Thursday, September 25, 2008

Random remarks on resting, recouping and regrouping

Often curious minds pose the question to me: "how on earth do you manage the endless, exhausting travel and the insane, demanding schedule?" The first thought that pounces to mind is, "Well, I'm not a working mom, so I don't have it THAT rough!" But there are definite challenges, and one of the big ones is the inevitable denoument after a big production and intensive period. It's not easy to say goodbye to friends, to pack YET AGAIN the dreaded, ragged luggage, and sadly leave behind the half-full bottle of olive oil that, despite your Herclean efforts, you simply couldn't finish - but that's not exactly a big newsflash, is it?

But let me point out one big positive thing: I am constantly given the opportunity to evaluate myself. Remember the good/bad ol' school days? (Yes, those distant memories?) The cycle of working through a full school year was fabulous because in the end, you received your grades to tell you where you succeeded (or failed), you wrote in your friends' yearbooks to thank them for their eternal, never-ending, "nothing will ever change" friendship, while even your sworn enemies could muster a bit of "well, you're not that bad" sentiment, and the now ill-fitting shoes showed that your body was (hallelujah!) doing it's job to graduate you into adulthood, which NEVER could get here quickly enough! (The stupidity of youth!) After the never-long-enough summer, believe it or not, I was always eager to get back and purchase the new books, meet the new teachers, and, let's be honest here, see if my ex-boyfriend was STILL going steady with PEGGY, that trollup, for whom he dumped me, the unmitigated nerve! What I loved about those cycles was the chance to evaluate the past - and then start OVER! You got a clean slate! Anything was possible come that last week of August!

Well, the work cycles of my life now are generally a bit shorter, but it affords me the chance to sort through what went well, what didn't, what I learned, what I enjoyed, the friendships that ignited, the others that suffered, and I am offered the opportunity to constantly learn. That's a gift for this curious mind. I'm not sure I'd be at all diligent enough on my own to make personal tune-ups if my schedule was a "9-5, 15th-year-on-the-job" situation, which is why in many ways, I embrace the difficulties of my life. Growth is never a bad thing ... unless all those fish and chips do it to your waist line ... but that's another story.

As you likely know, I've just completed one of the most intensive periods of my career so far - although this "period" seems to have lasted the past 18 months, I'm speaking primarily of the WHIRLWIND month that was my London term. It was hectic, filled to the rafters, and as stimulating, exciting time as I could ask for: I learned so much with each and every single performance (and phrase...and note...and syllable...) of Don Giovanni - the last show was nothing like the first, for me; the Wigmore recital was as special an evening as I could ever hope to have; momentum for (gulp!) my Handel disc is in full-swing (thank you fabulous Virgin/EMI team!); and I SURVIVED IT ALL! Saying goodbye to the wonderful cast and ROH team was bittersweet, but I was ready for a rest.

Enter: Ireland. Beautiful, astonishing, relaxing, greeeeeeeen, heavenly Ireland.

Even if my name may hint at Mediterranean blood, I'm green through-and-through. My Father's family came from Gallway and my Mother's from County Claire. In all my world travels, I had never before step foot on the Emerald Isle. What was I thinking??? Where has it been all my life??? I was in Wexford for 4 days of R&R (and visiting my husband who is set to open the GORGEOUS new theater conducting "Tutti in Maschera"!!) and it was HEAVEN. The sun shone as brightly as could be (don't anyone DARE tell me that it is ever different - let me just reside in my happy place, thinking that this paradise is the norm!!!), the people exuded gallons - or let's say KEGS - of charm and generosity, the air was fresh and cleansing, and the brown bread a work of simple perfection. Hiking, laughing, eating, drinking ... and SLEEPING ... that, my friends, is my recipe for recovery.

But, yes - this is my life, so it wasn't exactly all rest. (Please don't scold me!) I needed to also work up a new orchestral piece, which will serve as the vehicle for my KANSAS CITY SYMPHONY DEBUT! I haven't been this excited about a debut in a long time - it means a lot to finally be singing with the orchestra of my home town, the one my Dad used to drag me to against my will, and the one that is skyrocketing to new heights under the direction of Michael Stern and a wildly enthusiastic board. Trust me - Kansas City is about to be put on the map as our new performing arts center rises out of the ground and people start to see what a vibrant arts community we have! The piece is Chausson's exquisitely gossamer "Poème de l'amour et de la mer". rocks. Um...I REALLY love it. Um...may I please just sing this for the rest of my life, over and over again? The beautiful thing about my preparation for this was that the brand new theater in Wexford houses a rehearsal room that overlooks the sea. I'm not making that up. You see the sea from the piano. It's gorgeous - because remember, it's ALWAYS sunny and PERFECT in Ireland, right? Right! So as I sat at the keyboard and worked on the Chausson, the sea was calling me and serving as the perfect backdrop. Yes, I was "working", but it was also inspiring and invigorating - which could count as R&R, right?

The other reason I loved my trip to Ireland? They seem to have the whole American election thing sorted out:

Couldn't it just be this simple? (Again, just humor me here....)

One final note that may be of particular interest: on Sunday, Sept 28, Virgin Records is launching the, and I say this with all modesty, AMAZING new disc, Lamenti via a mini-film (or something along those lines - I haven't seen it, so I have no idea what it will actually be!) I invite you to a rendez-vous at 18:00 Paris time (noon in NY, 11:00 am in the midwest) to watch the debut of this disc. A few months ago I wrote about a recording session that was some of the most inspiring musical hours of my life. Well, it's finally here: I recorded Ottavia's lament, "Addio Roma" with Emmanuelle Haïm and I could not be more proud to be a part of her project. It's an abundance of riches: the disc boasts contributions from Rolando Villazon, Natalie Dessay, Philippe Jaroussky, Véronique Gens, Patrizia Ciofi, Topi Lehtipuu, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Laurent Naouri, and Christopher Purves all singing laments of Monteverdi, Cavalli and others. It is one of those special discs - listen with a nice glass of red wine, and keep a tissue near-by.

Before leaving you, I wish to share with you a most special video. Having experienced the joy of Ireland, I must balance it with the melancholy that also abides in their hearts. This is one of my most favorite songs ever, and there simply is not a better rendition anywhere. Enjoy!


Mei said...

I can't imagine reharsing Le temps du lilas with rainy weather...

John Kenneth Adams said...

Hi Joyce, Your comments about KC make me homesick. Perhaps I'll move back and enjoy that fabulous new arts complex. Two London Ladies, lontime friends, attended your dress,interview, and performance at CG. The comment was "She's Quite a Lady!" How's that for English Understatement. How about MORE pictures of YOU...the ones recently have added alot to your comments.. . especially the wonderful one with Sir Charles. Hope to catch one of your ventures soom! All Good Luck Always. John Adams

Robert said...

Will the Chausson ever appear on an album? It was wonderful to hear with the Kansas City Symphony.

Kenderina said...

Hope everything is going great now that you're singing at home ;) That should be exciting !

MG said...

As somebody who does both the singing thing and the mom thing, I can say that there are significant challenges to both, so don't consider that your success across your recent packed schedule isn't a huge triumph!! It most certainly is - brava to you.

And yeah, while "working mom" can be tough, a heavy travelling and performing schedule is every bit as hard both physically and emotionally, I think; sure, travelling is fun but "hi ho the glamourous life" and all that - there's no denying that, however exciting, satisfying and rewarding, it is WORK!

Again, congratulations to you!!

[Lilith] said...

Hi, Joyce! ^^

I saw the Lamenti video and your bit was amazing... I was about to cry! Thanks God it was a short bit, because I had a class afterwards and I wouldn't had been able to see the blackboard with teary eyes! lol That was seriously beautiful. Thank you ^^

Btw! I read in an opera magazine something about recording Vivaldi's 'Ercole su'l Termodonte'...? With Joyce DiDonato and Diana Damrau among others...? (You know I'm crazy about both of your voices. Shame Dessay won't sing in it... *Sigh*)

I hope this is not a secret! I mean, I read it in a magazine xD I'm SO eager to know when it will be recorded and released and all! It said it would be realesed next April, but in Spain CDs are always late...

What's AMAZING and certainly a secret is that I've been able to listen to the first aria of your 'Furore' (I have great friends) and I absolutely loved it! ^^ I will buy it as soon as it's available here (ahem, could you please hurry them up so it gets to Spain on date, please? lol)

Thanks again!



Yankeediva said...

Robert - I would love to record the Chausson at some point; I'll have to see if I could squeeze it in, as it was such a joy to perform here!

MG - your comments are very sweet. THANK YOU! And I MARVEL at how you can do it all!

And Irene - I don't think it's a terribly well-guarded secret anymore; I just never like to be the one to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak! But it is a STAR STUDDED recording which *should* be out next spring/early summer. I cannot WAIT to hear how it all turns out - they're finishing the recording in January.

Cheers! And as always, thank you all for the comments!

[Lilith] said...

Yaaaaaaay!!!!! ^^

I lacked this last 'official' confirmation to get overexcited LOL!

I can't figure out how you all manage to do everything without going nuts!

Diana, for instance, has recorded her 'Mozart Donna' AND the Vivaldi (maybe she still has to finish recording it?), and when I talked to her in Vienna this August she told me she was (understandably) longing for some holidays. And now she's in NY singing her Lucia debut...

'Cramazing' is definetely the most appropriate adjective for great singers! ;)

Fortunately, I only get this amazed about some of you guys. Tattoos are expensive! LOL
I hope you'll be back in Barcelona soon so I can show the tattoo to you! I know you'll be in Madrid, but maybe I won't be able to make it... Ach.

Anyway, thanks so much for the quick answer, and above all, for the magic of your singing!



Hariclea said...

Joyce i love what you say about change and growth! It is so scary but so rewarding! Thanks for sharing your Ireland with us :-) You definitely saw it at its best. And thanks for telling us about Kansas city, it is exciting to get to know it through your eyes. And so many new project, wow! you are Superwoman indeed ;-)))) Looooved the Addio Roma! Hugs!

Rachel Budde said...

I went to Ireland a couple of years ago, and it was sunny and gorgeous every day that I was there. I'm convinced it's the norm. Such a beautiful place, beautiful people, just a wonderful environment.

I'm glad you survived your month of craziness (and bow down in awe a little bit) and that you enjoyed it. Is it hard for you to pack up and leave every time? For me, sometimes I think the hardest part of singing is saying goodbye to castmates at the end of a production, and there's always that post-production fallout. Sometimes I wonder if that's a universal thing, or if I'm just a nut. :)

Enjoy your time at home, and I look forward to hearing more from you.