I’ve been sick for two and a half weeks. It’s normal to lose one’s ability to sing for that long, but to be continuously sick? What the hell is wrong with me? It started like a normal cold, but on the mild side. Sore throat, tired, groggy, overall sick-feeling. Over the course of about a week it turned to nasal congestion/sneezing, then eventually to coughing. This is all normal. For me, this is how a cold progresses. Except it was supposed to stop there. Instead, the coughing got worse- it got really bad. I couldn’t get out of a Sunday matinee performance of The Sorcerer (or afford to miss my last church gig, which was payday), so I went, coughed the whole way to Connecticut no matter how many cough drops I took, sang with like 30% of my normal voice and no high notes (they made an announcement beforehand that I was sick, thankfully), laughed it off (it was just a show in a retirement home, not something that was going to get written up- besides, their audience had heard me before singing when I COULD sing so I wasn’t worried about my ego), figured I’d go home and be hopefully better in time for the show on Thursday. I kept coughing and feeling sick all week, and my voice Thursday was hardly better at all!
Things only got worse from there- by the time we finished Thursday I had a killer sore throat. I assumed it was from pushing my voice (rare for me- I have good technique and never get tired from singing, unless I’m really working out the high notes), but the sore throat lasted for days, and got worse. I really wanted to pull out of the show on Saturday, which was not only an all-day affair, as I had to get up ungodly early to catch a bus upstate and get back late at night, but was for a new audience, and in Oneonta NY which is close to Cooperstown and I was scared to death someone from Glimmerglass would happen to show up and make a mental note about how much I sucked. (As far as I know, that didn’t happen?) But while I couldn’t say I was singing better than Thursday, I couldn’t be sure I could sing worse either, and the company was adamant that they wanted me to sing. When I opened my mouth in the first act and heard how awful I sounded, I was so upset I literally cried onstage. I hope the audience didn’t notice. I can cry and sing opera at the same time.
I cried my way through half of the first act, I was so upset. Less because I was still sick and more because I let myself be guilted into singing against all my better judgement. I was so angry at myself for not having the balls to say no, for putting my career and my voice in jeopardy by singing when I clearly shouldn’t (mind you, everyone in the audience thought I sounded lovely and the company members could mostly tell I wasn’t up to par but still thought I sounded good and couldn’t understand what I wasn’t happy about- some of them only noticed was I wasn’t singing the high notes, but I knew and a trained ear would have known that I kinda sucked). I was also having one of the worst periods in my life, and each time I was offstage (not a lot of time) I had to bolt upstairs to the bathroom to take care of girly business. But every time someone thanked me (and the 2nd soprano, who was also sick, but she’s not a professional singer), especially publicly, for coming through for the company, for pulling through, for making the show go on- it made me ANGRY. They never understood what they had coerced me to do- I could have been heard by someone important and seriously set back my career, I could have damaged my voice, I could have (and probably did) prolong my vocal suffering, I could have (and definitely did) delay my recovery by not being at home resting- and every day I’m sick means auditions cancelled, practicing and rehearsals fallen behind on, and other performances- if not cancelled- not sung to the best of my ability. Not to mention the stress- I’m already worried about my performance that’s over a month away, just because as this point I don’t know when I’ll be well again. People should have been yelling at me and scolding me for singing, not applauding. Sure, the show must go on, but it’s not my fault you don’t have a cover for me- not to mention you knew two weeks ago that I was sick- plenty of time to have found one, if even from the chorus.
I had a nice time besides singing badly and crying a lot and being stuck in the bathroom half the time. The theatre was great and they treated us so well- they even gave us chocolate and beer! Nice beer! Microbrews and stuff! Hope I can get them to hire me for a recital.
Anyways, to finish (not finish) the saga of my illness, the sore throat persisted and got worse, and then Sunday and Monday I threw up. Just once per day, but it was so weird. I don’t have a fever or anything, so wtf? Can’t be the flu. Sunday I was nauseous (and felt truly awful, the worst day of the whole cold) all day, but yesterday it really snuck up on me. Today I am still coughing, the throat is starting to feel better, but I’m still very drained, and now my left ear is stopped up.
This could actually be a problem. I do have a stupid problem with my ears where every several years one will get so blocked up I have to get it cleaned out by a doctor. Nothing else works- not those drops you put in, not the rubber bulb that shoots water into your ear, not even candeling. I will be so sad if I have to shell out $$$ for a doctor’s visit. I just got my loan for my album, still have credit card debt from the tour, and now have to pay off my plane ticket to Santa Fe to interview Natalie Dessay- and I have no place to stay there, can’t afford the hotel the opera company is offering me a discount at. Have been begging everyone I know to help me find a couch to crash on, but no one seems to know anyone in Santa Fe or Albuquerque. I haven’t exhausted my options, but I pretty much HAVE exhausted the option of staying with a friend of a friend of a friend.
OK so I have to get well, I have to get money to pay back my album (who’s ready to make a donation??), and learn The Impresario in English.
Sorry this was such a negative post. On plus side, plans for album are going ahead and things feel great, Opera Language Circle tonight was really fun, and I don’t have to sing anything until late next month, except there’s a concert of Sorcerer but I already told them I might cancel so THIS TIME they got a cover. So the pressure’s off. Would still like to do it if I feel better- it’s with the NY G&S Society, and I had such a nice time when I sang Casilda in their Gondoliers sing-a-long!!
Everybody take care! Wish me well!
I’ve never cancelled a performance in my life. But if I could have cancelled my show on Sunday, I would have.
You know how I’ve had a cold since last Saturday? I sang the two big “home shows” of The Sorcerer on it. To people who were impressed I could sing while sick, I said, “This is the beginning of the cold, it doesn’t effect me much vocally. We’ll see how I do next weekend, when the coughing has set in.”
I don’t know about you guys, but my colds follow a particular pattern. They usually come on whenever I a. forget to take my immune booster pills, and b. decide I don’t need to use my humidifier. Then I get a sore throat and generally achy, exhausted, and sick-feeling. Followed by some congestion/sneezy/nose-blowy type stuff, and finally a bad coughing. It’s in this last phase that the vocal damage happens. Until I start coughing I can get through whatever singing I need to- last week I did not only The Sorcerer but a concert where I sang a very difficult coloratura Bach cantata aria. Once I start coughing, it’s all over. Things in there get so swollen it usually takes me several weeks to completely recover. Cough drops can help keep the coughing under control, but in my experience just make the vocal problems worse. (They are very drying!)
I lost my voice in the middle of my Saturday night. All of a sudden I tried to talk and it was half gone. I spent the rest of the night trying to coax it back, but to no avail- talking hurt and I had no head voice.
But there was nothing I could do- I could NOT afford to miss my weekly church gig (and it was payday!), and as for the Sorcerer, I had no cover. If it were a concert version, someone else could have sung it on book- but as it was a fully staged production, I couldn’t expect someone to just go on and have my role memorized.
I went to church and sang my first notes not knowing what would come out. It turned out to be my voice, but at about 40% of it’s normal volume. My whole range (as far as church music is concerned) was accessible, but I was singing through taffy. We had an extra long break (when the choir director announced that he had meant to tell us to come later than usual since we didn’t have much music to practice, but forgot, we wanted to strangle him in unison), which I used to call the director of Sorcerer to ask her if she still wanted me to come even though I was singing like crap, she said yes, as expected. And told me that the 2nd soprano lead (the Constance to my Aline) was also sick and would be choking through her part. I spent the rest of my break running a few blocks to the nearest convenience store to buy a Red Bull.
The conductor of The Sorcerer was meeting me at the GW bridge and driving me to the show, but we were cutting things extremely close and got there just three minutes before curtain. Even with my pack of Halls in my purse, I suffered some bad coughing fits on the ride over, and arrived in much worse vocal condition than I had been in at church. I got changed into my costume in the back of the car.
When I first went onstage, I again had no idea what would come out. This time, the result was worse than anyone expected. There were notes, but they were clearly hoarse, sandpapery, and frequently phonated with delayed onset. I was soooo glad they had made an announcement beforehand that the Constance and I were sick. (She sang her first aria transposed down a fourth, and her second she skipped down the octave at every opportunity.)
I hid a cough drop in my sleeve, but fortunately never needed it- I only started coughing very briefly once, at the opening of the second act. Other than that, my voice actually got better as we went along- only because i had stopped coughing, so my larynx had time to calm down. By the end of the second act, I sounded, if not myself, at least pretty.
My dialogue delivery would have suffered sorely in a bigger room, but since it was a small theatre I was able compensate. Since the only way I could talk was by squeaking, I just made my character that much ditzier. It actually worked really well! I could have been playing her that way all along.
It could have been upsetting, but to me (and the other soprano, as we discussed as she drove me home) it was really just hilarious. It was a relatively low-key performance- it was fully staged, but in the theatre of a fancy retirement home, where no one critical would hear us- and with piano instead of orchestra, and in a smaller room than our previous shows. So we had some room for error.
So in the end I had quite a nice time, and am glad I did it. And I didn’t break my track record of never having cancelled a performance. On the other hand, I feel that I shouldn’t have felt so pressured to do the performance, which you can imagine I was in no mood to do (I needed to go home and sleep!!!). Is it my fault that the company didn’t have covers for the leads? No!! Why should I pay for it? I probably delayed my recovery by overusing my voice like that. I couldn’t leave them in a lurch, and I am always happy to be a trooper, but I was already going above and beyond the call of duty to be doing this production in the first place (as I was a last-minute fill-in when they fired their lead soprano shortly before opening). Now, I am the last person to need a cover, as I never cancel, am extremely healthy, and am very much a trooper, but they should still at least have had chorus members covering each lead they couldn’t do without. I mean, I was really in no condition to sing.
Food for thought. But I had fun anyways- I was just laughing at the absurdity of my own voice- and I told the company afterwards that it was less “The Sorcerer” and more “The Croaking Chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes” (a little Pirates reference there!). I hope to be very well very soon. I’ll be recording my album soon, after all!
That’s all for now- everyone take care! Take your vitamins and use your humidifier!!!!
AughhhhhOK! I am back. Sorry for the delay! I got back Saturday evening, which seems like forever ago. Was that really only 2 days? Geez, intense days.
My tour was capped off by two and a half days of driving and a fun night out in Harrisburg, PA with a friend and her friends. We went bar-hopping and ended up at the place with the fires. Sawyer’s Cantina, I believe it’s called?
Getting the car returned was a HUGE drama. I left what seemed like way more than enough time, but the GPS directed me through Manhattan to return the car and I hit so much traffic on the GW that I just barely made it before the Avis closed. Furthermore, while I knew perfectly well that the refueling charges are insane if you don’t fill up the tank right before you return the car, I could not find a gas station. I got to my exit and it TURNS OUT THERE’S NOT A GAS STATION IN THAT ENTIRE EXIT. I asked half a dozen people and they either sent me in circles or told me I had to go to the previous exit, and it was too late. Do you know how much the rental place charged me to fill up the tank, when it wasn’t even empty? $86. Yeah. Like, I knew it would be bad, but that’s just evil. That’s like, credit card company evil. Furthermore, they tried to charge me for an extra day since I didn’t return the car by the exact time of day I checked it out in. This was probably in the fine print somewhere, but was never mentioned to me ever at all ever, so I asked them to remove the charge and I did. I think the guy felt bad about the gas charge- in retrospect he was trying to get me to lie about how full the tank was, but I don’t have a dishonest bone in my body. At least they didn’t ask me about the condition of the car- I would have hated to bring up that I banged that plastic guard thing off the bottom of the car on someone’s curb in Alabama. (When I passed that curb the next time, in clear weather, I still almost hit it. WTF is up with that curb. Evil!!!!) Instead I just discretely placed it in the back of the trunk, neat and inconspicuous. Oh that old thing? You wanted it ON the car? oh ok cool, I just thought it was like better in there. OK cool. Just put it back on, whatever.
My house-sitter had called me that afternoon with an extra standing room ticket to Gotterdammerung. It was the last showing of the season, the end of the ring cycle, and the last moment before this Ring production would be retired. So I knew it would be a good thing to see, though I had mentally made other plans, and didn’t feel up for 6 hours of Wagner. I said I’d go if I got home in time, and wouldn’t know for a few hours, so we agreed to touch base in a few hours- but we missed each other, and when I got home at 6 and hadn’t heard from him I assumed he gave the ticket to someone else. Til he called me at 6:10 and asked if I was coming. eep! I was already in wind-down mode, and would never make it in time for the 6:30 curtain. But even though I was totally not in the mood, and would have to sit out the beginning in the viewing room, I made myself go. My friend left my ticket with a ticket-taker, and I picked it up and sat for the first 2 hours in the viewing room. I was in quite a state- very high-strung, frazzled, even upset about being committed to 6 hours of opera when I was utterly exhausted and really had a lot to do. But I hung out (there were no subtitles, but at least I could SIT) and eventually cheered up and by the time I got upstairs I was cheerful and excited about the opera. Some audience members were wearing viking helmets and crowns, which just tickled me pink!!!! The opera should always be like that. Anyways, the remaining 4 hours flew by, and while my feet did hurt (I was totally unprepared, rushing out of the house in my jeans and heeled sandles- I was freezing and sore in the feet the whole time), I didn’t mind the length or the standing at all. It was just a really amazing… you know- Gesamtkunstwerk. Like, it was really great. So now that’s 3/4 pieces of the ring I’ve seen- now I have to see Siegfried!
Today I had crushing news- I have lost my band. I haven’t had a bass player in over a year (which is why I sucked it up and went on tour by myself), I have been playing and composing with the same guitar player for years, but he had been showing much less commitment/cooperation as the years went by. And he was basically supplying my drummer. So today the last straw came in the form of a disagreement over rehearsal costs. He insisted that he couldn’t afford to pay for rehearsal space (which is like $5 each per rehearsal), I maintained that I shouldn’t have to bear all the cost since I’m not the one who needs the rehearsal, and suggested we rehearse privately without drums while we audition bass players, and can resume paying for rehearsal spaces later, he said that “wouldn’t work for them” and resigned, presumably taking his drummer with him. I guess this was a long time coming- I should have known when he bowed out of producing our songs, left me out in the cold to pay for the album myself, refused to play out without a bass player, and so forth, all under the excuse of “it’s your baby,” although we had started out playing music by both of us, and it was never intended to be a solo project. Anyways I know I’m better off with someone more dedicated, and better guitar players are a dime a dozen, but the reality of it is that just as I am starting to really get serious with the project, I am forced to start completely from scratch. Either that or give up the project entirely. The guy I was going to hire to produce the songs seems to have flaked, as well. But I feel like I’m so far along in the whole album thing- despite having no funding, or currently any recording or producing prospects- that it’s too late to back down, even if I have to bear every burden myself.
Today was both good and bad. Being band-dumped really killed me. I cried a lot and drank a lot of Red Bull to try to get myself pepped enough just to leave the house. But I also had my first of only two Sorcerer rehearsals. it was a full dress rehearsal. I was actually nervous before I went on. Afraid I’d stumble over my lines or get lost in the blocking or something. Whatever- I totally nailed everything. Music, lines, blocking- well, I had learned the blocking that was sent to me, but I guess it wasn’t always entirely accurate- and I got into it, the acting and comedy and all. The costumes helped- everyone was in big white wigs (mine is brown but I didn’t have it on tonight), which really helped me get into character. It was a lot of fun, and everyone was happy to see me (but maybe just because I arrived with a huge bag of Doritos). My costume is slightly small but with a few pins it looks great (but I can’t bend over or hug people). The big free show at the beautiful Loew’s in Jersey City is Sunday afternoon! You should come.
OK so I still have to put my Sorcerer shows on my website and send out a mail blast. The thing is, my website redesign launch is supposed to happen like any minute now. Whenever the guy gets to it? And I’m hoping that will happen first.
OK that’s it the end! Talk to you later!!!!