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!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The double life continues apace...

An "interesting" week all round (in both the good and bad sense!) .

The good:
  • A great trip up to NYC to do some work on coming projects - the performance schedule is spaced more favourably for me to book some lessons and coachings, and I'm taking advantage of it during this period when I can (for my non-singer readers yes, it is "normal" for professionals to keep taking lessons throughout the career - kind of like an athlete, you are NEVER "done" with training)
  • Getting ready for a short concert gig away this coming weekend. Concerts are about the best "bang per buck" in this business as the gigs are typically a few days rather than the several weeks of an opera run and usually a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to this one enormously.
  • A terrific day out with the family yesterday, in part just to go do something fun, and in part for me to take some pictures (I admit it - it's my new obsession!). Turns out that about 45 minutes from home there's a historic waterfront community complete with an early 19th-century lighthouse, so we went in search, got completely caught in a storm and had an absolute whale of a time!

The not-so-good:
  • While working on our front porch (in preparation for repainting) I got a small splash of sodium hydroxide paint stripper IN my eye. Fortunately, the damage is minimal and recovering nicely but please, take my word on this and DON'T trust sunglasses as eye-protection when working with chemicals! Take the time to wear goggles - I know I will be from now on!
  • My daughter's flute was tampered with by another child at school last week and broken - WHILE I was in NY. The resulting furore both at home and at school was a classic example of how difficult it is for working parents (both moms and dads, although I think there is still a societal tendency for people to approach "mom" first when there's a crisis). Standing at Columbus Circle, powerless to help, trying to hear over the traffic and piece together the tale of woe from a hysterical 10-year-old and distraught grandmother was definitely one of the bigger parenting challenges of my year! Despite several "wrong turns" in the story before it was resolved, the complexities were eventually sorted out and, thankfully, we will not be liable for the damage. Kudos to the school: we were impressed both how the children were handled throughout, and also with the excellent communication between the school and us as parents.
  • The torrential rains appear to have breached something in our kitchen and we have a small leak. As yet, we're not clear where or what is causing it (that's this morning's job - up on the roof to check!) but that's an unfortunate addition to our "to do" list for the month.
So, back to getting organised for the weekend's concerts and beyond - here's hoping for no further disasters!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So many thoughts...

... following my musical theater debut! To be fair, the entire show was cast with "legit" voices (ie classically-trained), and A Little Night Music with its waltzes and "bedroom farce" moments is in many ways as close to viennese operetta as musical theater but even so - it was a first for me. I enjoyed it immensely and, while I can't ever imagine being swayed from opera forever, it was a lot of fun and certainly something I hope to do again. And what a cast! Really a pleasure.

But in the light of the performances (and fatigue - this was an intense week!), there are so many jumbled thoughts in my mind as I process the differences between this experience and what I usually do, the differences in preparing and presenting dialogue, the experience of having the conductor out of sightlines during the peformances, of putting a show up - from scratch- in record time, of using my voice in a different way, of being fully mic'd......

More to come as I muse on it all - there's a lot to think about!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A curious experience....

So, last night's dress rehearsal. More of a tech dress, really, since it was the first time where we had all elements onstage - while this is theoretically a concert performance, it's a fairly elaborate semi-staged one, so it has a lot of the same complicates as a full show!

One of the more thought-provoking moments was when my character - dictated by the script to be in a wheelchair - inadvertently got stranded out onstage as another scene began. What to do? As the humourous options ran through my head ("Get up?" It's a miracle! "Use my arms to push it?" Paralympics!), the far more sobering reality of the sheer helplessness, frustration, and limitations of relying on others for everything became all-too-apparent to me. I think we all understand this intellectually, but actually living it - even onstage - was a different experience indeed. Even something as basic as finding my light - which, during a dialogue run on my own feet, I realised is something I do so instinctively and sub-consciously, without even thinking about it - becomes a case of relying on somebody else to interpret that sensation of warmth for me.

While I have always tried to help where I could when associated with those who are restricted in their mobility, I have an first-hand empathy now, however theatrical a one. So next time you see somebody who can't do for themselves, stop and think what might be helpful. I know I will.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Empty seats; blank pages

I love empty theaters.

Don't get me wrong, I love walking on stage to a full house, but an empty stage is very special. Private. Personal. Rather like a new journal with an uncracked spine and pristine first page.

For my last two productions I've been lucky enough to rehearse in the auditorium where we will be performing. This is a boon from a practical point of view in that you can space things the way they will be from the get-go (however accurately a tape-out on a rehearsal room floor has been measured, it NEVER feels the same once you get onto the 3-dimensional space the real set and proscenium create), as well as become accustomed to the acoustic and sightlines in which you will be performing.

But working in the house brings more with it than just the practical matters of the physical space. Every theater in which I've ever worked has a kind of ambience to it, almost as though each prior performance has contributed its own colours to the patina of the space, and is waiting to rub off on your own, adding something you had never even thought of before. And somehow, one only really senses that in the quiet... in the private time.

When the pages are still blank, and can become anything we want them to be.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Photo: Tap Class

I feel I should apologise for Blog Cheating of late (photos, while fun, really DON'T count as blogging!), but sometimes Real Life has a way of demanding attention.... More substantive posts coming soon.

In the meantime...

"Tap Class, 2007"

(And yes, the socks are mismatched... !)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008