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.