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


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


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.


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?