Friday, November 30, 2007

Gratitude - Day 15

So I realize I've gotten a few days behind on my postings, due to travel and lack of (aaaaargh!) high speed internet. You see, yesterday was the PERFECT reason of why I decided to do this 'Gratitude Journal', because truly, it was a sucky day. I arrived in Paris yesterday morning to an enormous traffic jam, so what should have been a 25 minute journey morphed into a nearly 2 hour tour of the scenic suburbs. (As the meter rose to a heated crescendo, I disciplined myself not, under any circumstance, to convert the ever increasing number into dollars!) After several failed attempts at closing my eyes, courtesy of the impatient taxi driver's frequent outbursts of both speed and curse, I thought I might be able to get some work done, so I pulled out the music I was meant to rehearse that afternoon. Whether it was the jet lag, fatigue, or the sudden pulses forward, this traveller did NOT fare well mixing the reading and the driving, and proceeded to get sick. Fabulous way to start my time in Paris.

I made it to the hotel, the one with the broken internet connection, and got a quick 30 minute Churchill-style power nap in, and proceeded to open my suitcases to organize myself for the rehearsal. "That's strange," I thought to myself, "my jewelry container is open .... and .... oh holy %&#*$ ... and ... it's totally empty!" Wait, "Surely it just slipped out of its zipped pouch, and out of the zipped pocket I keep it in ... surely .... surely ... I've been totally ransacked."

Yes. It's true. I normally carry 3 different 'containers' of my jewelry with me - and we're not talking diamonds and rubies, etc - simply my every day items, plus my 'stage' jewelry, which I happened to have loved. I normally spread out the boxes in my luggage, zip it, tuck it away, etc, and in over 15 years of heavy travel, I've never had a problem. Well, now someone ELSE has a problem with the terrible karma they just incurred! They broke into both of my bags, ransacked it all, and took every last piece. I am really glad I know how to curse in so many different languages!

So, it comes time to post for the 'gratitude journal', and you know what? It worked! I quickly realized that in the broad scheme of things, it's so miniscule and minor and unimportant. I feel very violated, I have a surge of feelings regarding the stupid, pointless, degrading antics we have to go through like trained seals to pass through a "security" checkpoint at the airport meanwhile the workers in the back get free reign over our private items as if it were their own personal holiday shopping spree, and I do get quite tired of putting my belongings at risk each time I step out the door.

However, it is still rare that this happens, and the fact remains that in all my travels, I have been quite fortunate. I have also never been one to put a lot of stock in physical things, so this particular loss of 'bling' ultimately means nothing. (And if anyone is wondering why I didn't carry them on-board with me, I know...I know...I know...but in the end, we can only carry so much on-board with us.)

So, I took a few photos of the empty boxes lying carelessly in my luggage for any claim issues and went to rehearsal - tired, pissed off, and really, really jet-lagged. Singing was the very last thing in the world I felt like doing. But damn that Handel! After roughly 5 minutes of hearing the horns punch out their hunting calls in "Sta nell'ircana", my mood was lifted and indeed, I felt grateful. I also felt grateful posting this picture I took in the morning of the sunrise. Nothing ever seems that bad when we get a bit of perspective, right? Except for the bastard who stole all my things -- that karmic retribution is going to bite him in the ....... Gratitude. Right. I'll work on it!

Gratitude - Day 14

I'm so grateful for New York City - what an amazing, energizing place! I went in for a few voice lessons (more on that in a later posting), and took in the new "Iphegenie" at the MET, which was a very exciting evening to attend, and got my "New York Fix" to carry me through the winter!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gratitude - Day 13

A good friend of mine has a fabulous Provençal restaurant, "Café du Soleil" at 104th and Broadway in NYC, and I met a dear friend of mine there for dinner tonight, giving us a chance to enjoy amazing food (a heavenly "casserole du champignons") and great company - gratitude abounds!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gratitude - Day 11

I'm definitely grateful to have the chance to bake in my very own kitchen - not a rented space, not a borrowed pan or spoon - all mine! In this case, the craving was for cinnamon rolls, and I caught the dough just before being rolled together.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gratitude - Day 10

I am grateful for light, in all its forms.


In honor of all the left over turkey breast today, here is a fascinating, almost surreal video wherein some of the Grand Italian Divas offer their opinions on the use (or non-use) of the chest voice. Fascinating on so many levels! ENJOY!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gratitude - Day 9

Part of the fabulous tech crew of "Ariodante"; this was my 4th time at the opera house, and now it truly is like coming home to family which makes performing here a joy. To steal from a contemporary advert: that, my friends, 'is priceless'.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

(I think technically I've fallen one day behind, but on transatlantic travel days, I'll cut myself a little slack!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gratitude - Day 8

I'm grateful for actually being able to celebrate someone's birthday on their actual birthday-day!

Normally I miss all the big occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, bar mitzvahs, you name it) and so to be a part of the celebration in a non-belated fashion is a real treat. It was also a nice way for our cast to have a final outing before heading our separate ways on Thursday. The gathering was at "Carosello", and if you're ever in Geneva, I can't recommend their pizza enough - particularly the "Pecorino/Rucola" pizza.

In the meantime, "Happy Birthday, girls" - it has been a joy sharing these long, 8 weeks together!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gratitude - Day 7

"Comfortable shoes"

It's lovely to be able to wear shoes like this on stage and not worry about tripping over stiletto heels for once. (Sadly, I have a bit of a reputation as a 'tripper', as I can count 4 sprained ankles from the role of Rosina, alone!) But these 'tea-stained' tennis shoes, along with my khaki pants and bomber jacket complete my transformation of feeling like Ellen Degeneres singing Ariodante! (And I love Ellen, mind you! I'd love to see her dancing to "Dopo Notte"!)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Note to self:

"Treat every show as if it were a broadcast!"

Last night we sang our 4th performance of "Ariodante" here in Geneva, and conventional wisdom would probably say it was our best show: what is it about the thrill of knowing your voice is going out live into the Universe, no re-takes, no 'patch session', just live, direct, immediate theater? I think I stumbled upon one of the reasons why I love this new technological wizardry last night: there is absolutely nothing else to rely upon to convey the story - simply the voice. Of course, this is the 'old-fashioned' approach to singing, which some might reasonably argue is a lost art - the art of text painting, vocal coloring, heart-breaking phrasing. Today a great deal of emphasis seems to be on furniture acting, trench coats, and the all-too-quick dismissal of 'literal interpretations of the text' which somehow has become 'banal' or 'passè'.


Don't call me a convert to that approach. I survived 3 years of studying under one of those (gasp!) old-fashioned Maestros who, for sport it seemed, used to send singers (like me) home in tears because they wouldn't open or close their vowels enough, or because they were too preoccupied about making a 'pretty sound' and couldn't take a white or black color far enough to truly express the devastation of "son MMMMmorta". It was not a unique experience for me to recoil in rage or frustration because I couldn't get all that he was asking for, professing all the time that he expected "too much". Those were 3 of the toughest years in my musical life. But his is a voice that now, in the heat of the moment, continues to echo in the hollows of my head; when I know a broadcast is coming up, I can see his white-hot eyes burning 3 inches from my face, wider than a Michelin tire, screaming, "MEZZO!! OPEN THAT VOWEL! I DON'T HEAR IT IN THE VOICE!!! QUIT AAAACTING AND LET ME HEAR IT IN YOUR VOICE." (He probably couldn't hear it, because all I could think at the time was "Don't cry. Joyce, don't you DARE cry!")

Perhaps I remember it harsher than it actually was (however, I'm pretty sure that's not the case), but isn't it ironic that years later, his is the guiding voice I return to for how I approach roles today? All the little red marks under the text in my score are what I would imagine he would scream for. And the longer I do this, the more I believe in his philosophy, the more I realize I have to learn, and the higher I set the bar for myself. A broadcast like last night serves to remind me that someone listening in Akron, Ohio (or, literally, in URUGUAY!) should be just as involved in the dramatic action, as someone sitting in the front row of the Grand Theâtre here in Geneva. It's not that I don't give my all for a perfomance without microphones at the front of the stage - not at all; instead, it's the knowledge that the folks tuning in on their PC's and MAC's at home have ONLY the voice to tell them the story, sadly without the aid of those character-revealing trench coats. (Sarcasm intended.) THAT is real acting, me thinks.

In the meantime, got this photo of our soprano with the famous, fire-red hair getting into makeup:

Gratitude - Day 6

Champagne & Candlelight

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gratitude - Day 5

I am grateful for concealer - nothing else needs to be said!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The show will go on. Oh YES. It WILL go on!

I once wondered out-loud here in my blogging world (or should that by 'typed' out loud?), what listeners would think if they knew what was going on in the minds of performers at any given moment during a performance; the mental cacophony would challenge even the most atonal of 21st Century composers!! But last night the backstage area buzzed and bustled with intrigue and exceptional happenings, making for a challenging, "I'm glad this one is over" performance!

First up: the weather change: a very stubborn and insistent northern wind took up camp in Geneva yesterday, playing havoc with vocal cords, temperaments, and over-all mood. It was the kind of blustery, gray day straight out of Winnie the Pooh's playbook that seemed intent on squelching all energy, trying in vain to seduce you to remain under the covers wasting the day away, eating junk food -- the furthest possible thing from princes, betrayals, and da capo arias.

Next up: a mini-cancellation. Sadly one of our singers had been fighting a cold since the opening night (although no one listening in would have been privy to that annoying obstacle!), and during our second performance, the cold won out in the third act, claiming victory over the singer's vocal cords. A quick visit to the doctor confirmed the assessment that the prudent decision would be not to sing the third performance in order to be back in the game for the rest of the shows. (No singer EVER likes to be in this position - but we are all susceptible at any time, any where.) The solution for this 3rd performance was to have our singer deliver the recitatives, while an imported singer (from Magic Flute, currently in rehearsals) sang the role from the stage. That singer had 1 day to learn the role. And so here you have the original singer 'walking the part' to a voice which is not her own, the substitute essentially sight-reading and trying to fit in with a staging/setting she has never seen before, an orchestra accompanying a new singer with no rehearsal, and an audience seamlessly processing everything as a finished performance. (Perhaps the impromptu nature of this staging was actually enhanced by these improvisations?) For the record: BRAVA to both singers for pulling off a very difficult situation with incredible bravura and committment!

Thirdly: a pain the back! During the second intermission I heard calls over the PA for doctors, nurses, staff, you-name-it, and immediately alarm bells go off. Another of our singers had been fighting terrible back pain over the past few days, (undoubtedly made worse by Old Man Winter) and it managed to hit a crescendo during the 2nd Act, so the prospect of singing another act was apparently coming into question. Evidently the brilliant Swiss doctors worked their magic, because the 3rd Act went off without a hitch, and certainly the audience had not a clue that anything was amiss. Again - what a pro, singing through pain like that. BRAVA!

Finally, a sticky topic, which I probably should avoid altogether, but like a grotesque, firey car wreck, I just can't avoid it: If someone asks me, "Do you read your reviews?", I'm 100% honest and respond, "Why yes, I do." But the next thing out of my mouth is that I take EACH and EVERY ONE of them with a LARGE grain of salt. If they are good, I will use them liberally and purposefully, for it is simply part of the business. If they are bad, I'll *try* and honestly assess if I think there is a grain of truth in it, or at least attempt to understand what the critic's point of view was, hoping there is something constructive at the heart of it from which I can learn.

But in the end, it is simply and uniquely ONE person's point of view, and the reality is that in no way, shape or form do I sing for the critics -- their tickets are free, after all. I sing for the folks who fork out the cold, hard cash. Period. However, it would be naive to think that reviews, whether written well or not, whether educated and informative or not, do not still hold a place of importance in our business. (And let it be said, I'm always grateful for the kind word - no mistake about it!) Anyone following our performances of "Ariodante" here in Geneva will discover that we have not received stellar reviews for this production. (I'll reserve my opinon on whether I agree with their point of view or not for my unauthorized biography when I'm long gone from the stage.) But right or wrong,I can feel the effect of those reviews on the cast, and I think, even on the audience, for overall, I sense a feeling of disconnect from the public. (In fairness, even the Genevoise public will admit that perhaps they are not the most likely audience to break into a frenzied ovation at the drop of a hat - but they are an educated, appreciative bunch of whom I have grown very fond.) If the cast senses that the show will not be a HUGE, ROUSING, OFF-THE-CHARTS success at the end of the evening, it's a bit of a trial to find the energy to zip up your costume and emerge from the wings ready to dazzle the audience.

However, here at the bottom line there is indeed great news: the music is the unquestionable winner in this, and THAT is no small victory! We have a very special cast in this show from veterans to newbies, and even when the morale-meter has wavered a bit on the low side, we come together, sing this music with great respect and enjoyment, and play the staging for all it is worth, relishing the interactions on stage and the glorious, challenging, profound music that was written nearly 250 years ago. Any chance to see or hear "Ariodante" is not one to be missed, and I think having weathered a tough, up-hill performance like last night will serve to lift us all up for The Big Broadcast tomorrow, and we will have an outstanding remaining three performances.

In the end, little hiccups such as these simply serve to make my job all the more interesting, and make me smile at the end of the night thinking, "The audience had no idea!"


*The blustery north wind coming in to bring a beautiful sunset view outside my window

*Getting into make-up while discussing life's dilemas
(photo by Leonardo Vordoni)

Gratitude - Day 4

One of the most haunting, complex, rich arias in all of opera: "Scherza infida" from Handel's "Ariodante". To say I'm 'grateful' to be able to sing this piece of music seems a tad 'trite', perhaps, but it is the unadulterated truth. As with most Handel arias, the range of interpretive possibilities seems endless, so one can employ countless colors, shades and meanings that change with each performance. Perhaps the opportunities are even greater with this particular collection of notes and words centered on Ariodante's learning that his love has seemingly betrayed him, for being the victim of such perfidy can morph into so many different colors: red hot anger, bitterness, despair, devastation, white-hot pain, black emptiness, the list goes on and on.

I marvel at how opera can freeze a moment in time (in this case, the freezing takes about 10 minutes!): often Handel is berated because "they keep repeating the same text over and over", but silly dismissers, this gives the opportunity for such rich exploration - the ten times I utter "infida" ("unfaithful one") in this aria can each carry a different weight - different percentages of venom, loss, rage and even love. The complexity of human emotion takes a long time to sort out, to sift through and to digest - yet another reason I love singing Handel.

Yep - gratitude abounds in this opera score!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gratitude - Day 3

I'm definitely grateful for renting an apartment here that has a fully stocked kitchen, providing the chance to make fresh-squeezed orange juice: a front-line defender against colds as the weather turns combative.

PS - Still at the start of this daily endeavor, I predict MANY entries will revolve around food. Call it an educated guess!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gratitude - Day 2

While it was perhaps the rose in the bouquet which inspired me to start this photographic journal, I'd be a fool's fool if I didn't post, right at the start of this endeavor, a photo of my Prince Charming - who has single-handedly made me understand the magnitude of true gratitude. Grazie, Amore!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gratitude Journal - Day 1

So in a risky move, I am going to mix two of my cyber worlds even more, and post more pictures from my photo blog here on my 'whatever this is' blog. In theory, however, they do cross-polinate in a way, so I should be OK with the CBP (Cyber-Blog-Police).

I know I'm not alone in this (at least I pray I am not) but for all the travelling musicians out there, life on the road can be quite difficult. Don't misunderstand me - I am well aware that I am not shoveling coal for a living, or doing hard labor under a scorching sun for $.48 a day -- I am without question living out a dream, and I'm well aware of that each and every day. But I'm also aware that my lifestyle challenges me on many, many levels: how to maintain balance in my professional and personal life (HA!), how to navigate through the pressures of new roles and openings and constant demands on your time and energy and talent, how to keep perspective amongst the pursuit of perfection and idealistic, unreachable goals, all the time being good to your psyche, knowing you'll never reach that utopian perfection you strive for, etc. I found years ago that it all comes down to what I choose to see, what elements of this life I choose to focus on: the good or the bad.

Since coming to this realization, I've been successful more often than not in focusing on the positive, but God knows there are still periods of true difficulty and struggle in this business, and through those ghastly moments, we still have to breathe in and "turn it on" for a public that deserves our everything and, rightly so, could not care less about how hard it was for us to get into makeup and warm up that particular night. I consider it a LARGE part of my job to keep healthy mentally so that these difficult moments happen less and less. (In part, it's wishful thinking, I know, but it's my goal!)

In a slightly unrelated topic, for the moment only, I've recently taken up a hobby of amateur photography, relishing how it takes me out of the world of music for a moment or two, but how it also fulfills part of my desire for art and beauty. I've got loads to learn still, but here's the beautiful part -- I'm not a pro, so I don't have to be perfect or brilliant! I was thinking recently, "what do I actually want to do with my photos?" I don't HAVE to do anything, but then again, that's not exactly my nature -- my mind is often going in the direction of, "what do I hope to accomplish with this", as I tend to be a bit result-oriented! Well, last night, I hit on it: I can use photos not only as a way to chronicle my travels, but I can use it as a type of "diary of gratitude". (I think I may be stealing this idea in some form from Oprah!!!) I know it sounds horribly cheesy, but I have found that when I start thinking about looking through a lens to capture a moment in time, I look very differently at the world around me - my observation takes on a much deeper, slow-motion quality, and I LOVE that! I thought, if I can attempt to take ONE photo a day, to show something that I am grateful for or something that brings beauty into my life, then my search for balance and perspective will surely have a better chance for success!

So, that's a big prouncement, and considering my procrastinating tendancy, I will STRIVE to make this a "365 day" project, but you know, I will give myself a lot of latitude on that front -- it sounded like a great idea at 4:00 am this morning, we'll see how I feel about it in 2 months!

So, my first submission:

"Opening night rose"
I think Geneva florists must do some of the most beautiful arrangements in the world. This is from opening night of "Ariodante" here in Geneva, and the colors in this bouquet are amazing!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Live from Geneva, it's Saturday Night!"

In the hopes of giving a bit more advance notice than we gave for the "Rosenkavalier" broadcast a few weeks ago, the new production of "Ariodante" from Geneva Opera will be broadcast live on Saturday, Nov. 17th on Radio Swiss Romande at 8:00 pm in Europe. (2:00 pm EST, 1:00 pm CST) If you can tune in, I certainly hope you will enjoy it! Cheers!

Photo: "Scherza infida" by Pierre Antoine Grissoni

"Quick Change"

In the theater, when a character must change their costume (or wig, or makeup, for that matter) very quickly, we call it a 'quick change'. My fastest quick change to date took place not quite 10 years ago in one of my first professional productions: I was singing the Muse/Nicklauss in "Les Contes d'Hoffman" for Houston and the staging required that I step off stage as the Muse (clingy gown, leafy crown and all), and return SEVENTEEN SECONDS LATER as Nicklauss, dressed in business suit and tie. My all-star dresser, Larissa, pulled off the minor miracle with great aplomb, and I was ready to try and keep Hoffmann from making yet another feminine-inspired misstep. Many other quick changes have followed, but that one was perhaps the most harrowing.

Fast-foward a few years, and I feel like I pulled off a slightly less time-challenged quick change, but a no less harried or frenetic one: what about a 29-hour trip from Geneva to New York City and back? I'm certainly not the first singer to pull something like this off, but it was a first for me, and it was a blast! I received a call 2 hours before the piano dress rehearsal for my first "Ariodante" to see if there was any possibility of flying to NY the next morning to fill in for Susan Graham who had fallen ill. I told Barry Tucker, the initiator of this crazy idea, "If you can find flights that will put me in NY in time to shower and warm up, and back to Geneva the following day in time for my orchestra staging at 2:00, I'm game." 10 minutes later the fabulous Tucker Staff had me set up to go. And so go I did.

Yes. Perhaps I'm a little loony.

I'm thrilled that I was able to make the journey, because this year the Tucker Foundation secured invaluable funding to broadcast the event live to nine universities across North America, with plans to air it later on PBS, returning to a long tradition of Tucker Broadcasts which I believe has been sorely missed. I'm quite certain a connection exists between the revolution Mr. Gelb has initiated at his theater across the Plaza of broadcasting operas live, with the resurgence of the Tucker Gala on TV, for he has single-handedly given opera and music lovers a chance to show, in large numbers, that there is a definite appetite and desire for high quality arts and culture in this country. All of a sudden, I feel like don't live in such a culturally malnourished nation anymore, and that is a sublime feeling. To be a participant in such an endeavor is an honor.

Back to practical matters, how does a girl pack for such an occasion? THANKFULLY I had with me 2 gowns which I had just worn for my recent recital at La Scala, although they had not yet made their needed trip to the dry cleaners. God bless the two lovely dressers backstage who took them out of the bag to steam them, in all their "lived-in-glory". (Was that tactful enough?) But there remained a rather large obstacle: how in the world could I present the Silver Rose (actually, the "Tiffany" Silver Rose, courtesy of the MET Prop department, thank you very much!) in a rather form-fitting sequined gown? I thought, "I know it's not ideal, but it's a gala, I had no warning, sequins are better than jeans, and so surely people will get over faux-pas!" Well, when I told my poor Sophie, (the divine Diana Damrau) "Just avoid looking at my neckline when I bend to hand you the rose," she was rightly appalled, saying, "Well, there is no way we can have that!" And so for you opera trivia lovers out there, you'll be interested to know that the outfit "Octavian" was wearing for the 2007 Tucker Gala's 'Presentation of the Rose' was actually the outfit the "Sophie" wore to the theater that night! Diana actually gave me the clothes off her back, right down to her shoes, and THAT, ladies and gentlemen, was my first outfit!

While I was very happy with the way the concert went, there was no denying that I was quite proud that I could pull off 3 outfits on such short notice. See? That good quick change karma is following me! However, as thrilling a feat as that may have been on one level, to stand in front of such a warm public, singing with the stupendous MET Orchestra to Diana's delicate Sophie, and Renee Flemings exquisite Fiordiligi was a definite "pinch me" moment. Another opportunity to relish how much I love what I do. PS - kudos to Maestro Asher Fisch for talking through "Una voce poco fa" with me minutes before the start of his long evening, and leading the orchestra through the piece without any rehearsal - that was improv at its best!

Quick changing back to Geneva, I'm back to the world of Handel, chess boards, and khakis, very, very far away from the glittering sequins of Avery Fisher Hall! (I don't want to spoil anything, but Polinesso's "death" involves a chess board.) After a long week of final rehearsals (often referred to as "hell week" for the grueling hours and intense pacing required), we open tomorrow. This Prince has long been at the top of my list of 'dream roles', and in a way it's a bit sad to move it from the unknown, virginal stage of "maybe one day I'll get to sing it" to the reality of premiering such an iconic role, knowing that there is only one 'first time'. I have high hopes for this role, as artistically it feels like a perfect fit, and I am surely challenged in every single way with the demands of the role. But the hardest part as I go into Sunday's premiere is that I want it to be so, so good. I want people to breathe each breath along with Ariodante, to feel his naive and unfiltered jubilation at the start of the piece, to walk with him as the poison of doubt enters his veins, as his heart breaks in two when he believes his love to be untrue, not to mention when the realization erupts in him that ultimately he, himself, is the only one to blame for the betrayal, and finally coming full circle to joy again -- but this time, a joy which bares the wounds of his mortality, that shines through the scars of his all too human nature. I want people to take this journey with him, so that at the end of the (nearly) 4 hour evening, they will have experienced a rich odyssey of human fraility. I also want them to be completely absorbed by the almost painfully beautiful music Handel created for his masterpiece, for this is truly, a masterpiece.

That's all. Is that too much to ask?

Pierre Strosser, the stage director for this new production of "Ariodante", has chosen a look of very stark, clean and minimal theater. There is no denying that the music is the star of the show, as it becomes the central character, without question. I am still trying to find my way in all that he has asked of me, (and not asked of me) and will most likely continue to search for the balance I don't yet feel in all of the six performances, but in a way, that kind challenge is exciting, for you realize that your work is never, ever done. And this is only the first Ariodante, of what I can only hope will be many, many more.

So, here I am, nearly 2 months after finishing my beautiful vacation time this summer, having tackled 2 new and polar-opposite Handelian roles in as many months, basking in the joy of singing his music, with my head still spinning a bit from the enormity of the task, but loving every minute of breathing life into these jubilant roulades and aching, heartbreaking phrases.


*The Tucker Gala simulcast live to Northwestern University/Credit: Eun Lee

*The "Ariodante" Chess Board

*Tulip from "Cafe Valaisanne", after our pre-generale

Sunday, November 4, 2007

From Geneva to NY and back in 29 hours

I'm typing this from 33,000 feet somewhere about the Atlantic Ocean, fully aware that I may just be a bit (or a lot, ok!) nuts. I received a call yesterday, 2 hours before my piano dress rehearsal for my first Ariodante, which is set to open one week from today in Geneva. Switzerland, that is. The call was from the adorable Barry Tucker, saying, "I know there is probably NO way this can work, but...."

Fast forward 1 hour and I'm booked on a round trip ticket leaving in 14 hours, arriving in NY 4 hours before the Richard Tucker Gala at Avery Fisher Hall, set to return immediately after the concert, arriving in Geneva tomorrow just in time to step off the plane and into my first orchestra staging rehearsal of that Handel opera back in Geneva. By my calculations, that's 29 hours. Yes, I know. I'm nuts.

But I love the Tucker Foundation (not only for the obvious reason that I was the 2002 receipient of their generous, incredible award) but more importantly for the unwavering dedication they show for young American singers. Since the timing worked out perfectly, how could I say no? I'm very sorry that Susan Graham is ill and can't sing, and I'm sure there will be many disappointed opera fans in the hall, but I'm happy that I could jump in, fill in some of the gaps, and take part in what will surely be an exciting afternoon.

Incidently, our piano dress went very well, and I'm beginning to understand the atmosphere our director is going for. Regardless of specifics, it is a TRUE masterpiece, this Ariodante, and to sing a role this intense, complete, profoundly deep and beautiful is what it is all about for me. But for the moment, Ariodante takes a back seat as I revisit Dorabella (Good Lord, how long has it been?), Octavian, and the ever ready Rosina here in NYC.

(And in case any concert goers catch site of this little 'blurb', please excuse my dress - I know it's not appropriate for Octavian to present the Silver Rose in a sequinned gown with a plunging neckline, but I'm afraid my choices were a bit limited on this late notice! Entschuldigung!)