Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Poetry Has Been Published!

Attention all lovers of music, opera, literature, and poetry!

I’m very excited to announce that my book of poetry, The Songs of Orpheus, has been published by Amazon as an Ebook. That means you can read it on your Kindle or on your computer (you just have to download the Kindle application here). I would love for you all to check it out and maybe purchase it - it’s only $2.99 (you can spend that much on one latte at Starbucks). Not only is it about 50 pages of my poetry, but there are photographs dispersed throughout to add to the mood of the book.

The Songs of Orpheus is a chapbook in two parts: the first is a collection of 23 poems based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Narrated by Orpheus, it isn’t simply a retelling of the story. Instead, it’s an artistic view on the major themes of the myth, adding decoration to the basic scaffolding of the original plot. The second part is composed of stand-alone poems which all explore the artist’s view of the world, with a strong emphasis on music and culture. The first half is heavily influenced by Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice and the second half has many musical allusions, including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and Massenet’s (Goethe’s) Werther so you will really appreciate it if you’re a music lover.

I’ve worked hard on this little book and I’m very happy to see it finally published. I’d love to share my work and passion with you, so if you’d like to check it out, please do. Also, if you read it and have opinions about it, please leave a review. I’m trying to make my place in the literary world and every little bit helps!

You can buy it by clicking the title above or by clicking here. Even if you can’t buy it, I’d love for you to promote it to your friends. Also, here is my official Author Page.

You guys rock and I really hope you enjoy it!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Artist's Body

While I was rehearsing for L'elisir, the company brought in their choreographer from time to time to sit in on rehearsal. For the first time in my experience, the choreographer was watching every scene that we rehearsed, making comments on our body language and on how we moved onstage. I found this both extremely helpful and a bit intimidating.

Granted, I'm always aware of my body when I'm onstage. It's crucial not only for good stage presence, but also for creating character and bringing across emotion and mood to the audience. But when the choreographer was sitting in on rehearsal, I became hyper-aware of how I was using every single part of my body at every moment. I learned a lot from her comments and probably avoided even more comments simply because I was conscious of what I was doing all the time.

The best lesson I took away from this was to keep this hyper-awareness all the time. It taught me this new level of paying attention to my body, no matter how important I am to the scene at a given moment.

I just love how body movement can define a character. This concept has intrigued me from the very start of my love affair with opera. I love to see a singer play different roles and develop a completely different set of mannerisms for each one. It is this attention to detail that makes opera so rich and exciting.

Here is one of my favorite examples of the extremes that a singer can take to create a specific body language for a character. Here is a video of Joyce Didonato as Rosina from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and here is another video of her playing Isolier in Rossini's Le Comte Ory. Each character's movement vocabulary is determined by their personality, gender, social station, etc and that is very clear in Ms. Didonato's portrayals.

Personally, I love playing with different types of movement every time I'm given a new character to learn. I find this particular part of the process to be simultaneously challenging and fun. It's been a huge change to go from my character in L'elisir to Hansel. Although, to be honest, Hansel is one of my favorite characters to play because of his physicality. He has so much energy and youth in him; you can always find something new to do with the role. Besides, I find the pants roles to be a special challenge since a male body language differs so much from a female one.

Speaking of pants roles, there is a new resource out there now for pants roles. This website goes through all the basics and answers the questions that most mezzos encounter when they're preparing pants roles. It covers everything from movement to binding and it presents good videos and DVDs to study. I would recommend it to anyone who is preparing a pants role or will most likely have to in the future.

Just as an announcement: all the information for my Hansel and Gretel is up on the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts website. I'll be performing Dec. 10 at 2pm in Bethel, NY. It's going to be so much fun! Not only are we doing the show, but we're having a Q&A in costume with the kids after the show. I am really pumped for this production. It's a great cast and the production is simply adorable. It's going to be fun to have so many kids in the audience! I fully support exposing children to opera as early as possible and I think this is a great way to do it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Art of Storytelling: Opera for the Masses

Over the past weekend, I participated in a very interesting and different experience. I sang in Divaria Productions' L'elisir d'amore and we performed as part of a private party at the Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo Park. The people ate dinner and then watched as we put on an entire opera in the dining hall.

Not only did the venue interest me, but the response of the audience also intrigued me. There were no subtitles or English translations of any kind: there was only the music and the actors on stage, bridging the language gap and bringing the story to life with their actions and emotions. I could tell during the show that the audience was completely engaged. They laughed and gasped right along with the plot. We had the chance to mingle with the audience at a reception after the show and everyone mentioned that they'd completely understood the story. I know now, for a fact, that opera transcends language and time period and culture. It speaks to everyone. I guess the question is: are they willing to listen?

I'm always trying to get more people interested in opera. I think this is a great new way to reach yet another type of audience. It reminds me of the "olden days" when opera was a type of after-dinner entertainment. It felt like we were reliving some old pastime that has since been abandoned. It was simply exciting. I'd love to have the opportunity to do something like this again.