Category Archives: New Opera

In Tune, BBC Radio 3

2 days ago, I had the delight of being a guest performer on BBC Radio 3’s program, In Tune. Suzy Klein interviewed me (she is so easy to talk with!), and I also performed live 3 pieces, accompanied by the marvelous Andy Smith. You can listen to the whole things or just snippets on their website:

Note: this clip will be taken down in 27 days, so listen soon!

Les Berceaux: just vocals arrangement

I had this idea a couple of months ago, and recorded, but never had time to go through all of the audio. Finally I had some time today, during a really long bus ride coming back from the GameSoundConference in L.A.

This arrangement is based on Faure’s song, Les Berceaux. I’ve always loved the lulling piano part, and hummed it to myself. I decided to divide the piano into 5 major vocal parts, which accompany a 6th part singing the melody as written.  All of these are sung by myself with minimal editing.

This is just the first draft- I plan to continue refining, and I’m also going to put up a video with it, and post on youtube. Still, I thought y’all might enjoy a peek at the process.

Opera Dubstep

About 2 months ago, I decided to join some meet-ups in Silicon Valley. The first one I attended was for Laptop Music Production, in a place called the Hacker’s Dojo. I was blown away by some of the music and sounds people compose on their computers! I also got some great feedback on my own previous computer compositions. I’ll definitely go back.

One of the best things that developed out of that meeting was an innovative collaboration with DJ Van Geaux, who often does dub step/trap/deephouse in clubs around the Bay Area , and in many other national and international scenes. He’s not only creative and easy to collaborate with- he also works super hard. I really, really appreciate that.

I think it’s so awesome how he layered in and filtered my voice. The drop still gives me chills.

Here’s the result of our first collaboration:

“The Night is Alive” by DJ Van Geaux, featuring Elizabeth Zharoff

Orchestration- on your computer

After studying an overview of the technologies available to today’s musician with Berklee Online, I decided that I wanted to be able to make my orchestral compositions sound somewhat real without having to record a live orchestra. Also- I wanted to be able to plug the notes of an aria accompaniment into Logic, sing on top of it, and have a viable YouTube video. So, I enrolled in Orchestration with Berklee Online.

Yes, I’ve studied instruments and classical orchestration before- several times. But I never learned how to apply it to MIDI projects. I purchased the EastWest Gold Library of orchestral samples, and learned how to apply them to musical notation, until an almost realistic recreation of a live orchestra is heard. This is so amazing! I hadn’t fully realized the power of technology, and the implications that it will have in classical music, until I took this course.

Here’s what I mocked-up for my final project: (note- this isn’t perfect, yet. There’s still ORCH2, and a life ahead for learning)

Logic Pro X

I’ve been taking a class with Berklee Online on Logic Pro X, and my brain has been sizzling with excitement. Not only can I now record and edit my own singing much better, but the genres of music I can compose in has expanded like a big bang.

I have been particularly excited about the possibilities of combining classical singing with MIDI accompaniment. This is probably because I’m obsessed with The Fifth Element’s use of Il dolce suono.  So, for the final of the class I decided to compose a re-mix of Solveig’s Lied from Peer Gynt, by Grieg. Here are the results:

How does opera really work?

After a number of rough business moments this past year, I’ve been faced with some serious questions about opera. It’s such a peculiar industry- essentially functioning as a non-profit in the United States, and sponsored by governments in most European countries, and yet the managers and opera house directors are artists are all working for a profit, because, heh- you have to make money to live.

Most artists gloss over this point, because they only aim to do best what they love: sing fricking beautiful music. But then at some point, they have a contract that goes haywire, and suddenly they are wondering how it all really works. So, after I encountered such a thing, I decided to go back to school, and take an online course on Music Business with Berklee School of Music online.

The 3 most valuable things I learned:
1) Opera in the states exists only because of donors. Not only do they love to hear it, they also pour their money and their lives into it, just so that artists can continue to create. Never, ever, ever, shun a donor.
2) The wider music business world is much more dynamic than opera. Classical music is in a sort of bubble, which technology is just beginning to chip away on.
3) An artist can be their own manager, but not necessarily their own agent. They need someone else to help them establish connections.

The most exciting things I learned:
4) Artists don’t need to be limited to just one area of the industry. If you like some sort of other music, do that too. Think of it as cross-training.
5) I like opera/electronica (like in The Fifth Element), and I want to and CAN make that.
6) I also like video games, and want to and CAN make their music TOO.

I still love and sing opera around the world, and will continue to post about it. But I’m going to post about all kinds of music now- and I hope you’ll read it, and listen to it, and love it as much as I do.

After 3 months of Music Business, my happiness level sky-rocketed. I feel more in control of my life than ever before, because I know better how to direct it.