Tag Archives: San Diego

Competition and Contemplation

I had a lot to be grateful for this year, developments and opportunities I was eager to share, but I deliberated for a while before deciding to share some of my very private thoughts about singing in this year’s Musical Merit. It would have been easier to say nothing about my experience, but as this blog is about life and not just the best and most amazing parts of being a singer, I felt it was important not to sweep it under the rug.

So what happened? I was nervous in the hours leading up to my time slot, but once the music started, most of the nerves melted away. I started with “At the Well,” and the judges asked for “Silver Aria,” Presentation of the Rose, and “Green.” Everything went just fine. Nothing terrible happened. Perhaps if something had gone horribly wrong, I would have been able to come up with a clear cause-and-effect — I made Debussy roll over in his grave with my intonation and horrible French diction, therefore I did not place. 

There were a few things I wish I’d done differently (hmmm that C# could have been narrower and taller), but overall, I was happy with how I sang. I left the room in a great mood and ready to enjoy the rest of my mini-vacation:


Feeling pretty good after the semi. San Diego, 2014.

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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!


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


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


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


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

San Diego Opera: Memories and a Turning Point

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.” – Louis L’amour

It’s been almost three years since I lived in San Diego, but this week it was almost as if I were transported back to the beach, back to the Civic Theater, right back into my memories of San Diego Opera by the outpouring of emotions following the announcement that SDO would be no more after this season. I know the sadness I feel is likely not at the level of those who have been part of SDO for many, many years or those of my friends who performed in the Verdi Requiem this past Thursday… But my heart is with you all.

I couldn’t help but reminisce about  my first production with SDO. Madame Butterfly, sung by Patricia Racette. How that was my first up-close experience with opera. How I was at a point in my life when I was truly questioning what I was doing with my life (working and not singing). How I desperately wanted to pursue music again. How I wanted to start voice lessons again. How I was cast as a super, and during a rehearsal found the courage to strike up a conversation with a chorister who referred me to a teacher.

That teacher, Dianna, would then introduce me Enrique, who hugely impacted my life and saw me off to graduate school. It was while studying with Enrique that I was hired for the SDO chorus for Turandot with Lise Lindstrom. That was my first experience singing in an opera. I still remember how nervous I was walking across the plaza from the parking garage to the rehearsal space. How excited I was to sign in on the chorister sign-in sheet. How unsure I was as to where I was supposed to sit and then the relief that there a seating chart. How magical it was to be part of that group, making that music together. How I loved every moment, didn’t mind the long rehearsals, couldn’t wait to do it again. How I was actually sick during one of the performance weekends and was on some crazy cough suppressant that made me a bit loopy. How my dressing room partner read my Tarot cards, and how I was so antsy about getting into grad school and wondering what life held in store for me.

I never had a concrete plan for moving back to San Diego, but I always hoped that I would have the chance to sing as part of the SDO family again. It is surreal that this hazy dream/assumption might not ever have a real shot at happening. Over the past few days, I’ve observed my friends and colleagues react to this shocking announcement and work through their emotions. There were expressions of deep sadness, a sense of loss, grief, bewilderment, denial, and yes, there was also disbelief and anger… and then I witnessed a turning point when beyond the anger was a seed of defiance, an unwillingness to just sit back and let this happen.

Times are changing. Every opera singer, every classical musician, everyone involved in the performing arts knows that keeping an opera company afloat is a challenge and that most companies are struggling. I’m watching my friends mourn the end of SDO while I try to reconcile myself to the idea of a San Diego withouth San Diego Opera. But I also see the ideas being thrown around, the passion this has stirred, the fight that my friends still have left in them.

To anyway who is reading this, to all my friends in San Diego, to all those who at one point thought about going to San Diego to be involved in opera – don’t give up this city, on music, on opera. When one door closes another opens. I have the feeling that something amazing will rise from these ashes.


La Jolla Cove. La Jolla, 2012.


11 months later

It’s been just over 11 months since I embarked on my singing journey, moving out of San Diego, first to San Francisco for the summer and then Arizona for school.  I’ve been back in San Diego a few times, but every “visit” had a rushed feeling to it.  The first visit was really just a pit-stop as I drove from San Jose to Phoenix (my brother and I decided to break up the 12-hour by spending a night in San Diego before heading East into the desert).  The next two trips were for singing: one for the Messiah (the weekend after my jury and before the rest of my finals, yikes!) and the other for the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Young Artist Competition (3rd place, yay!).  Both were weekend marathons of driving, rehearsing, singing, and then driving back.  It wasn’t until this past weekend when I went to San Diego for my friend and fellow-soprano Jen’s senior recital that I relaxed and relished in the things I missed so much about the area.  Of course, I couldn’t stop myself from making this a working vacation by scheduling a rehearsal with the pianist I’m working with for the Musical Merit audition… but I got that out of the way early on – driving 6 hours, warming up and practicing at my alma mater, then jumping right into an hour-long rehearsal to run all 8 pieces of music – so I could spend the next 1.5 days enjoying the things I had to say goodbye to 11 months ago.


Managed to see an impressive number of friends in one visit, including former roommates, co-workers, a cousin, and my teacher-turned-mentor.  Catching-up, revelations, reassurances, reminiscing, planning…


Maybe I have the wrong impression about the food scene in Phoenix because I seem to go to the same 3 places repeatedly and in rotation, but food in San Diego seems more interesting and more delicious. Also, there are more Asian tea shops with much more satisfying and crave-worthy teas.

Pistachio crusted salmon

Tried a new restaurant with Enrique: Finch’s Wine Bar and Bistro in downtown La Jolla. This is their pistachio crusted salmon.

fruity and refreshing

Strawberry and passion fruit teas at Tea Garden. Not pictured: the amazing milk green tea and fried tofu Kristina treated me to at Tea n’ More.


Natasha still teaches on Saturday mornings, so I indulged myself and surprised her by showing up for her class.  She was my first yoga teacher and remains one of the most positive and powerful souls I know.  Walking over to the gym, rolling out my mat, and hearing her voice – it was like I’d never left.  The class was superb – we went through the primary series – and I came out sweaty, flexible, and full of joy.


Phoenix has its charm, and I’m getting used to the heat, but I miss having the water a few miles away.  After brunch, my cousin, his girlfriend, and I walked down to Scripps Park in La Jolla so I could get my ocean-fix.

Headed toward the water.

Looking down the coast in La Jolla. Didn’t have time to go into the water, but having the wind in my hair was good.

La Jolla. The horizon is that much more mysterious when it’s floating along the waves.

Jen’s recital went well, and I loved the repertoire she presented.  In particular, the English and French pieces stood out.  She sounded great, and the new concert hall (which wasn’t there when I was going to school) is shiny and lovely.  I’d love a chance to sing in there someday!

In less than 2 weeks I’ll be back on San Diego for Musical Merit.  We’ve already made plans to go salsa dancing the Wednesday I’m in town, but the rest of the week will likely be less adventurous: I’ll need to stay focused on the audition. The fun can come right after!