“All is peace… until they go at it again!”

August 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm (Music) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

That’s a line from our translation of the Impresario dialogue.  All is peace indeed… for a moment.  We concluded our run last night with a successful second of two shows.  Now I’m waiting for my ride back to NYC.

The shows went really, really well.  It seemed like every time we did it, from the rehearsals on, it got better.  I mean, that’s how it’s supposed to be, but how often is it really?

The first night felt just perfect.  I recorded it and listened to it.  It was mostly excellent.  I did get a little chicken-chirpy on the trio again, but there were other places where I successfully smoothed it over.  I practiced it to make sure it was good for the second show, but I didn’t record it so I’m not really sure how successful I was.  (it FELT good at least.)

The Friday show is the one that was video taped, and I can’t WAIT to see it!  The DVD they made last year was fabulous.  And I received a lot of compliments from both Gena and Al on my characterization of Mme Herz- I mean, Joan Sutherbelle- so hopefully it looks as good as they said it did.

Last night I had my own personal financial meltdown- at the same time I found out my bank account was almost empty (this is what happens when you have all your bills on auto-deduct but aren’t rich enough to keep much money in your checking account), I also was informed by the nice barista at The Coffee House that my credit card was expired.  Crap!!!  They must have sent me a new one to my apartment in NY while I was up here in Geneva!  I managed to use the LAST $30 in my account to charge the latte and get a $20 from the ATM to get me through the next 36 hours, but you can imagine I felt stressed out.  On top of all the other debt I have, with the album and various expenses (like the trip to Santa Fe) I need to pay off.  So this got me in quite a funk.  I even brought Amanda White t-shirts to my dressing room to sell to my co-singers, but I was in too much of a depressed mood to actually ask anyone if they wanted to buy one.  (Which is hard to do even if you’re in a good mood.)  Fortunately, I’m the kind of person who can totally go onstage and be 100% no matter what kind of mood I’m in offstage.  I’ll resume my moping the second I get off, but once I’m back on I’m totally in the moment.  It’s funny.  Just goes to show how quickly we can become happy when we stop using excuses to be sad.

Anyways, now I have my paycheck for this show and should have a few more waiting for me at home, at least I pray, so don’t start sending me canned goods just yet.

So both shows were fabulous.  Gregorio Rangel, Gena’s son, playing my husband, only came in time for the dress rehearsal, but did a marvelous job.  He had all his blocking, all his lines, and he was hilarious.  And I’m totally proud of everyone in the cast.  It’s a cheesy thing to say, but they really really did do an amazing job.  Angela Libertella sounds so good and is hilARious!!  I hope for much, much more G&S in her future, ’cause she just powned it.  Sara Thomas totally brought it onstage- not everyone can survive a coloratura catfight with Yours Truly!  Kris Whiteleather and Charles King are a fabulous comedy duo.  Matt Fitzpatrick’s personification of the Defendant in Trial was to die for.  Michelle Seipel I only got to interact with briefly (she played one of the spoken roles in Impresario, and they added some music for her- she was also my cover and stepped in for me as a Bridesmaid in Trial when I was out of town), but she was spot-on in her Maria Callas spoof.  And the chorus was one of the highlights.

Agh, I gotta go!!!  Love to all, see you in NY- more album recording tomorrow!!

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Impresario tonight!

July 31, 2009 at 4:29 pm (Music) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hi everyone!

Of course the catch-22 is, the more you have to blog about, the less time you have to blog.  I’m in Geneva, NY, on the Finger Lakes, sitting on the back patio to our dorm and enjoying a cool, sunny breeze off of Seneca Lake.  In an hour or so I have to be at the theatre to prepare for opening night of The Impresario and Trial by Jury.

So here I am again with American Landmark Festivals.  Remember, last year we did Fledermaus up here.  Last year was a whole nother animal- I still had my blog on MySpace!

I know I haven’t blogged in awhile, and even if I gave you any pretails about this show they were probably spotty and a long time ago.  So let’s back up.

First, there was all this drama because we didn’t know what opera we were doing.  I was told Orpheus in the Underworld, and dumped a lot of money on recordings, DVDs, and a score.  But 1. I was confused over what part I was supposed to do, because I thought I was doing Eurydice, but the other soprano I know from this company was told she was doing Eurydice, and then 2. They scrapped the whole plan and eventually settled on Mozart’s Impresario and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, much to my dismay.  I didn’t want to do Impresario because I’ve already done Madame Herz, and I didn’t want to do Trial by Jury because I’m sick of Gilbert and Sullivan.  I tried to suggest Entfuehrung instead of Impresario but they thought it was too big or hard or something.  So whatever, I’m still happy to do it because Madame Herz is a good role for me and the production I did of it last time was just this tiny thing with like one rehearsal, so I thought it would be nice to be in a big fully staged thing.  And I love being up here in Geneva, and I love American Landmark Festivals, and I was- well, I THOUGHT I was going to have a slow year but you know how these things are, everything popping up.

I was sick for so long, remember, so I couldn’t even practice my music.  I was actally quite relieved to find that my high F’s were back several solid weeks before rehearsals started- between the double-header cold that wouldn’t quit and forcing myself to squeak out Sorcerer all those times, my voice was pretty gone.  I still don’t feel back to normal above a G, but then who really needs to sing above a G anyway?  So I haven’t even really been trying, not when I need my voice for more important endevors.

There was some iffiness over whether or not the proposed Silberklang could be up here for the rehearsal schedule, so when the producer brought up replacing her, I mentioned my friend Sara Thomas, who would be perfect for the role (she is a soprano who sings coloratura stuff, but not the extreme coloratura stuff like I do- ie, an ideal Silberklang to my Mme Herz), and who I happened to know was free those two weeks.  So I referred her for an audition and she got the part, and I was happy.

So a little under two weeks ago we drove up to Geneva (I love friends with cars) and I’ve been having just a wonderful time.  I just love it up here.  It’s a picturesque lake town and we stay in a big dorm with a glorious view.  I love all the people I work with, I love walking the mile into town for coffee every day, I love going out for bar food with the gang every night, and I love singing in the fabulous Smith Opera House.

The first week I feel like we’re worked really hard, as far as opera goes.  We have two really hard rehearsals a day, mostly full run-throughs until our time is up.  I don’t mind the hard work but what trips me up is that it doesn’t leave us any time for individual practicing.  I mean, as far as hours in the day, it does, but you really just don’t want to be singing that much, especially not working out technical vocal things, which can be trying.  Yes, in theory, we should all have perfect technique and everything should be settled in our voices before we get here, but in practice, our voice boxes and our bodies are living, growing things, and there is always something needing adjustment.  And then you get to rehearsal, with a conductor, with blocking, with other singers, in a new space, and you find things to which you need to change your approach.  So that’s one thing I’d wish for.

Then I went home for two nights to start recording my album, but we’ll talk about that later.  It was a big drama- whether or not I could leave, what bus I could take, who would drive me to the bus, etc etc.  But it finally worked out- I was exhausted but that’s not an unfamiliar working condition to me.

Starting this week we’ve only had one rehearsal a day, so I actually got to practice.  Thank God.  Madame Herz is hard!!!!  Even for an “extreme sports coloratura” like me.  I mean, this is what i DO.  But it’s still hard.  There’s nowhere to breathe in the whole opera, ever!  No, I’m exaggerating, but I do feel like Mozart was trying to kill someone.  Death by Coloratura.  Today I referred to it as a role with “High F’s and Other Problems.”  Problem: long, complicated runs.  Problem: extended lines with nowhere to breathe.  Problem: Above-the-staff 8th notes that sound like chicken chirps if I’m not careful.  Problem: catfighting so hard you run out of breath.  Anything I can’t handle?  Not at all!!!  But I do need to work at it, be in top form- it’s the kind of thing I have to warm up for, and not be sick.  I’ve even been trying not to eat much dairy, though that’s hard as a vegetarian subsisting on bar food.

So the dress rehearsal last night went great, and things have been steadily getting better.  And now I have to go get ready.  Talk to you later!!

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Beatles-Heilbut dream

November 3, 2008 at 2:12 am (Dreams, Music) (, , )

I had an intriguing dream the night before last.

I was dreaming that me and a few people were going to sit and listen to a Beatles album and follow along in my copy of The Beatles- Complete Scores just for the pleasure of it.  It seemed like the perfect way to spend a lovely late afternoon with loved ones.  As we were deliberating whether we should listen to a stero mix or if anyone had it on vinyl, and the other people went to look if they could locate a record, I heard the music in my head and followed along in the score.

I’ve never heard anything so clearly as the Beatles playing and singing this song, and seeing the notes on the paper so intensely that they were burned into my brain as each was sung.  The music and the atmosphere were so exquisite- I was floating.

Then the UPS man rang the doorbell.  I didn’t answer because I thought it was the exterminator wanting to be buzzed into the building (first Saturday of the month), and didn’t find out til I got up hours later that I’d actually missed a package, but the instant effect was that my reverie was shattered.  I woke up and the hole left by that feeling was partially filled only by the melody that still lingered in my head.  It was several minutes of unconsciously humming it to myself before I realized that it’s not a Beatles song at all.  It’s the aria from Francis Heilbut’s musical that I sang at the concert on Monday.

It’s called “Love must be heavenly,” and annoyingly I can’t tell you anything else about it because my copy seems to be missing, but I know he wrote music for a show called “Keep your shirt on buster” so it might be from that, as might be this other song that the other girl sang that’s labeled c 1971, and “B. French, lyrics”- so I am hypothesizing that all these things apply to “Love must be heavenly” but I’m kind of just guessing.

Anyways, it’s an extremely schmaltzy operetta-style aria that I never gave a second thought.  I think I read it through once or twice before the dress rehearsal, but it was really hard to read because it’s handwritten and with charts instead of a full accompaniment.  I was still basically sight-reading at the dress rehearsal, and pretty much felt like I knew it by the performance but didn’t take my eyes off the score.  If I did think about it, it was only to wrinkle my nose in distaste at the old-fashioned and not particularly well-crafted lyrics.  They are way too heterocentric to be considered PC today (the first line is “There’s a boy for every girl”), and go on and on about how worthless life is when you’re single.  And then, why is the hook “Love must be heavenly” when the song is about how she’s finally in love?  Poor matching of catch phrase with plot!

Anyways it was so weird to hear it as  Beatles song.  It was amazing.  I must have had it confused with Across the Universe I think, because the second line is “somewhere in this universe”?  But it went from a cheesy operetta song that I sight-read in public and blow them away with a nice Bb at the end, to this amazing musical moment in imaginary rock history.

It made me think about other rock ballads and operetta arias, and trying to interchange them.  I’m sitting here singing “Creep” and “While my guitar gently weeps” as Lehar songs.  Not so much luck.  What about other operetta arias that could be sung by rock bands?  I’m trying to put “My Hero” from the Chocolate Soldier in the mouth of Freddie Mercury without success.

It’s a fun mental game though.  Let me know if anyone thinks of a good one!

Love always.


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A typical concert day?

October 28, 2008 at 4:52 am (Music) (, , , , )

7:30am-9:30am: I keep waking up and wondering why I keep waking up so early.  I finally remembered it’s because I went to bed “early” last night at midnight because of my exhausting weekend.

11am: I think I’m finally awake, but I can’t motivate myself to get my day started.  All I had to do is practice for my concert, run some errands, get ready for my concert, and maybe exercise- oh, and do my concert- so I’m not super pressed for time.  I manage to get out of bed long enough to change the channel, eat a slice of leftover pizza, and check my email, but am just too wiped so I fall back asleep.

2pm: Now I’m really awake, having slept 14 hours.

3-ish: I call the Met box office to ask if I can still exchange a ticket for that night. A bunch of friends have already told me they’d take it if I couldn’t, but I really want to see Traviata (again) so I’d rather exchange it. The lady on the phone says “Probably not” but encourages me to go to the box office and try.

3:30pm: The box office says no, so I start calling close friends trying to give away my ticket.  No one is available.  I suddenly remember that I don’t have a top to go with the skirt I was going to wear, because the tank top I bought for it broke last year during Veil of Forgetfulness.

4:30pm: On my way home from the rest of my errands, I realize that my watch has stopped and it’s not 3:15pm, it’s 4:30pm.  Dammit.  I then get on the wrong train.

5:00pm: I call some other friends to see if they want my ticket, but no one is available.  I advertise the free ticket on Facebook, but no one grabs it.  By 5:30 I realize it’s too late as the curtain rises at 7:30, and the ticket goes to waste.  I am majorly bummed.

5:30: I practice for the show- making sure my high notes in Chacun le sait (an E and two F’s) are in order, and drilling the tricky parts of the Vaughn Williams.

6:15: I’ve been trying for a week to get someone to come over and help me for 5 minutes to fix something in my apartment, and finally a neighbor tells me he’s available.  He comes over, we fix it, problem solved.  Except it’s now 6:30 and I have to leave at 7, and I haven’t groomed myself or picked an outfit.

6:45: I’ve rejected several possible outfits and decide on the originally planned skirt with a velvet off-the-shoulder half-sleeved top.  I know I had tried it on last year when I had this problem and vetoed it, but now it seems good enough.

7:00: I’m finishing up my make-up.  I decided against a shower, as I don’t want to show up with wet hair, and I don’t have time to blow dry it.

7:10: I try on a couple pairs of shoes, and decide on the pointy ones- except they aren’t comfortable enough to walk to the church in, and I don’t want to spring for a cab.  I compromise by putting on my comfortable heels and bringing the others with me to change into.

7:15: I’m trying to get out of the door, but I can’t find my purse.

7:20: The purse is hanging on my coat rack, but now I can’t find the lip gloss I wanted to wear.  I really had my heart set on that lip gloss. It matches my lipstick and the caramel apple flavor makes me smile.  I tear apart my apartment looking for it, dumping out purses onto the floor and shoving papers off surfaces, but I don’t find it and settle for a similar color with an icky taste.

7:30: I finally finish sticking everything into my tote bag and run out the door.  And I literally run.  I don’t run four marathons without acquiring some useable skills.  I realize quickly that this skirt does not take to running, or even really walking.  I then remember when I first bought it at the Central Square Goodwill in Boston, and how I was running the first night I wore it too, and managed to pop off a few buttons (which my mom replaced when I was in Chicago last year, except that she replaced the muted pewter buttons running up the top front of the skirt with huge crystal ones and I complained she was giving me sparkle crotch).

7:35: I dash past the projects and a group of black teenagers bursts out into amazed laughter seeing me run in my heels with my elegant skirt hiked up to my knees.  One little boy, no more than 9, runs after me and catches up with me asking, “What happened?? What happened??” like he was really worried.  I took out my headphones and answered him calmy and with clear enunciation as I ran, “I am a late opera singer,” and left him in my dust.

7:40: I miss my turn AGAIN, just like yesterday.  Some of the streets don’t run through and you lose track of which block you’re at.  I have to backtrack two blocks.

7:45: I get to the church, sweating and panting, just in time (Gena had told me to be there at 7:30, no later than 7:45).  I clomp red-faced up the stairs and sit down in the green room.

7:48: I go to put on my dress shoes and realize I only have one.  I remember a time in Boston when I’d been rushing to work and lost a shoe out of my bag.  I had realized what had happened as soon as I got there, explained myself to the boss, retraced my steps, and found it sitting outside the 7-11 on Boylston St.  I picked it up and two construction workers watching me burst out laughing.  They had been wondering why there was a single heel lying in the sidewalk.  I figure the same thing probably happened, except now I don’t have time to go back and look for it before the concert starts.  I have to make do with my round-toe shoes.

7:55 I talk to the other singers and involved parties.  I am embarrassed because I cried in front of everyone the day before, but no one says anything.  All the other girls say they’re freezing, but I’m still red in the face from my jog.

8:05: The concert starts with readings of poems by Ursula Vaughn Williams.  I hadn’t known there was an Ursula Vaughn Williams. She was his wife- eventually.  They were both married and carried on an affair for years until both their spouses died. F&*%’d up.

8:10: I am rolling my eyes, knowing how long American Landmark Festivals concerts usually run.  TOO LONG.  Right now I’m stressed out and just want it to be over so we can have wine and cake and I can go home and take a bubble bath.  I left all my reading materials at home to make room in my bag for my SHOE, so I take out my iPhone and write the previous blog entry.

8:45: I am still waiting backstage.  The violinist shows up and starts warming up quietly.  He plays exercises at what I guess is the instrumental equivalent of under one’s breath.  I can’t hear the talking onstage over him, and I wish I could so that I know when we’re supposed to go on.

9:30: I finish up my blog entry just in time for us to go onstage for the Vaughn Williams.  After an hour and a half of sitting backstage.  Our set goes well- there are a few times I’m not sure if I’m on pitch or not, but usually in those cases I am, so I’m not worried.  The only person who will know is the violinist anyways.

9:40: the other singers have their chances to sing at last.  The mezzo musical theatre girl is singing Francis’s other piece for the evening, “Pie in the Sky,” which has a political bent, so she has some presidential race signs that she uses a props.

9:50: I go on and sing Francis’s operetta/musical aria, “Love Must be Heavenly,” and the audience loves it.  Then I move onto “Chacun le sait,” which Gena had decided to put as the finale because, I dunno, maybe she likes high F’s. Fortunately I nail all the high notes and the whole thing is great- the audience is really impressed with the last note.  That’s why I love old people, they’re really blown away by that kind of stuff.  I can walk into an audition and sing high F’s all day and nobody notices.

10:00pm: We end by singing Happy Birthday to Francis, who is dead.  The concert is a birthday show in his memory.  Then we have wine and cake.  I chat with people I know and people I don’t.  One woman I’ve met before somehow possesses an encyclopedic knowledge about dates, like they say some autistic kids do.  I told her my birthday and she told me the day of the week, the weather, and what songs were on the charts.  (She neglected to mention that it was Easter, but when I pointed that out she was like, “That’s right, it was!”)  I chatted with opera buffs, the authors of OperaBlog, and the President of the Vocal Record Collector’s Society.  I also met the organist of the church and he asked for my card, in case he needs a sub for a non-Sunday morning gig.

11:00pm: Intoxicated opera buffs sing and make old references I don’t get as we wrap things up.  I carry off an almost untouched jug of Seneca Lake area apple cider, to make hot rum and cider now that it’s cold out.  It is indeed cold and I have no jacket.  I begin retracing my steps, looking for my shoe.

11:15pm: Halfway home and not having found it yet, I decide those shoes weren’t that comfortable anyways so it’s okay if I lost it.

11:27pm: I get home. My apartment is a mess, with junk all over the floors from my lip gloss hunt.  My shoe is on my bed. :)

Is this how a typical concert day goes for other opera singers, or is it just me?

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Busy sunday

October 27, 2008 at 8:19 pm (Music) (, )

I’m backstage at my concert. These American Landmark Festivals concerts are so long, and I left all my reading material at home, so I’ll get caught up on my blog…

Yesterday finally hit home to me the hard fact that I can’t function without sleep. It’s not that I can’t think or sing or stay upright, it’s that I become an emotional wreck. I can function physically and mentally but not emotionally. So many of my random breakdowns happen on Sundays, or Saturdays where I’ve had to wake up early- days when a late night work schedule and an early morning rehearsal or church have forced me to leave my nest on 2-3 hours of sleep, sometimes less. It’s a hormonal sort of loss of control- an overreaction to stress resembling pms.

Yesterday, on two hours of sleep, I had my church gig, the rehearsal for today’s concert, an evensong, and an audition.

The church gig was good- we actually got out at a humane hour for the first time since I’ve sung there. We sang “I was glad” by Purcell, which I’d never sung. Why don’t people to do this piece more? I’ll have to look for a recording.

I rushed home, ordered a pizza, and took a 1 hour nap.

When I woke up, I had a pain in my stomach which I knew was from the pizza- it was just like the cramps of indigestion I used to get from cheese when I first started eating dairy again after being kind of began for 5 years. I haven’t had that reaction in ages so maybe the pizza joint was just food poisoning me- they’ve really gone downhill in the past month, and raised their prices to boot- must be new management.

Anyway, I stumbled out the door and got to rehearsal, where I sang the vaughn Williams pieces, which I’d only had for a week, for the first time with accompaniment- a very elderly violinist who could play way better than I expected.

The pieces, especially when you add the wacky violin part, are way less tonal than you expect from folk song afficionado RVW. Some are trickier than others. I had practiced them thoroughly for several days (I would have started earlier if I had realized how hard they would be), and wasn’t sure what to expect when I tried to put it together with the violin.

Well, it was HARD. I stood my ground but I did get off-center a couple times. As soon as we finished the violinist, without looking at me, says, “you sang the entirety of #3 a whole step sharp.” way to stick to your key no matter what, Amanda! :) we sang straight through it 5 more times, and I made fewer mistakes each time, but I was aggravated with myself for not knowing it better, and I teared up a little towards the end. Then as I went to get my fille score, Luba and another coordinator commented how much better I sounded after the first couple pieces. I hadn’t realized it was obvious I hadn’t warmed up, so I took the opportunity to sit down on a chair and cry for a minute. Luba knows Im a baby but I felt bad for the other guy who thought it was all his fault.

Then I got up and practiced chacun le sait and Francis’s musical number and ran out to hail a cab.

I’d been unsure until the previous evening if I’d gotten the gig subbing for a guest choir evensong at st. John’s the divine, since I’d be arriving late from rehearsal, but they finally said ok. I was so glad because I’d never sung there and only been inside once. They’d run out of music binders by the time I got there though so I had to peer over someone’s shoulder the whole time. The st. John’s choir robes are a neat shade of purple.

By this time my voice was getting icky from singing straight tone all day, but I decided to go to this audition anyways. They’d said it was fine if I was late. I managed to sing well, somehow. They liked me but they might not be able to hire me because I can’t make the dress rehearsal.

I went home finally and slept for like 14 hours.

I’m still waiting to go on…

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