Don Giovanni at the Met, Plus a Stage Door Stake-Out

One of the perks of my day job at a major NYC institution is getting discount tickets to various shows and events. When I saw “The Metropolitan Opera,” “Don Giovanni,” and “Luca Pisaroni,” listed, I actually put it in my calendar to buy tickets as soon as they went on sale. After singing my first Zerlina last December, I was even more eager to see a full production of Don Giovanni live. Plus, I’ve been a big fan of Luca’s for a while now and really wanted to see him in one of his signature roles: Leporello (I dare you to watch this rendition of the Catalog Aria, “Madamina, il catalogo è questo,” and not be charmed).

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Settling in for Don Giovanni. NYC, 2015.

It had been a while since my last visit to the Met and I was going to see Don Giovanni, so it was with great anticipation and excitement that I made my way to Lincoln Center after work on Friday. Fellow soprano Jen and I met up for a coffee and catch-up session before the show, and Baritone Boy joined us a little later.

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Lincoln Center at twilight. NYC, 2015.

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Baritone Boy and I in the cold. NYC, 2015.

It was a great performance, with all the characters well-portrayed and fully-embodied. We were sitting up in Family Circle, and more so than any other time I’ve been to the Met, I wished for opera glasses to really see and get the full effect of facial expressions and nuanced moments. It’s really the intricate relationships between the characters (combined with the magical music, of course) that makes this opera so interesting and so well-loved. Continue reading

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The Website Has Arrived

Emboldened and encouraged, I took the plunge and made a website: joyceyin.com

I held off on making one for several years. Actually, I bought a domain (a different one) years ago but never did anything with it. I remember paying for several years in advance instead of using the annual renewal feature and thinking to myself, “This number of years should be enough time for me to figure out whether I’m going to make it in this business.”

In that time, I’ve had who knows how many lessons and coachings, taken an entire Master’s degree worth of classes, practiced a lot, had my eyes opened, blindfolded, opened again, made discoveries, gotten very confused, experienced anxiety and frustration, felt really awesome about my singing, doubted myself, learned to lighten up a bit, let go of negativity, pushed myself, been exhausted, been totally pumped up and inspired, graduated, moved across the country, resumed working full-time and singing on the side, and even have gotten to perform some. But it wasn’t until very recently I felt ready to have a website.

I’m not sure what my definition of “ready” was or is, or what the definition might be for others, but clearly something has happened recently to help me feel otherwise. Perhaps the optimism and excitement I’ve been experiencing lately have nudged me past the tipping point. I am singing differently, and I think about singing differently. I haven’t completely figured out this complicated relationship I have with music, but I feel better about it, more positive.

So take a singer, add a dose of positivity and a sprinkle of encouragement, and you get a website.

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My new website: joyceyin.com

Also, making a website has gotten a million times easier in the past few years. What used to seem like a towering, daunting task is now fun. No coding skills required, just the ability to drag and drop, and a somewhat artistic eye is helpful to have but not altogether necessary. I think it’s also an accurate observation that having a digital presence is much more of a given than it used to be, and at an earlier stage of one’s career too. These days, a website where curious parties can click around is almost as basic as having a resume and headshot. The Internet sure has changed a lot of things, hasn’t it?

So you may have noticed a few changes around the blog recently as some information — “official” stuff such as repertoire, schedule, etc. — gets moved over to the new site. But fear not, this blog won’t be going away. I’ll continue to write here: reflecting, pondering, arriving at new ideas, sharing my journey. This is where you can still find the behind the scenes goodies, glimpses into the raw world of classical singing, the inner workings, and my inner thoughts.

But please do visit the website and let me know what you think!

 

New Year, New Audition Outlook

Happy New Year again! The lunar new year was just last week on February 19th, and Baritone Boy and I enjoyed a wonderful if not-quite-traditional celebration at home after a long day of work for both of us. I lack the culinary skills to create a real Chinese New Year feast, but I did stop by Chinatown on the way home for groceries and successfully cobbled together a meal inspired by the foods that remind me most of home and family: noodle soup, potstickers, zongzi (sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), and nian gao (sticky new year’s cake). Each course brings to mind very specific family memories, so this meal made me feel close to my family despite being separated by the width of the North American continent.

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A family-memories inspired New Year’s dinner. NYC, 2015.

It has been years since I spent Chinese New Year with my parents and brother, but I loved sharing this holiday with Baritone Boy and Dante and indulging in some delicious dishes. This New Year marked not only the start of the Year of the Sheep but also wrapped up what has been a very busy seven weeks since January 1st.

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New Year, New York

By calling upon my West Coast roots and operating on Pacific Time tonight, I have about half an hour before January 2015 comes to a close. Things have been quite busy since the new year began, and I want to reflect on it and savor it before February starts and the new year isn’t quite so new anymore.

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New Year’s with the family. San Jose, 2015.

I had such a wonderful time with my family in California that leaving was quite difficult. I think it’s because we become closer each time. My mom likes to point out that we’re just a quick phone call and a short plane ride apart — as she likes to remind me, staying in touch is much easier and far less expensive now than it was in her day. Still, saying goodbye to my family is not easy, and re-adjusting to real life seems to get harder each time I leave California.

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Flying back into NYC. NYC, 2015.

I felt pretty subdued and even sad during my flight, but I perked up as we approached JFK. Looking down on the lights, I felt a wave of excitement for what 2015 might hold. Seeing how vast the city is, imagining the 8 million plus people down there, I felt united with them in not knowing exactly what the future had in store for us.

Unfortunately, that feeling of unity didn’t last long once I was on the ground. Waiting alongside masses of impatient New Yorkers for our bags to glide by on the carousel, I was firmly back in the reality of NYC — cold, crowded, ruthless. I really missed the comfort and support of my parents and brother. The nicer strangers. And the warmer temperatures.

The next day, I was riding the subway when a man come on board with his drum and his music. Up until that point, the ride had been a typical New York public transit experience: crowded but silent, each person minding their own business, mostly tired, few smiles. I was personally exhausted and feeling pretty down about being back in New York without Dante and Baritone Boy (both of whom were staying in California for a few days longer), but this gentleman brought a smile to my face and to the faces of many others. He said:

“When you wake up and go outside, don’t be afraid to be you, the unique you that only you can be, the you the world so desperately needs. As long as you are part of the solution and not the problem, don’t let anyone distract you from what you’re doing.”

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And with that, I felt united in the unknown, the excitement, the adventure that awaits us all this new year.  New York, you really know how to get a girl back on her feet and ready to take on whatever you throw at her. Here’s to 2015 and what it might bring!

Baroque Concert for the New Year

With some quick organizing, enthusiastic musicians, and good colleagues, the unlikely is not impossible! The early music concert that almost happened a year and a half ago has been re-imagined and resurrected, and it’s taking place this Friday, January 9, in Berkeley, CA..

I almost didn’t bring up the idea with Eugene, but I did on a whim because I remembered how excited we were about the music and the chance to perform together. Ask and you shall receive — what a way to start the year!

Chabot Chamber Society presents a Baroque Concert for the New Year:

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The two cantata’s, Bach’s Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten (Wedding Cantata, BWV 202) and Montéclair’s Le Dépit Généreux, were pieces I’d originally learned in 2013, and I’m so pleased to be singing them in less than a week.

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Once: Moved and Inspired

If you believe in music, hope, and love, go see Once. If you don’t, go see it anyway and you’ll be inspired to believe. And if you’re a singer (or other kind of musician) definitely go see it to appreciate the musicianship and the keep-making-your-music-someone-will-hear-you message.

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Pre-show jam on stage. Broadway. NYC, 2014.

When Baritone Boy and I made our way to the theater, we’d both had a long day and were low on energy. We were in the midst of packing to move (and wow is moving in NYC a pain), and at one point I even wished we hadn’t gotten the tickets so we could just stay home and keep packing. That all changed once we walked into the theater. The house lights were up, the stage lights were up, and the cast was on stage playing and singing before the show even began. It was warm, relaxed, and inviting, and I was very glad we made it. Continue reading

A Washington DC Weekend

Being a singer is a huge part of my identity, something I work on and think about daily, but I was reminded this Thanksgiving that life is — and should be — more than singing. To remind myself of that, I’m looking back on happy moments from this past year that were not centered around being a singer.

In July, my brother, who lives in California, was in Washington, DC, for a work conference. The distance between us was going from 2,900 miles down to 226, so there was no way we were going to miss this opportunity to see each other. As a bonus, his birthday fell right in the middle of the trip and I wanted to be there to celebrate with him.

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Outside the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress. DC, 2014.

It was my first visit to DC since the 1st grade. The weather was good. And I hadn’t seen my brother in about six months. We walked until our feet were about to fall off, took pictures until the batteries ran out, and enjoyed being tourists. Continue reading

Successful Celebration of Strauss and Friendship

As the launch project of the newly formed Cantanti Project, our Strauss Celebration was a huge success! With Bill Lewis at the piano, we presented an afternoon of Strauss’s lieder and opera in Washington Heights. In the audience were Strauss experts and novices, musicians and non-musicians, conductors, artists, singers of all kinds, people who knew a little about classical music and some who know a whole lot. The feedback we received has been overwhelmingly positive. Along with compliments on the wonderful voices, the ensemble work, and the sensitivity and musicality of the piano-playing, we also received inquiries as to whether we would be performing this program again. I can’t help but glow at the idea that people would want to hear the music again and would want others to hear it too.

Musik ist eine heilege Kunst

– Composer, Der Rosenkavalier

Basking in the aftermath of adrenaline, satisfaction, and joy, I realized the most valuable outcome of this project was not the singing I got to do but the friendships I reaffirmed with each of the singers involved. I reconnected with friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen or sung with in years and one whom I met just this summer at Astoria Music Festival, and partnered with newer friends whom I’ve never worked with before. The weeks leading up to the performance, though stressful, were filled with rehearsing, discussing, sharing ideas — it was the kind of “busy” that makes you feel alive. It’s truly beautiful that music and music-making brings people together like this.

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