It is hard for me to believe it has been a year and a half since I have last updated my blog. While there is too much to recount.... I think what is currently happening in my life is something that everyone can relate to and take comfort in.
This past week I traveled to Meiningen, Germany for a Soprano 1 chorus audition for the Meininger Staatstheater. While I try to stay away from superfluous expenses, there has been a lot going on and I figured that I owed it to myself to not be afraid to chase my dreams. First.... Let me explain.
While I have been singing and training for well over a decade something about my instrument and the repertoire I have been singing hasn't felt quite right. In December of this past year I had an audition with a respected director of one of the Young Artist Programs every young singer (or NOT young singer) so hungrily tries to attend. These people take part in so many auditions that when they are with younger artists, it is not truly always possible or worth their efforts to take time and work with each and every person - ESPECIALLY if they hear that something is not right. I was lucky enough to have a different experience. The director noticed that I had a different "color" in my lower register than I did in my higher registers. I was in essence creating a different voice to match what I THOUGHT I was supposed to sound like. (There are so many things wrong with this last sentence... Not to mention that it very clearly shows that I didn't truly believe in what I was presenting. It also shows that THINKING you understand something can be a little bit dangerous). Luckily, after about five minutes with him, I had a whole new wealth of information to take back and work with. Whenever faced with something that feels like criticism, I find it important to take a step back and look at the information that is actually being presented to me. When I did this, I made it my business to schedule more lessons and coachings. It was in fact a coaching that led me to one of the biggest discoveries I have made to date.
Lisa Harer De Calvo, who is an incredibly kind, patient, yet demanding coach is the perfect complement to my teacher because she doesn't let me get away with anything. The day that I went to coach with her, I was bringing some repertoire I was beginning to learn (Dove Sono from Le Nozze di Figaro). I could not, for the life of me, sing these pieces. I have been in the process of finding the instrument I possess for a long time and we had been in the process of accepting my instrument for a few months. Learning something with improper technique was useless so we decided to play. She asked me if I had anything else to sing and I asked her if I could sing something I hadn't brought with me (Ach ich fuhl's from Die Zauberflote by Mozart). I have loved The Magic Flute since I was very young and thought I should singing something I love with no preconceived idea of how I should sing it. After singing through it, Lisa turns to me and goes.... "Have you ever sung the Queen's stuff?" (I should be clear... .for those of you who don't know ... The Queen of the Night has always been something I've wanted to sing but thought I wouldn't. She has a wide range of music from very fast to very high to very long lines.) I sort of stared at Lisa for a moment and she said "do you have the f's?". In a moment of madness (at least it felt that way) I said.... "I don't think so but let's find out." 10 minutes later I had sung through some of the hardest music written for Soprano (or any singer) and it felt like I was home..... I had for the first time in 10 years found my repertoire. It made all sorts of ridiculous sense. I have been wanting to sing the Queen of the Night since I saw her in Ingmar Bergman's film when I was 3 years old. It was finally coming true!!!!
Fast forward almost three months. I am learning new repertoire to prepare for my next round of auditions and a soprano position opens on what feels like the other side of the planet at an opera house where a friend of mine works. I couldn't imagine a MORE supportive environment to debut what I had planned for my future. To get ready for this audition I scheduled coachings, lessons, and as always... practice sessions. By the time I arrived in Frankfurt I couldn't be more musically prepared than I was.
Germany itself is very interesting. In fact... I like the country very much. When I arrived Frankfurt Airport, It became clear that I needed to get to the Frankfurt train station. If i had not had my train tickets ahead of time or the help of my friend from Meiningen I definitely would have been confused ... at first. Deutsche Bahn, the German train company, may not always run on time but it is certainly one of the most comprehensive inter-country train system I have encountered. I found my way around mostly by using the Deutsche Bahn navigator App on my cell phone (literally comes up under DB Navigator in the App store). This particular app lets you keep real time updates on the trains as they are arriving (or not). You are able to see in realtime which stations you are pulling through in case you miss any announcements (luckily most of the announcements were done in at least German and English). It also lets you purchase tickets through the app as well as keep your tickets on your phone.
After three hours and four train changes I was finally in Meiningen. I had found my friend and I was heading to her apartment to get a good nights sleep for my audition the next day. When I awoke the next morning, I was surprisingly alert and ready for my day. I was going into an audition and interview for a job I wanted without truly speaking the language I was interviewing in. To be fair, I had been coached into almost perfection by my friend. I sounded like someone who knew what they were talking about :).
When I arrived at the theater we were given, in essence, our own warm up rooms that were shared with one other person. I was lucky enough to be right across from the audition room. I feel like being able to hear what was happening used to throw me into a panic but now that I am singing the right rep, it was almost reassuring. To see everyone going through the same thing I was even though we spoke different languages and were singing different music. I arrived by noon and did not sing until 2. I was given a warm up slot with my audition accompanist and things felt easy. We didn't need to spend too much time together because Lisa had already whipped me into fighting shape. Then I waited.
When I arrived into the room, I introduced myself and announced my first piece. It just kept going from there. I sang O Zittre Nicht (Which has a link earlier in the blog), Quando m'en vo (The aria is at 3:23... the scene is just so fun), 2 chorus excerpts, and sight reading. I could not have been more proud of myself and for the first time I felt what it means to put myself into an audition and know that if I didn't get the job it wasn't because of anything I did. I would have had to be a completely different person. The amount of confidence that inspired in myself was surprising. I am FINALLY presenting me. I am FINALLY finding the repertoire that fits me. It feels oddly like being able to breath. It's really exciting and I'm excited to keep everyone updated on the next segments of my journey through life.