Category Archives: Opera

Going all out with plot, costumes, orchestra, lighting, sets, and plenty of drama.

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

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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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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A Strauss Celebration: 150 Years

The last two months of 2014 are turning out to be exciting and overwhelming. Things were supposed to wind down after Cendrillon, but after just a few weeks of quiet it picked back up with auditions, new repertoire, and the news that I was cast to sing Zerlina in Don Giovanni this December.

Another project just around the corner is one I am especially proud of, a concert celebrating Richard Strauss’s 150th birthday.

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Even if you don’t care much for birthdays, you’ve go to admit that 150 years is a big deal. This one was celebrated all over the world, most noticeably with performances of his works. Statistics from Operabase.com show how Strauss-mania kicked in for 2014:

  • In 2013: 364 performances of 85 productions, in 57 cities
  • In 2014: 625 performances of 153 productions, in 92 cities

The idea of putting on a Strauss concert had been on my mind all year, and after summer came and went I knew I was running out of time. It’s taken plenty of sweat and a bit of stress (but thankfully, no blood), and everything has come together beautifully.

I’m thrilled and honored to be making this music with eight fabulous women, the majority of whom are old friends and a handful of whom are new ones. Our concert is this Saturday at 3 PM in Washington Heights, NYC. We’ll be performing at the same church I had my recital at earlier this year, Holyrood Church. If you’re in the neighborhood, please come by to hear some Strauss!

 

 

 

A Cinderella Comeback

This past weekend I had the thrill of singing La Fée with soprano Laura Mitchell as my Cendrillon. We both did our undergraduate degrees in San Diego, and it was such a pleasure to be reunited and to sing together.

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Reunited with soprano Laura Mitchell. NYC, 2014.

Having the opportunity to learn the rest of the role and revisit La Fée’s coloratura-filled aria and eyebrow-raising Act 3 scene was immensely rewarding and validating. After getting through the initial bumps in the note-learning and muscle-coordinating processes, I found that the less I stressed about the hard parts, the more easily and cleanly they came. A year and a half ago the vocal demands of La Fée had left me feeling a bit beat-up, but this year I came away from the performance feeling confident and quite happy. Continue reading

In the works update (October 19, 2014)

IN THE WORKS @ October 19, 2014

A Strauss Celebration: 150 years

  • Monday, November 24th,  7 PM
  • Holyrood Church (179th and Fort Washington), Washington Heights, NYC
  • Lieder and selections from Arabella, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Der Rosenkavalier
  • I’ll be singing “Einkehr” (Op 47) and Sophie in the Der Rosenkavalier selections
  • The launch project of Cantanti PROJECT, a project-based performance group in NYC, for singers and by singers.

Covering the role of Dalinda in Handel’s Ariodante in 2015 with New York Opera Forum

  •  Performance details TBA

 

The Fairy Godmother, a Dream Role

About 3 years ago, a fellow soprano-friend and I were in San Francisco and chatting about repertoire and roles when she suggested I look into the fairy godmother in Massenet’s take on the Cinderella story, Cendrillon. Massenet, I knew, but Cendrillon?

Back then, a YouTube search resulted in only about five Cendrillon clips that weren’t French dubs of the Disney movie, one of which was this recording of Esther Heideman singing La Fée’s aria “Ah! douce enfant.”

One listen, and I was in love.

Over the next few years I learned the aria even though it was on the obscure side and, therefore, not a great audition choice — I wanted to learn it just to learn it and to sing it, even if it was just for myself. I even had the opportunity to learn and perform La Fée’s second big scene, in Act 3, when she works a bit of magic to bring Cendrillon and the Prince together after their first encounter at the ball. Annalise Belnap sang Cendrillon, Kristin Roney sang the Prince, and during rehearsals the three of us would melt into puddles over the way Massenet spun these soaring, pleading lines.

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La Fée with her Cendrillon, Annalise Belnap. ASU Lyric Opera Scenes, 2013.

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Astoria 2014: Singing

One of the many aspects of the Vocal Apprentice program I adored this year was the plethora of performance opportunities we took part in. While Così fan tutte was the culmination of our efforts and our growth as performers, the other singing we did was just as important in our self-discovery and learning.

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Despina rocking the apron look. Astoria, 2014.

Through a series of Apprentice concerts held at various venues around town, we had the opportunity to share our repertoire with others and put into practice ideas from masterclasses, lessons, and coachings. I mentioned last time that the amount of talent in Astoria was astounding, and I can, without hesitation, include the abilities of the Apprentices in this statement as well. Over the course of the Festival I got to hear beautiful singing from my peers, and they introduced me to new repertoire as well as different interpretations of music I was already familiar with. It’s no wonder we had a group of regular attendees at our concerts!

Many of the pieces I used for these concerts I had performed fairly recently at my recital, and I was surprised at how differently some of them felt just a month later. I am very, very thankful for the coaches and teachers who guided me through these developments: Gustavo Castro and Karen Esquivel, Paul Floyd, Allan Glassman, Marie Plette, Mark Robson, and Richard Zeller.

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