Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meeting Renée Fleming

As I’m writing this I’m also working on my next year’s repertoire. Doing something I thoroughly enjoy, writing the lyrics down, translating them, getting the pronunciation right and looking for the meaning of every single word. It’s fun, and it’s of paramount importance for the work, many people just get the musical part done and stumble through the lyrics as if they were not as important and most of the time not even knowing what they are saying. I don’t like that.
Well anyways, I wanna talk about one of the happiest days in my musical life. The day I went to Renée Fleming’s concert in Sala São Paulo. It wasn’t just because it was Renée Fleming and she’s AWESOME, and she did four encores. It was because for the first time in months I felt like I was in a place where people understood me. ‘Cause most of the time, even in college (and must I highlight that my major is music, and I’m talking about musicians and even aspiring opera singers) people don’t want to talk about opera and everything that entwines it. Sometimes it’s easier for me to talk about these things with non musician friends than with them. I have a handful of friends (here in Brasil) who talk about opera and know what they are talking about, that is very sad. But on Renée’s concert I got to meet so many people like me, that live and breathe opera. It was really awesome!
Let me put out the repertoire she sang that night, and must I say, divinely so.
Claude DebussyAriettes Oubliées
Green / Il pleure dans mon cour / Chevaux de bois

Joseph Canteloube Chants D’Auvergne
Baïlèro / Malurous qu’o uno fenno / La delaïssando

Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Walzer aus wier – Frag mich oft  / Die Tote Stadt – Mariettas Lied

Richard StraussLieder
Ständchen (Opus 17, nº 2) / Morgen! (Opus 27, nº 4) / Zueignung (Opus 10, nº 1)

Giuseppe Verdi – Otello
Mi madre aveva uma povera ancella... Piangea cantando... Ave Maria
Ruggero Leoncavallo – La Bohème
Musette svaria sulla bocca viva / Mimì Pinson, la biondinetta

Francesco CileaAndriana Lecouvreur
Io son l’umile ancella

Oh Mio Babbino Caro
O Silver Moon
Something in French

So let’s start from the beginning, I get there about three hours earlier because my college is real near there, but it’s also SUPER dangerous to walk around there at night. I spend most of my time playing Sudoku. Well I met my faithful two friends who share my enthusiasm for opera (they are also singers in the making) and the place started bursting with opera lovers. I don’t know if this is normal, but many people went up to us started talking about Renée, opera, and singing and it was like a dream come true. All those people felt what I felt!  

First pic that I took. My actual distance of her

I’m going to tell you something very naughty that me and my two girlfriends did. ‘Cause here in Brasil, apart from the fact that these events hardly ever happen, the organization is kind enough to set aside the front role tickets to VIP people, who never show up. That’s great for us! My friend Jaqueline who is very experienced in this field (the field of sitting on seats that aren’t hers I mean) guided us through it, and before we knew it the concert began and we were sitting in the front role!

When Renée walked in my eyes started watering, I couldn’t believe what I saw, she was like an Opera Goddess! She looked gorgeous as usual, very classy! So I’m not gonna pretend I know much about Chamber Music, ‘cause I don’t, and she sang a great deal of chamber music. But the Debussy I did know ‘cause I almost did this cycle, but I’m not even gonna talk about the singing because it was superb! I was so dazed by it that I only noticed there were subtitles in the third song! Her interpretations were very just right you know, I wish I knew the repertoire so I could expand on the subject, but I don’t :(

I think the most pathetic part about the whole thing was the expression on my face, I looked dazzled and hipnotized. And for most of the time I couldn't get a smile out of my face. And since we were so close, she'd sometimes look at us and smile, and I'd DIE! I died about 15 times watching this concert. But the worst part is when she would look at us, and we would be taking pictures, I only took 3! But I'm so lucky that she looked right at me while I was doing that!

But when she started singing Otello, I grabbed Jaqueline’s hand so tight, I was going like “Oh God, she just sang this at the Met! She’s out of this world!”.  I cried my eyes out! And something very ridiculous happened; there was a very annoying couple who were clearly not enjoying the concert sitting right next to us. And the woman was giving us the eye for holding hands, probably thinking that we were a couple also. We’re not, but even if we were, what’s the big deal? I hated that woman, and kept sighing quite loudly during the songs, and I wanted to strangle her.

Then I learned how to use the zoom in my camera
 When she finished the program the concert hall was filled up by thousands of “BRAVA” “LINDA” “I LOVE YOU!” and she did her first encore "Oh Mio Babbino Caro". And I mean, who doesn’t love that song? Time for me to cry again! Now for her second encore she told us that the night before the audience had asked her to sing this one, “O Silver Moon” from Rusalka. The moment she said the name of the song the place almost crumbled down with cheers from the audience, including moi obviously. And it was a very happy moment for me because I once listened to a recording of Joyce DiDonato singing at the Salzburg Festival and when she said the name of the aria she was singing the crowd went insane (it was Serse’s “Ombra mai Fu”), and at the time I just thought to myself “I wish Brasil had such an enthusiastic audience!”. And after that day I came to realize that it did!

I think it was on the third encore Renée said something like “Aren’t you tired of listening to me sing?” which was responded with loads of cheers and “I LOVE YOU”s. You’ll have to pardon me because I don’t remember the name of the chanson she sang as the third encore, but she did say it was new to her repertoire. The fourth and unfortunately last was Azulão, a song in Portuguese, which she nailed obviously.

This dress was to DIE FOR!
After the concert me and my girlfriends rushed to the autograph cue to wait for her, and let me tell you, the cue WAS HUGE! Again we got to meet rather nice strangers with passion for opera (most of them opera singers or opera students), and you kinda realize you’re not alone. And also that it is of paramount importance to go to these concerts, I think at least, that everyone who is studying to become an opera singer should have gone there that day. And don’t get me started on the price thing, ‘cause 10 minutes before the show they were selling tickets for R$10,00 for students. That's like $5,00!

Then the moment finally arrived, meeting Renée! Since there were a hundred thousand people there, she wasn’t taking pictures. If she did stop to take pictures with everyone she would have left there the next day. I got to talk to her if only for a bit, I told her how marvelous she was and that I was sitting in the front row drooling. She laughed and said “Oh you were in the front role? I hope I didn’t drool on you!”, I wanted to answer something like “Oh you didn’t, but if you had it would have been fine, I would have bottled it or something.” But I just laughed and said something like “But you didn’t…” and then got pushed by the next one in line.

But the thing is, she was also only signing one item per person. She signed my cd “The Art of Renée Fleming”, but my friend Jaqueline had almost all her cds, and her book, she wanted them signed. What did she make me do? So we got in line AGAIN, so Renée would sign two more items of her endless collection, when we got to her again she said “Oh, you again!” and while my friends said a timid “Yes” and went up and said “Let me tell you Renée, she’s not leaving until you sign all her cds!”. She laughed; I’m so funny, I made Renée Fleming laugh! HA!

So it was a terrific day! And many are to come, I have no doubt about it!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

NY Trip and Operatic Beach

I never got to explain the actual name of the blog, hun? Well, believe it or not, it’s the name I’ve always used, ever since I was a teenager blogging for the sake of layouts. It’s from an Andrew Llyod Webber musical called Song and Dance, never saw it, but I like the song. And now more than ever the name makes sense, this whole thing was completely unexpected.
Since I am not talking about anything specific in this post I’ll talk about my crazy decision to go to New York City alone. It was I think September of this year and I was bursting with the need to watch first rate live opera. And then the craziest idea dawned on me, ‘cause me and my family are going to spend something like 3 weeks in Orlando. So I could easily go to New York for a couple of days and then come back, and that’s exactly what I told my dad, and he agreed. It was odd, ‘cause normally, he doesn’t, so I bought the ticket from Orlando to New York, 3 tickets for the Met Opera, and booked 3 nights at a Hostel in Manhatan.
I had chosen the date that coincided with certain performances of certain super cool opera starts (just a reminder that I didn’t know Joyce at the time, if I had the dates would have been completely different). So I’m arriving on the 8th of February and watching Rigoletto with Diana Damrau (hell yeah baby!) and Piotr Beczala both which I LOVE! Then the next day I’ll be watching L’Elisir D’Amore, one of my favorite bel canto pieces, with Anna Netrebko (my heart will stop when I see her), Erwin Schrott (then I’ll have a convulsion when I see him) and the increasingly handsome Mariusz Kwiecien (marry me!). Then in the evening I’ll watch Carmen, because Carmen never gets old, and this production is really very beautiful.
And I’ll be at the stage door alone, God help me. But my friend told me it was very easy to make friends at the stage door, we all have an objective in common! I remember it was very easy making friends at the stage door of broadway musicals, I suppose it’s gonna be like that.
 So yesterday I made a list with everything I intend to buy when I go to New York. And yeah, I’m gonna be so broke I might as well stop eating now so I can afford these things. Here is a glimpse of the list I made looking only at the Met Opera Store and at the Julliard Store. There are some titles in the sheet music department that don’t have prices ‘cause I didn’t find an edition that can fit my pocket yet, they are all in French, and my favorites.

Most importantly I found the Cendrillon dvd, they sell it at the Met Store, and it’s $40! The things we do for love, like buying Opera Cooks, I love to cook and this is the ultimate book to have if you love opera and cooking! I also decided to buy the critic edition of Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflüte because these are the ones I’ll be using for real you know. I already have a critic edition (Bärenreither) of Le Nozze di Figaro and it’s just wonderful! I could be spending much less, but my teacher warned me against buying from certain publishers that to my utter delight were the cheapest!
And I also selected quite a few cds, I mean come on! I feel so bad already downloading these things, the least I could do is buy the cd when I have the chance! Of course I’m buying the 4 Joyce DiDonato cds they have, but that’s just because she’s my idol!
I also finished my “The Mark of Athena” book the day before yesterday, sad, I didn’t want it to end. But immediately started another one called Contos de Opera e Cantos by Sergio Casoy, who is a brilliant Opera History professor here in Brasil. This book is rather delicious to read, in it he shares little stories about things that happened during the productions of the operas. Like that for instance, the Othello project of Verdi was actually called the Chocolate Project because Verdi didn’t want to compromise in the beginning and took a good two years to write the piece. While Donizetti wrote L’Elisir D’Amore in less than a month! Really very entertaining, I’m still in the Italian operas part, he talks about all sorts of opera which is rather cool.
Also yesterday I did something quite soothing! I got my opera book, a towel and my purse and headed off to the beach. It was the end of the afternoon, so it wasn’t packed with people, but I had to walk a while to find a good spot to read. It was quite nice, and a beautiful sunset!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Elvira Fever!

So I have this awesome cool teacher in college who is also a musical critic for one of the most important newspapers in São Paulo. And he gave us a task, to write a review/critic about any sort of musical event and present it alongside with the video or audio of the piece chosen. I was lost, I wanted to write about opera but was so afraid, at that time I’d only been 1 or 2 months in my total conversion to opera.  I felt I knew nothing and that my brilliant teacher would crush me since he is THE opera critic of the city. Then an idea dawned on me, let’s look for a topic in these fantastic opera blogs, they know what they are talking about!
So that’s when I stumbled upon The Earworm’s post about the different performances by Dorothea Röschmann and Joyce DiDonato of Don Giovanni’s Donna Elvira. At the time I had no idea who Joyce was, that was actually the first thing I saw her in. I’m gonna get a bit off topic here and say it makes me cry every time I think about the fact that she came to Brasil, she sang in Sala São Paulo, she talked and took pictures with my friends, and I didn’t go, ‘cause I didn’t even know she existed. And once I got to know her work and her initiative to help young singers (yes, I’ve watched ALL her videos) and to connect with them and with the fans she became my superstar inspiration for my life. And it just hurts to think she was close and I didn’t even know. I feel very stupid.

Back on topic, this is going to be a huge post! I wrote the review and to my utter and complete surprise my teacher realy seemed to like it! I got an A! I was stunned and very happy! And then he told me that he had critiqued the Metropolitan’s Opening Night of Don Giovanni last year, and I was just gap faced.
Without further ado, let’s get down to business, here is my critic:
“They all want Blood” (Todas Querem Sangue)
One of the most famous operas written by the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) is Don Giovanni. It tells a story of nobleman whose life objective is to nail as many women as he possibly can. At the opera we accompany Don Giovanni during one day and get to meet three women that he tricked; Donna Anna, from whom he escapes after seducing in the first scene, Donna Elvira, a noblewoman from Burgos with whom he promised to marry but ran off, and Zerlina, a country girl who’s engaged to be married at that day and but is convinced by him to run off.
One of the most intriguing characters in Don Giovanni is Donna Elvira who up until the very end of the tale believes that Don Giovanni can change and that they will be together. Her first scene in the opera she sings the aria “Ah chi mi dice mai” can be interpreted in many different ways. The two performances I’ll be comparing have the same great performatic quality, what sets them apart is the characterization of the said character and its relationship with everything that is happening on stage.
In the London Royal Opera House production of 2008 with Joyce DiDonato, north-american  mezzo soprano, Donna Elvira is more furious than upset. That can be told not only by her posture but by her articulation where she conveys absolute confidence, while she holding on to her gun and tells everyone around her how she’s going to rip off the heart (“Gli vo’ cavare il cor”) of the man who abandoned her.
Now for Dorothea Röschmann, german soprano, at the Salzburg Festival also in 2008 it’s completely different. Donna Elvira is alone, slightly fragil, vulnerable, lost, scared and getting uneasy with the mixture if these emotions. The aria has a completely different feeling to it, she makes the aria sound almost like a lament, as if she didn’t have any hope of finding him. Even when she talks about meeting him again (“Ah, se ritrovo l’empio”) she doesn’t seem to believe that is going to happen.
Röschmann’s interpretation carries as much hatred as DiDonato’s but it’s clear she’s much more emotionally distraught because of him. That becomes quite clear when Don Giovanni finally reveals himself (“Signorina?”). While DiDonato’s Elvira goes on confident to investigate the stranger’s identity and promptly  jails him when she sees who it is, Röschmann seems to be getting more scared by the second but when she sees to whom that voice belongs she lets out all of her rage throwing whatever she can find on his direction. The almost murdering glint that DiDonato carries in her eyes when she sees him is inspiring but the flames of hatred that come out of Röschmann’s eyes are just as appropriate.

One thing that both performers carried was that in their own different ways they were in search of Don Giovanni. This, of course, is much more clear in the London production since she’s quite literally hunting him down, but even in the German production Elvira seems to be looking for someone.

Neither of the sets are what we can call traditional, but both performers capture the essence of this character perfectly, a proud and determined woman who is at the end of the day crazy for Don Giovanni (in every sense of the word ‘crazy’). Röschmann conveys that with her expressions of repulse and doubt, where she seems to be thinking “What am I doing here?” as if she had a bit of sanity left. But DiDonato has completely given in to her mad love and crazy vengeance. That is quite clear since she keeps on believing him even though he always runs away.
The incontrollable love for Don Giovanni blinds Donna Elvira who even after being tricked and fooled so many times still sings the beatiful “Mi tradi quella alma ingrata” at the second act. In which she tells how even though he betrayed oh so many times and makes her so very miserable she can’t help but feel worried about his fate. Up until the end she believes he can change, but when he mistreats her yet again she runs away and decides to join a convent after learning about his death.

So that's that, I love Donna Elvira and one day I'll play her, mark my words. But for now I'll have to settle for Zerlina ;/

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Flower Power Cosi!

How opera is a grand part of my life already. I constantly have little tunes from my favorite productions nagging me endlessly playing themselves in my head but yesterday I wanted to shoot that mother fucker in the face!
To cut the long story short I had had singing lessons yesterday and was in my friend’s house drinking, laughing and talking. But the thing is, I wanted to hook up with this said friend, but was too shy to just do it. So the aria I sang in my class kept playing itself in my head, “É amore un ladroncello” Dorabella’s second aria from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. And most specifically the part where she says “E toglie dá la pace, come gli piace il cor” (He steals and gives you peace, as he pleases itself). God, I felt Mozart laughing at my face going “You idiotic coward!” the rascal that he was! Well, we did hook up in the end, but that was just too weird not to mention!
Speaking of Cosi Fan Tutte I thought I’d talk about it since I already mentioned it. Well, my experience with Cosi is not very grand, I’ve only watched one entire production and again it was a modern day kind of production. I actually about 3 years ago tried to watch it since me and a friend were singing the first sister’s duet (Ah Guardda Sorella), but after the duet I feel asleep. I’m very ashamed of that, since the production (now I see it) was very good, it was a preoduction from the Glyndebourne Opera Festival  with Miah Persson as Fiordiligi and Luca Pisaroni as Guglielmo, both performers that I worship!
Well anyways, the production that I did see was actually from the Berlin Staatsoper. It’s the 2002 production, the hippie one. Kind of crazy, but I really liked it! Here is the cast list:
Fiordiligi (Dorothea Röschmann)
Dorabella (Katharina Kammerloher)
Guglielmo (Hanno Müller-Brachmann)
Ferrando (Werner Güra)
Despina (Daniela Bruera)
Don Alfonso (Roman Trokel)
Chor der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin
Conductor (Daniel Barenboim)
Director (Doris Dörrie)
One of the main reasons why I watched this especific production is because of Dorothea Roschmann. I ADORE her! I mean, really, she has a way to do Mozart no one can imitate, sometimes I think she born to sing Mozart you know. Sometimes I hear people say that Renée Fleming was born to sing Strauss, well then, I think Dorothea was born to sing Mozart, I've never seen a better Countess!
Well now on the production itself, one of the high lights I must say was the fact that Ferrando actually takes Dorabella’s bra to show Guglielmo how unfaithful she actually is. I loved it how the girls played the sisters, Fiordiligi the ever so faithful girlfriend and Dorabella not really caring all that much, which explains her willingness to go the extra mile with a stranger who is actually her sister’s fiancé.
I thought the sets were real cool; they reminded me of a Barbie House which for me is awesome. And the costumes were also quite cute, specially the sisters, those sixties little dresses are just to die for! And I’m totally for this kind of adaptation, I mean, these operas live today because, apart from the exquisite music, they speak to people and they show people dealing with things that we deal with nowadays. Relationships, jealousy, betrayal, forgiveness (or not) are things that are timeless, so these pieces can be set at any age!

One thing that I’ve had to do to watch this production and actually understand it is finding the libretto of the piece online and scrolling it down as I watched the video. Since the video itself had no subtitles and I can’t understand Italian very well. Interviews in Italian I get sometimes because it’s so very much like Portuguese and you kind of acquire a little bit of Italian fluency by singing on the language so much. But anyways, it’s very tiresome to do this, especially because in this production they cut out some things so the scenes would make sense, so there were times I was completely lost scrolling the libretto frantically!
One last thing, the guy who played Ferrando looked SUPER hot in his hippie clothes, he looked like a hippie Legolas, which is so fine with me, especially when he took his shirt off. Who said opera is boring? I actually use that line a lot, I use it when I post hot opera stuff on facebook, like the Comte Ory Sandwich scene, or the ending of the third act of Manon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My first post on Cendrillon!

Yesterday was Christmas day and I must confess I had the best Christmas ever! Since I live in Brasil the season now is summer, so, hot as hell summer. So we had a barbecue by the pool with constant jumping inside it, it was the only way to keep our bodies in a bearable temperature. But it was rather fun! So since we’re talking about good times, let’s talk about something I love love love from my favorite French composer…
My first post on Massenet’s Cendrillon. So I haven’t watched the whole opera yet for one simple reason, I can’t find it anywhere on the internet, and stores just don’t sell these DVDs here in Brazil. Yes, yes, there are many, many productions out there on YouTube of Cendrillon, but I wanna watch the one from the Royal Opera House with Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coot!
There are a few clips, manly of Joyce, on YouTube from this opera, and only watching these snippets already made me absolutely fall in love with this opera! I already love Massenet, Manon was the opera that made me like opera in general after all, and oh God, it is impossible not to fall in love with his Cinderella. I’ve put up there the videos of the parts I’m gonna talk about in case you guys wanna see it.
One of the parts I like the most is the trio at the end of the third act! How the mezzos voices entwine and just sound so lovely, the color that comes out of it is superb! A especific moment in that trio is when the Fairy Godmother finally lets Cendrillon and the Prince Charmant see each other. The chorus kicks in ever so softly with a little melody that sounds so much like a Disney dream (I’m sure Disney stole this idea or something from Massenet).  And Cendrillon just looks scared and even a little ashamed because she’s in rags (correct me if I’m wrong, it’s just what I see) in front of her Prince, but then the prince calls her out and they embrace and it’s just SO ROMANTIC! God, really, I’m not a very romantic person, but, this moment is so full of pure sentiment and love, oh, it brings tears to my eyes, ‘cause at the end of the day they are so young and ingénue!  And especially when they arrive to plead mercy to the Fairy Godmother, the sound is just, crazy good (I wish you people could see my face, it describes what I feel about this moment perfectly!).
Oh and then there is Cendrillon’s and Prince Charmart’s alone encounter, which is just, so good! The guy is head over hills in love with her, and she can hardly believe that she’s actually there nevertheless that the prince himself feel for her. It’s just, this piece found its way through my heart and I must say, I can listen to it over and over again, and even though I don’t speak French, the music speaks for itself. The music alone can tell the story. And Alice Coot has some serious man swag going on. I showed this to my sister (my sister is a cosplayer so she's more than used to seeing girls playing boys, she herself does that a lot, so she can't be fooled easly) and she was astonished to learn that it was a woman. She could only tell once Alice started singing, but she tells me that before that she could have sworn Alice was in fact a man!
Another part that I love is Cendrillon’s first aria, oh sooo melancholic, and not in an annoying way (I normally find melancholic stuff irritating), it’s just Massenet, and I love his music! Well this first aria is awesome, so of course I went out there and asked my teacher if I could sing it. Yeah, I’m really a soprano so you can only guess that she said no. I was a bit upset, but she let me pick anything from the soprano French repertoire. But then when I downloaded the whole score from IMSLP the characters descriptions says that Cendrillon is a soprano! Don't believe me? I'll printscreen it for you! LOL Just in case you are wondering, I printed the part for this aria, just in case :)
Reste au foyer petit grillon, résignetoi Cendrille!

Sometimes I think the voice is like women’s hair, we’re never satisfied with it, it’s always “Oh, it could be slightly darker” or “Why can’t I reach that note with that color?” these little phrases even seem as if I’m talking about hair for Christ sakes!
I love French and I love French opera, so this is definitely not my only post on Cendrillon, but I just wanted to leave my first impression of the piece. Have a good one peeps!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Opera on the Beach!

It’s Christmas! Yay! My xmas festivities so far have been amazing, great family moments, loads of fantastic food and truly good music. The playlist I made for the for the xmas party include, Michael Buble’s  Christmas CD (who is such a terrific singer), the soundtrack from Love Actually (my favorite Xmas movie of all time), some tracks from the Glee Xmas cds, some musical theatre songs sung by Joyce DiDonato, the calmer Beatles songs, Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole King. I got exactly what I wanted, an amazing Jamie Oliver cook book (I LOVE to cook, I can’t wait to get my hands on Opera Cooks) and Havaianas Cheshire Cat Flip-flops (I loooove flip-flops, since I’m from a seaside town it’s like common sense fashion around here). That’s basically it that I got yesterday, because I’ve asked everyone for money since I’m going to New York on February and I wanna buy thousands of opera scores, hundreds of cds and a couple of dvds.
So since it’s Christmas I’m going to talk about a concert here in my city that is sort of like a Xmas tradition and it’s one of the only moments the big public gets to hear classical music. By the way, right now my mum is talking to some aunt who called to wish us a Merry Christmas and is already talking about how me and my sister are only hooking up and how unfortunate it was that I broke it off with my boyfriend. Don’t you just love that?
So the lord works in mysterious ways, and even when I want to do something that is considered normal I end up going to a concert instead. I was gonna go to the movies with some friends, but then I heard there was this great orchestra called OSESP (which is one of the most important orchestras in the country) playing at the beach. So I ditched my friends (who were late by the way, they saw it coming) and called another friend who said she was going and went to the beach. To my utter and complete delight and surprise they were actually doing opera! ‘Cause they always come and play, but it’s always orchestral pieces, never with singing! But there they were with fantastic soloists and the OSESP choir (in which I have a great friend who sings in, he’s big time good) doing the highlights of Porgy and Bess!
It was fantastic! It was around 8 when I got there, but since it’s summer here the sun was starting to set, so it was quite an experience, fantastic music and a magnificent view.  I didn’t get to hear “Summertime” which they probably did in the beginning since they were following the order of the piece. I arrived at “My Man is Gone Now”, which was breathtaking. The guy playing Porgy was crazy good, just awesome, his “I got plenty of nothing” was superb, the color of his voice was very really beautiful, quite enticing. Another great performer was the guy playing Sporting Life, I have to look up who was who in this, but he sounded like a wonderful musical theatre professional, he nailed it, he even danced a little, both his songs were the ones that got the biggest applause.
There was a great number of people there, I’m going to guess a thousand people, but I’m really bad at guessing, here are some pictures from where I was, but there were loads and loads of people standing behind me.
And of course the beautiful Sunday sunset we had as a background for such a wonderful early evening.
But of course things are so well organized in this country that I simply cannot find the cast list, but I will look for it later, I gotta go now, since the guests have arrived and we're having a Christmas barbecue by the pool, that is one good thing about living in the tropics, we don't freeze at Christmas, but I'd rather freeze and have a decent opera program than this.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Baroque Hercules

Well then, we are doing this hun! Yesterday was pretty busy, even though I didn’t step foot outside my apartment there was never a dull moment. It’s Christmas Eve, yay! The Christmas parties are gonna be in my house, we the people here are going sort of insane. My Christmas wish? To be able to put up the layout I made for this site instead of using this awful layout made by blogger, it’s so cool, it features my 3 favorite opera performers, Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato. And Blair Waldorf ‘cause she’s awesome hahaha.  OMG! It's a Christmas miracle! I got to put up the layout, it's not exactly the way I wanted, but it's there at least! New Christmas wish, to be able to watch Drama Queens: Larger Than Life which is so not airing here in Brasil :( You see why I complain so much about this country! Another thing I really wanted to watch was the Tucker Gala, well, I didn't, did I? The best I could do was follow what was happening on twitter, oh life!
Now let’s stop the ranting and get down to some serious business, yesterday I watched my first production of Handel’s Hercules. And since I’m a super fan of Joyce DiDonato’s (you people will notice this from an early stage since I’ll probably mention her in every post) I’ll always prefer to watch the productions that she’s done. Just to make it more organized I’ll put the cast list up.
William Shimell (Hercules)
Joyce DiDonato (Dejanira)
Toby Spence (Hyllus)
Ingela Bohlin (Iole)
Malena Ernman (Lichas)
Simon Kirkbride (Prist of Jupiter)

Orchestre et Choer des Arts Florissants
William Christie (Conductor)
I really liked it, I was very confused at first, since it wasn’t a traditional setting and I didn’t know the story I got a bit puzzled but then I realized something quite ridiculous. I’m a big big fan of these fantasy reality books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, I mean BIG time fan, I absolutely love it, my adolescence was practically based on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings alone. So I’m reading the new Percy Jackson book and there is a part where Jason (a son of Zeus, Jupiter, actually since he’s roman) and Piper (a daughter of Aphrodite) go to this island where Hercules is. And the continuing chapters tell a little bit about Hercules and his wife, and Nessus, and it wasn’t until like the middle of the second act that I made that connection, that I actually knew the story because I had read it in Percy Jackson. And if I’m not mistaken Dejanira kills herself at the end. Now that should have been in the opera, it would have been a KICK ASS aria! Not that “Where Shall I Fly” isn’t kick ass enough, it is. As my singing teacher told me the other day is a awesome mad song ‘cause it’s a mezzo’s mad song, needless to say that my teacher is a mezzo, I’m a soprano, but I agree with her.
Anyways, watching the whole thing I had only already seen Joyce DiDonato, Malena Ernman (in a wonderful production of Dido and Aeneas) and Toby Spence (in Barber of Seville same setting as the wheelchair Barber but with no wheelchair and a darker shade of blonde on Joyce’s head) perform before.

 Something that made me uncomfortable, and please, this is not criticism, I don’t write critics, I prefer to write about the good stuff and that’s it! Anyway, what made me uncomfortable was the sand, the stage was filled with sand, and I’m from a seaside town, so I know how sand can work its way through your clothes and itch endlessly. I actually felt sorry for the guy playing Hercules because he was lying on the sand wearing fake blood, and man, fake blood looks really good, very real, but it feels very gross against the skin, again I speak with experience, I already wore that, and it’s not pleasant. Imagine the fake blood with the sand getting all clingy on your face, and you have to sing and die, kudos for our Hercules, that was heroic.
But the highlight of the opera was without a DOUBT Dejanira’s “Where Shall I Fly?” it was the only aria that I already knew prior to watching this, but it was exquisite, and so awesome to actually understand why she was going crazy! And Joyce goes crazy like no one else! Just superb! The chorus was also really really good, they really did sound as one, and is a passage where they do several subto piano that I got goose pups all over, well very done indeed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

To Blog Again!

I've blogged before a couple of years ago but in a completely different light. I'm very into web design so what I really cared about was actually making cool layouts for the blog more than actually writing in it. But now I just feel a certain urge to write, many things have changed in my life in the past 6 months and I just think I could put it into writing. My fingers ache to write. Well, I am a 22 year old Brazilian living in São Paulo but always going back to my home town Santos on the weekends.
I have a great passion for the performing arts, always have, ever since I was a little girl dressed up as a little bee in my ballet recital. I'm part of a fantastic theatre group ever since I was 14 in my home town called "Agradagregos e Troianos" which translating means it pleases Greeks and Trojans. And it was at that age that I decided that my life should be on the stage, more specifically when I watched a performance of "The Phantom of the Opera" here in Brasil in January 2005 and I just thought to myself, 'Gosh, I just gotta do this'. I was convinced from that age that musical theatre was my life, and for the past years it really was, I graduated High School and for a year after that I dedicated myself to learning tap dancing, ballet, jazz, singing, and acting.
Then I entered College to major in music with a Bachelor in Opera singing, which I detested 'cause I was a musical theatre gal through and through. Many, many things happened in the course of the past 4 years that I've been in this college, I learned many, many things, got to go to NYC to watch all my favorite musicals (and I did, I watched 10 musicals in 10 days, all my money, gone), I lost a very good friend and mentor of mine, I evolved as an actress, played wonderful roles, but never really acquired a taste for opera.
Until last August, my singing teacher told me to sing Massenet's Manon's Gavotte for our Opera Studio Recital and told me that Manon was very much like Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl. I was intrigued and wanted to watch the whole production. So I watched the Metropolitan Opera's 2012 production with Anna Netrebko as Manon and Piotr Beczala as De Chevalier. That was on a Thursday, oddly enough on Friday I watched it again, then on Saturday again, then once more on Sunday, 'Wait, there is something wrong here. I'm not supposed to like this.', then I realized I was picturing myself doing what Anna was doing, and wanting it with a drive that I'd never had before for musical theatre.
 And then, just like a light switch, I changed! I wanted to be an opera singer, and it was scary, because it was a sort of certainty that I'd never had before, and that I had absolutely NO DOUBT about, it just happened. Needless to say that none of my friends in college and in the theatre group believed me, but I just knew, this was it! I also thought it was very odd until I saw an interview with the great baritone Simon Keenlyside where he says that if you go on and say you're thinking about having a career in opera then you probably shouldn't go for it, because this kind of thing just happens, and you just KNOW. I'm most certainly in that category, so here I'm, and I indented to write about everything that I discover in this wondrous universe of Opera.
As I've mentioned before I went to New York City once, and happened to go to the Met and took a few pictures and all. At that time I had no clue of the huge change was gonna happen to me, so there's me, with my, "Ok, since we are here let's take a picture" face. I hate myself for that! And also love myself for at least having taken the program with me! By the way, that was the HOTTEST day of the year, it was 46C!
 I've been watching as many as I can for the past 5 months but I still consider myself to be a total newbie at this. So this blog is indented for me to talk about the operas that I watch, here in Brasil, in live streams from the Met, in the not so live ones from the Royal Opera House, from the ones I watch on YouTube (blessed be that site!), and also for me to talk about how insanely crazy it is to aspire to be an opera singer, especially when you don't speak Italian, or French or German, and your music theory is not as good as it should be and your country has next to zero opportunities for you to make a career, which is my case. So yeah, that's it!