Friday, December 17, 2010

HelloGoodbyeWhatever

Another semester completely finished! I couldn't be more relieved. As my dad said, "7 down, 1 to go." It's really crazy to think that I only have one semester left of undergrad, but I think the timing is perfect. Some people get pretty weird when it comes time to graduate, but I feel now like I did when I graduated from high school: happy, accomplished, and ready to move on to something new.

Four years is a long time to spend in one place. The adults in my life talk about how it "flew by" but it didn't "fly by" for me. I worked hard, learned a lot of new things, cherished many special moments, and wrestled through some challenging ones. It's not over yet but it's been a good (and interesting!) three-and-a-half years. It seems like just when I get used to everything, something changes. Things are always changing and that's something that I can be sure will continue even after I leave undergrad.

A friend mentioned to me that my blog has been "general" lately: that I haven't been updating as much and, when I do, I don't really talk about myself. It's true -- I've been quieter recently and that's because things are changing and I'm not sure what to say about them yet. There are a plethora of question marks hanging in the air and I can't bring myself to challenge them in any way, shape, or form except in my own thoughts. Events and feelings have been very personal lately and I would never bring myself to blog openly about them.

But to move on! I felt successful about the outcome of my scenes program Tuesday and my (last!) voice jury yesterday. Now I have so much to look forward to! Rehearsals for Don Giovanni start right after the New Year and I couldn't be more excited. I can barely contain myself, even now as I'm just thinking about it! It's going to be everything that a good adventure must be: thrilling, fun, challenging, eye-opening, and full of unexpected twists and turns.

So here's to the New Year with its joys, woes, and challenges! I'm wishing you all a very happy holiday and a wonderful New Year. May you be surrounded by those you love and all the things that make life good. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Diversity in Distance

When you're watching an opera, distance isn't something that you always notice. But I've certainly been noticing it recently and it has affected my entire opera experience. I attended two very different operas these past two weekends. Two weekends ago, I saw Opera Manhattan's black-box production of La Boheme and last weekend I went to the Met for their Cosi fan tutte. (Performances: Nov. 20, 8pm and Nov. 27, 8:30pm respectively.)

Granted, these two productions were about as different as two things can be. Boheme was intimate, raw, and strikingly relevant, but Cosi was flippant, ridiculous, and a million miles removed from me. The singers of Boheme were a handful of feet away from me, lamenting their losses and rejoicing in their triumphs. At the Met, the singers, equally emotive, were hundreds of feet away. But it was more than physical distance. The characters of Boheme were living a life similar to my own and, ironically, parallel to the lives of the singers portraying them. How striking to watch artists, young and (perhaps) struggling emotionally and monetarily, playing characters who are experiencing the same thing. Then, after that emotional roller-coaster, I saw Cosi which was so sickeningly flippant that you could only laugh at it all. The singers were no less committed or talented, but the material and the venue was so very different from that of Boheme. Stunned, I thought, "How can two performances of the same art form be so radically different?"

The inherent difference between Boheme and Cosi is, of course, the distance that the composer purposefully and carefully creates between the characters and the audience. Boheme finds all its power in its ability to relate to the common person. It feeds off commonality: common circumstances, common people, common feelings. Everyone knows what it is to love someone and what it is to lose someone. Puccini draws you in as close as possible and then plays mercilessly with your heartstrings. This is why I found Opera Manhattan's production so effective. The venue was small and simple: a black box with two doors and movable set pieces. The singers were young, emotive, and cast well in their roles. They wore modern-day clothing and used modern-day technology. Rodolfo could have been my next-door neighbor and Mimi could have been the girl who sits next to me in English class. It meant so much more to see these ordinary, modern-day people struggle with poverty, morality, love, friendship, loss, and sacrifice.

Mozart, however, did the exact opposite with his Cosi. He pushes the audience as far away as possible. More than anything, I feel that it's a survival technique. If the events of Cosi were brought close, like the events of Boheme, it would be horrifically tragic. I always think of the opening Act II trio in Don Giovanni: if there isn't an element of humor in that scene, it becomes tragic to the point of destructively depressing. There is something deep and horrible about watching Giovanni seduce Elvira for the second time, this time even more deceptively than the first, using Leporello like a soulless puppet. That is the feeling that Cosi flirts with continually but never reaches because Mozart keeps the audience at a distance. Granted, there are glimpses of seria, but they vanish quickly, as a mist, and you're left wondering if they were ever there at all or if they were only figments of an over-emotional imagination. I especially liked the Met's production because it didn't dwell on those moments of serious emotional. It gave them credit, but then moved on quickly. The entire production caught the over-the-top feel of the opera and the ending was especially spontaneous, leaving the audience happy instead of confused, as some productions are prone to do.

Despite their differences, both operas did something for me. While Boheme touched my emotions and reminded me of the reality of things and of the constant need for compassion, Cosi reminded me that sometimes you have to take things lightly and just have fun, because life has to be about sparkle just as much as it has to be about weight. Balance -- that is the great lesson here, the lesson which I will always strive to complete.

The diversity of opera continually surprises me. Opera can create so many different moods and evoke so many different emotions. Each opera deals with the audience in its own, unique way and that is one reason why it can always remain interesting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Art as Teacher

Ok, I knew this opera (Don Giovanni) was going to be emotional, but I'm now realizing that it's going to be much more intense than I ever imagined.

We had our first acting rehearsal yesterday for the Act II sextet, which we are performing in December as part of opera scenes. We're using it as a premiere for the opera in January. I think it's a great idea and I was very happy to be chosen to be part of the scene. But I digress.

The scene is pretty complicated so I don't want to bore you with details, but it suffices to say that I had to look people in the eye and face emotions that I do not like -- in fact, I go out of my way to avoid these emotions and situations in real life. It is so scary to plead with four people and have them all look back with cold, unyielding eyes. It felt like an embodiment of all the apathy and selfishness in the world. And all this while singing some of Mozart's darkest music. Ahh!

I could go on and on about all the little things that happened in that short rehearsal, but it boils down to this: in this role, I'm forced to face all the things that I hate most. And that is scary. This is such an emotionally charged opera and the music is just so expressive and I know now, for sure, that this role is really and truly going to be an adventure. I learn so much from every role that I sing and I feel that Donna Elvira is really going to take me through some tough places. She's going to teach me things that I really need to learn just for life, just for me.

Art has this incredible power to reveal the most vulnerable parts of us -- to turn them transparent and expose them to the cruelest scrutiny. People are always afraid of others seeing their vulnerability, but I think it is far scarier to see your own vulnerabilities and have to face them in the full light of day.

And, yet, art has a healing power to it as well. Once those vulnerabilities are exposed, art brings the balm to soothe the pain. In this way, art is more like a doctor than an enemy because it exposes things in the hopes of fixing them.

This is why I believe so strongly in my craft. I want to be a conduit for inspiration and exposure and healing for everyone who is willing and, in this process, to better understand myself so that I can be a more positive force in the everyday world I live in. Because life is all about making things better and I plan to use the talents and skills that I've been given to do my best to make things better in any way that I can.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tonight!

Pretty Gown √
Nails Done √
Jewelry √
Pantyhose √
Family and Friends √
Great Music √ (Memorized! √)

I'm so pumped for my concert tonight! I feel so incredibly privileged to be part of such a great group as Opera Manhattan. I can't wait to sing with my talented and fun colleagues! I just love collaborative work, especially when it involves opera music. :) Granted, I like almost anything when it involves opera music!

I arranged my life so I could take today "off" to get ready. I've found that it takes so much time to really prepare for a performance. And I could barely sleep last night! I kept waking up and making myself go back to sleep. I'm so excited!

When I was walking to dress rehearsal last Tuesday, it suddenly hit me that I'm part of a professional opera group for the first time. I passed some crew guys for the Late Show and a dancer for the new Spiderman broadway show and I thought, "I'm an artist, just like them." Here I am in Manhattan, one of the cultural capitals of the world, walking to dress rehearsal for a concert in Symphony Space. I'm working with professional opera singers and producers and coaches. It just suddenly felt so real to me. And that is a very nice feeling indeed.

I can't help but look at my life and be so incredibly grateful for everything that I've been given. I am so so blessed and I never forget that. God has given me so much. I can only hope that I give it all back tonight with my performance.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wagner, Booing, and Patrick Stewart

If this doesn't make your day, I don't know what will.



Awww, Patrick Stewart at the Metropolitan Opera. What could be cuter than that? lol

Last night was the opening night of the Met season and there were celebs galore (Meg Ryan, Holly Hunter, etc). There was also booing galore. The crowd booed the director when he came out for his curtain call.

What is this? There hasn't been booing at the Met for the longest time and now we've had booing on the opening night of the season two years in a row. Last year they booed the new production of Tosca and this year they booed Wagner's Das Rheingold. Crazy! Apparently we are entering a new era in American opera and I'm here to witness it. Are we the next La Scala? lol I highly doubt it.

I'm kind of surprised the celebs made it through Wagner, even though Das Rheingold is the shortest installment of the massive Ring Cycle. It's only two-and-a-half hours (lol) with no intermissions (that's the hard part). The last part of the Ring Cycle is almost six hours long. It's title is so long that it almost takes 6 hours to pronounce it -- Götterdämmerung. I love the German language and its super-long words. :)

But much can be said for the die-hard nature of opera fans. The Met broadcasted a simulcast outside, in Lincoln Center, and people stood out there in the rain to watch it. Unlike the celebrities inside, they stood for the two-and-a-half hour opera. What dedication! I would have been right there with them had I not had opera rehearsal last night. :) Viva l'opera!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

College Essays, aka Deja Vu

After I finished my final essay for undergraduate admission, I assumed (somewhat naively) that I'd never have to write another college essay again. So you might understand why I was taken a bit off guard when I started my grad school applications and found that I had to write more essays.

Why is it that they always ask the hard questions? Something like "What value do you believe your art form has for society?" is something that could take me weeks to answer properly. There is so much to be said! Too bad there's a 1-2 page limit!

All I can say is, I'm glad I started early because this is going to take me a while. How can I possibly smash all my feelings and opinions on these huge, important subjects into 500-word packages? I suppose now is the time to discover the definition of "concise." These essays are going to take some soul-searching and word-wrangling, but, as always, I'm excited for the challenge.

Bring it on, college essays! Do your worst.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Debut!

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be making my company debut with Opera Manhattan on October 9th in their "Great Opera Ensembles" concert! I'm very excited!

I'll be singing Pauline in a duet from Queen of Spades and Third Lady in the opening trio from The Magic Flute. It's taking place at Symphony Space in Manhattan, so this is also my NYC debut. I'm so privileged to be a part of Opera Manhattan's Studio Ensemble Program and I can't wait to see what I'm going to learn and experience!

There is so much opera in my life right now that I could just burst from it. I LOVE IT! :D

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Singing Opera = Lose Weight?

Here is an amazing, amazing lady talking about a very important topic: singers and their weight. I love what she says here; she's dead-on and she would know! Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is one of the most committed artists I have ever known, you know that she works hard at everything she does, and she always looks great on stage (and off!) so I trust her opinion. You tell them, Dame Te Kanawa!!

Here's the interview on BBC.


Check it out - she has lots of wisdom to share with us all. :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Klingon Opera - You Can't Make This Stuff Up


If you happen to be one of three people in the world who likes opera and Star Trek, you'll appreciate this project that a Dutch theater has undertaken.

They're premiering a Klingon Opera! How exciting, right? hahahah YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP.

Here's a link to the theater and here's a link to an article about it written by WIRED (which has some funny promotion videos). Have fun!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sharing is Caring

If you're like me and stuck at work on a Friday with nothing to do but read Slaughterhouse-five, then you'll appreciate perusing one of my favorite websites:


So that's my gift to you today; enjoy. Honestly, I need to get a few pictures of my boy and his cats up there...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Avoiding the Countdown

According to my internal clock, summer is still in full swing. To celebrate such, I'd like to bring you a cool new music video featuring robots, guitars, and pretty lights. HOW COULD YOU RESIST? ;)


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fighting Off the Question Marks

"Slow down, you crazy child
You're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart, tell me
Why are you still so afraid?"
-"Vienna" Billy Joel



It's amazing how a few tabs of Mucinex can make you feel, suddenly and completely, like yourself. No, it's not how it sounds.

I've been languishing on the couch for days now with 1. a sinus infection and 2. no hopes of practicing. As you may well know, this is an acute form of torture (and the former sentence is an acute form of sarcasm). I'm the kind of person that can't stop thinking about what I need to get done. Needless to say, I can't get anything done when I'm sick. Hence, the torture. I've had plenty of time to think about all the impending events of my life and the question marks have been swarming like flies over a pig carcass. That, and I really enjoy practicing and going a few days without it inevitably causes withdrawal pain.

But, back to the Mucinex.

I was walking out of work when I quickly looked into my bag and saw the innocent set of Mucinex tabs. When I thought about the other things in my bag (a binder of music currently being slaved over, a voice recorder, a bestseller with a snarky narrator that knows about as much useless stuff as I do, chapstick, my cellphone, etc etc), I realized that these are the same things that were in my bag the same time a year ago (albeit I have upgraded from Walgreen's chapstick since then, but that's beside the point).

Granted, this isn't an epiphany in any sense of the word, but it made me realize something even more important. Even though my life has changed drastically in the last year and I have, at times, felt disconnected from The Kim of Last August, I am still, at the core, the same. The peripheral details have shifted, jumbled, and transformed, but the central Self has not changed. It may seem like life changes from "difficult and yet never insurmountable" to "GOOD LORD, GET ME OUT OF HERE" but that's not true. Maybe I'm too young to have any say in this, but I feel that although life might feel like the latter, it is actually always the former, and the Self can be impenetrable. I can always look into my bag and find some Mucinex or a well-worn pencil or some chapstick because I am always Who I Am and that can remain unchanged.

So now as I face the many ???s that swamp my brain, I can be confident that no matter what life decides to do next, I can make it through and still find a few constants in the jumble that is called existence.

But, hey, at least I don't have this problem:



Sunday, July 25, 2010

Land Ho!

This post will be totally opera-free. Well, okay, I lied, because I cannot help myself, but it will be mostly opera-free.

As you may or may not know, my brother is attending the Merchant Marine academy and he's currently at sea. We are able to see where his ship is on any given day. He's on his way to the Mediterranean Sea, Kuwait, India, and Singapore. And I thought I was going to be the world traveler! I never really thought any of us would be, but I guess I thought wrong. :)

So here's a picture of where his ship is today. They left from the U.S. last Sunday and they've almost completely crossed the Atlantic! It must be really cool to be on the water with nothing around you for so long. Look, he's so close to Africa! How cool is that?



I was looking at the picture of all the ships on the sea, and you'll never guess what I found!



Yes, there is a ship named Elvira! :D I just cannot escape no matter how hard I try.

So I'm proud of my little sailor brother. He spends his days in the engine room which is 100 degrees Fahrenheit on a cool day. Hey, at least he's getting paid to spend time in a sauna, right? I hope he's having fun on out on the big ocean. He hasn't been able to contact us since last Sunday, so I can't wait to see what he has to say when he gets his email address...

Friday, July 23, 2010

50 and 15 - Happy Birthday, Susan Graham!

Watching Ms. Graham play Octavian at the Met last October made me believe that there is such thing as the fountain of youth. She's fifty today but she can still pull off a 17-year-old boy and make me believe it. Now that is talent.

Susan Graham is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and she's one of the most talented and electric performers in the opera world today. All the best wishes to her this year and all those to come!

I don't want to seem like a Youtube junkie or anything (I've been embedding so many videos on this blog lately!), but I have to share one of my favorite performances with you. Here's an oldie but a goodie from Sunshine Suzy's Cherubino days:

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Now Present the Winner of the 1979 Abominable Snowman Competition

Honestly, where do they come up with this stuff?

I've been having tons-o-fun surfing around Youtube for Don Giovanni fodder and since Kiri Te Kanawa is rumored to be "the best" Elvira of all time (along with Schwarzkopf, of course), I attempted to find a video of her. And find a video, I did.

If they had a competition for the worst costume EVER, this would most definitely win. I mean, is that a cocoon on her head? And is that a wedding dress with enough bows on it to induce nausea?

And yet, she still sings like an angel, so who am I to complain? Her Elvira is much less harsh than others (such as Bartoli's), but it's clean and beautiful and effecting. Her voice is perfect for this role in both construction and tone. She definitely uses her personal voice to its greatest advantage here. I love how so many different voices can sing the same role and draw so many different aspects out of the same character.

Either way, I present Donna Elvira in disguise as the Abominable Snowman. (She is totally going to win back Giovanni in that get-up...) Watch and enjoy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

[hoʊm]

What a wonderful ten days I had at NYOS! It was such a positive experience all around. I can't say enough good things about it! I learned so much about artistry and performance as well as got my butt in shape. I walked more than 5 miles a day for sure and I had a movement class every morning.

Surprisingly, I also learned about myself as a person. I wasn't expecting an opera boot camp to be a soul-searching experience, but it was. The things I learned in those ten days will most definitely resonate for weeks and months, maybe even years.

And it was so much fun. I got to hang out with people who love opera just as much as I do and who are committed to the craft. It was absolutely thrilling to have detailed conversations about the great singers of the past and Romantic operas and the difference between Baroque and Classical recitative. Nerdy, I know, but exciting nonetheless.

There's so much to look forward to! I'm glad that my summer didn't end with that program. Now I can take what I've learned and move into this dangerous territory known as Don Giovanni. I can't wait to see what I'll discover here in the murky depths of Mozart's drama. It will most definitely be an adventure.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And Away We Go!



Just a quick post before I leave for New York Opera Studio.

This is going to be opera 24/7. Ahhhh!!

I just hope I don't forget anything...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who Stole the Cookie From The Cookie Jar?

Friday I'm leaving for the New York Opera Studio Summer Intensive. I'm so excited! I'm ready for tons of German rep, diction lessons with Nico Castel, and, of course, pants roles! (I'm still getting used to the idea that I'm playing a woman in the opera in January...)

I will be singing Hänsel (Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel) and the Third Spirit in the Pamina "suicide scene" (Mozart's Die Zauberflöte). Both characters are little boys. This should be so much fun!

My music in the Hänsel scene was a bit tricky at first but I'm really having fun with it now. The melodies are so gorgeous and downright cute at times. The witch's music is horrifying - I won't have to act at all! She sings repetitive staccato high Bs, trills, huge leaps, and other crazy stuff. I'm looking forward to bringing this scene to life.

Here's a clip from Hänsel und Gretel with the charming Brigitte Fassbänder and Edita Gruberova. It's not the scene that I'm doing, but it exemplifies Humperdinck's musical style and it shows you just how cute Hänsel and Gretel are! :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Elvira

In January 2011, I will be singing Donna Elvira in Hofstra Opera Theater's fully-staged production of Don Giovanni. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!

I am beyond excited for this opportunity. First of all, this is the largest role that I've ever been given the privilege to sing. Second of all, it's a Mozart opera. Third, it's Don Giovanni and we're talking about Elvira. She is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting female characters in the Mozart repertoire (and that's saying a lot considering her competition). And her music is out-of-this-world amazing. I mean, she gets to enter to the opening of "Ah chi mi dice mai." What more could you ask for?

Her dilemma is so compelling to me. I've already begun to really imagine how it all went down for her and how she must be feeling throughout the opera. I still can't believe that I'm going to have the privilege to interpret her character and bring her to life.

I feel so intensely grateful. Every day I'm reminded of how lucky I am and I just get chills, thinking "How could I be so lucky? How could I be allowed to be a part of this incredible art form of opera? How could I be allowed to be such an active part of this great story of Don Giovanni and his brush with mortality?" The gratitude within me is just overwhelming. There are no other words for the way I feel.

I take this all very seriously. There's a responsibility to do things to the best of my ability. It's like when a writer sits down to create their novel: she (or he) owes it to her readers to give her absolute best on every page. So I'm ready to wrestle through recit and coloratura and Italian to get to the heart of it all.

I cannot wait. This will surely be another great adventure. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maureen Forrester, 79

Maureen Forrester, a well-known operatic contralto and one of my favorite singers, passed away last night at the age of 79. She has left behind a gold mine of recordings, all of which have taught me invaluable lessons about music, expression, and life.

Her Orfeo was the first recording of hers that I ever heard. I was studying "Che faro senza Euridice" at the time and this is the first recording of the entire opera that I listened to. I was swept away by the deep expression she evoked with her singing. Even the recit stuck out as immensely alive. I sat there with my headphones on and my eyes closed and I could see Orfeo and understand his predicament. I felt the depth of his loss and it moved me.

A bit later, when I was studying Mahler's Rückertlieder, I turned once again to her recordings and once again, I was blown away. She is a subtle and expressive artist and her singing has changed the way I feel about music.

Even though the world has lost a great singer, we have not truly lost her because her recordings remain and they can still affect us. I suppose that's the beauty of music; in a way, it's eternal and time cannot dim its power.

Here is a segment from Ms. Forrester's Orfeo where he enters Elysium, the Greek version of Heaven, and sings about its beauty.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Checkin' Out Chekhov

I know this isn't opera or music, but it's something that I enjoy, so here is my find for today:

I love Chekhov's plays, but I had never read any of his prose until I picked up his The Story of a Nobody. It's short (under a 100 pages) and sweet and beautiful. His prose is stunningly poignant; its simplicity has an inherent profundity. I absolutely loved it.

I picked it up to fulfill my Mission101 goal #74: read a book by a Russian author. I didn't really want to suffer through War and Peace or anything and I've always wanted to read Chekhov's prose. They had this little book at my library so I took it out. I finished it in two days.

For some reason, his writing reminds me so much of F. Scott Fitzgerald. They really don't have much in common, but I think it's the way they describe their characters. Their characters are so real that you can imagine them sitting in your living room without causing a stir. They belong anywhere and everywhere -- they are simply people and it is rewarding to probe their depths, or lack thereof.

And I think it's also the feeling that these writers leave with you. At the end of the story, you feel fulfilled, as if you've just discovered some great secret, but you also feel a bit lost, as though something was left unresolved. It results in something nearly perfect with its perfection marred by a single unsettled object. It's like a beautiful room, decorated with much grace and intelligence, with a single painting that is slightly crooked or a vase that simply does not match the style of the room. In a normal situation, the object would be inconsequential, easily overlooked, but amidst the great web of the story, it is essential, irreplaceable. It demands intense attention. The ordinary transforms itself into the unique, the commonplace into the singular. The phenomenon is not new to me, but it continues to shock me; just as good writing can again and again wriggle itself into my innermost heart and stun me with its brilliance.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Infamous Carmen

Everyone always disagrees about the character of Carmen. I've thought about her a lot (she is infinitely intriguing) and I was reminded about her again today while I watched an interview with Vesselina Kasarova (found here - Thanks Smorg!). Unfortunately, if you don't speak German, you won't be able to follow any of it, but here are some things that I found especially interesting.

First of all, everyone always seems extremely animate when it comes to their interpretation of Carmen. Ms. Kasarova is always animated (she's so much fun to watch) but she seemed especially insistent in this interview about her view of Carmen. The interviewer brought up the idea of critics and VK laughed, saying that this was her opinion and no one had any right to criticize it.

She brought up the fact that Carmen is a sort of Don Giovanni. This is an idea that I've toyed with myself. They are both epic characters - they stand out from other characters because they are so huge, they are so legendary. Some people consider Don Giovanni to be an archetype. I think the same could be said for Carmen.

Another thing that VK talked about was that, for her, less eroticism is better because "less is more." It is true that the amount of eroticism in opera in general has increased over time, but I think this is especially true of Carmen (I think immediately of Anne Sophie von Otter's Carmen in David McVicar's recent Glyndebourne production). I'm intrigued by VK's thoughts and I'd love to see her interpretation in full. Her voice is so much suited to the role in general, and I think her unique artistry would definitely bring something new to the character.

Looking over VK's upcoming schedule, I am once again dismayed to find that she is not venturing into the States this year. I don't blame her, since she is nice and settled in Europe and she has a family to consider, but I cannot wait for the day when I get to see her perform live. I guess I'll just have to make another trip to Europe sometime soon. ;)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gluck Attracts the Punks

So I have a little brother - he's seventeen and intoxicated with music. Music and card tricks are about the only two things that can keep his attention for more than five minutes. He plays the guitar, the oboe, and percussion, but I think his favorite instrument is the stereo. He listens to music all day long. Since he is a seventeen year old boy, he's really into metal and screamo and all that, but he also has an ear for orchestral music (he loves Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture and Beethoven's 7th symphony). Even though he enjoys orchestral music, he has never showed any interest in opera. At least, not until now.

I was sitting on my couch, watching Kasarova sing Gluck's Orfeo (Munich Opera), and my brother suddenly sat down with me. Together we watched Orfeo lament the loss of his beloved Euridice, be told by Cupid that he could get his beloved back, and then descend into the underworld to find her. He didn't say a word: he just watched.

Then, just as Orfeo was about to conquer the evil spirits of Hades, my mom called us to dinner and the opera went off. But my brother's fascination with Gluck's masterpiece didn't end there. He started commenting on the singing and the music and the story. He was really impressed by Deborah York (the woman singing Cupid); he said that he'd never heard such perfect high notes. When my sister came in and asked a question, he took the initiative and said, "He [Orfeo] just wants his girl back. This is a really good story."

I told him that they were playing Orfeo at the Met next season and I asked him if he wanted me to take him to see it. He's never been to the Met despite my urgings that he go. He was ecstatic that I'd bring him to see Orfeo and quickly agreed.

Another score for Team Opera. This is just more proof that opera is not as "inaccessible to the youth" as everyone seems to think it is. ;)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Personally...

It seems that there is a constant debate over how personal a blog should be. Certainly everyone can read it and ultimately you're responsible for everything you write, but where does the line lie? When does a blog become so sterile that it ceases to be an extension of a personality but instead a dry recording of facts? But when is one saying too much?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I've been meaning to write about it. Then I read two posts in the same day on this very issue (consequently both written by opera singers, here and here) and I knew I had to address it.

I've come to realize that ultimately, life is always a tight-rope act: it's about learning how to stay on the rope and not lean too far to either side. It's about scouting the territory, finding the boundary lines, and deciding which lines you should cross and which lines you should completely avoid. Some things are obvious, but others are not. There are grey zones and we must learn how to navigate them.

We are all unique -- each of us is singular in this universe, and I think we should share our selves, our intricately crafting being, with others. We all can harbor a light inside us and if we let that light shine in the world, it can work against the darkness that already lurks about us, plaguing us with its presence every day. I write to share my ideas and thoughts and experiences with those who would care to hear them and I write to shine my light in the dark places of the world. We all deal with things and have bad days; why shouldn't I write about the good things in life? I can't tell you how many times I've gone over to Joyce DiDonato's blog and been inspired or uplifted by her positive posts. When I see something that I like, I try to do the same; I always try to follow a good example and this is one of those instances.

I don't claim to be able to do much - to be anything great or peerless. But I do want to do good things, and if I can help one person at one time in his or her life, then all I have done will be worth it because there is no greater thing than to help someone else. This is one of the reasons I sing and this is one of the reasons I write. I will not be stifled, I will not be stopped when I am doing what I know is right.

So this blog will be personal. I will do my best to shine my unique light and perhaps scare away a few rain clouds along the way.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Flying

If this is what flying feels like, then I never want to see the ground.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Recital < 102 Hours

Less than 102 hours to go before my Junior Recital and I am (for lack of a better word) pumped. Every day I get more excited about it. I can't wait for it to be Saturday! Granted, I have so much work to do before then, but still!

I've been looking forward to my recital since I first heard about it freshman year. That seems so long ago. It always amazes me how time works. "Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar' Ding..."

The thing that I'm most excited about is the performance itself. I've spent so much time with this music by myself, in the practice room, and I cannot wait to throw it out into the world. I love this music so much and I've found so much joy in singing it; I just want to share that with others so they can find that joy, too.

For me, performance is such a phenomenon. The music can live in the practice room, but it takes on a whole new existence in the concert hall. There's something inherently incredible about the energy that's created between the music, the performers, and the audience. Not only do I love collaborating with an accompanist and other musicians, but I also love the addition of audience participation. It is in those moments that the music comes completely and indescribably alive.

So many performers have tried to explain this experience, but I'm not sure that words are ever going to be articulate enough to be useful. Words or no words, I'm looking forward to it with all my heart. I cannot wait for that music to be born in that little theatre, shared with the people I love most.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sympathy

I feel as though we are not born in a moment, in a neat collection of minutes that can be written down for all inquiring posterity, but, instead, we are born over a span of years, our consciousness developing slowly, discovering the world a piece at a time until, one day, the puzzle is complete and we are born to existence. Sure, once the picture comes together, there are details that still need to be filled in and colors that need to be defined, but there comes a moment that defines every moment that comes after it.

How interesting it is to stand and watch the pieces gravitate toward one another, like a drop of water instinctively absorbing another. Nature -- we cannot fight it and, yet, we live within it. How can we keep from growing up, from understanding who we are, who we are meant to be?

It is a scary thing to stand and comprehend yourself, to begin to see your place in this vast sea of souls. I am standing and I am waiting, watching the pieces fall slowly into place as the lines wax sharper every day. The things I want to do, to see, to be! I could almost explode from it.

But I will wait patiently, working side by side with the One who created it all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

L'etoile

What a charming, charming opera! It simply blew me away. All of my expectations were exceeded. NYCO, you have not disappointed me!

Needless to say, I had a lovely night in NYC on Saturday night. L'etoile was brilliant. I haven't laughed so hard in a while. And all the cuteness onstage! I love love love this opera! And the entire production was just so beautiful; between the music and the singing and the choreography and the costumes and everything, it was just an aesthetic pleasure through and through.

I have to admit, though, that the best part of it all was the fact that the prima donna was a pants role! YAY MEZZOS! <3 Another great role to add to my To-Do list. :)

Hurray for French opera!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Philharmonic



One of the reasons I love being a cellist is that I get great opportunities like being a member of the McCarthy Philharmonic. Mitchell McCarthy is a senior Composition major at my school and he's put together a 50+ piece symphony orchestra to play his works.

I get such a thrill from playing in an orchestral setting, but there is nothing like playing music that could have been written the night before. It's such an amazing feeling to play the music and think, "This is the first time that this music is coming to life."

And of course it's really great to have the composer conducting and coaching you. I have been given the opportunity to get inside Mitch's head and understand why he composed the things he did. His music is so inspiring and I absolutely adore it. It speaks right to my soul and I can't think of a better way to experience the music fully than to be a part of its realization.

I guess the bottom line is that music is amazing and it moves me and I love to be a part of it in as many ways as possible.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Viva Verdi!

I thoroughly enjoyed Attila at the Met on Tuesday night (3/9/10). Muti and the orchestra were thrillingly moving in this early Verdi piece. I enjoyed the singing immensely and the costumes were really cool. (Check out some pictures here at Opera Chic's blog.) The staging was extremely static; the best ways to describe this entire production is "old school." I find it ironic that a new production at the Met is the most "old school" thing that I've ever seen. I've never actually experienced the "stand and sing" style live before. (Yes, that's how young I am.) It was really interesting.

My favorite part about the whole opera was the fact that Odabella was always seen toting around Attila's sword. You have to watch out for those Italian women! ;) LOVE IT.

In other news, I've been extremely pleased with the weather as of late. It's warm and pretty about 80% of the time now! I hope it stays like this; it does wonders for my mood.

It was especially nice because I've been in the city these past two days and I didn't need to drag a heavy coat everywhere. I could walk the city in normal clothes and be comfortable. What a concept!

Life is good. I'm tired and working hard non-stop, but I love it. Viva la musica!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Handel!

I have to admit: I forgot it was Handel's birthday. It's weird, though, because I spent the entire weekend absolutely addicted to his Alcina. I listened to the whole thing all the way through once and listened to various parts of it between 3-8 times. (I'm in love with this opera!) I sang the Act III trio from that opera today in my scenes class. Between that trio, the new Met season, and NYCO's Partenope, I spent a good amount of time talking about Handel today with friends and teachers. And I had no idea until now that it is Handel's birthday! How funny.

So to celebrate, let me share the Handel love. Today I made another discovery! I found a recording of Jennifer Rivera singing Handel's "Come nube che fugge dal vento," Nerone's mad aria from Agrippina. I LOVE THIS ARIA. And to Jenny Rivera: not bad for opening night... I still don't know how anyone gets through this aria; it's absolutely INSANE. She does a smashingly amazing job here. This is definitely worth listening to. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

And I just couldn't leave this out; it was just too good. This video is hysterical and slightly amazing. I've been wrestling through 20th century music in history class, so this really struck a chord with me. I present the newest conductor on the block conducting Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

All Good Things...


Die Fledermaus has officially come to an end, but what a great run! I couldn't have asked for a better production, a better cast, a better production team, a better costume (!). Honestly, I had so much fun and I learned so much. Overall, it was just a wonderful experience.

And so many people came out to support me! The support was completely unexpected and slightly overwhelming. Of course I can't forget to thank everyone who encouraged me throughout this process. I cherish every single kind word that was spoken to me -- and there were a lot! I really don't know how I got so lucky.

I'm definitely going to miss Fledermaus, and Orlofsky in particular, but I made the most of it and I'm proud of how it all turned out. All good things must come to an end, and I'm not unsatisfied with this ending at all. We had a great run and I am so grateful for it all. Besides, I'm sure I'll get to whip out Orlofsky again. That's one of the things I love about opera: you always have another chance to revisit these wonderful characters. He'll always be there, ready to make an appearance. I just have to wait for the opportunity. :)

I'm so happy. Just so happy. :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ah, Happy Day of Divine Delight

Opening night went smashingly well. I couldn't have asked for anything better! Everyone sounded absolutely wonderful and everything went smooth as glass. I'm just so grateful for all the hard work that everyone - cast, crew, orchestra, etc etc - put into this because it totally paid off. What a triumph!

I think my feet are still floating six inches off the ground...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Farfalle is Your Friend

6 hours to curtain! That means that it's time for pre-performance pasta! w00t!

I am so pumped! I cannot wait for tonight. It's going to be a great show!

So here's to relaxing until then...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One More Day To Go!

I can't believe it. TOMORROW IS OPENING NIGHT!!

Yesterday was Mozart's 254th Birthday. If I hadn't been so busy, I would have celebrated on here by posting something. I wanted to have a party, but I couldn't because of dress rehearsal. But then I thought: what better way to celebrate his birthday than to sing opera? It couldn't be more perfect.

I'm all ready to go. I LOVE this show and I LOVE my character and I just couldn't be any happier than I already am.

Much love to anyone who's coming and here's to opening night!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Or(laugh)sky

My character's name has been butchered ever since I was first cast. First it was Orlovsky, then it was Orlafsky, and then there's the infamous Offlofsky. It's just like my real name: no one can seem to get my last name right. I've seen some pretty awful/interesting/entertaining things over the years.

But today was the first full-tech run-through. I'm still amazed by how so many tiny details somehow work together to make this great show. There are so many people who are responsible for the simplest things, but if one of those fails to happen, the whole show goes down the tubes. It's almost like every successful performance is a little miracle. I'm so grateful for the crew who do all the things that really make the show work. I can put so much work in, but it can all fail if the crew people aren't their amazing selves. So YAY FOR CREW!

I was so WIRED today. It must have been the costume and the lights and the smoke machine and everything. My character was just so PRESENT and I was amped and I expending all my energy during those hours. I was completely exhausted after my run-through. I fell asleep on a pile of furs during Act III and one of the choristers braided my hair. I said that Orlofsky would protest and they said, "Not if Adele did it." Touche.

This has been such a great experience. I'm really excited for the week to come, but I'm also a little sad because I don't want it to end. But I won't think of that now. Here's to Fledermaus!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Prince is Born

I don't know about you, but when I was little, I LOVED playing dress-up. Well, today I got to be 5 again and play dress-up. Only this time it was for real.

I had my first costume fitting for Prince Orlofsky. I don't think I've had this much fun since...well, I've been having a lot of fun lately, but this was really a riot. Christina, the costumer, brought in all these crazy things for me to try on. So I strapped on my 32% Lycra bra and pulled on those boy clothes.

We tried so many different things, but we couldn't settle on one outfit, so I have a costume in the making. Christina has to go shopping again. Yay for another dress-up day! We couldn't settle on a wig, either. I really hope I don't have to cut my hair after all...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Week One? CHECK!

So, I successfully survived week one of staging rehearsals. I only got three new bruises and I didn't trip at all! I didn't get choked by an extension cord, beat up by a boy, or pushed down a flight of stairs! This is truly an accomplishment. Sure, I gave a few boys some bruises (accidently; I don't know my own strength), but that's okay. They probably deserved it anyway. (LOL)

We did so well this week that Isabel gave us the weekend off. We've been commanded to REST and not do anything. Sounds like a plan. I have my costume fitting on Sunday -- that should be really fun.

Here's to tech week! I'd better rest up while I can.