Today I had my MacDowell Club performance of the two Rossini concert arias. In the past few years, many of my performances and auditions have been compromised by performance anxiety which has frustrated me. It’s left me vocally dry, unable to unlock my breath, consequently affecting my legato and sostenuto. Sometimes I’ve gotten around it by emoting a whole lot at least to seem artistic. But sometimes, even that doesn’t work.
It has reminded me of when I was a legal secretary and would take pre-employment typing tests. Even though I could type at well above 80wpm, the minute that timer started, I felt as though I was numb, that I was out of my body, that the whole thing wasn’t real. And while I did well, I always felt that I could’ve done better, that my speed was good but my accuracy was not what I expected of myself, and that I would never be hired again. (And I always was.)
This didn’t happen today. As I wrote a few days ago, this was my return to operatic singing. I remember the last time I sang operatically and in Italian – it was 1999, Cosi fan tutte with Milwaukee Opera Theater (Dorabella). It was a great performance, but after that, I moved into my house in Tosa and really started to develop my studio, so that was pretty much it. I’ve auditioned for things in Italian, but performing? Nope.
Today, I felt, as I said before, at home in my classical voice the way I haven’t since Cosi. There was a sweet spot on stage that made me feel like “Hey, this is working! I don’t need to do anything but let it go!” And Carla Coonan played wonderfully for me. Even though she hasn’t accompanied a lot of singers, she was on the spot for everything I did.
So… no performance anxiety. No vocal fatigue. It’s kind of a miracle what your body will do for you when you give it what you need. In this case, what I need is Rossini.
This doesn’t mean I’m giving up cabaret or musical theater. I’d like to work on Margaret in Light in the Piazza and perhaps Madame Morrible in Wicked, Emma Goldman in Ragtime (no? too belty?), and I still want to work with Ryan on cabaret rep. But this has to be part of my life. It just has to.