Tag Archives: goals

California Girl at Heart

I’m back in NYC after an amazing 2.5 weeks at the Astoria Music Festival. But before I dive into that, my post-San Diego post is overdue! So here it is:

It’s almost my one year anniversary of moving to New York, but part of me never left California. In New York, everyone is rushing to be somewhere, do something, be someone. The past few months have been a bit of a blur thanks to Le nozze di Figaro, a recital, and Così fan tutte, and it wasn’t until I landed back in San Diego that I had the chance to hit pause.

It would have been a perfectly-timed pause if I weren’t also stressing about learning Despina, but even so it was much-needed and much-enjoyed. You’ll be pleased to know I got to everything on my San Diego to-do list and then some!

THE OCEAN

I’ll come out and say it: the Pacific is better than the Atlantic…

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Looking down onto Pacific Beach from a grassy knoll. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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A surfer heads into the water. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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Strolling along Pacific Beach after yoga. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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Reframing My Goals for Musical Merit

Over the past few days my nervousness about Musical Merit has increased. I know after giving my recital that my technique will most likely stay intact, but how do I stack up against other singers? I know I’ve improved since last year, but by how much? And is it enough? What if they (the judges) don’t like me or my singing?

Dante helps me pack for my trip to San Deigo. NYC, 2014

Dante helps me pack for my trip to San Diego. NYC, 2014

These questions are common for singers to obsess over, but they’re not doing me any good. So, to combat my rising nervousness and doubt, I’ve decided to shift the focus of this trip from hoping to place in the competition to 1) singing each piece of music with conviction; and 2) treating myself to a mini-vacationContinue reading

Aside

August 2013 I completed my Master’s in Opera Performance and moved to NYC where my boyfriend lives and where the auditions are. We have a Yorkshire Terrier named Dante, after the great author of the Divine Comedy who briefly mentions … Continue reading

Getting High E into Shape

A few years ago, Mozart’s (concert) aria “Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio!” was one of my recital pieces.  The tessitura is quite high, meandering around E5, and there are three high E’s (E6) toward the end of the A section.  Other parts of my voice are stronger now than in my UCSD days, but I don’t think I have the E6 lined up well enough to sing “Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio” tomorrow if needed.  Here is the excellent Diana Damrau convincing us that this piece is easy to sing (with text following at the end of the post).

My recent repertoire has mainly extended to D6 (“Obeissons quand leur voix appelle” and “Willow Song”), which is quite comfortable and no longer nerve-wracking.  There’s an optional Eb6 in the final cadenza of “Oh! quante volte,” but I only include it in my practicing and have not used it in an audition or competition yet.  There are practice sessions when the Eb is easily accessed, but it’s not quite consistent yet.  Since my repertoire hasn’t required an E6, I do not routinely sing up there or warm up to E6 or F6.  That’s changing though, because I want “Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio!” back in my active repertoire.  Plus, I want to do “Glitter and be Gay”, and I also plan on reviving “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” – both of which are E6-happy.

I started vocalizing up to F6 during BASOTI and will continue to do so.  E6 and F6 don’t always sound great, and they haven’t gotten all the overtones ringing yet – but it is easier now than it was a month ago.  Although my recent technique is vastly different compared to the technique I used when I sang “Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio!,” those high notes must still be inside me.  Let’s say they’ve been taking it easy and having a few too many relaxing drinks by the pool; it’s time to whip them into shape so they look good, feel good, and know to show up on-time, every time.

I’m going to give myself until the end of Fall semester to get the E where I want it and at least one of these E6 pieces ready.

text for Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio!

Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!
Qual è l’affanno mio;
Ma mi condanna il fato
A piangere e tacer.
Arder non pù il mio core
Per chi vorrebbe amore
E fa che cruda io sembri,
Un barbaro dover.
 
Ah conte, partite,
Correte, fuggite
Lontano da me;
La vostra diletta
Emilia v’aspetta,
Languir non la fate,
È degna d’amor.
 
Ah stelle spietate!
Nemiche mi siete.
Mi perdo s’ei resta.
Partite, correte,
D’amor non parlate,
È vostro il suo cor.

Setting Goals for the Met Auditions

It’s time for me to brush up on repertoire for the district Met Auditions.  That’s in just two months!  Do I expect to win?  I want to, but I don’t think it’s my time yet.  Just as there are some songs on the radio I can’t bear to listen to (and I can’t see why they get so much air time), there have been competition results I don’t understand.  But I do believe that the average of one’s accomplishments is a fairly accurate assessment of one’s skills.  It’s impossible to please everyone, but it’s equally difficult to displease everyone.  I’ve won in a few competitions (but not all), and I received offers from a few grad schools (but not all).   Some days  my voice feel great, and other days I worry that I’m putting too much pressure in my throat.  Sometimes I have a handle on my middle voice, and sometimes  it sounds fuzzy and feels fragile.  C6 is almost never a problem, but D6 and E6 aren’t always solid.  The average of all this suggests I’m good but not my best yet, and I think I would need to be at my best to advance to the regional Met Auditions.  So with this high standard in mind, I am not ashamed to say I don’t think I’ll win the district round this year.

My aim for the district round is to put on a good show and make a splash in the Arizona scene.  If Arizona’s district has encouragement awards like San Diego, I would be very happy to snag one of those or get an honorable mention.  Given how competitive opera singers are and how intensely you must WANT this career, my goals for the Met Auditions may seem puny and weak.  Go big or go home, all or nothing, aim for the moon and at least you’ll end up among the stars – okay, but these all seem like gambling statements.  I’m not interested in betting on an uncertain outcome and hoping for the best; my approach is to work hard as hard as possible to ensure I feel good about the outcome.

I think small goals get a bad name because critics take it as a sign that you don’t even believe in yourself.  I don’t want to get lazy or be lax, but it’s no good to be hit with disappointment and then have it turn to doubt.  Since so much of singing well and performing well is mental, losing your confidence is a dangerous things.  It’s a snowball that grows bigger and bigger, a stone that gathers no moss as it gains momentum tearing downhill.   Setting manageable and doable goals is a form of self-preservation.  Also, I think I’m pretty good at setting reasonable but challenging goals since I hit some but not others.

For those who may feel pressured to have flamboyant, dramatic, goals: let’s not dismiss the importance of effective goal-setting.  Those big wow-factor goals are inspirational, but a functional plan of realistic and progressive goals is just as necessary.  We need to keep both types of goals in mind every day, the big picture to help us stay on track and the day-to-day accomplishments that help us improve and keep us feeling good and thinking positively.

The Met Auditions require five arias, and here’s what I have in mind:

  • “Oh! quante volte” from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Romantic, Italian, lots of drama and coloratura
  • “Obeisson quand leur voix appelle” from Massenet’s Manon – Romantic, French, attention-loving and exciting
  • “Deh, vieni, non tardar” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro  – 18th century, Italian, middle voice, lots of legato line
  • “Mein herr Marquis” from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus– Romantic, German, up-beat, humorous
  • “I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung” from Adam’s Nixon in China – 20th century, English, lots of tritones, and plenty of G, A, B, and D’s

This set hits the four main languages and give a good mix of tempo, major/minor, style, and character.  “Oh!quante volte” has been getting some workouts, but the rest need some attention.  “Obeisson quand leur voix appelle” should be up and running in no time since it’s the aria I have the most experience performing; the trick is keeping it fresh despite all the repetition.  “Deh, vieni, non tardar” is like a winter sweaters in the summer: comfortable but we haven’t hung out together lately.  The last two will probably need some extra attention.  “Mein herr Marquis” because I don’t remember the German and I wasn’t completely comfortable or satisfied with the physical characterization when I learned the piece last year.   “I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung” because it is a stamina challenge and the vocal line is not really pretty (lots of repeated notes and outlining of chords, not much melody).

Don’t worry; I haven’t forgotten about the list of new arias I want to learn!  I have the music for “Un cenno leggiadretto,” I am working on “Quel guardo il cavaliere” and “Adieu, notre petite table,” and I am still looking for the right versions of “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” and “Che fiero momento.”  Although I’d like to use some of these for the Met Audition, I think it’s smarter for me to stick with familiar repertoire.  This way I can focus on polishing instead of stressing out.  Once again, self-preservation!  It’s a way of life.