Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
For some reason, I'm not having much luck with copy and paste, so I'll post the link to the text and translation.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Already I've been introduced to many new things; eating sushi with Jimmy (he taught me how to use chopsticks, therefore making me cool), nearly getting run over by a bus and car at the same time crossing Jordan avenue ("Crossing Jordan" has a whole new meaning after coming to IU), trying to hold my own with grad students (more on that later), and new and interesting people. I found it difficult at first to meet people, given the size of the campus, but IU really is as big or as small as you want it to be. I've made some very good friends already, thanks to things like Facebook, and I know I'll get to know more people as the year goes on.
But perhaps the biggest event of the first week for me, besides the visit of my parents, was the so-called "cattle call" auditions for the Opera Theatre. The first two operas of the season were cast last spring, so for those I wasn't able to audition, obviously. Most freshman are very much discouraged from doing the cattle calls fall semester, because A) freshman hardly ever, and I mean hardly ever get cast B) You sing on the stage of the Musical Arts Center, who's size is second only to the Metropolitan Opera, and it can be very intimidating C) Most freshman just aren't ready. However, my teacher said that it was perfectly fine for me to go ahead and sing. I'm not anticipating getting anything, but I just wanted to do it for the experience and to prove that I could do it. I really had nothing to loose, so why not? I signed up after seeing posters saying that it was the last day to do so (freak out, in other words), and with the help of a nice tenor grad student, figured out where to go the day of.
Most of the stage was blocked off, and we only sang on a space a little bigger than the orchestra pit. The rest of the stage was the "green room" of sorts, and even though I knew that the stage was more than large, I was still surprised at its size. Some random set pieces from Rigoletto were on the stage behind the curtain as well as stage lights and other construction pieces. I waited for a while before I sang, listening to the other students, feeling some intimidation, but also remembering that there had been some singers who had done rather poorly on Thursday night.
But finally, my time came. The pianist who was playing for me was already on stage when I went out there, and I handed him the music, stated my name, audition number, and piece, and began to sing. Overall, I feel that I sang very well. Of course there were things that I wish had gone better, like not having to swallow at the beginning of some phrases (bugger), but my high notes were in place, and I didn't push. I was also surprised to hear my voice bounce back, which I had not expected. Makes me wonder how loud I am. After I was done being Cherubino (I sang "Non so piu" from Le Nozze di Figaro), I walked backstage to get my bags and go. As I was walking out, the pianist took my arm and said I had sung well, making me feel happy about what I had done. My teacher called me later that afternoon and told me that she felt I had done well, and that the feedback had been very positive. For that, I am very thankful and humbled.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
The deaths of Sills and Crespin made me think of all of the singers from their era who have gone before them, especially in the last four or so years; Franco Corelli, Robert Merrill, Birgit Nilsson, Astrid Varnay, James King, Thomas Stewart, Renata Tebaldi, Anna Moffo, Lorraine Hunt Leiberson...their era is slowly passing away into history, their legacies bearing witness to the work they have done. After all, every tenor who sings "Di quella pira" is compared to Corelli, every Verdi baritone follows in the steps of Merrill, every Violetta put next to Moffo. Its daunting to have had such talented singers pave the way for the next generations, realizing what large and well-worn shoes are to be filled. Still, their voices will be with us for the generations to hear; Tebaldi still changes lives, Nilsson still inspires, Sills still encourages. They are forever singing...
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Thursday I retook the music theory placement test to see if I could get a better score and test out of one of the classes. Afterwords, a large group of incoming freshman Jacobs students were taken from program to program, telling us things from how to use our student id card to how to use our brain and not be attacked. There were more placement tests to be taken as well. Everyone took a math test, which was simple algebra that I couldn't do. Out of the 26 questions, I remembered how to do about 5 of them, and I don't think any of them were correct. The German test was much more doable, but a few minutes into it I felt like I was going to throw up. The base of my skull throbbed and my head was spinning, and I found myself looking at the same question for about three minutes at a time. I left about half-way through and sat in the bathroom, but nothing happened, and I returned and finished the test. Somehow I almost tested out of the first semester of German, so I'll be taking an accelerated German course, which is basically two semesters of German into one.
I spent some time both days with friends of mine that go to IU. Thursday night my parents and I met up with a friend from Youtheatre and walked around B-town. We passed John Mellencamp on Kirkwood smoking a cigarette; he's shorter than me. Friday in between my piano test and registering for classes, I got together with Laura and her friend Marla for a few hours. Speaking of piano, I tested out of all of the piano classes and the proficiency test, taking a huge chunk out of the courses I'm required to take. I've heard tales of horror about amazing musicians who are terrified they won't graduate because they can't pass the piano test. My academic advisor tried to recruit me to be an accompanist, but I'm nowhere near that level.
I also had the chance to see a room in the dorm I'm living in. The room is at least twice the size of the rooms in TJ, with nicer furniture and lights that actually illuminate the room, and the walls looked like they had been painted in the last ten years. In other words, it won't be like living in a jail cell.
So, I'm officially a college student. There are still some things that I need to take care of, but for the most part, I'm ready for IU!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Last semester's program consisted of tear-jerkers; women dying of TB and Irish men drowning. But once again in contrast, this program was gnerally happy or touching, with the occasional touch of the bizarre. The only piece not sung in English was "Bei Mannern wilche Liebe fuhlen" from Mozart's The Magic Flute. Really, its too good to sing in English.
Austin Barret as Nanki-Poo.
As Miss Jessel. Heck yes I got to be creepy.
Opera Workshop Crew, 2007.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Recital season is up and running at Interlochen, with about five senior recitals every weekend. I gave a recital last Monday night, the result of months of work. My parents were able to come up here for the recital, driving in the day of and leaving Tuesday morning after a cup of coffee at the Melody Freeze. Overall, I felt that the recital went very well. I was nervous (obviously)at the beginning, but the nerves slowly went away, and I felt more confident as the recital progressed. I felt that my Elgar pieces and the "Seguidilla" were my best performances of the evening. The Elgar pieces are more than difficult, and I had to pace myself so that I didn't run out of vocal resources by the time I got to "The Swimmer". And after that, I was on a vocal high that enabled me to loosen up for the "Seguidilla" and become Carmen for a minute and a half.
I was pleased with the results of all my hard work. After all of my stuggles this past year, I still made progress and survived. Not only have I survived my year at Interlochen, but I thrived. I'm very excited to say that I will be graduating from Interlochen with Honors, something only 55 of us are doing. It's strange to think that I'll be finished with my time at Interlochen in a month. It's a month I never thought would come, but here it is, and I've made it through!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Rehearsals for Opera Workshop have begun; this semester's program has more, shorter pieces than before. I'm doing English opera again, this time the lake scene from Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw. I'm singing the role of Miss Jessel, the former governess (former because she's dead) to Miles and Flora, who, with the former manservant (also dead) Peter Quint, are trying to corrupt the children, and the new Governess is trying to prevent it, all the while not sure if it is actually happening, or if it is something of her imagination. Actually, it's one of the creepiest things I've ever come across, but it's wonderful music, and I'm very excited!
The jury for my senior recital was yesterday, and I got it! I had been nervous, mostly because my health seemed to be finally letting down its guard. It started on Saturday when I fell twice on the ice on the way to my first class, causing my head and legs to hurt and to leave me covered in water and a few bruises. Lovely. But after that it seemed that my throat was rather dry. Of course the two had nothing in common, only that they happened around the same time. So, after a trip to health services, I was told that my throat was a little red and that my tonsils were slightly swollen. I took some medication, gargled warm salt water, had some Cold Eeze, and went to bed very early. I had also felt very tired for the whole week, which I think was due more to stress and exhaustion than anything. Good think Spring Break is coming up, and I can sleep...
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
My parents picked me up from Interlochen Wednesday after classes, and, after a long car ride, I arrived at home. I spent the night at home and after sleeping in on Thursday, my mom and I drove down to Bloomington, a very short drive compared to the drive to Interlochen. We stayed at a very sketchy Eccano Lodge that looked like it should be in "CSI: Bloomington" or "Law and Order: University Inspectors Unit". But it was fine. After wandering around Bloomington for a while, we returned to the hotel and got a good night's sleep.
Friday morning, we arrived at the Musical Arts Center (MAC) a little after 8 in the morning to see what my schedule was for the day. I had a music theory placement test in the morning, which wasn't a big deal. My audition, however, was a big deal (big duh there, let's point out the obvious). The audition was at 5:00 (4:58 if you want to be exact), and after warming up, I arrived at the room, and since I was early, I was able to sing about half an hour before I was supposed to.
This was by far the most nerve-wracking audition. My knees shook the entire time. Walking into that room, and finally doing something that I've been looking forward to for five or so years, was truly scary, but at the same time exciting. I only sang half of my Elgar piece, since it's so long, and after a shaky start, I managed to get control of it. I think the accompanist could sense my freaking-out when I was showing him the cut for the Elgar. "It's OK," or something like that. The high A at the end was good, in my opinion, which made me happy. I also sang my Bellini piece, which also went well, at least I hope so. I couldn't really tell what kind of reaction the faculty had, which didn't help the nerve factor. I've most definitely sung better, but I didn't crash and burn. I'm just dying to know how I did; I'll be in a perpetual state of freak out until I find out.
Friday night, my mom and I went to see Richard Strauss's Arabella at the IU Opera Theatre. It is a beautiful opera, and the performance was lovely. The singers were wonderful, and the production was beautiful; the sets and costumes were breathtaking. During intermission, I talked with an usher that had been a councilor at the DePauw Vocal Arts Camp two summers ago when I went. She graduated from DePauw and now studies at IU, and I was able to get her opinion on both schools.
We returned home Saturday afternoon, after having lunch with Laura and Nicole; it is always good to see familiar faces. We had snow and Simon Boccanegra on the drive home. Thomas Hampson is amazing.
So how do I feel about my IU audition? I don't know. I still can't tell how I did. I don't know how I stacked up compared to the other voice students that auditioned, or how tough it was to actually get from the screening round to the audition. There were parts of the audition I was glad about, like the high A that caused all of the faculty listening to look up, but there were other parts that were not so good, like having the accompanist step on the gas in the Elgar, even though I got back on track, and it seemed to turn out fine, but who knows? Of course I wish I could have a second chance, just to prove I can sing better. If I could know how I did, I think I would feel a lot better about the whole thing. So now I wait for the acceptance or rejection letter. The nerves are on end. Let's just say there's been a lot of praying going on...
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Of course, half of the fun of this audition was getting to spend time in Chicago, which was time well spent. Ahhh, Chicago....
After another night in Lansing, my parents and I made our way back to Interlochen. I had my audition for DePauw University on campus on Monday. DePauw is one of my top choices, so I really wanted this audition to go well. I was feeling secure from the Roosevelt audition, especially with the Elgar piece I'm singing; "The Swimmer" from his song cycle for contralto Sea Pictures. It's a long piece that is very demanding vocally, with it's low Gs and As, and the final high A at the end. However, my DePauw audition did not go as well as I had hoped, although it was far from crash-and-burn. There had been a lot of time between when I warmed up and when I sang (they were slightly behind schedule), and I was still tired from spending a lot of time in the car and traveling. I breathed in some wrong places, and my brain had a huge leak during my Italian piece, but I fixed it in time. I had a lesson with the voice professor that came up for the auditions, and that went very very very well. I had worked with her two summers ago in a Master Class at DePauw's Vocal Arts Camp, and she remembered who I was, which was good. As I said before, the lesson went very well, and I felt that it overrode what hadn't gone well in the actual audition. I won't even go into my sight-reading...
Also this week was The Pirates of Penzanze presented by the Carl Rosa Opera Company, which is based in the UK. Even though I'm not the biggest Gilbert and Sullivan fan, I do enjoy Pirates, and I loved it! The baritone who sang the Pirate King sang, and looked, like bass Rene Pape. He stole the show. Two of the singers, Barry Clark as Major General Stanley and Rosemary Ashe as Ruth, were in the original cast of The Phantom of the Opera, singing the roles of Piangi and Carlotta. I remember listening to my recording of the musical as a child over and over and over until one of the tapes broke, and I never thought that I would ever see any of those singers perform. So, in that respect, it was even more incredible. Both singers are past their prime, but Ashe's high notes are still unmistakable. The rest of the singers were also very good, with a Juan Diego Florez-ish tenor as Frederick, a very loud (and sometimes a bit flat) soprano as Mabel, and a very good supporting cast. I was lucky enough to have a seat in the second row, enabling me to capture the wonderful facial expressions and such of the singers.
More auditions coming up in the following weeks. I'll keep posting!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I sang on the Sunday performance. My parents were supposed to have come for it, but a blizzard in Grand Rapids prevented that from happening. I called them on Saturday, the day they were to have arrived, and they said that the highway had been closed and that they were staying in a hotel for the night, and perhaps they could come tomorrow, if Old Man Winter was permitting. However, the conditions did not improve much, and my parents came home the next day without being able to come to my performance. All of were very upset by this, naturally, and they wanted to be there more than anything, but it just was not possible. However, one of the moms taped the performance, so they'll have a copy soon! Another guy made an audio recording as well, which I'll also have to get my hands on.
This is the Sunday cast of Riders to the Sea with Kevin McLaughlin as Bartley, Sarah Powell as Cathleen, Emily Thebaut as Nora, and me as Maurya, with my old woman make-up.
Here's another pic from Riders to the Sea. I once again am Maurya, with Sarah Powell as Cathleen and Emily Thebaut as Nora. Yes, I know I look a little funny, but I had to get the traditional-opera-throw-my-hand-out-to-the-side-for-emphasis gesture. And who really looks good while singing?
Here are the two Collines; Beak San Kang and Andrew Bogard.
Me on my off night ( although all women were in the Riders chorus) with Sarah Powell and Emma Grettenburger, who sang the role of Cathleen on Saturday.
So, even though the disappointment of my parents not being able to see my first big performance at Interlochen, and even though the air feels like Siberia on a bad day, the performances were a huge success! They were very well received, and those who came seemed to enjoy it.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
We've had snow nearly every day since the we came back after break. It's pretty outside, but really cold as well. The students from the South have gotten used to the cold and the snow, but we'll all be sick of it come March, or April, or whenever it stops. It's reported to have snowed on graduation, oh the horror!
I have a digital camera now! Lydia's moving up in the techno world. Will an iPod be next? (gasps of shock and awe). Probably not. I'll post pictures as soon as I can figure it out to do it.
Monday, January 08, 2007
It's quite interesting. Try it out!