Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Dream Book Club!

Hey world! What did I say? Here I am, posting again! I’ve been having a pretty good and busy week and although it’s only Wednesday it kind of feels like Friday because tomorrow is a holiday here in Brazil.

We just had one for Easter last week and we got Friday and Monday off so I was able to go on a trip with my best friends. I had a wonderful time, we went to this seaside town called Maresias that very differently from my own seaside hometown is basically a tourist town. That’s great because almost everything about the town is about making your stay as pleasant and comfortable as possible. My friend’s parents have a beautiful house there and that’s where all of us (16 people) stayed. We had a MAGICAL bonfire at the beach, my friend Paula brought her guitar and we sang the night away while eating all the kinds of fruit you can possibly imagine. The moon came out at exactly 9 in the evening and since we were only relying on firelight we could see all of it and all the stars in all their majesty, it was one of the most beautiful things I EVER saw. We also went to the beach, rode on the “banana boat” (fucking awesome), and went to the swimming pool where they had a water slide that we simply dominated. The children there were upset but do I look like I care about their feelings?   

Well, I’m writing this post because I wanted to update the blog more often and not only with opera stuff and not only with gigantic posts. I just finished reading the most endearing book and I wanted to talk about it a little bit.

The book has nothing to do with opera but it has everything to do with two of my great passions, romance and reading. It’s called “The Jane Austen Book Club” by Karen Joy Fowler and I read the whole thing in 5 days. I’m not a very healthy reader, if I really like the book and am truly intrigued by the plot and the characters I devour it! The bad part about it is that, just like a really intense and passionate fling you might have, it ends only too quickly. I ended reading it today while I was doing my physical therapy. I get very nervous and agitated while doing activities that don’t engage my mind, like squeezing a ball 15 times for 10 seconds, so I always try and do something else while engaging in these stupid activities (you should have seen me yesterday cutting tape pieces for my dad and trying to read at the same time).

Anyways I ended reading it in the middle of my shock session and I felt like crying! I’m such an emotional idiot but I kind of grew attached to the characters and kind of wanted to continue to get an inside scoop to their personal lives.

The plot is rather simple, Jocelyn decides to start a book club only to discuss the six novels written by Jane Austen. Jocelyn is almost 50 and unmarried, she brews dogs and has them do those dog competitions things and is a control freak and I suspect also a cleaning freak too. She invites to join her in her book club plans her very best friend since they were both 10, Sylvia. They are the same age but Sylvia is married with three children who are all grown up and have lives of their own. Just recently Sylvia’s husband, Daniel, asked for a divorce after almost 30 years that they had been together. Also joining the group we have a slightly older friend of Jocelyn's called Bernadette who has been married countless times and counts herself quite happy. Pruddie is the youngest, about 28, she’s happily married and teaches French for high schoolers. Allegra, who is a bit older than Pruddie, was only invited because she’s Sylvia’s daughter and quite frankly she was the character I least liked of all the main characters. And last but most certainly not least Jocelyn invited a lovely gentleman named Grigg to join them in the hope that he could set him up with Sylvia.

Six people, six books and six meetings. It’s funny because nothing astronomical happens during that specific time but the narrative (for each chapter it falls into one of these main characters) does loads of time leaps and narrates the lives of all of them. That was what made the book so goddamn addictive. I felt specially drawn to Jocelyn’s and Sylvia’s stories when they were younger and also Grigg’s back story. It’s a very feminine book because it pounders so much on the thoughts of 5 women and one man who was raised in a house that contained 4 females.

Contrary to what you might expect they don’t pounder upon Jane Austen all the time. It is brought up in healthy dosages but in no way it’s a rewrite of Jane Austen. It’s like a book illustrating the women whose lives Jane Austen has touched with her writing, real women with real problems. And also it’s about happiness, the pursuit of it, the realization of it and the loss of it. And if you haven’t read all of the six Jane Austen books or none of them it really doesn’t matter, they really serve as a background for their conversations and the plotline.

I came to an odd realization reading this book. I became quite upset about the whole divorce situation with Sylvia, especially after reading her story with her husband and I felt really bad for her, he left her. But there’s something quite odd underneath that, because, this is quite weird to explain but I’ll try. Her husband’s name is Daniel and I don’t know, I’ve always had a weird thing about that name. I’ve met my fair share of Daniels, I’ve already had a big crush on one, idolized another even picked it out from a very early age to be my child’s name. And I always seem to sympathize with every single Daniel I meet or even characters with that name, so I just couldn’t hate him. I was rooting for him to come back to Sylvia more than I was rooting for Allegra to be all right when she feel and was sent to the hospital. And also even though this Daniel from this book is about 50 the mental picture I had of him looked like Noah Bean (here’s a picture), his name was Daniel in the two things I ever saw him in, and you just can’t hate that face!

Anyways, yeah, I’m weird like that I guess but it’s a great book. They made a movie out of it but I haven’t seen it yet. So that’s it for today! I’ll see you guys soon, I’m taking my little sis to the movies tonight! Peace!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Here and Back Again in NYC - Day 9 - Prince Igor

Hey guys! Wow that last post was liberating! But it was also posted almost 2, 3 weeks ago! I can’t believe I haven’t posted in such a long time! Shame on me!

I came to a very odd realization today, I didn’t go to any of the Live in HD this season! Shame on me indeed! But in my defense I did go to the actual Met more than 12 times this season. And it’s so odd that most of the things I saw were in the HD program so I didn’t miss much. Plus there isn’t a movie theater in my town that shows the HD broadcasts, I have to make a rather long, boring and expensive trip to get to one. I might go to La Cenerentola though, it’s Joyce after all, and I do almost anything for Joyce.

But I’m sure you all are curious to know about my days in NYC, still have about 2 days to cover so let’s go!

So Friday the 21st of February. We set aside this day to go to New Jersey. I know what you might be thinking; why on earth would you leave NYC to go to New Jersey? One simple word my friends: shopping. You see in New Jersey they have this great outlet mall called Jersey Gardens where stuff is just real cheap. Plus taxes are way smaller in Jersey, plus if you are foreign you get a special discount book or you don’t even have to pay the taxes at all. Bottom line, I might love NYC and opera and everything, but I also LOVE to shop. It’s a refined art and if you are very experienced and good in it, you’ll never look bad.

It was a pretty chilly day, it even snowed a little bit and thank God we were basically indoors all day. Well during our stay in New Jersey we shopped and shopped some more and ended up having to carry quite a lot of bags. I got this REALLY cute sweater at Forever 21 for like $7 that I liked so much that I changed into it.

Around 4 we picked up some salads and lattes at Starbucks and headed off to get into the bus to go back to the city. We already knew there’d be loads of traffic to get into the city. Unfortunately we could only get into a bus at 5 and I started to worry. You see I had planned to watch Prince Igor and I hadn’t gotten a ticket yet and I just couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t get to watch it. I was hopeful that I would make it to Lincoln Center in time until like 10 minutes to 7 and we were still inside the tunnel. We got to Port Authority at about 7:05, we grabbed something to eat and headed out to grab a taxi. Lucky for us that there was a taxi right outside and I didn’t even think, I gave a positive sign to the driver, he gave me the thumbs up and I got in. My mom followed in and as soon as we were moving she turned to me and said “You do realize that there was a huge line to get a taxi, right?”. Apparently while I was flying inside the taxi the taxi organizing lady screamed at my mom “Were you even in line?” and the BLESSED guy who was the next in line for a cab said “Yes, yes they were!”. What a blessed human being!

Anyways, I ended up going to Lincoln Center anyways to try my luck and watch half of the opera. What happened next I can only call destiny, luck and I don’t even know what. First it was so interesting to be in the house outside the auditorium while an opera was going on. I didn’t know that the opera was streamed live with subtitles in the TVs outside the auditorium and you could hear the voices and the music vibrating in the place, it was insane. I went to the ticket booth and asked the lady if I could still get tickets for that performance. She just looked at me and said “You do realize that the performance has already began, right?” I told her I did and I didn’t really care, I really wanted to watch this opera anyways. She warmed up to me, I don’t know, she asked me if I was a student, I said yes and she proceeded to sell me a student ticket for $37,00, in the orchestra, center, SIXTH ROW! YES! I looked up the price of this seat and it costs $370,00! The actual price was 10 times more expensive than what I paid for. Quite literally, you don’t have to be a math genius to do work that out. 

Anyways, I went in feeling like the luckiest cookie in the jar! Thankfully there was a 20 minute prologue before the first act. So I waited for about 10 minutes outside the auditorium doors chatting to a very nice usher. It was so insane how you could hear the singers so well with those heavy doors closed, it was quite amazing. Clapping happened and that was our cue. The usher rushed inside with me and I felt like we were in mission impossible or something, we moved swiftly as I prayed that I would disrupt as people as little as possible.

How can I describe my seat, I have two words for you, FUCKING AWESOME! Seriously, it’s one of those seats that you never think you’ll sit in, it was very near to the stage, center, glorious and all kinds of awesome, THANK YOU STUDENT TICKETNESS!

view from THE seat
Anyways, on to the opera, so when I got there there was a sort of video going on of war and of Ildar’s gorgeous person being projected in that huge stage the Met has. I must admit I hadn’t read the story so I was really confused. But the story is Prince Igor goes to war and he loses. That prologue was him saying farewell to his city, Putivl, and wife, the projections were the war part and the first act was his life being a war prisoner of the Cumans. I’m going to write about what I remember, because reading the plot in Wikipedia made me very confused, so I’m just gonna tell you guys what I saw and what I made of it.

So after that entire intro we see that the stage is absolutely and completely covered with beautiful red flowers, I was so looking forward for that! Blue, blue sky contrasting with those gorgeous blood red flowers on a raked stage. Some flowers started to move and we realized that Prince Igor was actually lying on the floor.

It’s been almost 2 months and I seriously do not remember the order of events, so forgive me if I make any mistakes. Anita Rashvelishvili sang the role of Konchakovna who was the daughter of the Khan Konchak who was the leader who imprisoned Prince Igor. She had this absolutely gorgeous aria and she looked so absolutely amazing and sounded like a freaking goddess! Apparently her character and Igor’s son Vladimir fall for each other and it’s really sweet. It was kind of odd because as she sang Igor was watching her with almost an earning gaze. Oh yes friends, I got ALL THE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, could not be happier really!

Then Ildar sang his first aria and oh my God the feels! It is one of the most beautiful arias I’ve ever heard. It’s in his CD of Russian bass arias and it’s just heart wrenching! For this aria we had his son, the Khan’s daughter and his wife on stage trying to tend to him. His wife obviously was fruit of his imagination but the care and devotion she had with him only helped to make the scene more memorable. And excuse me, but Ildar has an INCREDIBLE voice, really big and round and everything you would expect from a Russian bass and more!

Then his son came up and sang another beautiful aria of his own. It’s so odd, I had never heard or seen this opera before but the music got me completely hooked. It was just so gorgeous and the singers were SO good! They all had beautiful voices that seemed to dance in my ears! After Vladimir’s aria the actual Khan Konchack showed up with his total basso aria telling Igor that he wasn’t a prisoner, that he could enjoy the place as much as he wanted, he was just a guest that wasn’t allowed to leave. Stefan Kocan, who played the Khan, was amazing and I had already seen him do the Sacristan in Aida and Sparafucile in Rigoletto. He had this dense and long really low note at the end of his aria that I truly believed he was going to hold forever!

But then came the moment we were all waiting for. The Polonaise Dances. This was actually a way the Khan found to try and seduce Igor to stay there coy and just sit back and relax while the Khan’s army invaded Russia.

First big, wonderful surprise was the location of the monumental chorus of 108 singers. They sang from the audience in the side Parterre and Dress Circle seats, boys on the audience’s right and girls on the left. Since I was sitting in the orchestra all that gorgeous sound just poured down on me like a miraculous rain of beauty. I was more to the right so when the man sang it was really loud and wonderful and I seriously did not know which way to look. On stage dancers started appearing and dancing to the music while a bewildered Igor watched. 

This was the only music that I already knew from the opera so to see it performed in such a monumental way was truly amazing! The music kept building up and the dancers hopping like gazelles in heat and my heart skipping a beat at all that awesomeness. I felt so blessed I even thanked God right in the middle of the dances for this wonderful opportunity. This was truly one of those things that you take forever in your heart.

Anyways, after the dances Igor is kind of inclined for a second to give in and just join the party but instead he manages to run away to his country and that’s where act 1 leaves us.

Now, I was in a very delicate situation. You see, I looked like shit. I was wearing a SEVEN DOLLAR sweater from Forever 21, thick black tights with embroiled white snowflakes, my tired black snow boots and a hair so dirty I made a side braid that was kind of falling apart already. And as I looked around and saw all those people impeccably dressed with their tuxedos, suits, furs and jewels I freaking started to panic. At first I wasn’t really worried about how I looked because I thought I gonna get a seat at the Family circle or something and things up there are much more relaxed. But I was sitting in a very expensive area and everyone around me seemed to have brought in their ‘A’ game outfits to the opera house.

So I quickly made my way to the restroom located bellow the orchestra area to see what I could do about my far from fancy look. I redid my braid and put on a pretty French bonnet stylishly, then I redid my make up with the stuff I had in hand in my makeup bag. Put on my statement red lipstick and took off my glasses and my head looked extremely Met appropriate. Sadly it was attached to a body who was unfortunately wearing clothes fit for a quick run to the supermarket. Also all I could think of was running into the person who takes the pictures for “last night at the Met”, which is this great tumblr page where they post all the great and stylish looks of the Met patrons, and getting a dirty look or something.

I know I sound silly talking like this, after all I was so lucky to get that seat and I was having such a wonderful time. But I’m proud to say that I'm fashion forward kind of person and I care about how I look especially at the Met which I one of my favorite places in the whole entire world! Anyways, I remembered that Kate Spade had this collection done with the same polka dot pattern as my sweater. So I just told myself that I had spent $300 on that sweater on Kate Spade and that was an ironic look for the opera that young people wear nowadays. I got out of that restroom with a new found confidence and was able to continue my evening in peace.

Enough about fashion though. Second act came along and I was pretty excited and happy that I hadn’t read the synopsis because I wanted the piece to tell me the story. Anyways, as I’ve said before it’s been a while since that day so forgive me if I retell things in the wrong order. The first thing I remember in act 2 was Igor’s wife’s (Yaroslavna) aria. Oksana Dyka was so incredible, I never heard her before and she stole my heart. She has this luscious and velvety soprano voice that is absolutely huge and fills that auditorium effortlessly. All the arias are lengthy in this opera but you don’t even feel it pass you by. Maybe it’s because I can’t understand a word in Russian and have no idea if they are repeating always the same thing or not. But I think it’s because the music is so interesting and it really keeps you on the edge of your seat. Yaroslavna is singing about how much she misses her husband and how much she wants him back, having not had news of him in a long time. You totally root for the couple when you hear her miserable pleas and I’m the kind of romantic person that pictures that their reunion is gonna be so passionate. Maybe I should slow down with the fanfiction.

Anyways after her aria her maid tells her that there are some convent ladies who wanted to talk to her and on they come to plead for their friend who has been kidnapped. The thing is, the person who kidnapped the young nun was Yaroslavna’s brother who was kind of in charge of protecting the city. But she can’t go against her brother and he’s not the most honorable guy you’ll ever meet. He actually has this evil plan (stop with the Once Upon a Time references!) to send away his sister and take over the city as the new fresh prince (of Bel Air, sorry, I will stop)!

He has this huge feast with all of the guys from the chorus department and it’s a pretty fun scene. They laugh, they eat, they’re having a swell time really, they get really drunk and I could spot some hot guys with half their shirts on that weren’t singing, God bless whoever cast the extras! I really enjoyed this scene of the party, it was so energetic and they danced, it really was a lot of fun to watch. And some people might say, “Ah, he’s the bad guy, this scene isn’t supposed to be endearing” but I seriously don’t give a rat’s ass, it was a funny scene only made funnier when the stupid nuns broke in.

I’m sorry if I sound rude, but you gotta be really stupid to crash a party with approximately 100 men in order to claim your kidnapped friend back. Needless to say the guys have a huge laugh on their account and quite honestly so did I. They started threatening to touch the nuns and some of the guys even kissed them and I’m sorry if that makes me an awful person, but I thought it was pretty funny. Thank God I didn’t laugh out loud though because I don’t think that was the general feeling in the audience.   

So as Galitsky I getting ready to rumble they hear the news of Igor’s failure in the battle field. There is a huge uproar and everyone, from the chorus, soloists and extras seem to be on stage and suddenly Galitsky is dead. Then they proceed to be attacked and as the stage shows the indoors of the castle the scenery quite literally falls apart. It was so incredible, everybody took cover in the sides of the set and the whole middle crumbled down with incredible explosions! SO AMAZING! Really incredible effects and I was right in front, I could see that if someone had remained on that stage they would have been seriously injured. Just awesome. End of second act!

Anyways during intermission I decided to roam along that area down the stairs from the orchestra level seats. That one where there are a million photographs of all the cool singers. I could spot many of my favorites, if not all of them really. They have this BEAUTIFUL painting of Renée Fleming as Rusalka that I would like to have in my living room. And another even cooler of Placido Domingo as Otello that would look super hanging above a fireplace.

This intermission was pretty quick and I was actually dying to know what was gonna happen next. You see the thing about opera plots for me is the following, there’s only one time that you are gonna see that opera for the first time. The other times it might be wonderful too but you’ll already know the story. And I always like for the theater, the actual thing to tell me story, I find it extremely pointless to read the plot ahead. I remember I was listening to the Met premiere of Two Boys last year and I had the score with me so I was following it plus it was sung in a very clear English so I could understand every word they were saying. There was only one intermission but in it the commentators from the radio proceeded to spoil the whole story and tell the end in less than a minute! I was so MAD, the ending is so fucking good. It felt as if I was reading a REALLY good Agatha Christie book and someone came up to me and told me who the killer was before I finished it.

I’m sorry guys, I just finished watching the last Once Upon a Time episode and I’m kind of emotional, that show does that to me. Anyways, third act comes along and we are brought back to the palace but now it is all in ruins and everybody is basically miserable. Igor appears, he has succeeded in running away but is very upset about the whole ‘his town is in ruins’ thing and is afraid to reveal himself. There’s a very cool sort of flashback in which the lights change and we see Igor’s son telling him he’s not tagging along because he’d rather stay in captivity with his hot girlfriend. They change back and two guys who were on Galitsky’s side spot Igor and summon everyone to tell them he’s back in order to redeem themselves.

Igor has a pretty romantic and sweet moment with his wife which was brief but I loved it. And then he turns defeated to his people and says that he feels all this is his fault and that they all have to work together in order to rebuild the city. I think its so great that after that he starts to clean up and everybody follows suit and that’s how the opera ends.

After the opera ended I headed to the stage door because I needed to take a picture and speak to Ildar. But I must confess that this time was the most awkward I’ve ever felt there. The reason? It’s very simple, I was the only one there. Not even the freaks were there! And about a million people came out of that stage door and I was truly feeling very uncomfortable. After about half an hour I heard the crazy white haired bag lady’s voice and I was like “I refuse to stand out here with that deranged woman!”, so I went inside. I knew she couldn’t come inside because she had been banned so I felt a lot safer and warm by the payphone. It took him a little while longer but it was totally worth it, for when Ildar appeared he was in the company of none other than Barbara Fritolli! 


Here are some awesome pics I took at curtain call 

Yes! And it took all the courage that I could muster to go up to them and say “Hey, do you guys have a second?” because they were quite resolute on heading towards the door. But as soon as I said I was such a huge fan of both of them they took their time to talk and Ildar signed my copy of his CD with my name on it. I actually ended up talking more to Barbara because I told her that that last production she did of Don Giovanni at the Met was the first opera I ever saw and it made me fall in love with opera. She was so thrilled and also SO NICE. He actually asked me what I had thought about the production and I was so speechless I said “Well at the time I thought it was great because it was the first one I’d ever seen and the singers and the music were so good” and turned to me and said with that awesome Italian accent “There are much better productions than this” and I told her that indeed I had seen better productions since but that she had always remained my favorite Donna Elvira. She was very touched and we took pictures and I also got to tell Ildar how AMAZING he was in this opera and how I admired him. They are THE sweetest couple you know, as I was telling Ildar how incredible he was Barbara was like “Wasn’t he? Wasn’t he great?”

And let me tell you something else girls, when he pulled me towards his side to take the picture I almost fainted. He is so attractive! He’s my type, big, strong, Russian, deep voice and a friendly smile. It was great! After that I went back to the hotel completely dazzled, what a performance!

And now I should go! I’m so sorry I took such a long time to update! I’ll try to not let it happen again! Cheers people!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bucket of Ice Water for this Wicked Singer

Sometimes we feel like we’re going in circles with this training. Almost always doing very similar exercises every single day and sometimes we just throw our hands to the sky and ask: WHY? Why do I have to study SO much every single day? Well, of course we know the answer, it almost comes out automatically for us opera students. We have to study a lot everyday because of the muscle memory, to strengthen our instrument because it’s not something you can learn overnight.

But one thing is to just know that and always keep in on the back of your mind for that eventual nudge whenever you are feeling blue. Another thing is to actually experience some result of all that work.

Let me start from the beginning, shall we? As you guys remember I made a very special trip all the way to the United States to audition of the Hartt School in Connecticut for a Master program in singing. I went there, I sang and a month later I received the sad news that I hadn’t been accepted. That hit me pretty darn hard. I’m a particularly dramatic person I must confess that I involuntarily I put myself in situations that if I don’t get what I was aiming to get I feel like it's the end of the world. That’s mostly because Hartt was the only school that I auditioned for and not getting in meant having to spend another year in Brazil. And don’t get me wrong I love my country but we do have absolutely rotten politics that make the career of classical musicians very difficult and most of the time nonexistent here.

So in order to continue my education I need to move to another country. And I must confess that I never felt like I belonged here in this country anyway, ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to live elsewhere. So going back to the story, after I found out I had been rejected I was pretty much devastated. For about 2 weeks I didn’t tell a soul (only my sister and my teacher actually) because I didn’t really want to accept that I wasn’t going to school this coming September. But something quite unexpected helped me out of my blueness, a very misunderstood lady named Regina.

Although she’s about 10 years older than me we are very similar, both overly dramatic women in search of something that we really don't know what it is exactly but it's quite difficult and scary to get. I guess one of the things I mostly have in common with her is the fact that I’m scared to DEATH to take a leap of faith, to take a chance because it can bring me immense joy but it can also break my heart.

But ever since March, when she came back, I’m finding her choices and her posture quite inspiring. She had been travelling the path of becoming less self obsessed and more caring of others and that made me pause to look around. I looked around and I saw my mother overloaded with work and stressed, my sister trying to juggle college and her job and my dad having all the house responsibilities to himself. And there I was complaining and doing compulsive shopping. I then decided to change and to help all of them, I took responsibility for all of the food related things in my house and I also started running arrons for my mother and sister (one that involved buying fabric that imitated rabbit fur, sister is a cosplayer, what can I say?). That already made me feel a lot better. And since I run these arrons in my bike I’ve also lost about 7 kgs!

And it is at these moments when you are living one day at a time that extraordinary things happen. One day I was watching the extras of one of my Once Upon a Time DVDs and as they were talking about sets and locations they mentioned a place that made everything click. Canada. And then a huge flash back hit me and I remembered an email a student exchange program lady had sent me about a music program in Canada. I went back to my inbox to check it out, two years fulltime intensive program at the Vancouver Community College. I didn’t think twice, I called the lady (very, very nice lady named Claudia) and started my application. All the deadlines for applying for September had already been reached but she managed to squeeze me in.

Luckily for me I had my entire paper work ready because of the other college applications. But there was one thing they asked that I did not have, a video of me singing. Sure I have some great audios but no videos and the school told me to send them a DVD of me doing everything I could do music wise by this Friday, I mean it had to arrive in Canada this very Friday. That was this last Monday evening, Claudia told me that I had to bring her the DVD by Tuesday at midday so they could send it. After talking to her I called my piano teacher and arranged for her to play for me the next day then called my best friend so he could film it for me. It took me three hours to sleep that day.

Woke up the next day got all pretty and out of the house I went to actually buy DVDs because I didn’t have any. Back to my house I recorded my audios on a DVD just in case I was too late with the videos. I grabbed my bike around 10 and flew to the Student Exchange office to give them the final paper work and the DVD. Then I biked my way to my teacher’s house and me and my friend were punctually there at 11.

I recorded in record time. I vocalized and recorded 5 songs in 35 minutes. How the hell did I do that? Well, I gotta blame it on the work I did all those countless afternoons at college, vocalizing and singing and studying until that insufferable man would kick me out of the classroom. I was very flabbergasted I must confess, I would sing the songs without a trace of a doubt as if I was just speaking. Plus they came out so well even though I hadn’t studied and vocalized properly for a little bit more than a month. The muscles and my body and my breathing just knew what to do in every different situation and it just felt marvelous!

So I guess all that hard work did pay off after all. I recorded the DVD and took it to the agency just in time for them to send it up to Canada. Now all I have to do is wait.

I don’t want to rave too such about this because past experiences have shown me that hoping for something to much can totally crush you if you don’t get it. But at the end of the day all this was a very positive experience. Because I was finally able to do something quite wonderful, which was to love opera and love to sing but it is not who I am and if someday I don’t feel that spark anymore I can just walk away without regret. That is something Joyce said in one of her many wonderful videos but I never understood. For me back then opera was all I needed and all that could make me happy. But once you have it taken away from you you can either crumble or look at the world as a white canvas and think, “I can do anything I want”. And let me tell you something, that sensation I pretty fantastic! Because before all this I was quite focused (to not say obsessed) in opera and my career and training and studying. Which is all so great, but now I look back and see that I made some personal sacrifices because of that that I truly regret. Yes, I’m talking about not taking a romantic chance with someone at college because I thought he would distract me from my studies and ruin my career. So I really do feel I did need that big bucket of ice water that is a college rejection letter to just stop and look around me.

I know that speaking like this I sound as if I’m giving up, but I’m really not. I’m still studying but also doing so many other things! I started taking better care of myself, taking the time to choose clothes that flattered my body, exercising, going out with my friends and actually finding other interests I might have. I quite recently found that I’m pretty good at making headbands and stuff for you to wear in your hair, I’ve been having quite a lot of fun braiding ribbons and chains and whatever I could find together to make the cutest hair wear pieces.  

So never fret, I’ve never been happier! This was just a little something I wanted to get off my chest. I just would like to leave a very big thank you to Lana, without her incredible artistry I would still be down in the dumps. You rock, I'm proud to be one of your Regals! Cheers everyone!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The 2014/2015 Metropolitan Opera Season (part 2)

Hey guys! I really hoped that I had finished this sooner but this week has been crazy! Going to job interviews, doing a billion things for my mum, seeing about Summer Programs (I got into the Opera Live in NYC Program), ending the bedroom makeover, successfully selling unwanted stuff online and also seeing about maybe going to Vancouver to study has totally taken up my whole week! But it’s been a blast really, it was a great week without a dull moment in it.

I’ve also sort of created some living rules for me now because since I’m a lot at home and working from the computer I tend to get very distracted. First rule was cutting all bread, sweets, sodas and fried stuff from my diet. I thought that it would be so awful but it actually wasn’t and I’m feeling a lot better. Then not stuffing myself with food, because what usually happened to me was I would put a lot of stuff in my plate because I was afraid to not have enough food to satiate myself. And then I would push the extra food in because I feel bad about leaving food on the plate. So now I eat in small portions and if I’m still hungry I grab a tad more.  And another thing was not eating under any circumstance carbs at night. I’ve been doing this for the last 3 weeks and have lost about 6 kgs, which is a lot.

Plus I can only read fanfiction at night. That rule helps a lot with my productivity during the days I stay home. Since I’ve decided to sell some stuff I don’t want any more I’ve been at home and in front of the computer a lot. It’s this great deal and I’ve already sold three things in the last couple of days, a belt, a bag and a pair of shoes.

But let's go back to the subject in question here, opera! Here are 6 more operas coming next season at the Met!

That Egyptian love story that never gets old

I don’t even need to say more, right? Aida has got to be one of my favorite operas and this production is probably the best I’ve ever seen. It features the Met’s entire chorus plus a couple hundred extras and dancers and horses and the whole shebang! Apart from the fact that we are talking Verdi here and most importantly we are talking about one of the most beautiful music ever written. It’s amazing how the tunes from Aida just stay with you, I remember when I first saw it that I simply could not stop hearing those tunes in my head!

Even though this is without a trace of a doubt an Italian opera it actually opened in Cairo back in 1871. I believe that the Khedivial Opera House commissioned this from Verdi, don’t remember though. Well the story is as old as time, the typical Verdian love triangle. Aida is an Ethiopian slave serving in Egypt, more specifically serving the Pharaoh’s daughter Amneris. Both ladies are head over heels in love with the captain Radames, who technically is hot stuff but normally what you see is over weight on stage (frustrating, much? Yes!). Anywho, Radames has a secret affair with Aida and they are both SO in love. But the thing is, like every good Slytherin (yes, I have HP house sorted opera characters, Radames goes to Gryffindor, Aida Hufflepuff and Amneris Slytherin, the hat never lies!) Amneris senses there’s something going on between Radames and Aida and will do everything she can to humiliate Aida and to get Radames to herself. Amneris is the BEST character in this opera.

So, to take on the difficult role of Aida the Met got 3 amazing and very different sopranos. First up is Liudmyla Monastyrska who you guys might remember as the Aida from the last HD broadcast of this opera. She is young but oh so incredible, her Aida is full of feeling and her voice is a jewel. I also saw her playing Lady Macbeth a couple of years ago for the ROH, fantastic! Next up is Latonia Moore who has played this role many, many times and does a terrific job. Last but certainly not least the Ukrainian Oksana Dyka and let me tell you, this woman’s voice is an absolute DREAM! I was fortunate enough to see her in Prince Igor live in February and she blew that Metropolitan roof up! I would LOVE to see her as Aida!

But the dream casting does not stop there, for Amneris we have two absolute opera jewels! First up my personal favorite Amneris of all time, Olga Borodina who plays this role like no one else. She is absolute poison, absolutely passionate and her voice is like melting dark, dark chocolate. And I was particularly pleased because I had heard statements of hers saying that now that she’d turned 50 she wanted to slow down her career to be with her family. I’m just happy she didn’t drop the Met completely, a trip to Saint Petersburg is quite impossible for me right now. And also the double threat soprano/mezzo soprano Violeta Urmana who plays both the role of Aida AND Amneris, who cool is that, hun?

Sharing our ‘hero’s’ shoes will be Marcello Giordani and Marco Berti who both have a vast experience with Verdi and his difficult and taxing tenor roles. At the pit we have two of my favorite conductor’s, Marco Armiliato and Placido Domingo (the coolest person ever).

Out of so many cast possibilities the one I’d like to see would be Dyka/Borodina/Berti/Domingo but no can do. I can have almost that cast with Urmana instead of Borodina in April of next year.

A Lady Macbeth from Russia

I know what you might think, but Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk has nothing to do with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s a Russian opera written by Shostakovich that premiered in the 1930’s based on the novel Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov. Before this season’s announcement I had never heard of this opera, I have only seen one Shostakovich opera in my live, the Nose (which fortunately was live), which I really liked.

As I read the plot of this opera I couldn’t help but think that it was one of the most dynamic and passionate and cool plots of opera I’d ever read. This is what happens, Katerina is unhappily married to this guy Zinovy and his dad is pretty much a pain in the ass because he blames her for not having any heirs (but apparently it’s not really her fault, her husband isn’t really into her so, I have a slight feeling he might be gay). Katerina’s maid tells her about this guy Sergei who is a womanizer. When Katerina goes on to confront him and tell him women are just as good as men they end up getting into an actual physical fight which results in Sergei throwing himself on top of her. He does that only in time for her annoying father in law to see the scene and become suspicious about her loyalty to his son. At night Sergei goes to her room to ‘ask for a book’ but then proceeds to seduce her and they end up having hot sex. Her father in law (thinking that he’s all so smart) locks her in her room not knowing that Sergei is in there and they resume to basically having sex all night long.

And this is just the first act! There are like 4 acts in which the story TRULY unfolds and loads and loads of things happen! As Katerina we have the amazing Eva Maria Westbroek. She is so incredible, she has played cool Wagnerian roles like Sieglinde and majestic roles like Didon in Berlioz’s Les Troyes and also the operatic role of the infamous Anna Nicole Smith. She has this smooth and gorgeous voice I wish I could hear live someday. As her lover Sergei we have a tenor called Brandon Jovanovich of whom I had never heard of but just seeing pictures of him I totally get it why it was easy for Sergei to seduce Katerina. Hot stuff!

I really wish I could see this! Not gonna be on HD though! Bummer, it's probably because it's very dark and heavy stuff.

The barber who sings more than works

This is such a blast of an opera! It’s probably my second favorite Rossini opera (Le Comte Ory is my utmost favorite) and I know that Il Barbieri di Siviglia has touched the hearts of many people I know. It’s a wonderful comedy filled with catchy tunes and smart jokes. The story was taken from the Beaumarchais trilogy, it’s how it all started, part 1!

The story is pretty simple, Rosina (Isabel Leonard) is a beautiful young lady who is kept locked away at home most of the time by her guardian. He is an old, greasy man who plans to marry her only to get his hands on her money. Enters the Count (Lawrence Brownlee) who fell in love with her at first sight when spotting her at her window. So he procures the help of Figaro (Christopher Maltman) so they can fool Rosina’s guardian and get hitched.

The Met’s current production is by Barlet Sheer and it’s all right. No super amazing and grand sets but very efficient and fun in telling the story. One thing I really like in this production is Rosina’s second act dress which is to die for. But I’m a sucker for fashion so…

As the feisty Rosina we have the amazing American mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard who as I’ve said in some other posts is so amazing and such a nice person. For the Count we have another American singer, Lawrence Brownlee who together with Juan Diego Florez is taking the Rossini tenor roles by storm! He’s very, very talented and has a very good comedic timing. For our Figaro we have Christopher Maltman who is another amazing American singer. I had the privilege of seeing him in the very last performance of Die Fledermaus in February and he was so incredible. Amazingly funny and the music just seemed so natural and effortless it was really an amazing performance.

The craziest song contest ever

If have to be honest I have to confess I don’t have much patience when it comes to Wagner. It might be because his operas tend to last 4 hours or it might be because I don’t understand a word they say. Either way I found myself feeling very lazy to read the plot of Die Meitersinger von Nürnberg, but I did anyway. This is the longest Wagner opera which is performed nowadays, it lasts approximately four hours and a half and we are not counting intermission time. This opera I just like Capriccio and L’Orfeo because it revolves around the creation and composing of music.

So the story is pretty crazy. There’s this knight named Walther who has no musical education whatsoever and he falls head over heels in love with Eva. But Eva’s dad is kind of delusional and says that she will marry the Meistersinger who wins the town’s song competition. So Walther tries to pretend that he’s a worthy candidate to be a Meistersinger so he can enter and win the competition and his beloved’s hand in marriage. But since he doesn’t have any musical education he fails miserably and the Meistersingers people don’t even let him finish his flaw filled song. From then on he’s gonna try and enter that competition anyway he can plus having to worry about a pain in the ass actual Meistersinger called Beckmesser who wants to win the competition. But he’s gonna have the help of the ultimate Meistersinger Hans Sachs so hope isn’t all lost.

As the savior of the day playing Hans Sachs we have Johan Reuter, as the hopeless knight (although he can resemble many things but a knight) is Johan Botha. As Eva we have Annette Dash who I had only heard singing Mozart and am quite curious to see how she will do with Wagner.

It’ not just any Verdi tragedy

I think this is the most popular of Verdi’s operas, hence it’s included every other season at the Met. If I’m going to be totally honest this is not my favorite production of La Traviata. Yes, the red dress is fabulous but there’s not much else to it. I think this kind of production is great to have at festivals or in one season of a big repertoire house but not as a reoccurring production. So every time you wanna watch La Traviata at the Met it’s this nude and empty production. This is my opinion, I don’t think the production is bad it’s just that for a house like the Met they should put up something beyond gorgeous for Verdi’s most beloved opera. My first experience with La Traviata was through this production and to be completely honest I didn’t understand half of it because they leave far too much to your imagination. I guess I’m just traditional.

Anyways, La Traviata tells the story of a courtesan named Violetta who was leading her life loveless but filled with luxury and wealth only too well before Alfredo came along. They fall in love and she decides to go and live with him in the countryside like the happy loving couple that they are and gives up her job. But everything is not sunshine and flowers, you see Alfredo does not have much money to afford the life they lead and Violetta is secretly selling her things to make ends meet. To make things worst Violetta receives the visit of Alfredo’s father who asks her to end their relationship because his association with a person like her is tarnishing the whole family name. And if they stay together nobody will want to marry Alfredo’s sister. It’s pretty sad from then on.

To play the dream role of 90% of sopranos the Met has brought two Marinas. The first is Marina Poplavskaya who actually opened this production at the Met some seasons ago. Again, I’m not a fan and her performance in this was actually filmed so you guys can judge for yourselves. Plus, isn’t she a bit old to have waist long hair? That hair is nothing special, don’t know why people make such a fuss about it. (Oh my, is that venom on my lips or what?). Our other Violetta is Marina Rebeka, now she was my first Donna Anna and she is just so good. She played this Donna Anna in the Met’s live in HD broadcast of Don Giovanni back in 2011.

For our love sick tenor we have the amazing Stephen Costello who is all sorts of awesome. I can’t help but feel sad because his wife Ailyn Pérez isn’t playing Violetta, she has played the part a billion times and oh so well plus they have insane chemistry on stage. Sharing the Alfredo duties with Stephen is Francesco Demuro. And last but not least papa Germont will be played by Ludovic Tézier aka the Severus Snape of opera (for that amongst other reasons I have sort of a crush on him). But he’s such a great singer, the very last thing I saw with him in was that Lucia I saw in a live stream back in July, he was playing Arturo, Lucia’s evil brother and he rocked it! (that’s when he got his HP nickname by the way).

Holiday Candy Crush!

For the holiday presentation the Met is getting its huge chefs heads out of storage for an all English production of Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel. So the holiday presentations work something like this; they normally take a comedy or a happy ending opera, translate the whole thing to accessible English and do a rather unnecessary cutting session to the piece. I really like the idea of making something more accessible to a broader public but I find it thoroughly unnecessary to make cuts, if the piece is good it will grab people’s attention. But that’s just my opinion.

The Met has a great, fun and somewhat family friendly (the witch does have a freezer full of children hanging by hooks that you can actually see that’s a bit disturbing) production of Hansel and Gretel’s tale. It always makes me hungry because they get to eat all sorts of sweets at the second act but then again most things make me hungry.

The story pretty much follows the original tale. Hansel and Gretel are brother and sister and their family is extremely poor. They have to do many chores around the house to help out their parents but all they want to do is play. During a bed jumping session they break the only milk jar in the house, their parents are furious and send them to the woods to pick up berries so they’ll have something to eat. They end up losing their way in the woods and as it gets dark start seeing what truly happens when the sun goes down. All sorts of odd and magical creatures appear in their dreams and when they wake up they happen upon a house made entirely of candy, chocolate and cake. The rest we all know, don’t we?

As Gretel the Met has called back Christine Schafer the soprano who actually originated this role in this production a few seasons ago. As she is a very petite woman with a very pretty voice and incredible acting skills she suits Gretel quite perfectly. As Hansel we have the mezzo soprano Christine Rice.    

Wow, that was time consuming but extremely satisfying! And I guess that's it for today guys. Today is Once Upon a Time day and I'm excited! I actually got a way to watch it live so it's pretty cool :) Peace everyone!