It’s time for me to face the Fach….

The day before the oh-so-successful MacDowell Club performance, which clinched my knowledge that, yes, I am a classical singer and a good one at that, I auditioned for Sunset Playhouse’s Musical Mainstage Series. I sang Cole Porter’s “Give him the oo-la-la.” It went okay. But when I came home from Baltimore, I found a rejection letter from them.

I wasn’t even going to audition. I’d made up my mind that I am a classical/opera singer and that I wasn’t going to pursue any musical theater kind of stuff. But then I thought, “What the heck.” I shouldn’t have. The best thing I got out of it was that the dress I chose to wear looked really great on me (I’d forgotten I had it!) and I’m going to take it with me to Orlando.

I know that I shouldn’t be upset about not getting cast. Or bitter. It’s what I tell all my students. And it’s not that I haven’t had a lot of rejection over the last 8 years – which coincides with how long it’s been since I lost my focus (i.e., Cudahy Carolers Christmas – my biggest career misstep). But I set myself up for this one by not facing that my Fach is that of classical mezzo-soprano.

And what really bothers me about MT auditions is that you can’t present a whole song. This audition allowed me to do 32 measures. Most do 16. And not from the show. What the hell is that? In opera, you come in with at least one aria from the show you’re auditioning for, plus a few others as well. You pick one, they pick one. You get to display a whole range of emotions. You have to demonstrate that you can sing that role, not just that you can sing.

I won’t be auditioning for any more musical theater roles, unless it’s something SO legit that I can justify it.  And as far as auditions go, most everyone in town has already heard me. They know what I have to offer and if they want to get in touch with me, they can call me.

So right now my focus is on my upcoming performance with Beverly Thiele (“Mother Comfort”) and Steven Stoler (“Abraham and Isaac”) in the Hal Leonard Showcase at NATS in Orlando (July 1, 1pm!). And then on my November 18 recital at Cardinal Stritch University with soprano Amelia Spierer and mezzo Kay Belich (my partners in crime), accompanied by Dr. James Norden.

I will be indulging my creative side in a couple of song parodies to be performed…. not giving anything away just yet!

I’m ME again!

Today I performed the Chausson “Chanson Perpetuelle” with Muzika Piano Trio and guests Kay Black and Rebecca Schulz at St. John’s on the Lake. I have to say that it was the best singing I’d done publicly in awhile. I have to thank Connie Haas for making me realize that I was off-track (too much musical theater!).

One of my friends said, “I’ve never heard you sing classical before.” I thought, “You haven’t??? What the hell???” I guess it’s been awhile.

But I felt like I was singing organically, both technically and dramatically. I really felt engaged with the music in a way that I haven’t been for quite some time.

Things are feeling great. Next up: “Mother Comfort” and “Abraham & Isaac” in the Hal Leonard Showcase at NATS Orlando, and a recital with Kay Belich, Amelia Spierer and Jim Norden in November. I’m psyched.

I do have a new manifestation of nerves, which I noticed at the Coronation Mass concert and again today: Burping. Fortunately, it was easy to overcome.

I suck.

That is pretty much all I have to say.

Not as a singer. Not as teacher. But in knee-jerk reactions that I am usually able to control.

I did not control them this past weekend and I hurt someone I care about. Without even intending to.

My apologies. You know you are. Please know that right now, my opinion of myself is….

that I suck.

50 shades of ….

I was thinking of how I would explain my feelings about a recent situation to my sister, the interior designer,  in a way that she would be able to relate to.

Imagine clients came to you and told you that they really, really liked the color red and wanted their house to reflect that.

So you create a palette of reds, reflecting the nuances and subtleties as well as having some bold accents here and there. A true example of chiaroscuro, bright and dark, light and shadow. Elegant, classy, at times understated, but definite pops of color in places where it would be warranted. There’s rose, there’s burgundy, there’s some cherry red pillows, all of them helping to express what that room needs to express. You worked on that palette for months, consulting with the clients, getting to know their house and tastes and came up with the perfect design. Both you and the clients are totally thrilled with the design and are excited to see it implemented.

And then they went to buy paint and fabric, with their carefully selected design choices in hand, and the store manager told them that what they really want is fire engine red. Everywhere. On the walls, on the floor, the sofas, chairs, everything. That’s what they really want and what’s more, that’s the only thing that the store manager will sell them.

So now you have a room with no subtlety, with no light, no shadow, and it just screams at everyone from the moment they walk in to the moment they hurriedly rush out the door.  And you are angry because they took someone else’s advice in the moment after all the time you spent working together (plus people who know that you worked together will think that you’re responsible for this one-dimensional outcome, and that does nothing for your reputation).

And that’s how I feel.

All singers should have a palette of colors to draw from. You could define that as chest mix, head mix, belt, head voice, etc. You can define it by dynamics, by tempi, by every element that you have to offer as a performer.  I try my hardest to help you find that palette so that when you’re ready to perform, you have something of beauty to show us (which goes beyond merely pretty) and to tell us a story, a story that has a beginning and an end.

Don’t just throw the vocal equivalent of fire engine red paint at us willy-nilly. (Unless, of course, we’re wearing fur.) Otherwise you have wasted the teacher’s and your own time and your money. And you’re not telling a story.