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