Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reason #4,567 why I love Italy:

At the market today I was shopping for our arugula, insalata, pinoli, etc, as well as all the FRESH (Oh Happy Days!) ingredients to make guacamole for the poor Italians who, while they do so very many things well, fail miserably when they serve some vaguely green goop that they call "guacamole".

So I had the most lovely exchange in Italian with the lady choosing all my greens for me:

"Tell me, Amore, what can I get for you?"

I listed the goods.

She DELICATELY puts the lettuce in a bag for me and instructs:

"Be VERY careful with this lettuce - it is extremely delicato!"

I smiled just realizing that in many other cities one rarely finds this kind of pride and attention dedicated to a head of lettuce, and it shows so much of why I love Italy! She wanted to be SURE that my lettuce arrived unbruised in my salad bowl, as truly, it really IS the only way to enjoy your salad!

Then she followed up with,

"Amore - let me give you a melone (i.e. cantelope). It is perfect and you will die of ecstasy when you eat it. Eat it tonight, or tomorrow - you can eat it a few days from now, but if you eat it tonight, you will never be the same."

Time for me to sign off and crack open that melon!

UPDATE: It was heavenly!!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Vienna waits for you"

To anyone who has read one of those "this is your life" articles about me, it may not come as a surprise to hear that I am a huge Billy Joel fan; in fact, I still dream about singing back up for him at Madison Square Garden some day. As habit dictates, I blasted his album "The Stranger" over my loud speakers at home recently while tending to the painting of new dry wall, the bottomless filing of programs and cards and photo copied music, the sneeze-inducing dusting of all the forgotten nooks and crannies, etc - you know, all the glamorous parts of a short homestay - and as his song "Vienna" rocked me through yet another pile of crumpled receipts, I found myself really listening to the lyrics with which I had sung along countless times, while never actually having had a context in which to put them. Well, finally I did...these lyrics which have accompanied me through thick and thin finally hit home:

"Slow down, you crazy child
and take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
it's all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize,..Vienna waits for you?"

Ah yes ... Vienna was waiting for me! Who knew???


Billy? I took your advice, and I thank you for it! It so happened that my 2 days of rehearsals (yes, that's not a typo: 2 days for my Vienna State Opera Debut, which is apparently nothing out of the ordinary!) straddled the Easter Weekend, so we worked a bit on Thursday, had Good Friday off, Saturday brought an afternoon rehearsal, Easter Sunday and Monday left me free to roam the town, and then the opening on Tuesday! I wasn't particularly happy at first to have so much free time on the job when I could have been in NY with my husband, but as luck would have it, the time was a perfect excuse to keep that phone off the hook and disappear for that little while.


I found myself on my new favorite pasttime: one of those convenient rental bikes popping up in all the forward-looking cities of Europe (come on, America - let's get with the program!), enjoying the first flickers of spring, taking in the beautiful fresh air, and enjoying the imposed silence! Ah, it was heavenly! Apparently Vienna HAD been waiting for me!!

But there was also work to do, although I was most happy to play the recreational tourist! It was quite astonishing, to say the very least, to step into the 352nd performance of this production of the Barber of Seville, which was first seen before I was born: to think of the singers who have come before me in this production, in these costumes, and with this orchestra overwhelms the mind; to step onto the soil of this city knowing it has been walked by the greatest minds and artists the world has ever seen overwhelms the heart; and to take "my turn" and meet the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera public for the very first time singing those ever familiar syllables, "Una voce poco fa" could understandably make the voice shake! Happily, Rosina is a good friend, and she carried me through the nerves and the excitement with all the Spanish will power she possesses, and I was one grateful mezzo! In a way, this kind of performance is exciting, because you must stay on your toes at all times (which should always be the case, I suppose - this particular situation just demands a different kind of concentration!), and to be sure, the sense of improvisation is thrilling as an artist. (However, I suppose that in the end, I am one who would choose more rehearsal so those elusive nuances can be somehow achieved....)

A glorious week in Vienna was gifted to me, and the thought that I was so very fortunate to be on that stage never left my mind. It's one of those moments I wished my parents had seen.

But I lucked out as a plane was flying over a statue I was photographing, and it took my breath away as I realized it was the perfect depiction of how I had felt during my time there: soaring and free with the sky being the only limit in sight!

"Let there be flight"

Next up: my Wichita recap!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Think you can't?

My response to anyone who dares to assume they can't do it:

Yes you can.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Musical Temples

Last Wednesday I had the IMMENSE pleasure - well, perhaps great honor would be more like it, but it was such a pleasure as well - to be the surprise guest in a tribute to Frederica von Stade, sponsored by the tireless San Francisco Opera Guild. I'm still waiting for pictures to arrive from that event, so I'll write more about it when they arrive - but in the meantime, this one just arrived in my mailbox:

Yes, it's my date, the dashing Jake Heggie, who took a break from his intensive work on his NEW OPERA (what an undertaking!) to pay homage to his dear friend. It's good timing, because a quote just arrived in the same in-box, and I thought it was fortuitous timing, for it certainly embodies Jake's spirit as well as my sought-after philosophy. It's from Annie Lamott's novel, "Travelling Mercies", and I thank Cage for the food for thought.


"Music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We are walking temples of noise."

Photo: © Drew Altizer (not for reprint)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Central Park Safari

So to put all your lovely hearts at ease, I have, indeed, been wonderful in these past weeks - no cause for alarm! I've always said I will happily contribute to this blog when #1: I have the time, and #2: I actually have something to say! It's good for me to not lose sight of the fact that I want always to have a fulfilling life outside of my singing (and blogging and photo-taking), so I've been reveling in the beautiful spring weather, in getting some time with my friends and family, and getting lots of soul-feeding socializing in this lovely thing they call "free time"! (I had almost forgotten what that was!!!) But things are gearing back up, and that means crawling back out from the woodwork!

To warm things up, I spent a lovely few hours in Central Park on the most beautiful of May days, and found myself imaging I was back on Safari - hey, a girl can dream, right? Wild birds and cats abounded:

Central Park Safari

Central Park Safari


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An olive branch... ask for forgiveness for being gone for so long!