evening, Father Strauss! Good morning to you, Strauss Junior!

I love reading composers' biographies! They are always so interesting. I'm reading Hans Fantel's The Waltz Kings and it is so intriguing/entertaining.

Johann Strauss I was an interesting guy. Very interesting. He had an equally interesting life. He was:

1. Locked up as a child by his master bookbinder. The bookbinder's wife felt bad and let him out. He ran away with his violin and fended for himself until a musician found him and took him under his wing.

2. Abducted (with his thirty-piece orchestra) by the Czar of Russia. The Czar made him give a concert. He did apologize afterward.

3. Father of ten children, the first of which was Johann Strauss II. He forbade Johann II to learn music. Johann II was to be Johann I's greatest rival.

4. Very sick on a long coach-ride back to Vienna. He miraculous survived the long trip, but just as they were in sight of Vienna, the horses spooked and the carriage smashed against a tree. Strauss emerged uninjured. Once in Vienna, he recovered (much to the chagrin of the newspaper writers; how anticlimactic!).

And so many more crazy things happened. I have just started reading about Johann Strauss, Jr, the composer of (among many other famous things) Die Fledermaus. He was an intense guy, much like his father. It's so interesting to watch families and what gets passed down from parent to child. Both Johann Strausses were extremely ambitious, determined, and musical. I'm looking forward to learning about the younger of the two.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chacun à son goût

I have officially been cast as Prince Orlofsky! YAY!

Excuse me while I go brush up on my Russian...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chopin & George Sand in Majorca

One of the great ironies of the world is Chopin’s trip with George Sand to Majorca. I’m surprised he would go at all. But that is beside the point.

The funniest thing of all is this: while they (Chopin, George Sand, and her two children) were in Cartuja, they stayed in a monastery. The place had been inhabited by monks just a few years before but the government had driven them out and repossessed the land for their own use. Now foreigners took up residence in the monk’s cells. What a strange place for Chopin and George Sand to stay!

I’ll be honest: I really don’t understand their relationship (yet). It is so utterly complex and the facts are muddled and cloudy; I can’t seem to get a clear fix on what actually went on. This relationship has obviously intrigued others; there are a great many books written on the subject and during the course of every thing written on Chopin, George Sand is brought up. And vice versa. They are both “famous” in their own respects. I suppose it is a curiosity that two celebrities (of two different worlds) would have had an affair, but the interest in this relationship seems to extend past that. I can’t put my finger on it. Not yet. This is one of my summer projects: figure out the Chopin/George Sand relationship.

Meanwhile, I’m excited to listen to the music that Chopin wrote while residing here. Majorca is so exotic— so singular a place. I cannot wait to hear what sort of music it inspired. More to come.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DONE!

My semester is finally OVER.

I just printed out my honors project. It's getting bound tomorrow, I'm handing it in, and then I'm officially officially DONE.

I made it. Shocking.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Don't Dream It's Over

I just finished my semester-long Mozart project. YESSS!! What fun it was! And I learned so much... It's pretty much the best thing I did for school ever. And I think that's because I forgot it was for school. :)

I was so happy and relieved and sad (!) when I finished that I just sat there staring at the last line and there were tears in my eyes. Tears! I don't know where they came from. I swear, I have no idea. I didn't know how much this project meant/means to me. I guess that's what happens when you work on something for so long and then it's over. (Well, okay, there's still a lot of revising to be done, but the writing of it is done.) I spent so much time and thought-space and daydreaming on this. I can't help but feel attached to it.

And it's Mozart after all. I feel attached to anything connected to him. I don't know why; I just do.

Three days, three finals, and two juries to get through. I can make it! I will survive!

I don't want to rush it. Once this week is over, half of my friends are going home and I won't see them for another 4 months. :( Thankfully not all of my friends live far away. Still, I'm going to miss the heck out of some of them. Roadtrip!

So next year's opera is officially Die Fledermaus (in English). Auditions are the first week in the fall semester. I'm excited! This is going to be a fun show.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Angelina


In a few hours, I will be seated in the (somewhat humble) seats of the Family Circle and listening to the gorgeous voice of Ms. Elina Garanca. I am super-psyched about La Cenerentola! I've been looking forward to it for months (aka ever since I bought the tickets last September). I saw her Rosina last season and it was stunning. Lawrence Brownlee should be fantastic as well. I've never heard him live, but I've only heard good things about him.
So I'm geeking out over Elina. There's nothing else to say about it; there are only noises. I'll give a full report when I return (although you might have to wait for it--I'm SWAMPED with work right now. I might not be able to watch my free opera on MetPlayer this weekend! It's that bad...).

Friday, April 17, 2009

19 Pages = Epic Fail?

Soo...As you may or may not know, I spent my entire "spring break" writing a paper on The Marriage of Figaro. It was the least painful paper I've ever had to write in my life. Heck, it was downright fun. But we'll pretend you didn't hear that.

Work, work, work...7 days and many hours of work later, I put all the pieces of my paper together. I space it correctly, etc etc and...it's 19 pages long. It was supposed to be 5-10. WHOOPS.

Enter dilemma: should I cut it down? Did I include anything unnecessary?

Granted: I kept my outline short on purpose and severely limited what I put into the paper. I included everything she asked for and did not go overboard. What did I do wrong? Mozart, why are you so darn amazing that two measures of your music comes to two pages of writing? WHY?

So I handed it in without cutting a word. Was it the right decision? Who knows. I guess I'll find out when I get it back (aka probably next semester...haha).

And it was some good writing. I actually had original ideas (OMGOSH). It wasn't just quoting from 50 different books. It shouldn't be a boring read. *shrug*

The point of my story: writing this paper and (simultaneously) working on my Mozart honors project has made me want to start ranting on opera. I want to create thesises on different aspects of these works. For example, I'd love to go on about the relationship between the Countess and Susanna in Figaro or how seriously we should take the plot of Cosi fan tutte. I have so many opinions (what else is new?) on the music and what it means and I wonder who the heck would actually read that. Mozart is just SO deep. There is so much to talk about. Everytime I hear Figaro, or think about it, I find something new. That's crazy!

Was denkst du?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Brava Bartoli!


I know this is a bit delayed, but I've been super-busy with a huge music history test and then I was away for a day in the country (which was absolutely wonderful). So without further ado, here's my humble review of an extraordinary evening of music.

Cecilia Bartoli at Carnegie Hall - 200 Years Maria Malibran
March 3, 2009 - 8pm

First of all, I'd like to say that the night was filled with beautiful and stunning music. Ms. Bartoli is an excellent performer and the orchestra matched her high level of musicianship. She brought her Orchestra la Scintilla from the Zurich Opernhaus. They were absolutely outstanding. I didn't mind listening to the orchestral selections. Every player put their heart into the music; they were truly a chamber ensemble (there wasn't a conductor!). The soloists played so passionately. It was really a delight.

I won't give a blow-by-blow review, so I'm going to skip to Ms. Bartoli's second selection. Her "Caro giorni" (from Giuseppe Persiani's Ines de Castro) almost brought me to tears with its sweetness. She sang it so tenderly. Her legato lines were pure silk and the orchestra wasn't simply accompaniment: it was a true colloboration (all through the concert) and they made some of the most gorgeous music, especially in this piece. I especially loved the interplay between Ms. Bartoli and Ana Pesch, the concert mistress, in Mendelssohn's "Infelice." I've never heard that piece before and it was really something.

The next highlight for me was the Rossini set. The "Tempest" from Il Barbiere sprang to life in the hall; it was so much fun to experience! Her "Non piu mesta" blew me away. Her coloratura was, as always, exceptional. Actually, it was out of this world amazing. After she finished, I just sat there in my seat going "Oh my gosh...She did not just do that..." It was definitely one of the best renditions that I've ever heard.

I really enjoyed the movement from Donizetti's Clarinet Concertino. Robert Pickup, the soloist, played wonderfully. I just love period instruments! It makes so much sense to me that Ms. Bartoli would perform with a group that uses period instruments. I love the musicologist/historian side of her-- it's really admirable. This is just another extension of that love she has for historical-musical things.

She ended the concert with one of Maria Malibran's own compositions, "Rataplan." She certainly had a lot of fun with it. Gosh, that thing is difficult!

She performed three encores. I was so excited when she sang "Non piu mesta" again. Her last song, "Non ti scordar di me," was truly moving. It was love embodied in music. Everyone remarked upon the beauty of her interpretation.

After the concert, I waited in the long line to meet her. It was totally worth the wait. She was so sweet and upbeat, even to the very end. She gives off such a bright light; she's truly a pleasure to talk to. I bought a copy of her new La Sonnambula (with Juan Diego Florez) and she happily signed it for me. I told her that I love her Sesto (Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito) and she said, "Oh, I was very young when I recorded that." I assured her that it was very good and she said, "That's a nice thing to hear." Then my dad (who insisted on going with me; he loved "my girl Cecilia") shook her hand and thanked her for the music. She told me "Good luck" (these people always seem to know that I'm a singer; granted, I was the youngest one there) and we were off. Dad and I were both pumped. We'd met one of our favorite singers. He was so good about the whole thing; he stood in line with me and put up with my nonsense prattling about opera and music-geekiness for the entire night. His favorite was the "Caro giorni" and the closing "Non ti scordar di me." We had such a great night. I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to go!

Her dresses were gorgeous. She handled all that fabric with such poise. Her jewelry (which I hear is actually Maria Malibran's on loan) was pretty and suitable. Her necklace in the first part was very sparkly, but this is Carnegie and she is Cecilia Bartoli.

The one thing I must mention: I've always read that Ms. Bartoli stays tucked away in Zurich because her voice isn't "big enough" for the American houses. I was extremely interested to see if this was true. After hearing her in Carnegie, I must admit that I agree. Her voice filled the hall, but it didn't overwhelm it (and Carnegie is around half the size of the Met). I would love to see her on her home turf, but that will have to wait. She was simply oustanding nevertheless and she makes one heck of a recording no matter what she's singing. It was such an amazing experience to hear her live and to meet (!) her. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day! + Random News

No school tomorrow! I'm so excited. This never happens! You all know what that means! Kim staying up late and blogging. Hurray for you all.

I'm very sad that I missed the broadcast of Damnation of Faust today. People called and texted me to tell me that it was on, but I HAD to study for my huge music history test. :( Hopefully they'll show it again and/or release it on DVD. I would have loved to see all the innovative stuff they did and I would have loved to see Susan Graham. Il Trovatore broadcast yesterday. I even heard some of Sondra Radvanovsky's interview (which was really interesting). Her speaking voice reminds me so much of Joyce DiDonato's. I think it's the accent.

I'm going to see Cecilia Bartoli at Carnegie on Tuesday. I CANNOT WAIT!! This is going to be my first time seeing her live. I am beyond excited! This has really been an eventful year for me: I saw Renee Fleming for the first time (live), I was in my first opera, I met Renee Fleming, I met up with my opera-geek buddies, I had season tickets to the Met...the list goes on. Seeing Bartoli is just going to be another amazing night in a really fantastic year. I'll let you know all about it afterward.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just For Fun

I've found a Youtube video of a piece that I'm doing in Chorale this semester. It's a vocal arrangement of Rossini's overture to The Barber of Seville. It's hysterical! It's definitely worth taking the 3 minutes to watch. I can tell you that it's as much fun to sing as it is to listen to.



I'd also like to welcome my new readers! Hey Smorg and Tyler! It's great to have you aboard. I hope you don't get too bored. ;) It's really encouraging to have new people interested in my blog. Hopefully we can get some opera-talk going. I hope to hear from you all!

With much love and -of course- much music,
~Kim

Monday, February 23, 2009

You Know You're a Loser When...

I was at work, typing address labels, and I burst out giggling because someone lived on Hyacinth Lane. Why would that make me laugh? Because immediately I thought of Sophie listing all of Octavian's names in Der Rosenkavalier (that scene is so cute!). Octavian's names are: Octavian Maria Ehrenreich Bonaventura Fernand Hyacinth. I really can't believe my own brain; it never stops!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Speranza

One of the cruelest forms of torture is having no voice. I haven't had a voice since Sunday. I hate this! It doesn't happen too often to me, but when it does, it's an event.

Anyway! I went to the library last night to bring back my videos of Arabella & L'Orfeo and to pick up the copy of Cosi that had come in from another library. The man behind the desk (middle-aged, dark hair, glasses, always sweet) checked in my videos and asked, rather surprised,

"Are these operas?"

"Yes," I answered.

"You like these?" I nodded and added, a bit sheepishly,

"I hope to sing it one day."

"Really! How did you get into it?"

For once I escaped the wrath of the discouragers! He was genuinely interested. So I told him the story about how I stumbled upon my love for opera. (In short: Figaro.)

He puttered around while I talked, putting away my videos and finding Cosi for me. When I was done explaining, he handed me my 80s La Scala Cosi fan tutte and said,

"How great would that be? You're from Hicksville and you become a big diva. That would be so great..."

How cute is that? He actually took me seriously! Finally! Everyone always gives me the "you're a crazy woman" look. He actually believed me and encouraged me! There is hope!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Over and Done...Until Next Year!

The opera is finished! I almost can't believe it; it's been such a huge part of my life for so long and it's suddenly over. It feels so weird. I'm relieved and happy and a bit sad. It was SO much fun! It all turned out so well. I'm happy. :)

I'm so proud of the work that we did. The cast was phenomenal; everyone sounded FANTASTIC. People grew as performers and left their comfort zones and it was just great.

I got to spend so much time with such good friends. I'm going to miss hanging out with them 24/7. My first opera = great experience. Sure, it was stressful at times, but it was totally worth it.

Now it's back to real life. What am I going to do with all this time? (ha!)

I can't wait until next year...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Day After

Last night was a total success. My scenes went off without a hitch.

I guess a little praying backstage never hurt anyone.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Opening Night of All Opening Nights

Tonight is opening night for Poppea. It seems surreal. I don't feel like myself. This is the opening night of my first opera. Ever. I guess it's all-right to feel nervous.

I did well last night at rehearsal so I feel okay about my part. Tammy and Donna both said that I'm doing a good job. I have nothing to fear. If Tammy and Donna both say that I'm good, then I have no choice but to believe them.

I don't have anything else to say. I'm nervous and excited and so ready for this to finally be happening. :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dressing Up Is For Professionals

We had our first dress rehearsal today! It was tons of fun.

I love my costume! It's so cute and extremely comfortable (with the exception of the bust-binding bit...but that's another story). The older kids nicknamed me Peter Pan. I had to ask a guy where his waist is so I knew where to tie the belt. ;)

I had tons of fun running around as Peter Pan/Valletto. I was freezing the moment I went outside, but it was great for the stage. I actually went through a McDonald's drive-through in costume. No one said anything. It was fun.

I'm really too tired to say anything else of consequence. I need sleep so bad. I'll be back with updates soon.

New Name, Same Great Blog

Just FYI so no one freaks out; I'm changing my blog's name from Deepening to Kimozart. Deepening is more of a literary term (Madeleine L'Engle) and this is no longer a literary blog. I wanted to give it a more musical feel. Let me know what you think of the new name!


P.S.
I realize that I didn't write up my review of the Met's Orfeo yet. I also have another review on the way: it's a DVD review on Zurich's 2007 Clemenza. After the opera's over, I won't have much to talk about anyway so I'll save that stuff for then.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trouser Roles = Not That Scary After All

I'm completely done blocking for Poppea now! I feel like drinking sparkling grape juice or something.

I was pretty nervous before going to rehearsal today (I don't know why; I haven't been nervous for rehearsal since 10th grade) but by the time it was over, I was elated. I get so giddy after rehearsal; I don't know what it is. I just love it so much. There are few things that I love doing more. I'm just so glad that I figured that out now. :)

There's still loads of rehearsing ahead of us/me, but I'm ready for it! The cast is a great bunch of people and I love the directing team. I look forward to it!

I'm going to see Orfeo tonight at the Met. I'm really excited; I love this opera. It is so gorgeous!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thaïs: Another Amazing Night of Opera



The Met was gorgeous as usual as Mom and I came in from the chilly night air. The familiar chandeliers huge over the anxious crowd. It was closing night for the sold-out run of Thaïs. I was super-excited and little nervous. I'd been counting down the days to this show. First of all, I'd never seen Renée Fleming sing live and I was really pumped for that. Second, Leah had gotten me the chance to go BACKSTAGE to meet Ms. Fleming! As you can imagine, I was a bit of a chattering wreck (poor Mom!).

We got to our family circle seats (which, I heard later, were the best seats that night) and settled in. The gold curtains heralded much extravagance to come. The show couldn't start soon enough.

And finally it did.

The opera was heavenly. There isn't any other word for it. The music was gorgeous, the singing was out-of-this-world incredible, and the costumes/sets were really great. It was so amazing. I just wanted to cry. Mom did (multiple times). I couldn't have asked for a better night.

Renée Fleming's last phrase was easily one of the most incredible things I've ever heard. (The dying-sitting thing was weird, but whatever.) She was at the top of her game that night. I was so sad (and yet excited) when it was over.

Thomas Hampson sang splendidly as well. His Athanaël was extremely well-sung and well-played. He was true to the character and he convinced me; that's all I ever ask. He was so nice when we met him after the show.

My favorite part (beside the final duet because that was just transcendent) was the oasis scene. I can't believe this scene wasn't originally in the opera! This scene makes the opera. It's one of those "Massenet, I LOVE YOU!" moments. The music was gorgeous (sorry; I'm running out of adjectives) and the acting was so great. Ms. Fleming did an amazing job here as Thaïs. She played her as this innocent (almost "little") girl. Everything about her had changed. She wasn't this sexy, empty woman anymore. She was pure and deeply alive. As she herself says, "everything is new." There was a sense of wonder in her character. It was so great to watch onstage. :)

Alright, this isn't much of a review, but this opera is beyond words. It was simply incredible and that's all there is to it. It's coming out on DVD next year and I am definitely buying it. I only wish that they'd recorded the performance I saw. Oh well. You can't have everything.

After the show, I met up with the Renée groupies. It was so great to meet people who are just as crazy as I am! Seriously, though. They were all so sweet and welcoming. It was great to hang with them backstage and during intermission. I met Leah, Chelsea, and Erin at intermission and Sarah (and some other really great groupies) backstage. What a great experience! I was on the list for "Ms. Fleming" and I got to go into the green room. We were waiting there and everyone was telling Renée stories for me (the newbie). Then, she just walks in. I was speechless.

Ms. Fleming didn't have much time to spend with us backstage because she had a special dinner in her honor so she had to be there. But she spoke to us all and signed anything we wanted her to. She signed my copy of her book (which is outstanding, by the way; a must-read for any singer).

Then she went out the stage door, where my Mom was waiting. She signed everything and took pictures out there as well. She always takes time for everyone and she's so low-key and humble. It's crazy! My Mom stopped her and got her to sign our program (she also got Thomas Hampson's signature!) and take a picture with me. I told her what a role model she is for me and she asked if I was a singer. She wished me luck with my singing as she ran off to her engagement. So I was the last person she spoke with.

What a wonderful night! I was on Cloud 9 after that. I want to thank Leah for letting me hang with her and her friends (the groupies) and for my Mom who takes great pictures and is a fellow music-lover.

P.S. Ms. Fleming asks that you excuse her "wig hair." I thought she looked fabulous anyway. :) (And that was one mad-cool wig that she wore!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Poppea Gets a Make-Over

We had our production meeting today. We saw the model of the set (hooray kid's puppet theater!) and the drawings of the costume designs. How exciting!

The set is a construction site but you can't tell if it's being built or being torn down. That works really well with the whole concept of the opera. I'm intrigued. There are so many levels to it and it's very colorful. I'm really diggin' it. :)

My costume for Valletto is really fun. It's an all green "tunic" thing: it's sleeveless and short. It looks like ancient Roman stuff. However, I'm also wearing tennis shoes with high socks (with the two stripes on the top -- you know those!) and sweatbands on my wrists and head. It reminds me of the kid from Juno, Bleeker. Good times.

I've been excited about this opera since it started and I still am. It's NOT my favorite plot (and I don't know who I should actually invite since it could be rather risque), but it's a good production. I'm going to ride this for all it's got. :)

P.S. I'm going to see Thais tomorrow. I can't wait! This is my first time seeing Ms. Fleming sing live and what could be better than Massenet to be the first? (Mozart...that's the only thing that could be better...) I'll be sure to give you a detailed report. It's closing night tomorrow, so if you wanna see it, you'd better get out there tomorrow (or get a bootleg of the HD transmission...bootleg opera- that's a funny idea). Ciao!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

NYC New Year's Eve Gala

I stumbled upon the second half of the New Year's Eve Gala today. Lorin Maazel was his usual, fun self as was Susan Graham. She is such a riot; I love watching her onstage! Her singing was outstanding (except for her missed entrance for "Auld lang syne" after which Lorin Maazel took away her champagne glass - hahah). It was so cool hearing her sing Carmen; she's never played the part, so it was a unique experience to hear her sing the famous arias from that opera. It was just too much fun: she slinked onto the stage already in character. :) And she said she couldn't pull off Carmen!

Her "interview" with Renee Fleming was definitely a highlight. It was so great to see them interact; I know that they're such close friends. It was really cool to see one interviewing the other. It was so laid-back and not an interview; that's what made it fun. There were some priceless moments. Per esempio:



[RF and SG are talking about the operas they've done together, one of which is Der Rosenkavalier]
SG: Yeah, I've been your boyfriend so many times.
RF: (laughs)
SG: It's a hard job, but somebody's gotta do it.
[later; they're talking about why SG has never sung Carmen]
SG: I just don't think I could pull it off. I was always "Sunshine Suzy." I sang all the Cherubinos and Dorabellas.
RF: I think you could do it. I've seen you in action...
SG: Okay, enough said.

Oh, mezzos. It was also interesting to hear about their lives and how they're always traveling but whenever they see each other (which isn't too often), "it's like it's been 5 minutes." The interview was just so...cute. I don't know. I was giggling and it made me want to cry from its sweetness. Molto dolce. Operachanteuse, a fellow blogger, felt the same. (P.S. Thanks for the great photo!)

Ah. I want to see it again. I missed Sesto's aria ("Deh, per questo") and that makes me very sad. I love Susan Graham's Sesto (as you can tell from my review of it here); I would have loved to hear her sing that aria again. Besides, it's pretty funny to hear Sesto in a dress anyway. :)

Speaking of dresses, Ms. Graham looked stunning in that dress. It was really gorgeous. That necklace was perfect for her. And I love her new hair-do! When I saw her in May, she had such short hair. I like the bob; it suits her.

Overall, this gala made me giddy. I want to get it on DVD really bad. I hope someone recorded it or something. *sigh* I wish I wasn't so sick for New Year's; I would have been more on the ball. Besides, my DVD recorder is broken (sadness) so I couldn't have gotten it even if I wanted to. :(

Well, I'm glad that I saw what I did. :) Happy New Year to you all!