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!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Return of the Halloween Kitty....

(sorry folks - I just can't resist posting lots of these! We had so much fun with this shoot, and this costume is one she's designed all for herself so I promised I'd post lots of them. On Friday she plans to add sparkly false eyelashes and gold glitter spray to the mix so there will likely be more to come...!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

About auditions....

So, it would appear that I have managed to get through the last week. Three roundtrip daytrips to NYC in 6 days (the first two only 48hrs apart).

Life was complicated by my daughter acquiring Some Kind of Chest Thing and having to stay home from school(we're still not sure if it's allergic asthma or an incipient bronchitis, but she's been thoroughly miserable) , but Grandma stepped up to the plate (for which I am profoundly grateful - thanks again, Mom!) and made it possible for me to continue with scheduled travel plans and the assorted auditions without a hitch. (Now I just have to hope I don't catch.... !)

Well-meaning friends and family outside The Biz always wish me luck with a "I hope you get it!" or ask "Did you get the part?" when they hear I've been auditioning. If only it were that simple!!

While many auditions are role-specific and result in an immediate answer, it very seldom works like that in my experience (I can only think of three instances in the recent past where I've been asked to sing for a specific role and was cast AS that role, even though other offers and opportunities may have materialised from the hearing).

One always has a better sense of things when the answer is "yes!" The best response is, of course, to get an offer on the spot (instant gratification!); next best is a call with an offer soon after the audition, although casting is often a longer process than one expects (while offers generally appear fairly quickly, it is far from unheard of to get a call months, or even years afterwards).

Rarely will you get a response in the form of a flat out "no" or rejection letter - unlike schools, and training programs where a "thanks but no thanks letter" is usually sent out after all offers have been made and accepted, professional auditions can (and often do) result in no specific response; you may simply hear nothing at all (and here's where having management helps, because an agent can usually get some kind of response in the form of feedback, or even just a timeframe as to when casting will be completed so you know if you're definitely out of the running).

Also, it's entirely possible to audition in consideration for one role, and be cast as something completely different, perhaps even in a different season; the response may be as vague as "we have something next season we'd like to consider her for - we'll be in touch in a few months". Positive, but entirely inconclusive.

There is also the dreaded "hold", where a company will ask if you have the dates available and if they can have preference on that time, even though they're not ready to make a formal offer yet. This is the most nail-biting kind of limbo as these "holds" disappear as often as they play out, and it can be immensely frustrating.

So, the only way to live with it and stay (relatively!) sane, is to forget about the audition as soon as you have walked out of the room. It takes a long time - and a lot of auditions - to be able to walk away and convince yourself you don't care, but once you've done it enough you find you genuinely don't think about it; once you have sung the final note and closed the door, the audition is over until the phone (hopefully!) rings with an offer. On to the next thing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Photo: October!

(Btw, this photo isn't blurred, but was processed using a Photoshop technique called The Orton Effect - it's more effective in a larger image than the one blogger posts, and I just love the painted, dreamy quality it gives the image)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October is apparently the new December

In Operaland in the US, "audition season" has historically peaked in the weeks immediately before and after Thanksgiving, with a big surge in the first two weeks of December.

I guess 2008 missed the memo, because it appears I have 3 auditions before the end of this month. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - far from it!! - but (since I already had a lesson booked in this period) what this means is 4 trips up to NYC in the next 10 days.

Auditions are, as anybody who has ever done one knows, a curious thing. This year I've been so busy with gigs that it all feels a bit remote, and I need to see about finding that "audition mentality" after a year which has been far more about performing (in large spaces, over several hours in front of an audience primed to react) than auditioning (in a small room, for maybe 10 minutes, for people who almost have to stifle a reaction lest it be overinterpreted). One of my favorite quotes is from Noel Streatfield's children's novel Ballet Shoes where one of the characters points out, "If it was a performance, it would finish with applause, and a classwith comments but an audition always ends in... silence" (a paraphrase, as I don't have the book to hand). Aside from the obligatory "THANK you!", that's pretty much exactly it.

So. Time to take the dress out of the closet, spruce up the arias, and get myself ready for a hefty few days travelling to and from New York. As bizarre as auditions can be, there is always something exciting and motivating about this time of year; in this profession at least, autumn is a time of opportunities and new beginnings. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

So about that concert....

There was something very special for me about last weekend's performances. I've sung Beethoven's 9th symphony several times now and, of course, known the piece for years as An Icon of Western Music. But (true confession) I've never liked it.

Even the most die-hard fan of Ludwig will usually concede that the vocal writing is ungainly, but my detachment from it has been more complex than that: I have genuinely never quite understood quite why it has such a profound impact on people, because it has always - ALWAYS - left me stone cold. I enjoy other Beethoven, but the effect of the 9th has always been a mystery to me.

Until Sunday afternoon.

This was different than the excitement usually generated by the sheer volume, speed and frenzy of the work (particularly at the end): perhaps it's the uncertainy of the times and the underlying emotional tension that doesn't seem too far beneath the surface that made the sentiment more meaningful. Perhaps it was the careful pacing and extraodinarily musical shape which the conductor gave the piece. Maybe it was just one of those magical occasions where the sum was greater than the whole of the parts.

But being in the middle of close to 250 people in a uninamous expression of a text which celebrates unity and joy with absolute conviction was... well it was extraordinary. I've never experienced that sense of group commitment with this piece either as performer or audience member, but suddenly, finally... it made sense.

The piece is technically flawed; the performance may have been technically flawed. But, ultimately, it didn't matter because something HAPPENED onstage, drawing performers and audience alike into a shared experience which I know I will remember for quite some time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Greetings from the Midwest

The good:
  • pleasant colleagues
  • enthusiastic conductor
  • despite having been to something like 35 of the lower 48 states, I had never before seen the Mississippi river, something I have now remedied. The hotel is practically IN the river, and I am completely seduced! I'm very sad that I didn't bring the big camera (oh, how sad!), but I'm having fun with the little point-and-shoot:

The not-so-good:
  • the hotel is comfortable, and in an area which is extremely convenient for the venue (literally yards away), but there's nothing ELSE around except some pricey restaurants. Nice for holiday-ers, but tricky when you need safety pins or a quick snack!
  • Said hotel also does a "Sunday Jazz Brunch". In the atrium around which all rooms are situated. Which started at 10am..... Not so good for those of us who stayed up late after the concert...
Still, beautiful weather, beautiful landscape to photograph and the opportunity to make good music are a lovely way to spend the weekend, and this little town is a really pleasant surprise! It's almost the picture-postcard "small midwestern town/city" as one imagines such things to be. Last night's opening concert was enthusiastically received, and now it's time to get ready for this afternoon's repeat performance across the river. More please!