Musings on m
y life as a busy opera singer, voice teacher, photographer and mom - not necessarily in that order! I consider myself immensely fortunate to have carved out a way of doing all of these things which mean so much to me - it may sometimes get a little crazy, but it's always worth it. Welcome to the madhouse!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Imposed wanderlust

Out of the blue. Coup de foudre. And with less than a week's notice ... I found myself on  a 10 day "tour de France". Normally, my last-minute travel is gig-related, but this particular trip required no singing on my part: I was invited to be a replacement-chaperone for my daughter's chorus tour.  Eighty adolescents, 6 of whom (none of them my own) were under my care for the duration.

Despite some seriously cold feet before we left, it couldn't have turned out any better - the entire experience was absolutely wonderful at so many different levels.  I've enjoyed many trips to France before, but I can honestly say that this was among the best.  I can also say that it is unbelievably liberating not to have to worry about "the voice" while traveling!  For once, somebody else was doing the singing (all 80 of them :).  I didn't have to cast a single thought to allergy medications, air conditioning issues, what kind of water I was drinking, whether or not I got a full 8hrs of sleep a night or finding a practice room the entire time I was gone.  Not that I would trade the wonderful singing opportunities I enjoy for a lifetime of low-maintenance travel, but I kind of envy those of you who can travel exclusively for pleasure (or even if you cross the globe for business reasons don't need to be in top physical form when you land in a different timezone after a long-haul flight).  So that's what it's like!

This wonderful song by Ned Rorem haunted me the entire time I was away, and I can't resist sharing it with some of the photos I took in Paris. I believe it is sung here by Donald Gramm (a singer who, thankfully, left behind a wonderful legacy of recordings before his early death).

And now, just a couple of weeks before we leave for the next phase of the summer's travels, and head west to California. I have no doubt it's going to be a slightly odd reunion for me as it's been 22 years since I was back there (!), but I'm also ridiculously excited about getting to show my daughter the places I was spending time when I was her age and visiting with my oldest friend.  Of the many things I expected from 2013, extensive traveling was not on the list, but I can't say I'm complaining, and making memories with my daughter is priceless; I'm beyond grateful to have the opportunities.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Well hello!

Yes, another blog fail with a full 6-month gap. Ouch! This blog isn't abandoned, but living life sometimes take precedence to blogging it.... :)

Sharing a recent post from my photo blog, which may explain some of what's been going on this very busy spring.  Enjoy!

Divatography (photography for performing artists)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So about this "working on holidays" thing...

Disclaimer #1:  I have never shopped Black Friday and have no intention of joining the throngs (hate crowds and typically there are so few real bargains it's not worth it)
Disclaimer #2: I don't think stores "need" to be open on a national holiday like Thanksgiving
Disclaimer #3: Even as a committed  shopper, I'm finding the national devotion to the God of Retail disconcerting and would greatly prefer a real "day off" where it wasn't even *possible* to do stuff.
Disclaimer #4:  If the stories of employer pressure to work on holidays are true, I deplore that behaviour lock, stock and barrel. OPTING to work on a holiday is one thing; being blackmailed into with the threat of losing your job if you don't is another.

Those out of the way, I admit I'm bemused and baffled by the outrage in some quarters.  A program on NPR yesterday featured scores of distraught callers phoning in to discuss the subject (prompting this blog post).  A few responses of my own:

1.  I was impressed by the Finnish caller to NPR who pointed out that because this is a non-religious holiday it's the ONLY time that we get a cross-faith national day off  - this is valid, and a great reason to support it as a totally "dark day" holiday. It is not, however, a religious holiday. Nobody is offending anybody else's God by going to work on the 3rd Thursday in November, so please don't preach on that front (many who called in did exactly that.)

2.  To the woman who near-tearfully reported the distress of having to rearrange their family dinner to a "thanksgiving brunch" because her (employed) children needed to be at work by 6pm:  in some places, a midday meal is traditionally the biggie. Is it really that tough to move it back to 1 or 2 o'clock, still giving guests time to arrive, birds time to cook, and still have time to get to work? Isn't a turkey *lunch* a reasonable compromise?  I appreciate this may not be that family's tradition, but it seems such a simple way to have the big family event and let those who need to work do both without really causing that much disruption.

3.  Lastly, and perhaps the most personally relevant thought of mine in all of this:  many, many people ALWAYS  work on holidays.  I've accepted contracts where the requirement to work on holidays is clearly stated from the outset; it's simply part of the job.    As a performer, I have had to forego more weddings, dinner parties, holiday celebrations and family occasions than you can imagine.   That service you go to on Christmas Eve before heading home to open gifts? The choir has been rehearsing since 4pm - they don't get to have a Christmas Eve celebration unless somebody else is still at home preparing it for them.  That Broadway show you go see on Christmas day?  Yup, those performers are missing the traditional dinner the rest of their family are enjoying; they can't even get out of town to visit family on a NON holiday.  Those musical theater performers strutting down 5th avenue this morning?  Yup, that's their JOB. Sure, it's cool to be part of the Macy's Parade, but I'll bet some of those Rockettes would rather be at home in their jammies drinking mimosas and watching it on TV than freezing their elegant legs off on a float.

This is of course, not limited to performers. Doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, journalists ... there are plenty of people out there for whom working on holidays is a way of life.   As you sit down with your family to eat your turkey, think of ALL the people who have chosen a way of life that often involves working while everybody else celebrates.  Raise your glass,  give them a nod of thanks and save the last piece of pie for them to eat when they get home later.  I can assure you they'll be grateful that their family understood their dilemma and didn't lay on the guilt and make it even harder for them to do their job when much of the country was "on holiday".

Wishing you all the finest of days - no matter how or with whom you're spending your Thanksgiving, the shared experience of reflecting on what we do have instead of what we don't is a worthy national activity.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rehearsing with Washington Concert Opera...

I'm alarmed that I appear as the tallest thing on the stage (not true, and a trick of the perspective!), but still - what fun!  Truly a pleasure to sing with Maestro Walker and the team of talented musicians and singers on that stage!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

June Roundup

To start at the end instead of the beginning...

June 29, 2012 brought some pretty awful storms to the region. Our area was one of the worst-hit, with trees down pretty much on every block; we consider ourselves beyond lucky that neither of the two big elms in the front yard came down on our house and that we suffered no material damage.  Still, no power for 4 days and 16hrs - during a 3-digit heatwave - is a whole lot of not fun (and, at writing, some people are STILL waiting to be restored nearly a week after the event).  Short version: never underestimate a thunderstorm, and if your weather channel ever says the word "derecho", check your insurance policy, hunker down, and make sure you have somewhere to go after the fact.  Every bit as bad - or worse - than a hurricane, and more like tornado damage.

Earlier in the month, our daughter graduated middle school and moves on to high school in September. When did THAT happen?! Last time I looked she was a cute little grade-schooler with gappy teeth, and now there's a beautiful young woman living in our upstairs bedroom. Every parent says it, but it's so true: it goes so fast!

Her June got off to a bang with a production of Les Miserables with a local professional youth theatre company; as a member of JCo (the "junior company") she was invited to join the ensemble of this extraordinary production which was so completely sold out that they had to extend the run! Quite an achievement, and richly deserved. These young people not only sang and performed well but managed to dig into the heart of a huge piece, bringing every emotion to life. A thoroughly enjoyable night in the theatre, a triumph for the kids and a wonderful experience for her.

Not content with letting the 2-foot kid take the limelight, Cooper the Bearded Collie made his first two appearances in the show ring this month. While I've had my reservations about conformation showing, I can't deny that he loves the environment, and the training involved is just what he needs - the focus on stillness and a bit of self-control for the show ring is pretty much exactly what we emphasise in our general work with him anyway, and it's been very beneficial all round.  Even though he's still as green as can be, he won his class at his second show; it seems that we're going to be assimilated into the world of the dog show despite our expectations!

If I can extend June to have begun with the end of May, it included a wonderful production of Puccini's Il Trittico with Baltimore Concert Opera.  I started to blog about the experience at the time but couldn't quite find the words; I was flying for days afterwards and found it difficult to process my thoughts without merely gushing. Oh, I knew it would be fun - these were roles I've been dying to sing for ages, and with as many friends as I had in the cast I knew I'd have a good time - but  it was more than that.  Definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the (already exceptional) parts.  It shouldn't have been a surprise. I've known these people for years as musical colleagues on the stage. I worked with them as their "official photographer" for their first couple of seasons.  They're friends.  But  nothing could have prepared me for the sheer musical and emotional joy of those particular performances and I'm so grateful I had the chance to be part of something really special.

The reason I include this in a post about June is that this month Brendan Cooke announced his appointment as the new General Director of Opera Delaware. All I can say is that Delaware is one lucky company and town to have him, and those of us who have known and worked with him for years are pretty darned proud of his achievement!  (Also congratulations to him and his wife Julia on the birth of their second son, just a few days before the big career news broke - what a month for them!)
And now, July. Frankly, at this point I'm more than ready for a few quiet days at the beach.... 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What a gift!!

How wonderful to see these broadcasts from Glyndebourne! Highly recommended.

And, as always, The Cunning Little Vixen (just broadcast as at writing) leaves me breathless, tearful, and smiling.