Well, this past weekend we did La Cenerentola, and it went really well.  I managed to run the 400 meter hurdles and conquer!:)  We had two great audiences who left very happy.  I had an absolute blast singing the role.  I really felt that I got into it, and it actually was pretty easy for me. There were only a couple of spots that felt hard and I tried to cover those with a great big, ditsy smile.  It fooled all but those who know me best:).  The final aria which is also the finale to the entire opera is sitting easily in my voice, and it will now be on my list of audition pieces.  It is the mezzo’s firework piece. It’s nice to have fireworks now!

My next stop is New Jersey, where I will be understudying Cenerentola, only this time in Italian, so I have a few weeks to get that under my belt.  I came down sick right after the show, so learning has been slowed. I was able to actually sit up this afternoon, so hopefully tomorrow I will have enough of a brain to go over the Italian mentally.

This was such an incredible challenge, one I would’ve never put on myself willingly. Yet again, I have learned that sometimes ignorance is bliss – but only sometimes.


Tomorrow, La Cenerentola (Cinderella) opens.  Tonight we have the dress rehearsal, which will be quite the challenge since it is the only dress rehearsal, and we don’t get a day break before doing the first show.  But, it should go well (especially because Rebecca is doing hair and make up and she rocks!). My vocal stamina has really been built up over the last few weeks.  Training for this has been quite amazing. Many of my friends have been training for the half/full marathon and have been sharing their training stories, so I figured I’d share a little of my training story:).

I said before that singing Rossini is like running a half marathon. I was wrong. It’s more like running the 400 hurdles.  You gotta be able to go fast, but keep the endurance for the whole lap AND jump over stuff.  I got the assignment about 2 months ago, which in the opera world is not a long time to learn a big role, let alone a role that requires a type of singing you have never done before in your life.  So I worked daily on the music, killing myself to learn these impossible (to me at the time) runs (for my non-singing friends, runs are long passages of lots of notes going really, really fast) .  In fact, one day, I got so mad, I threw my score across the room!  The torn cover and mishapen binding is evidence of that episode. Another day, my innocent wallet happen to be laying out and it received the brunt of my frustration.  But I got a pretty new wallet as a result!:)  This frustration occurred while I was in Nashville, away from my teacher – the King of this type of singing.

So I returned to NYC with 2 weeks before rehearsals began still unable to sing most of the runs in the dang show.  After 30 minutes in a lesson, half the runs were working well. I told you, he was the king. By no means close to even rehearsal ready, but hey, they were at least leaving my mouth.  So I was doing 2 lessons a week to get this stuff on my voice. I thought that was enough, but apparently it wasn’t.  After studio class on Saturday (my orange moment) I received a text from my teacher saying, “I want you in a lesson before your next scheduled, whether you can pay or not.” I responded with,”Wow, I suck that much!” And he replied, “No. You sound amazing when you’re out of your own way. You need SUPERVISED repitition!”  So, humbled yet again, I went in for a lesson that lasted well over an hour. Then Monday, I had 3 hours of rehearsal, Tuesday I coached it with a pianist for an hour and a half (again, supervised repitition:)), rehearsed for 3 hours, Wednesday had another nearly 2 hour lesson and had another 3 hours of rehearsal that night.  And you know what? I’m not dead. Tired, yes, but not dead. My voice is still working, and is actually in better shape than it was last week at this time.  I’m pretty much perpetually warmed up!  I have a dress rehearsal tonight and then sing again tomorrow morning at 11:30 (ugh), but I suppose I will still be warmed up from tonight:)!

This truly has been an amazing training process. I’ve never had to sing anything so hard in my life and was worried that my body and voice would revolt and poop out on me, but it has done just the opposite.  It has responded wonderfully, I’m having a blast and my voice is working better than it ever has.  And it’s in shape for rehearsal tonight, show tomorrow, master class tomorrow and then another show Saturday, which is the singer’s equivalent to a three day track meet.  I’ve got more Rossini to learn, but now that I’m used to it, it should go better and faster.

My tangerine is evolving!

I’ll keep you posted on the shows.

My friend Rudy sent me a card a couple weeks ago that said, “Are tangerines really just oranges that didn’t want it enough?”

I died laughing when I read that. I thought, “I sure as heck want to be an orange! I don’t want to be satisfied with just being a tangerine!”

Well, today, I took a major step towards being an orange.  See, my entire life I’ve been pretty good at most things I do, aside from basketball and volleyball, or heck any sport that required hand/eye coordination.  I ran really well and played soccer really well without giving much effort. I suppose I gave a little more than the average Joe, but there was no need to give more.  When it required that I give more (like to play at the collegiate level) I realized I didn’t want it badly enough. I liked singing more, and I was still able to give more than average and excel.

Well, today was a big wake up call to me.  I sang in studio class today (that’s when everyone who studies with my teacher gets together and sings for one another).  I sang the aria that is the big one in Cenerentola, which I am singing this Friday and Saturday.  It’s the equivalent of running a half marathon (not quite a marathon. That’s when you have to sing Wagner). But this is like a half marathon with hurdles.  It is, by far, the hardest music I have EVER had to sing.  It requires so much of me, but for some reason, I do it well.   So, I was singing away and things were going well until I got to the end of the piece where a little passage runs all the way up the scale to a B above the staff. For those of you not familiar with that note, scream at the highest pitch you possibly can, and then imagine making it sound pretty.  That’s what a B is for me.  Normally, B’s aren’t that bad for me, but in this one spot, they are.  So, I ran up the scale and pooped out.  Totally didn’t sing it.  But I had one more chance as the same passage was coming up again.  I ran up the scale, and fell flat on my face again.  So my teacher got up and yelled, “DO IT AGAIN!” and I was like, “HOW?” So he gave me a couple pointers.  And then kept making me do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  And finally I said, “I can’t do it anymore. It’s starting to hurt.” And he turned, looked me in the eye and said, ‘You’re out of shape. Do it again.” So I did.  And guess what, I did it.  And it didn’t hurt me. Was I tired? Yes. But hurt, no.

In all honesty, for the first time in my singing career, I felt like I actually had to go farther than I thought I could actually go.  I felt like, for, if not the first time, one of the few times, I gave it every bit that my little body could give it.

I didn’t just give a little more than the average Joe. That doesn’t cut it in this league. It’s all or nothing.  You hear professional athletes say that kind of stuff all the time, and most of the time, it just went in one ear and out the other, because I didn’t know what it meant to give it everything I had.  But I know now.  And now that I know, I can’t do any less.  I have found that level, and I can’t go back.

This career is hard. It takes an emotional and physical toll, not to mention the sacrifices that are made on a daily basis.  But I have that orange dangling in front of me, so you won’t be seeing this one giving up anytime soon!

Good-bye tangerine, hello orange!

This was a sign seen by my friend Sarah on the back of the bathroom door at a Duane Reede Pharmacy on the Upper East Side.  An explanation is not needed.