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

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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.)

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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):
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The triangle group (playing "Non piu andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro with a Spanish flair):
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Here's a video of the triangle group:


And, last but not least, the creepy street musician:
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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


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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?
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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:
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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.
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2. It's Mozart Land II. Here's another beautiful statue of him and more paraphernalia.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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And here's the rest of it.
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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!