Saturday, October 30, 2010

Speaking of Pirates and Halloween...

Got this link from a couple of friends' FB status. Very good video - well sung, the scansion works, clear, uncluttered images, and a lot of fun. Perfect timing, too, given that I'll be seeing Pirates this evening, the show this song is taken from. Enjoy!

Pirates for Halloween

I don't generally get into Halloween. Last year we were on vacation, 2 years ago I was on stage (Sound of Music ran over that weekend), carving a pumpkin is too much work, and I generally get my costume fix by doing community theater. However, the production of Pirates I auditioned for is running over Halloween and at tonight's performance (for adults) and tomorrow's matinee (for kids), they're encouraging people to dress up as pirates, Stanley wards, etc. They're actually having a contest, with the winners getting a walk-on in the show! Even better, they're having audience sing-alongs for at least a few of the songs, though I don't know whether we'll do our singing before the show or during it. I'm going with my friend & former voice teacher & her oldest; we all plan to dress up and sing our little hearts out. Can't wait!

The one downer is that the Chief is opting out. He's had his fill of Pirates, hates Halloween, and I suspect would much rather not be seen with me if I'm in costume. :D

"La Belle Helene" it is

As expected, I wasn't called back for Romeo & Juliet. I don't have the official word, but I'm assuming that means I'm not cast. The Chief took the call from the Whorehouse folks yesterday - "thanks but no thanks". That surprised me a little - I didn't think I'd sung that badly - and I find I wanted to be the one to tell them "no, thanks". :D However, since I'd already accepted ensemble for La Belle Helene, it doesn't really matter.

Belle Helene read-thru tomorrow - we'll get our copies of the score & libretto, find out what the director has in mind for us, start digging into the music. It's been too long - can't wait to get into a production again!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And "Whorehouse" for the trifecta

Last night was my 3rd audition in 4 days; this one was for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I picked an audition piece at the last minute so I didn't get much rehearsal time with it. That showed last night - I didn't sing badly, but I was so busy worrying about killing the "opera" in my sound that I ended up killing the sound a bit too. I didn't do badly with the dance combo, which was kinda fun, but I'd be very surprised if they offer me anything but ensemble.

Of my 9-person group, 8 of us sang unremarkably. The 9th, however, did a vibrant rendition of Eddie Rabbitt's "Kentucky Rain" - obviously well rehearsed, and he had a lovely, rich baritone. He was also the only one of the lot of us who actually sounded country. I don't know how he did with the dance combo - I was too busy worrying about how I was doing with it - but I'll be very much surprised if they don't cast him.

Here's where I stand on the 3 auditions:
- I've just been offered chorus in La Belle Helene;
- still waiting to hear about Romeo & Juliet, though I'm expecting "thanks but no thanks"; and
- we were assured last night that we all will hear one way or the other by Friday night about Whorehouse.

When I saw the e-mail with La Belle Helene in the subject line and callbacks not until Thursday, I had a moment of excitement; until I opened it and found the "thank you for auditioning; we'd like to offer you a part in the chorus". Sigh. I keep hoping that eventually I'll break outta the chorus with this group, but there are too many other, younger, better mezzos out there. Still, given a choice between ensemble in this show and in Whorehouse, I'll go with this group, largely because I want to work with this director. She does this professionally, so I want to see how she works. I do want to work with the other group, but their rehearsals are quite a bit further away (17 miles one way vs 8 miles round trip). I'll just keep auditioning for them; eventually I'll get in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

And now for something a bit different...

... at least for me - an audition for a straight play. No music involved at all.

Yesterday's was for a production of Romeo & Juliet. The director got us chuckling in his introductory remarks when, after thanking us for auditioning, he mentioned he was pleased to see how many of us weren't auditioning for Juliet. Maybe because I spent so much energy on Friday's audition, I wasn't at all nervous about yesterday's, even though I went in without a prepared monologue. I just did a cold reading of one of the monologues from the audition site which I'd downloaded only a few hours earlier. As I was doing it, I felt my reading was a bit too same-y - not enough variety of emotions that might have been displayed - but I don't think I did too badly when they had us reading scene selections. Didn't fall on my face or otherwise disgrace myself, so I'm satisfied with how I did. I didn't cover myself in glory, though, and there were at least 2 women there who did quite well, with more auditions tonight, so I expect a "thanks but no thanks" call sometime in the next week.

Now to spend some time with my audition song for tomorrow night (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), do laundry, fix something for lunch, put some dinner on the table...

Put down that drink...

... and swallow what's in your mouth before opening this link. Kudos to Sears for taking a silly idea and running with it. Happy Halloween, all!

"Mom moment"

The Chief was out mowing the weeds today while I was doing some photo organizing for insurance purposes. Suddenly I hear him tap-tap-tapping on the front door - there was a hummingbird in the impatiens bed! I grabbed my camera and started clicking away. I'd need a much better camera with a very fast shutter to keep up with that little hummer, but I did get one or two pics that weren't too bad.

This one was a different breed than the ones we've seen at the cabin - smaller, with a long beak or proboscis or whatever, and mostly browns. At least, that's what color the blur was. (I ended up deleting nearly half the pictures because they were too blurry to see anything but smears of color.) Given its size, color and shape, the little bird looked more like a large hornet or something similar.

It kept zipping from one flower to another, concentrating on the pink ones. It considered & rejected one of the purple ones and seemed to ignore the red ones entirely. It also zipped away several times, stopping briefly to check out the Chief's trouser leg, the can of WD40, or the reel of bright-orange extension cord (it's an electric mower) before returning to the pink impatiens. I wonder if it'll tell the rest of the family about the buffet...

Mom loved hummingbirds, always had at least one or two feeders stocked. I wish I could call her up & tell her about our little visitor. I've been planting impatiens in that bed for 10 years at least and this is the first time we've ever seen a hummingbird anywhere near them. I hope they make this a regular haunt.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I think it went OK

First audition of the weekend tonight. The accompanist and I had some tempo differences, and I forgot to warn her about a ritard near the middle, but it felt pretty good. I may have gotten a little too dance-y at one pint at the expense of my sound, but I don't think I did badly. The acoustics in the room weren't great - another cavern in cinderblock & terrazzo tile - which made it hard to tell.

This was the first night of auditions; the 2nd is Sunday, with callbacks Thursday night. Only 2 roles for mezzos, and I have no idea how many of us will be trying for those roles. I'm not confident that I'll get one, but if I make callbacks, I'll be very chuffed indeed.

It was also nice to chat with friends from the company, some of whom I hadn't seen since Grand Duke back in March. I'd've stayed longer, but I hadn't had much dinner so I was getting hungry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's true - you do block out painful memories

How else can you account for the fact that every year, despite previous experience, I'm always a bit surprised that my upper arm hurts after my flu shot. :p

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Great Scot!

A handful of us from my choir sang a lovely wedding yesterday. The groom's family was proud of their Scots heritage - the men were all beautifully turned out in kilts, and the groom & his father both had their own dress gillies (ghillies?). They had a piper in full dress pipe the bride down the aisle. The piper then stood at attention throughout the wedding, moving only when the groom's sister needed to stand near that spot to sing the Schubert "Ave Maria" after communion. After the vows, the b&g lit a unity candle, then came to the center of the altar so his parents could pin a tartan sash on her. What a lovely "welcome to the family" gesture! At the end, instead of the usual recessional, the piper piped the b&g down the aisle and out of the church. Said church has a fairly high ceiling, marble columns and altar, and terrazzo-tile floors, so the acoustics were very friendly to those pipes - the piper was quite good, so it sounded great in that church!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm ready - lemme at that audition panel!

Had a good voice lesson this afternoon, felt like I really rocked my audition piece. I had yet to hit the very last note satisfactorily, but we got that fixed. NA has me focused and on the right track for my "dramatic intent" when I sing, the Gs were free & easy - pity that Offenbach audition isn't until next Friday, 'cause I feel ready to nail that audition.

We also spent a little time on the piece I sang for my Pirates audition, as a sort of Plan B, e.g., if my allergies decide to act up so that the Gs become problematic. That went well, too; nailed it on only the 2nd or 3rd time through. NA was very complimentary, too; told me I have a "mammoth" voice, an operatic heft.

There are 2 other shows auditioning next weekend that I'm seriously considering trying for. I can't see me having time to work up a "classical monologue" for Romeo & Juliet; it'll have to be cold readings from whatever sides they have on hand. I'm not terribly optimistic about that one because there are only 3 roles for older women and there'll probably be a lot of competition for them, but I do want to start auditioning for that company and eventually do a show or few with them.

And I don't know what to sing if I decide to audition for Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I got a copy of the soundtrack and decided the music sounds like it would be a lot of fun to sing. I'd have to choose carefully - I have to sound like I'm auditioning for the Grand Ol' Opry, not grand opera. I've never attempted singing country, just Broadway, so I may audition just to stretch myself a bit.

Of the 3 shows, I figure I've got the best chance at getting cast in the Offenbach, and after today's lesson, I might even have a shot at something more than chorus, depending, of course, on who else auditions, what the directors are looking for and so on. R&J is the longest shot - I'm assuming there'll be a lot of women auditioning for those 3 roles, most of whom will have a lot more experience doing classical plays than I do. Whether I get offered anything in Whorehouse will depend on whether I can sound non-operatic; given how hard I've been working to achieve that sound, it'll be a different kind of challenge to keep it in check.

Wish me luck!

Since they can't bake...

Found this link on someone's LJ. I never knew would have guessed big cats like squash, but these are having an awful lot of fun playing with their food:

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The Chief surprised me with a Kindle DX for my birthday. Really surprised me; I know I told him a while ago, when he asked, that I wasn't particularly interested in one. However. Now that I've got the thing, I've already downloaded a few free books. I'll give it a try; he really wants me to love the thing, and he's been dying to give it to me ever since it came in a week or so ago. And the thought of being able to carry thousands of books in a single device is certainly appealing. (Can I organize by categories or genres or something? I'll have to find out.)

My big question is: do I keep the DX, which has about a 9"-diagonal screen, or go with the smaller (6" diagonal) 3G WiFi, which weighs a little less than half what the DX does? I think I'm probably willing to give up the larger "page" in favor of greater portability. I might be a bit more inclined to carry it around if it's smaller and lighter, and really, that's what it's all about. Why have it if I'm not comfortable using it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lovely wedding

The Chief & I went to a wedding yesterday at a local conference center belonging to the USPS, of all things, that apparently started life as a convent. (The dinner was in the Stained Glass Hall, formerly a chapel.) The grounds were surprisingly extensive and beautifully maintained; the landscaping wasn't extravagant, but very nicely done. Little wonder, then, that the ceremony was outside on the gently sloping lawn. The breeze was favorable, carrying the trio's music over the wedding party and guests. (Oboe, flute & cello - 3 strings wouldn't have carried as well.) I wish I'd been able to tell the musicians how much I enjoyed the music - they sounded very good together and played very well.

The weather was absolutely perfect, too - very warm for October, with sunny skies and just enough clouds to be ornamental. Thus none of us minded when we were directed to a charming little courtyard for drinks and hors d'oeuvres after the ceremony. It was nice & shady, with lovely gardens (I should've taken notes on the shade plants they used) and a tiny little fountain.

For dinner we repaired to the Stained Glass Hall, where a band entertained us with standards (I knew all of them - I love that stuff!) until we'd finished eating. Then the band switched from American Songbook to American Bandstand, playing a variety of lively things - Beatles, country, B-52s et al. - with a few ballads mixed in for slow dancing. The Chief claims to have 2 left feet - he's certainly not one to dance if he can avoid it - but he did get me up for one slow dance.

The flowers were beautiful - burgundy, deep oranges and pinks with a few lighter colors to set them off. I don't usually care for "fall colors" - I'm not an orange person - but these were elegantly done. The bride's hair was smoothed back into a classically elegant bun with deep red flowers around it, which looked gorgeous against her dark hair.

The bride is an enthusiastic person anyway, so it was fun watching her throughout. During the actual vows, she started to get misty-eyed and had to borrow the groom's hanky. The second time that happened, she just pulled it back out of his pocket herself, dabbed at her eyes, and replaced it, which was good for a chuckle from the guests. She was obviously thrilled with the whole thing - loved the band, loved dancing, loved answering questions about their plans. If that girl had been any higher with excitement, we'd have been pulling her down from the VERY high ceiling! :D I can't help but wonder how she'll be when they decide to start a family and she learns she's pregnant.

Like the first day of school

So I've finished my 2-year stint downtown and return to the "mothership" (as one of my erstwhile colleagues joked) tomorrow, starting in a new office. I know there's at least one person there I've met before (we were in the same office over 20 yrs ago!) and there may be others, but until tomorrow I won't know for sure. I've done this changing offices thing repeatedly over a 30-year career, so there's just the faintest touch of the "will they like me? will I be able to open my locker?" nerves.

Mostly I'm looking forward to the new challenges. The learning curve will be straight up initially because I'll have so many different things to get read up on, but that variety will keep me happy and engaged far longer than if this office worked only one or two things. They also get a lot of new people rotating through on assorted in-house "apprenticeship" programs, so I'll get to do a bit of mentoring, as well as learning from them and enjoying their energy and enthusiasm.

Tomorrow will probably be devoted to things like finding where my desk is, whether there's an office coffee mess or snack fund, how big the office fridge is, getting something with everyone's names so I can start learning who's who, and taking care of such administrivia as making sure Payroll and HR have my new info. With luck, I'll even get a little actual work done, if only to get added to their database so I can start reading up on their projects.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

"Up on the roof"

We've had a problem with leaks in the front of the living room and the Chief has been up on the roof a dozen times or more, applying a roofing tape that's supposed to seal leaks. He's made a lot of progress - we're down to one bucket when it rains, from a high of four - but we still need to find a roofer who'll return phone calls and is willing to do a patch, not a full replacement.

Today found the Chief up on the back part of the roof. It's nearly flat, so we have a rubber/composite surface there rather than shingles. He was painting it with a sealant that also fills any pinholes that might have developed. The stuff has aluminum in it, so it's very silvery and shiny - keeps that part of the house cooler in the summer. It also looked kinda funky splattered on the Chief's face; the Silver Shadow? Silver Fox?

Chugging along

Another hard-work voice lesson yesterday. With my Pirates audition behind me, I've resumed work on Offenbach's Hymn to Bacchus (Orphee aux Enfers), which I'm working up to use as an audition piece. I chose it because I plan to audition for a production of a different Offenbach, La Belle Helene, but also to broaden my repertoire a little and to challenge myself, because has a broader range - 2 full octaves - than anything else I've auditioned with.

This piece has a couple of phrases near the end that start on the G above the staff and descend from there. That G has been something of a challenge for me, as my throat keeps trying to tighten up when I get to the F at the top of the staff. Warming up to a Bb or a C hasn't been as successful as I'd hoped, but yesterday NA gave me a couple of exercises that will help. Better, we were woodshedding the "dramatic intent" of the piece and I was concentrating hard enough on that that the G finally came freely. Took some doing, but the last couple of times I got through the song, that G actually felt pretty good.

La Belle Helene
auditions are still 2 weeks away. If I can discipline myself to practice most days, if not every day, and try the exercises NA gave me, I should be able to go into that audition and surprise the MD (for whom I've auditioned for any number of productions over the past 6 or 7 years at least) with how much more I can do and how much better I'm singing these days. That, at least, is my hope. Now to get to work...

Monday, October 04, 2010

What a great guy!

I'm wrapping up my last week in this office. Toted 3 boxes of stuff to the mailroom to be shipped to my next office (different building). have been purging files & such for the past couple of weeks. My beloved husband volunteered to drop me at the train at 6 o'clock this rainy Monday morning, then drove downtown in rush-hour traffic to pick me up, as I was bringing two big totes full of personal stuff off my desk. (There's a limit to how many boxes I could take to the mail room; I think it's an anti-packrat mechanism.)

Just to emphasize - he volunteered to pick me and my stuff up from work, driving downtown at the height of rush hour, so I wouldn't have to schlep my "luggage" on a crowded train. Not only that, but he volunteered to get up much earlier than necessary to take me to the train so I wouldn't have to retrieve my car from the lot after work.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - he's definitely a keeper!

"A weekend in the country"

The Chief and I spent the weekend at a festival out in the hills - mild temps, sunny & gorgeous! Perfect day to inhale the aromas of apple butter, funnel cakes, brats and other "fair food" while browsing a few vendors, checking out the local history museum, and buying my usual apple butter & baking pumpkin. Added a twist this year, though; I let the pumpkin vendor talk me into buying a couple of butternut squash too. One will be for a soup experiment, the other will be for pie - she and her mother both swore they make better pumpkin pie than pumpkins do.

We spent Thursday night at the cabin on our way out. Friday morning was the kind that makes us SO glad we have the place: just a touch of chill in the air, sun streaming through the leaves which are just beginning to turn, birds flitting about - the kind of day that must have inspired the psalmist to write "This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!" Glorious!