Thursday, December 20, 2007

First Semester Overview

I won't lie; this post is woefully overdue. I have several drafts of other posts saved on my account with Blogger, but I had very little time to complete most of them. So instead, I'll give an overview of my first semester at IU.

So far, IU has been a wonderful experience. I received my grades yesterday and was more than pleased with the fruits of my hard work. I believe I have enough credits at present to be considered a sophomore, resulting from AP credit I earned in high school and a heavy first semester. And of course I'm now laughing at those who said I studied to much. Laugh on. I believe I've worked harder in this semester than I ever have before, and I know I've made progress. I was not especially surprised at the difficulty of the classes nor the amount of work involved; Interlochen prepared me for that in a way no other high school could. My German class was by far the most challenging course I've taken, mostly because it was two semesters of German (the 100 and 150 levels) crammed into one semester. It was by no means a class for the weak, it bringing some graduate students to their knees. But my German requirement is out of the way by a large margin.

As to IU itself, I'm very satisfied with it. Looking back on my college choices from last year, I'm so glad that I ended up at IU. Many large universities get something of a bad reputation in high school, with counselors, teachers, and other students that probably don't know what they're talking about saying that no one will pay attention to you or care about you, or that mentioning alcohol will turn you into a drunk. Not true. I can see how it's possible to get lost in a student body of 37,000, but it's also far from difficult to make your presence known. The Jacobs School of Music in itself is large, but it doesn't feel that way. Because it is such a big school, it gives more of an outlook of what the competition in "the real world" will be, and therefore being a little more realistic than a smaller school. I've had many opportunities to perform, being at "cattle calls" or holding my own with grad students, and show what I can do, and so far, the feedback has been positive. Besides, I'd much rather make an impact on faculty by actually accomplishing something rather than being noticed because I'm one of a small group. It makes successes much more rewarding than if I was at, as some call it, "a glorified high school" smaller than my dormitory.

This semester has also brought on new and exciting things. I signed my first lease a few weeks before Christmas break for the house I'll be living in next semester. Finally I'll be rid of dorm food and creepy cleaning people. After two years in a dormitory, I'm ready to have a single room again and no more half plastic food.

Over break I'm not planning on doing much; learning a lot of music, finishing reading Anna Karenina, and preparing for next semester. And as always, its so nice to be home again. =)

My second semester as a freshman (or I guess my first semester as a sophomore) is something I'm really looking forward to. Since I'm done with German and I'm waiting to tackle my next required language (those being French and Italian) until next fall, I'm taking Russian, something I've wanted to do for a long time. I'm also getting a Russian lit class in, as well as the usual music theory. I'll also be taking the undergraduate opera workshop class with two-time Grammy winner Sylvia McNair, one of the industry's most talented and courageous women.

Also, it was just announced that the Lilly Endowment is giving $44 million to the Jacobs School of Music for the funding of the North Studio Building, which is hoped to be completed by about 2010. Just in time for the JSoM to return to the Metropolitan Opera in 2011, as its rumored to be. Also, to walk in the same halls that people such as Leonard Bernstein, Virginia Zeani, and Joshua Bell once did is quite amazing, if not overwhelming (in a good sense) at times. I also had a slight freak out when I saw Andre Watts crossing Jordan Avenue on my way to the Music Annex to practice. IU's great.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fern Hill

Dylan Thomas's poem Fern Hill was yet another work that I was unfamiliar with until recently. Composer John Corigliano set the poem to music for chorus and orchestra in 1961, making an already beautiful text become even more powerful. Not only do I enjoy this poem (and the music) for their artistic value, but they also describe nearly everything that I've felt in the past year or so. It makes me nostalgic, but at the same time churn up hope and a sense of newness in me.
Once again, I am simply posting a website link, because I was unable to get the format of the poem the way I wanted on the post.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Random Poetry

I've only recently come across the poems of Wilhelm Muller, mostly because of Schubert's settings to his work. This however, is one of my favorites: "Des Bachens Wiegenlied", which is the last movement of Die Schone Mullerin, one of Schuber's greatest song cycles, and certainly one of my favorites.

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

The Countdown Begins...

March 14, 2008. Eugene Onegin at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth...

...I'm just at college. Week three of classes is almost done and over with, and I survived the deluge. But back before classes began. It was hot. And I mean hot. Over 100 degrees for a few days, and my dorm room has no air conditioning. My parents and I felt disgusting after moving all my stuff in, and rightly so. At least everyone else was equally as horrid, which *sort 0f* made the situation feel better.

The rooms here are much bigger than the dorm room at Interlochen. Its at least twice the size of the old room (which really, if you ever saw the Interlochen rooms, isn't saying much. A cardboard box is almost bigger), and the storage space is wonderful! The closets are also very large, which isn't something I'm very used to, but I do like it. The girls on my dorm floor seem to be very nice so far. Most of them are biology or chemistry majors (or in the case of my roommate, a double bio and chem major) with hopes of medical school, although there are a few anthropology majors, as well as about five music majors, including a girl I went to Interlochen with. But overall, at least as far as my observations go, the girls are focused students who actually care about their education, which comes as a great relief to myself.

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.

So, the heat continued for a few more days after moving in. I'll freely admit that those first few days were horrible; I woke up feeling gross and continued to feel gross throughout the entire day, I felt homesick (although not nearly as bad as last year), and I had no clue as to what I was doing. But things began to turn around when I went to the "Spirits and Traditions of IU" event at the Stadium, which is really a clever way to get students to want to come to sporting events. I had thought that buses were taking students to the stadium, but I was very wrong. The walk to the Stadium from my dorm takes about 15 minutes, and it was well above 95 degrees that day. Not a fun walk, and I don't think I'll do it again. But on the way there, I met a very nice girl who reminds me very much of one of my friends from Interlochen, and we've hung out quite a bit ever since. It made me feel quite happy, because as a friend of mine said "Its hard to meet normal people here who aren't losers." meaning that its hard to find people who are normal, but also have a personality.

Classes started on Monday the 27th, bright and early at 8:00 a.m. I freaked out a bit after seeing the week's schedule for my first class; read 40 pages of the textbook the first night. Lovely. My German class was also a bit overwhelming. Its an accelerated class, which means that the first two semesters of German are put into one, and the pace is very quick. The class is fairly small, about 15 people, and most of them are graduate voice students. There's a few undergraduates (about 4), so I feel very much like a little kid in there. But its not a bunch of freshman, which is quite nice. As the Dean of Music said "The best thing about freshman is that they become sophomores."

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.

Despite my nerves, I think I remained quite clam during the whole process. I warmed up a little too early, something that I've always been guilty of, but this time it was more to have time to find a practice room, which I've discovered is nearly impossible. I warmed up slowly, making sure that I didn't overdo anything or blow out my vocal cords and ruin the audition. After taking plenty of time, I went to the MAC and took a deep breath. I could hear several people warming up in the dressing rooms, including one woman (who's name I didn't get and who I didn't hear perform), who has a voice like Jessye Norman (just found out this week she's in my sutdio!). There was another freshman singing that morning besides myself, but otherwise the singers were either graduate students or older undergrads.

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.

That being out of the way (finally), I waited for my parents to arrive. IU played Indiana State (my brother's university) in the first football game of the season, so the whole family was coming to B-town. For those of you who don't know, IU sports is almost a sacred thing in the Dahling family. Its not just athletics, its a way of life. Well, only for some. But I was more excited to see my family than to go to a football game, much more excited. The game was fairly dull, since IU smothered ISU, but it was fun regardless. Its very nice to be able to see my family this often, and this weekend I'm going home, which I'm more than excited for. Even though I like it here, it will be very nice to be able to get away for a while.

This photos in this post were taken at the first orchestra concert of the year. It was a all Beethoven program; his 5th Symphony and later his 5th Piano Concerto, played by piano faculty member Andre Watts. I wasn't able to see his hands as he played, but I could see his face and all of his talking to himself whilst playing and other interesting quirks. It was beautiful, and the applause lasted for close to five minutes.

More updates, about the operas, dorm life, the buildings that look like the Harry Potter film set (which I think is fantastic!), will come eventually.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter....

I don't see how anyone who has a clue of what's going on in the world could have escaped all of the Harry Potter mania this past weekend with the release of the seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I spent the weekend in South Bend with friends Anne and Katherine (Katherine's taking a class at Notre Dame this summer, having sold her soul to the Latin department). After an amazing Potter party (and I've been to quite a few of those), the book was released at 12:01 am, and the mania became ever more intense. There were all sorts of people in line, from children to adults, dorks (like myself), college-aged jocks (surprised me!), and everyone else in between. I more than admit that I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, no guilt there! Yes I know I'm just as much of a Hugo and Dostoevsky person, but Harry Potter is a thing of my generation, and I really have grown up with these books. I was about the same age as Harry when I read the first novel, and in the last one, he's only a year younger than I am now. I'm crazy about it.

So after standing in line for about an hour waiting to get our book (the line ended up being about a quarter of a mile, and we got in fairly early), we got back to Katherine's dorm at about 12:05, started reading at about 12:10, and finished at 9:30. Yes of course there were breaks, I'm not that crazy. But reading a Harry Potter book in one night was something I had never done before, and since it is the very last novel, there seemed to be no reason not to do so this final time.

And it was more than worth it. I am deeply satisfied with how Rowling ended the series, being slightly nervous about half-way through at the direction she was taking with the plot and characters. However, she turned it around in the darkest novel of the series (if you're under 12 years old, please don't read it.) and emerged, in my opinion, victorious. I am more than pleased with it. A great ending to nearly ten years of imagination, the endless questions, magic, and mystery. But I'm satisfied.

Monday, July 09, 2007

For anyone that wants to know, I am doing a recital here in Decatur. It begins at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, July 15, at the First United Methodist Church in Decatur. The recital, consisting of songs by Bellini, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Elgar, and arias from Le Nozze di Figaro, Rodelinda, and Julius Caesar, should last about half an hour. Please come!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Here's to the great ones

The world of opera suffered a double blow in the past week with the deaths of two beloved sopranos: Beverly Sills and Regine Crespin, who died within days of each other. Sills, of course, was one of the greatest champion of the arts, and did more in her lifetime than many of us could ever begin to dream about, making the general public more appreciative of the arts. Baritone Sherrill Milnes said it perfectly: "Before the three tenors were making opera more accessible, Beverly was doing it all by herself.” Personally, I had not discovered Crespin until I heard the Solti recording of Wagner's Ring, on which she sang Sieglinde. I admired Crespin's self-security and openness on a variety of topics musical and not, and her willingness to share her opinions.

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


Last week I found myself once again in Bloomington, this time for college orientation and to register for classes. In some ways, this visit to B-town was less stressful than others, because this time, I knew I was going to the university and the Jacobs School in the fall. The program was two days long, although I believe everything could have been squeezed into one day.

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

There are some things only a baritone can do...

Leather pants falls into this category. Proves once again that Dmitri Hvorostovsky is, well, amazing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I did it! High school is finished. I graduated from Interlochen last Saturday at the end of a very exciting and busy week. Classes finished up on the Wednesday before graduation, with finals and other tests. Thursday and Friday were what is known as Festival; in other words, as many performances as can be fit into a day, each drawing very good-sized crowds. Opera Workshop on Thursday was totally full, making my entrance and exit a little difficult; thank goodness I didn't trip over anyone running out of the house. But the performance went very well, especially by Festival standards. The choir concert on Friday also went well, giving a final farewell to my days at Interlochen.

But of course, Saturday was the big day; graduation. I was given the Senior Honors cords Friday night at Honors Convocation, which I proudly wore on Saturday. The ceremony was beautiful, with performances from three of our five valedictorians, the other two giving speeches. Yes, we had five valedictorians. Five. President Kimpton's speech to the class was more than thoughtful, encouraging us to remain true to our art, but to also live in the real world. After all, art is meant for the fulfillment of the masses, not exclusively the artists.

After graduation, I said good-bye to my friends and teachers, packed up the remainder of my luggage, and drove the long drive home. I was able to go to my friend Emma's grad party (she's a day student) and say good-bye to her, and Mrs. Gaede (aka God) was also there. I sort of freaked out.

Am I glad that its finally done with? Yes, because it burnt me out from the intensity. But also no, because there is the possibility that I may never see some of those people again, and I miss them. But even after going through the misfortunes of a crazy roommate, extreme homesickness, a pseudo-Siberian winter, letdowns, there ended up being more positive than negative. I am most definitely glad that I chose to spend my last year of high school at Interlochen, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Opera again

Just don't ask.

The spring program for Interlochen's Opera Workshop class was presented on Saturday night, and an encore performance will occur next Thursday, during Festival. This program was very different from last semester's; we performed in the Chapel instead of Corson, there were few costumes (don't worry, we wore black, no nudity involved. It wasn't Salome), and instead of full chamber operas or acts of full scale operas, we performed scenes, which included everything from Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea to Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella.

Some of Interlochen's finest just "Standing on the corner, watching all the girls go by."

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.

Sarah Powell as Pamina and Garret Rubin as Papagano. This duet was certainly the most adorable piece on the entire program.

Big kudos went to tenor Austin Barret, who stepped in at the last moment as Nanki-Poo in a duet from The Mikado; the tenor originally cast was expelled last week. Lucky for us, Austin is the biggest Gilbert and Sullivan fan around, and already knew the piece by heart. And not only did he learn dialogue and staging in a day, but he performed the role with amazing high notes and humor.

Austin Barret as Nanki-Poo.

I sang in Scene Seven from Britten's The Turn of the Screw. It was perhaps the most bizarre piece on the program, and certainly the most disturbing; the whole opera is more than creepy, but the music is mind-blowing. I sang the role of Miss Jessel, the dead governess who is trying to claim the soul of her former charge, Flora. The music for Jessel sits at the top of the staff most of the time, but it fits my voice perfectly, and I hope I get an opportunity to sing the entire role some day.
Emma Grettenberger as Mrs. Grose, Sarah Powell as Flora, and Erin O'Leary as the Governess. I made my entrance from the back of the Chapel, and put Flora into a trance-like state. So, in this picture, we are maintaining eye contact, which turned out to play out very well.

As Miss Jessel. Heck yes I got to be creepy.

Opera Workshop Crew, 2007.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Recital Fever...

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

Lydia's going to college!

I'm going to college! After many days of not getting the mail for fear of getting rejection letters from colleges, I finally got the letter I was looking for. "You have been recommended for admission to the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music." IU has long been my top choice for college, so getting in was very exciting for me. I guess my audition went better than I thought it did. So, next year I will be attending IU, majoring in Vocal Performance. I'm beyond excited! I'll be the fourth generation of Dahlings to go to IU; I think the first time I was on campus I was two years old or close to that. IU's always been part of the family legacy, and I find it difficult to remember a time when I hadn't heard of the University. I'm just so ecstatic that I've been accepted to IU!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mozart, recital juries,learning Britten, falling down...all in a week's work

The last two weeks have been some of the busiest this year. Choir had our sacred music concert last Friday, which consisted of Mozart's Solemn Vespers, a Swedish piece called Saul (we didn't sing it in Swedish, thank goodness), and three hymn tunes with organ. The Mozart piece was done with a small chamber orchestra. Like most sacred masses and oratorios, there were solo parts, in this case a quartet in most movements and the famous soprano solo "Laudate Dominum", which is nothing but beautiful. I sang the alto solo in the "Confitebur" movement. It was the first time that I had sung solo with orchestra, and I was a bit nervous, but it turned out very well in the end, and I was more than pleased with the outcome of the concert. I'll admit, it was nothing less of exciting to sing with an orchestra. And to be singing Mozart with orchestra...amazing!

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

More Auditions

Last weekend I found myself in Bloomington for my Indiana University Jacobs School of Music audition. As far as auditions go, this was the one I was looking the most forward to, and also the one that caused me the most nerves.

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

Life is good...

Got to hear the last act of Eugene is good.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Audition Round 1 and some Pirates

Last weekend was the first of my college auditions. It seemed strange to finally be auditioning for colleges, since it is something that I've thought about and looked forward to since my freshman year. Last Friday, my parents picked me up from Interlochen and we drove to Lansing, Illinois (Chicago suburb, just south of Calumet City, home of the Blues Brothers), where my Aunt Jan lives. We spent the night there and went into Chicago Saturday for my audition with Roosevelt University. I think the audition went very well, especially for a first audition, and I was pleased with how it went. I was very nervous while warming up, but once I got myself under control, all was well. Didn't get to sing for Sam Ramey, but a student in the lobby showed me her aria book, which he signed, along with many other singers. I about fell to my knees.

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

What I won't be hearing or seeing on Saturday...

Dmitri Hvorostovksy in the title role of Eugene Onegin.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Here is the full report from Opera Workshop weekend! Both performances went very well. We were all feeling confident after the Thrusday dress rehearsal, although another rehearsal in Corson would have been a good thing. However, the Nylons were there on Friday night, so we were unable to rehearse then. Corson is the biggest space I've ever sung in, except maybe for the Performing Arts Center (oh I'm sorry, the Arts United Center), but since it was opera, we were not miked. We had a shell around the sets, so the entire stage was not used. Otherwise, I don't think we could have been heard.

This is the inside of Corson, with the stage set for Act IV of La Boheme.

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.

Even though I was upset by my parents's not being at the performance, I was able to channel that emotion into the role. Maurya is an emotional role, similar in some ways to Verdi's Azucena, only not as crazy and much more accepting of the situation at hand. During the opera's final scene, when the body of Bartley is brought into the house, my emotions began to get the better of me, and a few tears were shed. I know this is a BIG no-no in opera, but the tears weren't enough to hurt my voice or my performance. I had plenty of long interludes to swallow and get control of myself, and it was fine. Had I totally broken down and started openly weeping, that would have been a different story. And I wasn't the only one onstage crying either; at the end of the opera, I looked at Sarah and Emily, who were playing my daughters, and we all had tears in our eyes. After the stage went dark and we went backstage, all of the emotion just let loose, especially seeing the other dead sons come onstage and "wake up" Bartley to come and joint them. I think that was one of the most powerful moments in the whole opera, and I'm so glad we got the lighting to do it. As I said before, I think the performance went very well. I was thankful for the compliments that I received, and very glad that people enjoyed it. I even got a hug from Ms. P.(!), which made me have a freak out in my head.

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's the Sunday La Boheme quartet; Paul Wilt as Marcello, Austin Barrett as Rodolfo, Garrett Rubin as Schaunard, and Andrew Bogard as Colline.

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

Suddenly I feel like I'm living in Yuriatin

Yuriatin, for those of you who haven't found the joys of Doctor Zhivago, is a town in that book. So, as I'm sure you've guessed, it's freaking cold here. More on that some other time.

As some of you know, I am now living in a new room. There had been some issues with my old roommate that became very apperent this past fall, and as much as we tired to resolve them, I finally came to the conclusion that a switch was necessary. So last Monday, with the help of Sarah and Jessie, I moved into my new room. My roommate and suitmates are all very nice girls, and it's a great situation.

This is Jessie and Sarah, the two girls who helped me move. They're awesome!!
Opera Workshop performances are this weekend (whoo!!!!). Our dress rehearsal was yesterday, which went very well. Here are just a few pictures I took, and I promise there will be more after the performances are done.
The first photo is of me as Maurya in Vaughn Williams's Riders to the Sea, with Sarah Powell as Cathleen and Emily Thebaut as Nora. The second one is of Matt Kirby and Austin Barrett as Rodolpho in La Boheme (we're double-cast), and Katie Smiley as Nora in Riders.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bear Down Chicago Bears

Here's a treat for all of you: a video of The Super Bowl Shuffle from 1986. Go Bears!!!!!!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Semester's End

1 semester down, 1 to go. I finished my finals yesterday, and new classes start on Tuesday. I'm actually sad that I'm done with my Russian Lit class, and I hope that Psychological Lit can stack up to it. We read Crime and Punishment among other things, so it's got to be good. We finished up Russian lit with the poem Requiem by Anna Ahkmatova. It's one of the most powerful and haunting pieces I've ever read. It's so subtle in describing the Soviet regime, and yet she cuts the reader to the core. Opera is in two weeks, and then college auditions begin two weeks after that, with two in one weekend.

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

Book things

This is something I discovered from David. Get the nearest book and go to page 123, sentence 5. My nearest book was the French book that Seth gave me. On page 123, which happens to be the part of the book containing a section from Les Miserables, the sentence is this:

"Elle repondit."

It's quite interesting. Try it out!