Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Master Class in Life!

How do I begin to describe the most insightful and amazing Master Class I ever witnessed?
I couldn’t find any pictures of the Master Class so this will have to do
First of all I’d like to say it was a brilliant idea to stream this Master Class on the internet. I’m sure aspiring opera singers all over the world were very grateful for that and now as I go through the many notes I made during the Master Class I can’t help but feel like she’s put me on the right track.

Studying music is a tricky and funny thing, it’s not like any other kind of profession I’ve ever come across, but after this Master Class I can see that we are not so far from the everyday person.
As I’ve mentioned here before I take part in an AMAZING theatre group here in my home town. The people from this group are also my best friends, and I wanted to introduce them to opera since I was absolutely sure they’d love it. So I started experimenting with my friend Flavio, first we watched Le Nozze di Figaro (ROH 2006 production), which he liked a lot, then we watched Il Barbieri di Siviglia (Met 2008 production), which he liked even more. Then I took my best friend to watch Maria Stuarda last week and he feel in love. So all things good, let’s go to phase two, “Who wants to watch Joyce’s Master Class with me on Friday?”, the two friends I just mentioned automatically said yes and I was able to get other two friends to watch it as well.
The master class begins and immediately Joyce’s amazing personality gets my friends completely hooked. All my friends have every day jobs, at the occasion I had an engineer, an actress and an English teacher with me. But since we’re all actors on the side what Joyce was explaining wasn’t very hard to follow, she taught a lot on interpretation and ways to get into character to BE the character that was absolutely helpful, not only to me but to everyone there.
But what really moved my friends was the last part of the Master Class when Joyce talked about the “That Persistent Inner Voice”. Since I’d seen the video I knew what was coming, but she went deeper in that one, I felt like she was looking me in the eye when she said “If you wouldn’t talk to anyone else like this, why would you ever talk to yourself like this, in this destructive matter?” (This is not the exact thing she said but it was something like this) “How is this helping you be a better professional, how is tearing yourself down to shreds with criticism helping you at all?” That one hit home, because I’m my worst nightmare, but then I noticed how this can be applied to just any person at all!
And then discussing this Master Class latter with my friends I realized that it also hit home for them! They were all very excited about learning more not only about opera but about Joyce, their new life guru! And some of them are even going the extra mile to try and show Joyce’s videos at work! And then going back to my notes I noticed something quite interesting I’d written down:
“Process is everything! You might be blessed with talent and that’s great, but if you don’t work your butt off your talent will get you NOWHERE. The work gets you there, it’s all about the process. If you have a well founded process, work hard and dedicate yourself you will definitely have more confidence and freedom at what you are doing. No rush! ENJOY the process. Slow and steady wins the race!”
Again, those aren’t the exact words Joyce said, it’s one of the many notes I frantically made during the Master Class. But when I read through that I realized that this message can be applied to anyone! And that’s when I realized that the 3 hours of pure bliss weren’t just filled with knowledge of acting and music but of LIFE, this was a Master Class in life! And for that I’m so very grateful to Joyce, I already knew that she was an exceptional person but this was most definitely the best class I’ve ever had, in all categories!

Me and my friends after the Master Class sort of taking a picture with Joyce hahaha
I’ve sent an email to Joyce thanking her and telling her about my friend’s positive reaction, here is to hoping that she responds! I’d have a heart attack for sure, but it’d be worth it!

So today I’m off to the USA, I’ll arrive there tomorrow but my journey starts today. I’m so happy I’m gonna be able to meet in person some of the AMAZING people that I’ve been talking to so frantically about opera for these last few months. I’m taking my laptop but I have no idea when I’m gonna post again, most definitely after I watch Rigoletto at the Met, but I’m hoping I can post something else before. Cheers everyone and thank you so much for reading and for the comments, they are much appreciated!
AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO WOLFIE MOZART! Your music is my life, so thank you!


People! My friend Sydney is making the ultimate #operarox uniform! The “Don’t Smoke Sing Baroque” shirts! They are gonna be $14 each without shipping. If you want one be sure to go to for the info on how to get it, be sure to email her by TOMORROW and the money ASAP. Here’s what the shirts are gonna look like:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Stuarda Adventure

What Just happened yesterday? I mean whow! I was blown away!
Let me start from the beginning, I live in Santos, a cool seaside city in Brasil, there aren’t movie theatres here that have Live in HD transmition. Actually there are only 2 movie theatres in the WHOLE STATE OF SÃO PAULO that have the Metropolitan’s Live in HD Transmitions. So I had a long journey ahead of me if I wanted to watch Maria Stuarda, but that didn’t bother me, for opera, and especially good opera sung by amazing people and incredible productions I can endure almost anything.
First Scene from the Metropolitan Opera’s
 production of Maria Stuarda
I got my best friend (who also happens to be the director of the theatre group I take part in) to go with me. The journey started off with me waiting for madam to brush his precious hair and ended up meeting my History Music teacher in front of my friend’s house, which is odd since my teacher is not from my town. We left my friend’s house at 12:30 (the transmition was scheduled to start at 3:55 pm) and it wasn’t until 1:00 pm that the bus finally arrived, to take us to São Paulo.
BUT, there was a HUGE traffic jam in the road and we took an hour and 50 minutes to get to São Paulo and it normally took an hour only. I was freaking out, desperate, I kept praying and promising stuff to God if I was able to get there in time. At 2:50pm I was at the metro station almost giving birth to my lungs! The metro ride lasted, as I had expected, 40 minutes and then me and my friend started looking for the right bus stop. But it was raining a lot, we finally gave up and took a cab that took us to the mall. I was breathless and almost doing it in my pants but we managed to get there before it began at 3:54 pm.!
The sound of the orchestra tuning and the people chatting at the Met was like a breath of fresh air, I WAS HOME! I entered the movie theatre jumping like a child and my friend got the atmosphere quite quickly, it’s very electrifying and especially for us, both theatre lovers. At the moment we sat down the lights dimmed and the screen showed there were 5 minutes to curtain. My heart was beating so fast, so exciting!

Elza Van Den Heever as Elisabeth and Matthew Polenzani as Leicester

I was tweeting frantically and then that trailer of the opera showing all the soloists began and I immediately started crying and I saw nothing but that blessed screen that brought (if only for a couple of hours) the Met closer to me. Come on they put the Prayer to play during that trailer and I’d only seen the snippets from the opera at the Met’s site so it was a like a little glimpse into what I was about to watch and there were just too many emotions for me not to cry! I was so glad Deb Voigt was presenting, she’s such a lovely host!

The opera began and right in first notes I was transported, I find the overture absolutely amazing especially the motive, the punctuated rhythm (oh God I’m kind of translating without really knowing my Portuguese musical vocabulary) just grabs you by the collar and demands your attention, it’s terrific!
I was pleasantly surprised by Elza Van Den Heever’s Elisabeth, I already knew her voice was amazing and contrary to general opinion I find her voice most beautiful. It is without a doubt different, but it’s rich and so delicious to listen to. But the voice wasn’t what surprised me, it was the acting, I thought she was playing Elisabeth as a hard to like person, almost a villain. I probably thought that because of the confrontation video I’d seen of her, she didn’t look very friendly, but after being called a Vil Bastarda no one is gonna seem to be too nice. I sympathized A LOT with her Elisabeth; you can see the suffering in her eyes on the duet with Leicester, although I was so hopping she’d hit him with something when she asked him if Maria was pretty and he said yes and she goes “SI? SI? SI?”. The whole strange walk thing was at last unmystified on Elza’s interview and after a few minutes didn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would.
Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda

Then Joyce walked in gorgeous and shimmering light, how does she do that with her eyes? She acts with her eyes it’s incredible! They shone in an incredible way, you could almost see the weary pupils shine from the outdoor bliss she was feeling after being locked up for years! The excellency of Joyce’s singing was just as the doctor prescribed and I thought it was so cool that she made Maria her own. It was her interpretation of Maria Stuarda and not some stereotyped model of what Maria was. So she felt very real, a real human being as opposed to a saint like person that some people paint her as.
The confrontation scene was almost maddening! It was amazing how in the moment they first saw each other I felt that all the oxygen from the movie theatre had been drained. And at that moment I was much reminded of what Joyce had said in a post in her blog at the same day, that they in their own way were both right and that what they were saying wasn’t untrue. The scene was astounding, better than what I had imagined. In a vlog review I saw today the girl was saying that yesterday Joyce let out much more rage at her “Figlia impura di Bolena” than in the performance she had seen.

Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda and Elza Van Den Heever as Elisabeth in the famous confrontation scene

I love the interviews part! And especially with such a sweet and super cool host it’s even better. Joyce was kinda breathless but was amazing as always and said a lot of the things she had mentioned on her blog which I found very cool. And when she gave the shout out to the fans I just couldn’t resist, not only did I wave, no, I let out a big “UHUL!” and my friend followed me by sending kisses to the screen and saying “Joyce, we love you! You’re awesome!” (And need I remind you that this was his first time watching a full length opera).  
Elza Van Den Heever as Elisabeth in the second act
Elza’s interview also took me by surprise because she was so sweet, it’s probably because her character is not sweet at all! She was also kinda breathless (I don’t blame them, I mean, did you just see what they did on stage a couple of seconds ago?) but so very nice and finally explaining why she was walking like a dude. And when you come to think of it, it does make sense, the director wanted to show the audience that these women were completely different, even in the manner of walking! And the fact that she was super excited about her shaving her head for the role and showing Deb how the wig looked so perfect because of it made me want to be her best friend. So sweet!
Well intermission went on fast because I was tweeting frenetically. The second act destroyed me, it just did. Right on the first look we get at it, with Elisabeth without her wig with what was left of her hair and wearing that heavy makeup in that HUGE dress, sources (YouTube) tell me it weighs 50 pounds! The scene of the signing of the death warrant was very really tense, Leicester still quite dumbly trying to persuade her not to sign it and just the whole death issue made the scene heavy in a good way.
Joyce DiDonato as Maria Stuarda

I loved the way Joyce played the slightly older and much more troubled Maria; she had a hand shaking quiver that worked so well. The death sentence, as Joyce said, seemed to come as relief to Mary and after confessing, such a powerful scene, she was ready to face her destiny. The prayer just killed me, I was crying like a baby! Such powerful music, and such devotion, it’s all intertwined by a brilliant chorus coach that really gave great thought to the little nuances of the music and the result took my breath away! It was almost time for Maria to be executed and she pardons the Queen for having send her to death, and with no hard feelings she goes to meet her destiny. When the ladies started undressing her so she was only wearing the red dress I was a mess and I wasn’t expecting that they would take off her wig as well, the sight was very shocking. And we had Maria as she was, no ornaments, no nothing, bare, broken, terrified but also brave and spiritually ready to die. When she walked up those steps my crying became audible, and then I let out a huge sigh like “Oh Jesus, that was soooo…” I couldn’t even describe it.

It was really one of the best things I’ve ever seen, it was certainly the best live in HD I’d ever seen. God, I LOVE OPERA! And now my other friends are super curious and want to go, so I’m taking quite a gang with me to watch Rigoletto next month! VICTORY IS MINE!    

Saturday, January 12, 2013

No One Like You!

One thing I’ve come across a lot in this world of wannabe (not a bad sense of wannabe, but really people that are studying to be I mean) opera singers is the time issue and the comparison issue.
I’m gonna start off with the very simple fact that there is no finger print that is identical in two people, there is no finger print just like yours nor mine in any other person. With that said I believe I can affirm that we’re all very different. Now in this world of discovery of repertoire and of performers one can’t help but compare, we compare everything from costumes to vocal type, from high notes to low notes to interpretation to everything! And I’m not saying its bad thing having knowledge of repertoire and having watched many productions and having preferences and a well founded opinion, no!
What I’m talking about is, taking for instance my case, I figured out that I wanted a career in opera when I was 22 and the first person I looked up to a lot was Anna Netrebko. So I googled her and read about her, Anna had her debut in the Mariinsky Theatre at 22, playing Susanna in Nozze di Figaro, what is my reaction? “Oh my world, I’m so far behind, when she was my age she was already doing opera in a big opera house!  And here I am still striving to get those high notes just right, and at my age she was already playing with them” I can assure you that that is a despairing thought! And for me it was a real struggle, I felt really bad, hopeless even!
But then my singing teacher gave a little piece wisdom that I always carry with me and I find that it makes sense and it sometimes comforts when I’m feeling down. These aren’t the exact words she said, because I had to translate it but it goes something like this:
“There is no one like you in this world, or me.  I’m sure there are people out there that are better than you in certain things and people that are not as good as you in others. But you are unique, just like everyone else in this world. There’s only one you and one me.”
It is my absolute dream to sing at the Met, and another wise thing my teacher always tells me is that if you do your best and it’s meant to happen, you’re meant to do this, be certain that it will!

And when you really grasp the meaning of these words you don’t need to compare your development with anyone else. And digging a little deeper how could I compare myself to Anna, she’s completely different from me, she grew up in Russia and I grew up in Brasil, completely different climate, food, traditions, schooling, everything of course her path is gonna be different from mine! When she was 19ish she was in the conservatory while I was studying to be a musical theatre performer, that doesn’t make her better or worse than me, we’re just different!
And then the other issue that is time is completely entwined in the comparison issue. I’ll give you a solid example; I went to the Live Stream of the Met’s “La Clemenza di Tito” last month with 2 friends, one of which wants to be an opera singer. And she told me that she didn’t know who Elina Garanca was (first I just started, ‘cause how can you not know, but anyways…) and I started telling her about Elina and that she was super young, she’s 35 now, if I’m not mistaken. And that one of the earliest things I’d seen her in was a 2003 production of La Clemenza in the Salzburg Festival playing Annio, and that this festival was a really big deal, not just anyone performs there. And my friend just started counting the years with her fingers and came to the brilliant conclusion that she was 25 at the time and then she said “Okay, I have 5 years to make it then.”. I was silent and just thought for a while about what I had just heard, people are so desperate for a result they mirror themselves in successful people to stipulate time. That is a very tricky and awful way to go, ‘cause it’s 99% chance you’re gonna end up disappointed. And it’s very different from having someone who inspires you, a role model, again it is comparing yourself to someone else that, even though has the same profession as you wanna have, is completely different from you!
By the way these two kicked ass on this, I absolutely loved it. Elina Garanca as Sesto and Barbara Frittoli as Vittelia in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera production of Mozart’s last opera “La Clemenza di Tito”
I prefer (and oh my world, this is my opinion, I’m not saying I’m right or wrong) to think that my body is developing and so is my voice, I study every day, try and  watch and learn as many things as I can. I’m doing my share, I can’t force my body to develop itself before it’s really ready to do so. Every new opera that I watch is a journey, into the language, the story, the music, and I’m just trying to enjoy the ride and not overstress myself because of time issues. Plus another wise thing my teacher always tells me is:

“While you’re talking about someone else’s voice or whatever you could have done three vocalizes! It’s not gonna do you any good stressing yourself over other people’s voices.”
And since we’re all different we have different development timing! So, a piece of advice? Sing your age (I now it’s hard, I wish I could sing those Rossinis and Donizettis),  be yourself, don’t try and be the next someone else, people wanna see the real you, not an imitation of someone who’s already out there, and just enjoy the wonderful thing that it is studying music! We do this because we love it, not because our parents made us! Which is not what I can say for most people I know, we’re so lucky to be doing something we truly are passionate for and love.
Ps; I’m not saying that having this kind of attitude is easy, I really owe it a lot to my singing teacher, who is an angel and super cool and to many things Joyce DiDonato says in her videos. But you gotta figure it out for yourself, when it really starts making sense in your head I can assure you you’ll feel way better.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Double Baroque Trouble

Is the title too Harry Potterish? Ah well, this has been a week of studying languages (Italian and French mostly, I’m kinda running away from the German), talking a lot about opera (I really had a blast at the #operarox live show, really, those people are awesome, they get me! It’s so difficult to find people who are willing to talk about opera nonstop), and watching new stuff (new to me, this stuff is ancient actually).

Sarah Connolly as Cesare and Danielle De Niese as Cleopatra
Well, I’m gonna talk about the two last operas that I saw, Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Monteverdi’s L'incoronazzione de Poppea both productions from the Glyndebourne Opera and also staring Danielle De Niese as the leading lady. What I think is super cool about these baroque operas is that gender isn’t really an issue, I mean, you have women playing man and man playing women and it’s ok. And it works, and that for me is awesome, especially since I came from a very theatrical background where gender sometimes really doesn’t matter.

Danielle De Niese as Poppea
and Alice Coote as Nero
Well I automatically feel in love with the two leading couples! I love this more fiery kind of love that both have as opposed to sweet and tender one, I like love with action! Also I think it’s so cool how both ladies start off maybe not really in love with the guys, but then fall helplessly for them (especially Cleopatra, she turns out to be so devoted to Cesare!). And really, I don’t blame them because, those guys are really something! I don’t know if it’s the fact that they are Emperors, they have that power allure, although the power doesn’t attract me, what does it’s the attitude and the posture one has when it has absolute power. Does that even make sense?

Well, I loved both productions, I thought they were very well done, and it was my first time seeing both and they were both staged in a nontraditional setting. But as I’ve said before, these stories live through so many years because they are timeless. So you get it when Cleopatra wears a little black dress to seduce Cesare and then does the victory dance when she’s successful! I absolutely adored the guy who was the lady in waiting for Cleopatra (his character is a guy) so funny, like the sassy gay friend! Who would have thought there were sassy gay friends in Ancient Egypt! Again TIMELESS stuff!

While watching Poppea I made sure my bedroom door was locked, the last thing I needed was my parents walking into one of those spicy scenes. The opera itself kinda shocked me a little bit because I kept going back to something Tony Pappano said in a documentary about Italian opera, that Monteverdi was 70 something years old in the 17th century holding the most important church musician position when he wrote this opera. And it’s pretty steamy; it’s one of the fieriest things I’ve seen so far in the world of opera.

Danielle De Niese as Cleopatra

I love Danielle De Niesse, I think she’s so fresh and she brings something so hers to the pieces. She’s a very physical performer, which I like very much, she can move, she can dance while singing and that I think adds so much to the whole interpretation of the operas. Sarah Connolly stole my heart as Cesare, she’s one of those women that just KNOW how to play man, she’s got the man swag, and I felt a lot of attraction toward her Cesare, she looked really hot. But to me, you really can't tell that she's a woman in that costume or whenever she plays guys really. Just to be sure, I asked my sister (expert cross-dressing cosplayer that she is) if she looked like a real man or not, and she told me she definitely did. Another mezzo who has got the man swag up her sleeve is Alice Coote who was playing the ever scary Nero (he scares me because he’s kinda like a serial killer). I’ve said before on the Cendrillon post that she is such a marvelous pants role performer and in this that the character is so different from Prince Charmant, she also nails.

Sarah Connolly as Cesare
I particularly like the scene in the second act where Nero is singing a duet with one of his senate companions (I really don’t know who that guy is actually) and they are talking about ruby red lips, delicious, irresistible, and it’s just so sexy! The music, Alice’s face changes with every passing phrase, Nero seems to at first be talking about Poppea’s lips, but then he looks at his fellow differently, and at first it’s an odd feeling for him, but then he kinda surrenders to it and just enjoys singing about the guy’s lips. And then singing about it isn’t enough, he has to kiss him, so he does and it’s a very “hold your breath” moment, he seems to enjoy it and but then he can’t do that, so with all his absolute power and grace he drowns the guy, still singing about the red lips! For me that was unbelievable, it was so intense, I loved it! 

But to me one of the most moving piece of music in Poppea is the final duet, oh God, it's so beautiful and the way they end in unison, they are one! And even though this opera is about power, sex and passion, with that duet it ends up being a piece about love and about two people who adore each other. Even though historically Nero kills Poppea one year after with a kick on her pregnant stomach, but let’s just pretend they lived happily ever after :)

 Alice Coote as Nero
Well, I don’t care about what other people say baroque opera rocks!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The first live opera that moved me to tears

This week was sort of overwhelming and full full of studying languages for me. Plus of course my own personal version of Don Giovanni in my life, thank God I’m kind of not talking to him anymore. But you know these real life Don Giovannis they are so charming and hard to resist, but I will not succumb and become Donna Elvira (even though I love her), I will thrive LOL.
Picture I took from my seat

Anyways I decided to talk about the first live opera that moved me to tears, ‘cause the first actual opera that moved me to tears was Manon, but then I was sitting in the comfort of my home sobbing not in an actual theatre. But surprisingly so the opera I’m talking about is also Massenet’s, it’s Werther. You know when I saw Manon, I was dazzled by her, so I bought the book “Manon Lescaut” and wow, Massenet was really nice to Manon, because the girl suffers a LOT in the book, and in the opera she only suffers a lot in act 5! But then I figured out where he deposited all the suffering Manon went through, on poor Werther’s back!

So let’s start from the beginning, I saw this production of Werther here in São Paulo at the São Pedro Theatre. Here in São Paulo, which is the biggest city in the country and third biggest city in the world, we only have two opera theatres, the “Theatro Municipal” which was closed for 7 years for renovations and only about 2 years ago reopened and the “Theatro São Pedro”, both of them are organs of the government, meaning that they depend a lot on politicians and political interests. And just to make things clear, politics here in Brasil are as filthy as Don Giovanni’s reputation.
With that being said it’s an act of heroism being able to put up an opera around here with such sponsors. And let me tell you, the guys in São Pedro are real heroes; they put up a beautiful production. The sets were simple, with black and white fabrics hanging from the ceiling and some really beautiful furniture (I particularly loved a little piano they had in Charlotte’s house). The costumes were so very well picked; they did an adaptation for the 60’s, so the girls had flawless hairdos and pretty dresses.
Here is the cast and production list:
Luiz Fernando Malheiro - Conductor and Musical Direction
André Heller-Lopes - Scene Director
Renato Theobaldo and Roberto Rolnik - Scenery Conception
Fábio Retti – Lighting Design
Marcelo Marques –Costume Design
Fernando Portari (tenor) – Werther
Luisa Francesconi (mezzo-soprano) – Charlotte
Gabriella Pace (soprano) – Sophie
Murilo Neves (bass) – Le Bailli
Vinícius Atique (baritone) – Albert
Thiago Soares (tenor) – Schmidt
Max Costa (baritone) – Johann
Vanessa Portugal (actress) – Kätchen
André Dallan (actor) – Brühlmans

Fernando Portari and Luisa Francesconi
(picture taken from UOL)
But it wasn’t the sets or the costumes that moved to tears (kind of obvious). This was my first time watching Werther, before I’d only heard the famous "Va! laisse couler mes larmes" (Go! And let my tears run), Charlotte’s moving aria in the third act, before. From the very beginning I knew I’d seen a real opera gem on the stage, Fernando Portari who was playing Werther, was absolute perfection! His grasp on the character of Werther was so good, he appeared so melancholic in the beginning but as soon as he sees Charlotte it turns into pure romance. Their little heaven of happiness in the first act was inspiring, but then so brutally cut off by Charlotte’s duty. From the second act on it’s pure anticipation (I get like this because I don’t read the story prior to watching anything, I want the opera to tell me story, so sometimes I get overly excited about the plot and what’s about to happen) are they gonna end up together? Is there gonna be an affair? A KISS? The anticipation just kept building itself up for me and that was much thanks to the brilliant lead couple and the masterfully well conducted music.

On the third act I bursting with anticipation, I started crying at "Va! laisse couler mes larmes" and kind of didn’t stop until the end of the opera. When Werther and Charlotte almost end up together going all “Let’s go, leave it all behind, let’s be happy, I love you!” my tears were of utter happiness but then she tells him to go away and he’s distraught and it was played so well you could feel his pain and hers for having to give him up.

The fourth act for me was spend sobbing in my cardigan and sometimes laying my head on eighter one of my friend’s shoulders. This adaptation they had another actor on a chair turned to the stage so we couldn’t see him, and then he shoots himself just as Charlotte arrives and we find out that that’s Werther. But instead of a dying Werther talking to her we see the actor who plays him in medieval clothes and very pale, already a ghost and then they have their heart breaking duet! It was a lot for me to assimilate, it was very overwhelming, both performers really gave it all they could possibly give which made it an even more amazing experience. That was very clear because both of them at curtain looked absolutely drained. It was really amazing.

And not to mention that just like in the Renée Fleming Concert the front role seats were empty and we sat right in the front role, again. So it was really an up-close experience with Werther, and the guys playing the trumpets were actually laughing at my crying during the opera, yes I could see them and they could see me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Operatic New Years

What an absolutely crazy new year! The festivities are endless for my family on New Year’s, because apart from the normal celebrations there’s also my baby sister’s birthday that is on the 1st of January.
So on the 31st afternoon I baked my sister’s birthday cake (that is in the shape of a castle, by the way, pretty cool!), while listening to Il Barbieri di Siviglia, and then made my famous Tomato and Bread Soup (it’s not miiine, it’s from Jaime Oliver’s Italian Recipes Book) listening to Le Comte Ory. Not very smart I must confess, I should have switched, made the cake listening to the French Italian Pastry (I don’t know who said that in the Met’s broadcast of Le Comte Ory, but I think it’s fitting) and then made the super Italian tasting soup listening to the ‘I can’t get more Italian than this’ Barber of Seville. I did mess up a bit in the cake’s recipe because I was trying to separate de parts of the egg in the same speed as the coloratura was being done. But they all turned alright in the end!
In evening I resembled my grandfather very much. That is because I was walking around my grandma’s house clutching my phone, wearing earphones and occasionally making loud noises like “FIGLIA IMPURA DI BOLENA!”. And my grandpa used to do that every football game there was, it was really quite funny.  Especially ‘cause sound travels faster than image or something like that, so there was a microscopic delay on what we saw on TV, and he’d shout “GOAL!!” like 3 seconds before I’d happen on TV.
Anyways, the broadcast of the opening night of Maria Stuarda was amazing. My congratulations to Joyce DiDonato, Elsa van der Heever, Matthew Polenzani and the whole cast and crew of Maria Stuarda who have given me the best new years I could have asked for. But the fact that I had one ear in New York City and the other in Santos did piss off my mother a bit. But she gets it that it is very important to me, my dad is getting slightly irritated by the incessant opera singing that I listen to, but he’s also very supportive.

Dawn on the first of January at the beach
of Santos, we went there to jump the seven
waves as we say here in Brasil.

After the family festivities I went to a party and my drunken friend was rambling about how much he loved watching Le Nozze di Figaro. And most importantly on how he wanted to watch other operas, especially the Barber of Seville (since I told him it’s the story before Nozze). My plan to make my friends like opera is going pretty well!

On my sister’s party the next day another friend of mine commented on how much he had enjoyed watching the Maria Stuarda clip I had shared on Facebook (The “Figlia impura di Bolena” one). And so we started talking about the story of the opera, then another friend who likes the Tudor history joined in, and before we knew they were super interested in knowing about opera. Plus towards the end of the party I found myself telling the story of Nozze di Figaro to quite a large number of my friends who were very keen on learning more about it. But I think today was the best one yet, one of my friends who was listening to the story actually googled Nozze and read more about it, loved it and started asking me all sorts of questions about Cherubino!
This makes me truly VERY happy, because opera makes me thoroughly happy, and having my friends like it and talk about it is a dream come true! They even want to do Nozze as a play this year, which is awesome, ‘cause then I get to be Condessa earlier than I expected (since as my teacher has told me, I’m in my Susanna years).

Me, my dad and my uncle on New Year’s. I just thought this picture was too funny not share.
This year is going to be awesome, I can feel it. I’m graduating in college and because of that I have to put up an opera all by myself (of course with the help of my fantastic theatre group friends who have already agreed to help). I chose to do La Serva Padrona, ‘cause then I can use even 2 actor friends of mine and only one other singer (willing singers are hard to find here, but thank God I have a great friend who is more than happy to help). It’s gonna be crazy cool!
It seems as if everyone in the universe comes to spend New Year’s in my City, here’s a picture of the beach around midnight.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! May it be as amazing as you all hope, with loads and loads of good music, fantastic food and great company! Cheers!