Doom and gloom. That’s all we hear. Well, for some real straight talk about the current situation unpolluted by political-ese, please make time for the Townhall of Hope. Dave Ramsey is one of the only leading members in the media giving people truth, not fear. Do check it out. It’s free. He doesn’t want anything from you but to listen and give some real information…oh, and he’s far from boring. One of the most entertaining people not only on this subject, but in life in general.

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The Girls of 207

March 24, 2009

Here I am, less than a week away from ending my time in Sarasota, and I have not yet introduced you to my awesome roommates. I am remiss.

Sarasota Opera houses all of the apprentices at RTA (Ringling Terrace Apartments), 3 to each apartment.  Honestly, I was a little nervous about the situation.  I haven’t had roommates for years (unless you count the hubby and, well, that’s another situation all together) and the thought of getting all snuggly with 2 strangers? Not my idea of fun.

Enter Lindsay and Candra.  Candra and I actually went to school together so although acquainted, never had to deal with sharing the same bathroom.  Lindsay I did not know, but soon discovered that this was going to work.  Put plainly, the girls of 207 rock.

Candra is the super free spirit of the group.  Always dressed up just for the sake of dressing up, I learned very quickly that, “A girl doesn’t need a reason to dress up!” and when I ask about why she’s wearing heels for a walk to the coffee shop she replies, “I’m single. I always have to wear heels.” Her hair may not be brushed yet and she may still have mascara under her eyes from the day before, but damn it, she’s gotta wear those heels! 🙂  She’s the one in the group that cries during all the sad parts of the movies and whose face gets are snarled during the fights.  She has also been known to cry during Don Carlos when we’re all on stage.  She has challenged me not only to always look good, but to let my emotions hang out a little more on my sleeve.  Just a little bit. Don’t worry. I’m not coming back all girly. Heaven forbid.

Lindsay is the middle-ground between my nerdy, organized, and (according to Candra) my boyishness (look, I can’t help the fact I sit like a dude in a dress and ho boots) and Candra’s free spirited, beautiful woman.  Lindsay takes my t-shirt and jeans and pairs it with a pair of sexy red heels. And though she loves nerd games like Dungeons and Dragons (the real one with dice and math and junk) and Munchkin (I don’t even know so don’t ask) she is quite possibly one of the wittiest people I know.  She is a super smart cookie, beautiful with the girl-next-door quality and playful. Because of her, I know have some sassy heels for my jeans and my inner child has emerged more.

We have become a great family. There are 2 places we talk: Lindsay’s bed (we’re not really sure how her bed won because we all have uncomfy beds) and the cramped hallway where the bathroom door, my door and Candra’s door meets.  It is in these moments that you may hear a vocal “trumpet trio” (Lindsay always starts it, Candra matches her expertise and then I come in sounding like a rhino. I need to work that talent) or see us eating crackers and cheese.

The girls of 207 have kept every cheese maker in this country and possibly some in Europe very busy this season.  Whenever we needed a snack…what did we want? Cheese and crackers!!! Well, and those nasty little sweet pickles from which I abstained.  Heck, I think there could’ve been more than a few full meals of cheese and crackers.  The counters are always full of cheese and cracker crumbs. Even when we clean, somehow they come out to play, to taunt us, to beg us to eat more cheese and crackers.

We’ve also sent many dollars to China and other major tea exporters.  I’m sure several children have a brand new Wii due to our tea consumption.

And don’t be surprised if  you hear one of us say, “Jeesie Creesie” followed by another one of us saying “Don’t call me Jeesie Creesie” followed by the third “Holy Ghost”.  It has also been known to happen in reverse order.  If you are not familiar with Eddie Izzard, this is lost on you and it is a situation which must be remedied.

Other favorite past times of the season (which always included the 2 above mentioned delicacies) included watching both seasons of The Tudors and Rome.  We are gluttons for dramatized “history”.  There also may or may not have been an evening where we put together a Gingerbread House 3 months after Christmas…

I’m going to miss these ladies.  I’ve never liked my roommies so much.  They have become the sisters I never had.  I wish I could take them to Nashville. Our house is big enough, but I suppose I’ll let them go on with their lives.

I love these ladies.  They will always be dear to me.

Max’s Twin

March 14, 2009

I saw a Mini just like Max!!!! (Yes, I’m neurotic enough to name every car I have.  Marilyn was my first, a 1987 white Honda Prelude, my second was Solomon, a 1998 white Chevy S-10 and now I share Max with Tim). I heard that there’s like a 1 in a million chance that you ever see 2 Minis that are the same color scheme, and yesterday was my 1 in a million chance. I was at a stop light when the car behind me honked and everyone inside of it waved. I couldn’t see the car (it had pulled up too close behind me) and didn’t recognize anyone so I didn’t pay attention, But then I looked around some more at it and suddenly realized it was a Mini just like Max! I totally freaked out and waved like a little girl and I may or may not have squealed. Then they all waved again. They followed me down the road and when I turned off, we all waved like little girls again (again, perhaps a squeal. I’m not sure.)

I love the Mini family.

Don Carlos has opened

March 11, 2009

And we are all excited down here.  You know it’s gotta be good when a bunch of opera singers who do this stuff all the time are excited.

The cast is incredible.  The orchestra is beautiful. It’s all quite fantastic. I wish all of you could get down here and see it. Even those of you who’ve never seen opera.  If this show didn’t convert you, you’d be a lost cause and thus dead to me.  If you have a beating heart you’d be blown away by this tour de force. I mean, where else do you get an Italian writing in French a show that takes place in Spain? Only on the operatic stage, baby.

Stay on the Sandbar

March 11, 2009

Yesterday was a much needed day off.  Finally, the weather was warm enough (80 degrees) to swim. Water was a little chilly at 63 degree…I know, I know. I hear you all playing your small violins for me. So we hit Lido Beach.

Anyway, we found a little sandbar walkway that led out about 100 yards to another sandbar that ran parallel with the beach.  It was pretty awesome.  Through the amazingly clear water, we saw a kabillion sand dollars. As my roomie said, it was a sand dollar trailer park.

After awhile we decided to head back to shore, though this time, swimming was our preferred mode of transportation.  Lazily making our way back, we practiced our amazing swimming technique, including backstroke and the ever famous, back float (my personal favorite). As we approached shore, we noticed a rescue truck stopped on the beach and a life guard standing and watching us.  He met us at the shore and informed us that we should’ve walked back on the sandbar because we looked “tired”.  “I saw you on your backs and was worried that you were tired and couldn’t make it back”. Which is evidenced by the fact that we are back at shore not breathing hard? What? And if we were in such peril, thanks for jumping in the water and saving us there, buddy.

So note to all your folks who dare swim in the ocean. Either take the sandbar back or don’t you dare turn over on your back.

That was strange

March 4, 2009

Whole Foods Market

Sarasota, FL

11:30 AM

Music playing over the speakers:  Billy Jean by Michael Jackson

What?

Sarasota Opera is a very “special” place to sing. Every company has it’s quirks, but not every company is run by Maestro Victor DeRenzi and there’s really no one else on the planet like Maestro DeRenzi (think an extremely sarcastic Godfather, only the voice is about 2 octaves higher). Maestro, if you happened upon the internet and are reading this post, please know that I LOVE singing for your company. If I could sing in Sarasota the rest of my life, I would be a very happy singer (what is that on my nose?) But just as there are a litany of things that you find quirky about singers, there are definitely some quirks about you and your company.

1) No water bottles allowed. Maestro thinks that singers rely too much on water to sing, therefore, no water or any other liquid in rehearsals, or heck, in the building for that matter. Only trips to the drinking fountain are allowed during breaks.

2) All music staff are called “maestro”. It is not uncommon for someone to walk into a room and ask, “Maestro?” and you see 3 heads turn in that direction.

3) Obsession with chest voice. For you non-opera people, chest voice refers to the low part of a woman’s voice. You feel it rumble in your chest, hence the name. One must be careful in using chest voice because you can do some real damage to the voice if you don’t use it right. Maestro’s best quote to me, “Unless you want to sing Gilda (a high soprano role), I need more chest voice”. Thank you, sir. Point taken.

4) Don’t touch your throat. Or heck, any other part of the body that may come anywhere close to contact with your throat include face, neck, shoulders… I have knots in my neck because anytime I go to work them out, DeRenzi yells, “Quit touching yourself! Your voice is fine!”

5) No cell phones or electronic device of any kind in the building. I’ve managed to miss almost every phone call.

6) Voice teachers are evil. Just breathe and sing. “You young singers rely on your teachers too much!” Again, I get your point, but…really?

7) Don’t try and be witty with the Maestro…unless you got something good. That is his job. (Though I have managed to get a couple laughs out of him. Woohoo!)

8 ) The internet is bad. Apparently we spend too much time online, especially on Facebook and these stupid blogs.

In all seriousness, I love the man and I love this company. Yes, it is very quirky, but I love it. There really is nothing more inspiring than sitting in a chorus rehearsal or a master class with Maestro DeRenzi. He is so invested in making us sound great and be successful – he just has a very passive aggressive, odd, offensive way of doing it that drives you nuts – but it is very endearing.:) I love watching him conduct. I get so wrapped up in the music and his passion. Even though he is not a singer and doesn’t have a clue on how to teach a singer to sing, I sing better when I sing for him. I used to always get nervous singing for Artistic Directors, but I’m not the least bit nervous in front of him. On the contrary, I feel most free singing for him because he wants you to take risks and if you screw up he’ll make a rude, offensive comment, we’ll all laugh and I’ll try it again.

This is a good place.