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!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


The article about NYCO I linked in this post has run a correction on what is a pretty glaring error:

"The New York City Opera has suspended plans to announce its fall season. The headline of a previous version of this article incorrectly said it has suspended its season."

Glad to hear that it sounds like merely a delay in finalizing plans rather than scrapping them altogether, but shame on you for that kind of misake, Wall Street Journal!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A letter to my Dad on his 80th Birthday

Ok, so a day late - although I don't think a dollar short, and no less heartfelt.

Those endless hours at the typewriter in Los Angeles! You were determined that there were never going to be any real financial concerns to scare a kid into wondering if everything was going to be ok. To make sure that I really could keep up with the horses and the horseshows. That I could go back to the UK to study, first to reconnect with those important childhood years spent in England, and subsequently to complete my performance training at one of the most prestigious conservatories in the world without having to work 5 jobs just to pay the rent.

Strangely, one of the things I remember most of our LA years was the Sunday night family steak dinners at The Mainsail in Marina Del Rey (or was it Venice?). The dark-paneled, underlit gloom which they billed as "New York Steakhouse", somewhat California-ized by funky murals on the walls and typically Los Angeles servers who almost certainly were out-of-work actors picking up a few bob to make ends meet. But the foil-wrapped baked potatoes bursting with their melting pats of iced butter (why did that fascinate me?) and wonderful - and wonderfully diverse - conversations at the end of busy weekends where we all finally convened as a family without distractions were fascinating at the time and have stuck with me for all these years. Of all the places to remember!

Yeah, it's true that you were working every hour under the sun when I was a teenager, but you've always been there when it really mattered. Being on the spot 10 minutes after my first car crash (even if you didn't know what to do about the wasp sting that caused it, you sure talked the other driver out of his rage and got the insurance details sorted out!). Making sure that everything worked out when A was born, and giving us the freedom and support to re-establish ourselves here in the US happily and comfortably; it can't always have been easy, but you made it work. Being a valued professional ear when things get bumpy in the freelance world that is my own career, and truly understanding the sometimes delicate balance we in the entertainment industries have to find between personal loyalties, professional necessities and simply paying the bills; your advice is still invaluable.

I wish I'd been more interested in the Hollywood you worked in and paid more attention. At the time - since I was completely uninterested in anything that wasn't musical performance (more fool me!) - it didn't make much of an impression on me that you were interviewing and regularly working with the likes of Michael Cain, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Chuck Jones, Jonathan Demme, Sean Penn, Dan Akroyd and many others. Talk about missing the boat! It gives me enormous pleasure now, though, to be able to understand just what an achievement it was. Not just because you were working at such a high level with the best-of-the-best, but sustaining a small business successfully for so many years in an industry as notable for knocking people down as building them up. No wonder your colleagues respected you as they did - you earned it.

And so, here we are, at your 80th birthday. In the last 10 years you've become as devoted to the internet as any 15 year old (even if the occasional computer crash still sends you into a panic!), finally jumped on the golf bandwagon, embraced Grandfatherhood in a way nobody could have imagined, and still found time and energy to take on the occasional writing or production gig. Quite an achievement for a guy who was convinced he wouldn't make it past 50!

With much love xoxoxo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

#Operaplot, Part 2

This has been so much fun - the entries are really a hoot. Funny if you're only passingly familiar with the stories, and even funnier when you know them well (or have sung them!). Great stuff.

The prize list is growing all the time, so I encourage everybody to have a look and a try, if only for a giggle! For those not familiar with twitter, to find the summaries go to www.twitter.com search the hashtag #operaplot (include the # symbol in your search).

Here are some of the ones I submitted - I'll leave you to figure out which operas they are (comments welcome!):
  • Druid love triangle goes up in flames while secret squeeze runs off with the kids. (this one was actually quoted in an LA Times article yesterday, which was kind of fun!)
  • SWM seeks doll, sick singer, adventurous lady & bi-curious violinist for raving and poetry. No medics, please.
  • Wedding bells for single-mother acquitted in baby-drowning scandal.
  • Breaking News: mom pimps teen to get a head.
  • Authority figures & ripe peaches spark conflicted sexuality & drunken rebellion. Everybody lives happily ever after - NOH8!
In other news, Kevin Spacey posted an update regarding NEA funding (scroll to the bottom for the update): it's still a cut, but a much smaller one than initially proposed. And it looks like NPR got its funding after all, too! First good news for the arts in quite a while.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Click here for rules

Short version: summarize an operaplot on Twitter in a status update of 140 characters or less. Tweet must include the hashtag #operaplot.

Even if you're not an opera fan, it's worth tootling over to Twitter and searching the hashtag #operaplot to check these out - anybody who thinks opera, opera singers and opera fans are boring fuddy-duddies is in for a surprise!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

And now for something a little different...

I generally avoid discussing politics in public, having taken to heart sage advice given to me as a student that the three things you should never talk about on the job are politics, religion and vocal technique. Well, I've never managed to keep my mouth entirely shut about the latter, and apparently I'm now going for a two-out-of-three failure rate, but so much is going on that I'm finding it impossible to keep stumm.

Even as the US government was threatening shutdown of its own, there was news again this past week of more opera companies suspending seasons, and symphonies filing for bankruptcy; in the UK, eyebrows were being raised over the recent Arts Council of England cuts. All of which has resulted in a great deal of activity in the press and blogosphere which needs to be shared and rather than paraphrase, I'm taking the liberty of linking to some of these articles and interviews. Much food for thought.
While it's been a rough week there have been some positive announcements amidst the closures and, strangely, I personally feel more optimistic than I have in some time. I suppose I hope that perhaps the undoubted problems can be turned into solutions that eventually lead to something better and that maybe now is the right time to start looking to the future rather than merely trying to unsuccessfully sustain the past. Most of all, I hope that artistic passion and imagination will triumph over the frustrations of broken business models and reduced funding and continue to thrive, even if in a different way. I can hope.

Monday, April 4, 2011


The Cardinal's Nest

I don't think it's just us mezzos who regularly face this, but a recent blog post I stumbled over has sure hit the nail on the head, almost word-for-word echoing my own experience and understanding! I won't even add comment here, since the author has said everything I would have myself.