Saturday, October 16, 2010

I've moved!


Hello wonderful Yankeediva Readers!!

May I just take one moment to THANK YOU (each of you! Yes, YOU!) for taking the time to stop by and read my ramblings? It started off as a rather tentative venture YEARS ago, and has certainly been more successful than I ever could have imagined. Your interactive comments have helped me shape the direction of my writings, and your enthusiastic replies have always kept me motivated to write when I can.

Thank you!

But, in trying to streamline my life a bit, I've made a SLIGHT change: I've moved my blog over to my newly revamped website.


All future postings will now be posted on the NEW SITE. There is an option to subscribe on the NEW SITE, so you can stay updated and never miss a rambling missive from me, and you will still have the opportunity to comment on the postings as well - please continue to do so! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated!

I hope there will not be too much confusion over the new location, but it will make my life a bit easier, so I thank you for your understanding!

See you in cyberspace!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Positively WOW!

Well, they don't make weeks like that too often, and for good reason - I'm not sure the heart can take it! My previous week started out with an unbelievable amount of intensive, inspiring work, and ended with a day which inundated my emotions and rendered this chatty mezzo nearly speechless. (Well, nearly!)

Last Monday and Tuesday found me finishing up the final tracks for my next disc, and as exhaustion and fatigue set in, as they always do for the final days of the recording process, the work becomes a bit more grueling and challenging - all in the best ways. But the voice is tired, so you have to pace yourself with even more care and attention, and the brain power is wavering, so you must focus even more fiercely, and the body is giving into the fatigue, so grabbing the requisite rest as you can becomes even more paramount.

However, as always, the music is there to infuse you with power and energy. We spent the days with Berlioz, Gluck, and Massenet, and the familiar was paired with the new. For one aria I was hearing the orchestration for the very first time, because to my knowledge no recording of it currently exists, so everything on that piece was a complete discovery - both for me and the orchestra. (I can't wait for you to hear it - it's quirky and a bit bizarre, but fascinating to me!)

Next up on Wednesday was my debut in Lyon with the same concert we gave the week before in Paris, and I had a ball. Fatigue gave way to total immersion in the music and enjoyment in meeting this public for the first time in it's unique black-box of a theater. I can't tell you how amazing it was to look up during the signing afterwards and see young person after young person! You all are FABULOUS for coming out and bucking the trend of some other cities! I was truly amazed to see SO MANY young people, and that lifted my spirits quite high, I must say. Don't get me wrong - I love people of ALL ages coming out for any musical experience, but we hear so much doom and gloom these days about "aging audiences" (which I personally think is exaggerated) and I LOVED being surprised to see right before my very eyes the incarnation of concrete, intentional outreach and education manifest itself! I hope to return very soon to this wonderful city and will be MOST proud to have their wonderful Opera Orchestra and Music Director as my colleagues on this next disc!

Then what happened...? There was something else ... now, what was it? Oh yes, I made a quick trip to London. Just stopped off for a little luncheon, you know, as one does ... and then ... BOOM! I fell smack-dab into one of the most amazing and truly unforgettable afternoons of my life. I was surrounded by a room full of the movers and shakers in the recording industry - the people who are fighting vigorously and valiantly to forge ahead during what everyone says are uncertain times - a vibrant combination of heroes and visionaries and critics and fans and, most happily, friends, and that alone was cause for celebration. Record sales are continuing, thrilling new projects are being launched, music is still being created: it was definitely a "good news" event.

But then winners started being announced, and "good news" morphed into "Who did they just announce?" and "What did they just say?" and "Wait, wait, wait - that can't be!!" I was beyond thrilled to be announced as the winner in the Recital Category for my Rossini disc, and that alone was reason enough to celebrate and phone home. How happy I was to be able to thank all the people who helped make the dream disc of mine a reality, and have "Serious Rossini" being taken seriously! I was on a cloud.

But then the bomb dropped, and this is where I switched into - entirely innocently, mind you - Oscar Mode. I completely get why those Hollywood actresses walk up onto the stage and sniffle and blubber and babble incoherently, for the wave of emotion and disbelief and happiness truly overrides any sense of composure or dignity! I'm still really not sure what I said in accepting the "Artist of the Year" award, but I'm quite certain it centered on you. (That's you, the reader who is valiantly putting up with my babbling here!)

This particular award varies from the standard categories which are voted on by a jury of critics and editors associated with the Gramophone Magazine, in that it is voted on by you, the beautiful, opinionated, passionate public. (I do believe I invited you to cast your vote awhile back, for your favorite artist, but never did I actually think that my number of votes would put me into the top slot!) This was your award.

And so I'm quite sure that I made it a point to articulate to this roomful of power players that we must never, ever lose sight of WHO we are doing this for, of WHY it is vital that we carry on with integrity, vision and adventure, and how we must fight for not only the preservation of our industry, but allow for the exciting GROWTH of our industry as well. I do believe that I challenged them (as I will politely challenge you, as well!) to stay POSITIVE during all this talk of crisis and doom and gloom. I'm weary of all that. I know there is a reality to face, and I know we are all faced with certain challenges, but I hope we can find a way not to contribute to the spread of the fear and worry and panic, but that we can be leaders in remaining inventive and positive and joyful at the prospect of looking at the challenges we face and coming up with the most creative of solutions that will move us forward onto great things.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the power of thought, and how our thought patterns and processes can define us, often without our awareness. And I've been trying very hard to come up with one concrete example of where my negative thinking has produced any single thing of merit. In my personal experience, I'm pretty certain that the only thing it has produced is lethargy, suffering, inaction, woe and hopelessness. When I am facing something negative or difficult or challenging and painful, if I can somehow manage to shift my way of thinking away from despair to the positive side of things, then I somehow feel empowered to actually ACT, and to participate more fully in life. It's a simple, but somehow immensely powerful thing that I'm trying to foster, and so I felt compelled to throw that out there for the recording industry to ponder, and happily, you - you amazing, astonishing wonderful supporters - you gave me the platform to say it.

You humble me, you charge me up, and you make me feel unspeakable amounts of gratitude for your vote of confidence. That's the kind of thing that carries an artist through down times, knowing that the work they put in is not falling on arid ground - it's being received and welcomed. So I owe each and every one of you a very profound and sincere "Thank you", "Merçi, "Danke", "Grazie mille", "Muchas Gracias", "Arigato gozaimasu", "Děkuji", "Dank u well", "Obrigada", "Multumesc", "Спасибо", etc!

The other highlight, and boy do I mean highlight, was performing with Maestro Antonio Pappano, who won the choral category for his latest "Verdi Requiem". We tossed off a little "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", and boy were those words ever true that day! "Somewhere", indeed.

But now it's back to work (Hello, Rosenkavalier score!) and that includes happily building the excitement for the next, thrilling new release:

Word on the street is that the Maestro is overjoyed with the results! I don't think he'd mind at all picking up another award next fall back at the Dorchester!

Photos: ©Mark Harrison

OH! PS!!! In case you haven't heard, the NEW WEBSITE HAS OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED!!! Hope you enjoy the results of a LOT of work!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

One of those weeks...

One of those delicious, indescribable, unforgetable, "please can't they all be like this" weeks has just come to a close, and while I'm very happy to be settling into my hotel room with a rented movie on itunes waiting for me and room service on its way, I did want to put a few thoughts down about why a week like this blows my mind.

I promise you, it just doesn't get old ~ at least not yet, it doesn't ~ and certainly not when the level of music making rises to such beautiful heights and everyone involved finds pure JOY in the sometimes arduous, but ultimately uplifting and invigorating process. I've completed 5 of 9 recording sessions for my new disc, as well as giving a concert of a handful of highlighted arias in Paris, and I don't want it to end. I'm very fortunate to have an orchestra that, under the baton of Maestro Kazushi Ono, is extremely well prepared, proficient and eager, so all that is left to do is to play, to make choices, to find new levels of expression and new layers within the music.

If I were recording a full-length opera, as I've done in the past, I would blog about the process of recording each individual aria, but I don't want, yet, to give TOO much away. I will say, however, that it is a project I'm IMMENSELY excited about. My first two solo discs for Virgin Classics were very specifically themed explorations of a single composer around a single "idea" (Furore for Handel, and Arias for Isabella Colbran for Rossini). This time I wanted to spread my wings a bit more.

I've had a tremendously varied repertoire ever since my early days in Houston, even if it seems that I've dedicated most of my time to the worlds of Handel and Rossini, and so I wished to find a way to present "the rest of me" that was cohesive and interesting, with composers that reflect my musical appetite and roles that I have spent some time around.

The cumulative result will be (provided the coming 4 sessions go off without a hitch!) a real peek into the world of a mezzo-soprano (more or less), who usually spends half of her time in pants, and the other half in skirts, with composers to include Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Berlioz, Massenet, Offenbach, Gounod and Strauss. Ah ... it's just bliss, really. It's a HUGE undertaking, but truly, it is unblemished bliss.

This morning I started my day with a harp, 6 cellos and a few woodwinds attempting to create an ethereal, transparent, intimate mood about the poetry and ecstasy of love, followed by beating Satan at his own game, and finishing up with a lone clarinet, avowing to kill for love. Are you kidding me with all of this?

I had the afternoon off today (that's rare!) and because it was raining here in GORGEOUS Lyon (what a delightful city this is ~ such a discovery for me!), which meant no Lyonaisse Photo Safari for me, I had some fun answering more questions for my video blog over on my Youtube channel. Feel free to explore and offer your comments!

In the meantime, the launch of my new website is crawling towards the big launch ~ so stay tuned! What a fun period this is!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Passing By

It is with great, slightly belated pleasure that I announce the release of a new disc on which I had the extraordinary privilege of participating: please give a hearty welcome to Jake Heggie's most recent compilation of his compositions for voice and piano, with a string quartet thrown in for fun entitled PASSING BY.

As if exploring new music and poetry wasn't incentive enough, he managed to draw an unbelievable line-up of singers, including Susan Graham and the legendary Frederica von Stade, to bring these pieces their world premiere recording. Jake has written an incredibly witty, gritty, heart-wrenching cycle of 4 Mother-Daughter duets - Susan joins Flicka for two, and I join her for the others, and if I tell you it was, without a doubt one of THE highlights of my musical life to sing these pieces alongside her, I think you'll understand why, once you give them a listen.

As fate dictated, I recorded them while I was in San Francisco performing Der Rosenkavalier (yes - over 3 years ago!) and my own Mother had just passed away the previous month. To sing next to Flicka as she urged me with her plangent voice to "Let it go, let it out of your heart..." the entire reason for music to exist was confirmed solidly and immovably for me, for it gave emotion to the things I was not yet ready to comprehend. I still can't quite manage to listen to the duet "Facing Forward" all the way through, and yet it was one of the most therapeutic gifts I've ever been given.

Broadening my horizons

I am currently a bit inundated with reams of notes and words being sung into a very perceptive microphone, all which will hopefully be for the benefit of your listening pleasure in a few months, so my writing capacity is a bit dimmed for the moment.

I CAN, however, easily post a few photos from the most lovely of trips to Istanbul. It was a magical trip, and one which captivated me from beginning to end with its mystique, exotic charm, abundance of history, and warmth of people.

Not to be missed, the Hagia Sophia ~ dedicated in 360 - first as a church, later a mosque, and currently a breathtaking museum:




Having the great honor and pleasure to sing at the St. Irene 6th Century Basilica took my breath away. It's hard to imagine a more mystical setting to sing "Amarilli", or enter into the drama of Desdemona's Willow Song:

6th Century Atmosphere

Domed Platform

As a side note to all concert presenters, both present and future hopefuls: thinking of EVERYTHING really, REALLY counts! A 6th century church may not be too modernized, but with the help of portable units, any and all emergencies can be accounted for:

A short trip to the Grand Bazaar did not disappoint, as I found some fabulously exotic lamps to bring home with me as the perfect souvenir for this lovely trip. But that wasn't the best part. I luckily had a local negotiator, and now dear friend, with me who assured that I would be given the best price and be well taken care of - this was a definite bonus. But I never, ever could have been prepared for what happened the next day: having exchanged business cards with each other, this lovely salesman called my guide to say that his boss had negotiated a better shipping rate and that he would like to refund me €35. Cash.

I don't think anything in Istanbul impressed me as much as that, and considering the wealth of beauty and discovery waiting there, that's saying quite a lot.

A few minor updates:

*the re-launch of my newly designed website is looming, which will affect the design of my blog and various other undertakings! Don't let it throw you - once all sorted, it will still be me, and I'll be writing and posting as usual - when I can, and when I have the time!!!

*In case you don't know of it, there is a "Fan Page" on Facebook - for those of you brave enough to face the chaos of Facebook, you'll find it a very fun and interactive place to quickly catch up on things - like the announcement of the theme of my new disc I'm currently recording!! Feel free to come join in the festivities ... although this, too, is soon to be revamped a bit!

That's it for the moment! I must now go spend more time with Orfeo! Poor me!!! ;-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The beautiful, inspiring good news about the Arts in today's world

Please allow me to share this inspired, thought-provoking talk given by Ben Cameron - another gold mine from the astonishing TED team. There seems to be so much pessimism about what is happening in the world of the arts - is there any hope? I found this passionate talk to be direct and uplifting and a bull's eye challenge to those of us that care about our world, to continue to forge ahead with our music and dance and poetry and life. I hope that if you enjoy it, you can help spread the word:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Broadcast Alert and random thoughts

Well, that didn't take long! I blinked and my next season is starting up already! I know I'm certainly not alone with the thoughts that time flies, but this time it seemed to explode into oblivion! Our vacation was simply sublime, but our time at HOME was even better. It's amazing what that does to refresh the spirit, ground the heart, and remind me that I, occasionally, have a very lovely domestic side!

One of the things I love about my life is that I feel I have the chance to share a small part of my world with other people. I have a number of nieces and nephews who haven't yet had the chance to travel the world (how I hope they will!), and sharing photos and observations of the countries/cultures I see helps broaden their horizons just a bit, after all, to quote the great Mark Twain - a native Missourian - "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." Well, we can certainly use a bit more of that around these days.

But I'm also fiercely proud to be a native Kansas Citian and quite boastfully put my city up against many of the more famous cities around the world where I pay a lot to rent their hotel rooms. "Why," you may ask? There are a number of reasons, but perhaps the top of the list belongs to the sky: the glorious, expansive ocean of sky that hovers above and constantly changes in its dramatic, unpredictable, vast, astonishing, and humbling way:

*Taken with my i-phone!*

The other reason is that an incredible community of generous people thrives there and works tremendously hard to make it a better place. I had the great privilege of spending time with several of them while home and it reminded me of how a great city is built - by people with bold vision and undaunted determination.

Outside our window I can see the birthing of our new Performing Arts Center which has come a LONG way since they first dug the hole in the ground. It is being financed by these amazing movers and shakers who have weathered the incredible financial climate of the past few years to see this building come to fruition. People who know the value of the arts to a society, who have fought against all odds to bring it to a town who perhaps doesn't boast of the glamour of New York City, but who proudly and rightly defends its quality and vision and pushes forward.

Sure the sunset was stunning that night, but seeing "my" new playground there in the corner come to life made it all the more thrilling!!!

Before I forget! Tonight you may listen, via the tireless and astonishing BBC Radio, to the recital that David Zobel and I gave at the Usher Hall for the Edinburgh Festival just a few weeks ago. It was a BLAST of a concert for us: we had the joy of revisiting our "Amore" recital that started in chilly Madrid back in January, and it has certainly heated up over the months. I fell head over heels in love with that program and will miss it greatly, so it's nice to have the chance to share it with you here, tonight.

7:00 pm London time - I'm afraid you'll have to do the math for where you are in the world..I'm WAY too jetlagged to get it correct!!

Speaking of which, I've safely arrived in Istanbul (ISTANBUL!!!!) for a recital on Thursday night which officially kicks off my next season! Next up: Lyon for my next RECORDING, Paris for another concert, because it's been TOO long since I've last sung there ;-), and hopefully the launch of my new website!!! It's all terribly exciting! But if I feel homesick, I can return here and revisit my amazing Kansas City Sky!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010


First of all, a few stats about my last 5 months:

2 torn ligaments
1 ankle surgery
1 pair of crutches and 2 walking casts
5 countries
2 new roles (oh, I love you ladies!)
2 new productions
1 revival, whose premiere coincided with the year of my birth
26 shows
2 magical recitals
1 thrilling recording
6 CD signings (thank you for coming out!)
Countless interviews (in French, Italian and English)
1 book dedication (shout out to Donna Leon for the coolest thing EVER!)
1 amazing Carbonara w/ Tartufo (Courtesy of my husband!)

*Saying good-bye to the trusted, sturdy boot*

I don't know when I've ever experienced a period as intensive, complete, rewarding, challenging, uplifting, tiring, or thrilling as this, before. I will admit to being a bit overwhelmed. I feel quite happy to have ended the summer still STANDING (yes!) and feeling strong and energized. In fact, I feel that I finished the summer with more energy than I started it with - hence this mini-boom in technology on my part!

Artistically I feel that I've done some of the best work I've ever done this past summer, and I don't say that to brag; simply that I recognize that I took some significant leaps forward artistically, and I believe that is to do with the challenging new roles which I relished learning, with the wonderful conductors I have collaborated with, and the great artists with whom I have shared the stage. I felt it was a summer of constant learning and growing from these "teachers" and I made it a point to soak up each moment - and now that it has come to an end, I can can feel the fruits of being present in each and every one of these events.

*A summer of beautiful collaborations*

Last night as I walked out onto the stage of the Usher Hall at the Edinburgh Festival, I took my normal 20-25 minutes on stage by myself. It is very nearly my favorite moment of the night.

An expectancy bubbles over in the air, and I get to sit at the piano and just feel the space for a bit, before the energy of the crowd descends on the hall. Last night I knew it would be a great recital, and indeed, there was an extraordinary feeling in the hall. Both David and I felt a freedom in the music-making that can only come from repeated performances, and a long collaboration with a trusted music-mate. It was bliss, and the absolutely perfect conclusion to a summer that fed me deeply in many, many ways.

I am now officially on vacation, so you won't hear from me for awhile. But I'll be recouping and resting and rejuvenating and reveling in time at home with my husband and family and friends. It's been a long time coming and I plan in drinking every moment in to the fullest!

I want to thank you all for the wonderful, enthusiastic support you have showered me with during this past season, and I hope that it will only get better and better from here on out!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Sublime Surreality

Yesterday was our final "dress rehearsal" (we oddly still refer to the final rehearsal for concerts as a "Dress", even when costumes aren't involved), but because the Edinburgh Festival is such a hotbed of activity with over 240 classical music performances in the span of a few short weeks, rehearsal space is at a real premium. As a result, we soloists, the Maestro, Sir Roger Norrington, and the whole of the stunningly wonderful Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Festival Chorus were hauled out to a local Junior High School, and we preformed a nearly uncut version of Mozart's Idomeneo, surrounded by brightly colored poles, construction paper mosaics of various animals, petites toilets and paper trees praising the efforts of various students for "improved handwriting" and "finishing the race". It was incredibly surreal to be singing such a heart-wrenching drama under paper penguins and basketball goals, but somehow it all worked:


Elettra, the fiercely wonderful Emma Bell, stands next to a pole that reads "Responsible Citizenship". Hardly a candidate for that, I would venture (Elettra, that is - Emma is a lovely citizen!):

Elettra = Responsible Citizen

The ravishing Rosemary Joshua as Ilia, sings under the watchful horns of a Rhino. Naturally:

Sopranos and Rhinos

And of course the basses endure the Marching of the Penguin above them:

March of the Penguins over the Celli

It's always the little things, isn't it?

Speaking of education, this is off topic, but I found the following video endlessly interesting, revolutionary and one of the most intelligent, hopeful and improbable things I've seen in a long time:

And finally, a bit more on topic, but also intensely related to the above video. Tonight's performance of Idomeneo will be dedicated to the late, and truly great Sir Charles Mackerras. His presence has been deeply felt during this week of rehearsals and will surely be quite overwhelming this evening. We singers have been speaking non-stop of his deep impact on us as musicians, and it's clear that his impact on not only the music business, but on the many people he touched during his enormous life was beyond profound. I am eternally grateful that the world experienced his passion, his expertise, his enthusiasm, his creativity, and his youthful spirit - all the things Ken Robinson is trying to salvage in his approach to education. I know I am richer for it. And I'm certain that of all people, Sir Charles would have loved making music underneath penguins. Ain't life grand?

Tonight is for you, Sir Charles - I hope we will do you proud!

P.S. If you liked the above video, here is his sequel from a few years later:

Salzburg Recap

No, it never gets old to think of taking part of something so historic and profound:


We were blessed with amazing weather while in this lovely city: for highlighting those steeples and orange roofs, blue skies by FAR beat out those gray ones!

Blue sky, in Salzburg?! Ja Ja

The road trip to Salzburg involved a stop at a roadside rest stop where I saw surely the world's largest jar of Nutella. It was only 33€ and I tried to convince my husband that it was a REAL bargain! He didn't let me buy hips were relieved, but I was personally devastated!

A look back in time:

Creating memories

I'm not always a good tourist when I visit new cities. Often my tolerance for fighting the feisty crowds and predictable gift shops is non-existent after having done it for so many years, but we simply had to stop into the house where Mozart was born. I don't care how jaded one is, it's still powerful to think that this was the spot in the universe where some sort of access to the divine was born. The "doorbell" outside the front door not only is a cool design, but I couldn't help but think that these were surely some of the first musical sounds little Wolfgang ever heard:

First sounds

Don't tell anyone, but I secretly snapped this photo of his spinnet where numerous of his early compositions were supposedly created. It totally gave me chills. (And it's not a bad photo, considering I was holding the camera at hip level, with my back turned to it!!!!):

Mozart's Spinnet

Shopping in Salzburg - mercifully my bags were already exceedingly overweight, so purely from a technical standpoint I was prohibited from doing any damage. However, I did still covet - and I tend to covet things I'll never, ever be able to wear again:

I covet

And finally, the raison-d'être: a magical, memorable performance of my first Adalgisa. After the 2nd concert, I shared with Edita Gruberova that this was a most unforgettable experience for me, and that I would never forget sharing the stage with her. Her response carries quite a message: "Well, we do work hard, don't we?"

Danke for the most wonderful 2 weeks, Salzburg! I hope to see you before too long!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Things Change, Jo"

In 1998 the Houston Opera Studio premiered the now nearly standard repertoire opera, "Little Women" by Mark Adamo. It challenged us greatly at the time, but seeing that it has enjoyed numerous performances now makes me quite happy that we were in on the ground level. I sang the character of "Meg" (even though I REALLY wanted to be "Jo"!), and found that in the end, it was definitely the right fit. Meg's big tune was about change, and the title of the aria, "Things Change, Jo" has become my go-to catch phrase for a lot of situations.

1998 was my final year in the Houston Opera Studio, and after 2 life-changing, challenging, formative years I was "ready" to embark on a professional career. I spent a good portion of that final spring singing for management and hoping to be picked up by one of the "good ones". I had all my recommendation letters lined up, audition repertoire polished to the nth degree, and I thought surely it would happen easily - after all, I was a recent graduate from the Houston Opera Studio - my fate was SURE!

Well, it didn't happen the way I had envisioned it. In fact, it was the antithesis of what I expected. I was not accepted onto any of the NY rosters that I auditioned for. I was the only alumni of that year to leave the program without management. I had a few jobs lined up, but the all-important A G E N T (cue the scary music, please!) was nowhere to be found. I found myself in Hamburg in June of that year, feeling quite a bit the odd mezzo out, and sang my heart out for Placido Domingo's Operalia competition - surprisingly, coming in 2nd place. But it was the call the following Monday morning that was my first big "Things Change, Jo" moment.

A British sounding voice introduced himself as "Simon Goldstone from IMG Artists in London", and suavely continued with "I think you're terrific and want to represent you for world wide management." I was completely taken aback, because I had #1: never heard of him, and #2: certainly hadn't sent him any of my carefully prepared and organized materials! Where was this guy coming from? After he shot down my argument of "But you're not a NY Agent" with the canny answer, "You do realize we have opera over here, as well, Joyce", I decided to meet him and hear him out.

Within the month I was on his roster, and he had moved quickly to organize a rush of European Auditions. Simon and I have since taken a wild, crazy, surprising and immensely rewarding journey together, and the idea that we still just might have a long way to go is quite exciting. We share a lot of the same philosophies and that has made for a very smooth ride. A few of the nuggets he passed on to me early on:

Me: "But Simon, I thought opera singers made good money - why aren't I making good fees?"
SG: "Joyce, don't worry - you do the work, the money will follow."

Me: "But Simon, I don't understand - why does it seem that everyone is moving faster than me?"
SG: "Joyce, don't worry - keep doing the work, we're building a long term career here, not something that takes off and crashes after 4 years."

Me: "But Simon, why are all these other people getting recording contracts and they're passing me over?"
SG: "Joyce, don't worry: your time will come."

Me: "But Simon, what else do I have to do to get noticed?"
SG: "Joyce, don't worry: you keep doing what you're doing, they WILL get it...eventually."

But what does a manager do? How do you know if they are the right one for you?

Well, I can tell you what they don't do: They cannot GET the job for you - that's our responsibility. But, if they have a reputable, reliable relationship with the theaters, and if they have developed a certain level of trust, when they say to the company just before your audition, "Watch out for this one - she's special," they just MIGHT listen to you with slightly more open ears.

They cannot get you rehired - that's our responsibility, (and ultimately, that is where all your work will come from anyway!) They cannot MAKE a career happen (or at least a sustainable career!), that's our responsibility. And they cannot MAKE you a star - in the end, only the public can do that.

But they CAN guide you, and lead you, and protect you, and be your ears, and give you critical, honest feedback, help sustain your morale when you've been beaten down, and occasionally, if you need it, be the shoulder that you lean on when all your loved ones are in another land. And when they are the right one, I think you'll just know. If you ever have to force it, it will never quite mesh they way you'll want it to, so you have to listen to your gut.

I've now been with Simon for 12 years - wow, a full dozen! - and the journey has been grander than I ever could have imagined. It's also been a helluva a lot of fun, as we've made sure to enjoy ourselves along the way. So when he told me that he had an amazing opportunity with a wonderful "boutique" agency in London, I didn't hesitate - I proudly and eagerly said, "let's go!" Things change, and I've slowly come to realize that changes are AMAZING. I don't think I've had one change in my life that didn't lead me to exactly where I needed to be, regardless of whether I knew it at the time or not. This is a bigger change for Simon than it is for me, but I know that he shares the same philosophy as well - Things change, Jo, but that can be a great thing!

So as he made the transition with elegance and class, openly and professionally, without scandal or controversy, I knew that I would remain in wonderful hands and be most happy to share in his excitement of new opportunities and adventures!

So it is with great pleasure that I now officially announce that I am an Intermusica Artist, and happily continue on this journey. I do wonder what the next 12 years might bring....!

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Experiment

Let's see if I end up enjoying this...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why rain is good

It would appear that after our 3 heavenly, gorgeous sunny days here in Salzburg we may have consumed all the sunshine for our 2-week allotment. That does make me a bit sad, but it's imperative to remember why the rain is necessary and, in fact, sublime!

At a recent dinner party (oh God, it was good! And the recipe can be found in the new Opera Singer's Cookbook: Die Oper Kucht!) I couldn't get enough of the gorgeous flowers that were abundantly and proudly strutting their stuff. I leave you in peace to enjoy the hard labors of the rain that so dutifully falls on this lovely, historic, sonorific town!



Present and Future




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