July 21, 2012

Opera savants to punch your face

A common misconception is that opera is enjoyed by a small segment of people or that people don't really know much about the vocal art form, other than lessons taught by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. The consensus is that most people just don't enjoy it, can't appreciate it, or don't care to understand it. Hmm, where's the fork and spoon? I'd like to eat those words.

Actually MOST people know a little something about opera beyond the fat lady with the shield and horns. And these same people have really great opinions about the performance practice, singers, and the art as a whole. So, despite its boogie beginnings, knowledge of opera has spread vastly into society and into the daily lives of people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Granted, the art form will never be as popular as Lady Gaga, the TMZ gossip column, or products from Apple but it's out there and people know about it....more than ya might think!

I'm always singing or humming in the most awkward or inappropriate places. I can't help it. It's usually during these moments I encounter the unassuming-everyday-opera-savant:

Setting-- Locker room, My gym
Humming-- Una Furtiva Lagrima
Savant-- middle-aged man, scantily clad, short, smelled like Brut
Savant moment-- "I love that aria! Are you a countertenor or tenor....I always confuse the two. Please tell me you've seen Rinaldo at Lyric. I thought the production was fantastic. I saw it several years ago with my wife in London....we aren't opera people but I like Haidell...Hadell, Handedell...who is the composer again?"
Moral-- Secure your towel before your next audition. 

Setting-- Northbound bus, headed home
Humming-- Intricate cadenzas
Savant-- Older man in Bob Marley tank, dreads down to his knees, vagabond-ish
Savant moment-- "Man is that some opera stuff you're singin'? That's good man. Man, that Maria Callas was off the chain man. Did you ever hear her sing that Norma? Man she was off the chain...blew me away man."
Moral-- Is Maria Callas the Devil? Regardless, that smelly guy in the corner knows opera rep

Setting--Elevator in downtown
Humming-- Un Aura Amorosa
Savant-- Teenaged kid, with skateboard, listening to something kinda loud
Savant moment-- "Mozart is pretty cool, " as he walked out of the elevator
Moral-- People in elevators can hear you, no matter what. And they are ghostly smart.

Setting-- El train, headed north
Humming-- An unpopular Rossini aria, score in hand
Savant-- young women, holding some groceries
Savant moment-- "Excuse me, are you a singer of some kind? I think that's incredible what you guys do with your voices. Rossini? Wasn't he a bel canto conductor?"
Moral-- Stouffers is not all they sell at your local grocery mart.

July 15, 2012

Something old, new, borrowed, blue?

Remember the old bridal checklist... something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue? Who says these gals are the only people concerned about these requirements? After all, preparing for an audition is much like checking off these very points-- five arias, one musical theater, a monologue, contrasting styles, at least one song. Get the picture? Sometimes preparing for an audition is just as hectic and hair-pulling as arranging a wedding. At least one ends with cake and an open bar!

Commonly we all ask, what should I take, what's ready, and what's appropriate? So aside from keeping good records with the help of magic life-saving tools like Velvet Singer, YAP Tracker, or a simple Excel spreadsheet, ask someone! Preferably another singer or colleague is a great starting place. They are simple and easy enough to be the type of resource we overlook because we're scurrying to learn something new, find a pianist to rehearse, memorize the text, translate, yadda yadda yadda. All along our musical theater piece, art song, or 5th aria is that quick easy little number we sang in a performance class, in an impromptu rehearsal in the hallway, or casually at someone's birthday party. Most of what we need, we already have...so make it work!

Remember adjudicators know, on some level, singers are going to present what they have. Rarely would any singer show up having learned five brand new arias and three musical theater songs the week before. It's probably happened and it's probably happened with some degree of success; but let's not play odds. Instead, pull from the vault of music that's ready, in decent shape, and available!   

July 14, 2012

Thanks and Sayonara

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye! What a magical and fun 8 weeks of letting loose, getting wild and learning how to build real in-your-face characters. This is a small photo tribute to the whacky class of SPACE summer session one. Thanks for not dropping like all the other flies!

Joey's Poison-- Antoine, Edwin, Me, Steve

Me & Antoine McKay

The Emily and Jonell after party

Umm hair and makeup ladies?
With scene partner Craig Conover

Our small dysfunctional but FULL of life family!