Monthly Archives: May 2014

Lucio Silla- Bordeaux, France

Holy. Geez. Goodness. I will never sing a more challenging role.

Giunia, in Lucio Silla. This is an early Mozart opera, written before he really knew how to write. The running melismatic notes just keep going- and they don’t stop for a singer to breath, because prepubescent Mozart knew how to write better for violins. Oh, and he threw in 4 humongous arias, three of which are ten minutes long.

To top it off: sing it in a corset. Really. Not kidding. Can’t breath? Okay, we’ll actually stage a part where you loosen the corset during your aria so that you can hit the high note at the end. … did I mention that I like challenges?

The difficulties this role presented drove me to become a better musician. I should shout out a huge thanks to my cast and Jane Glover, our conductor, who led us through an extraordinarily difficult work of music and theater. My costume was literally dripping from perspiration by the end.

Do check out more photos in the library- the shots and lighting were AMAZING.

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Philly Flute

Who wouldn’t want to be a princess? Who father throws a party in which a play is staged just for her? And then become a part of that play, and weave her way through an enormous hedge-maze and fog on-stage until she finds her one-true-love and prince, Tamino?

This production of the Magic Flute at Opera Philadelphia is my favorite. I may be biased because of the pink dress.

But I also might be biased because Philadelphia is a great house and city to sing in. The company works so smoothly, thanks to a fantastic staff. The opera house and the schools (including Curtis) are incredibly supportive of each other, and members from each always attend performances. And the musical staff always, always delivers excellence. I love working, singing, and being in Philly.

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Semperoper Dresden, Germany

In the fall of 2012, I found myself in intensive German classes in the most beautiful city in Eastern Germany. I spent the next year there as a part of the Semperoper Junges Ensemble, singing my first Violetta, and also sang Pamina, the Dew Fairy, Sandman, and many other small roles and concerts.

The best time of the year in Dresden is definitely Christmas. The market is splendid! This is also when Hansel und Gretel shows at the opera, and many children attend. One of my favorite moments in the theater was when I flew out onto the stage, and the music was quiet and waiting for my first notes, and a little kid yelled out, “Sandmann!!!” The German children have  a cartoon that looks like the Sandman, and they sing along with it each night to prepare for sleep. It made me smile every time I sang the role.
My first Traviata in Dresden:

Curtis: the hardest school to get into, and the best

Gaining admittance into the Curtis Institute of Music really was a dream come true. I was surrounded by the highest caliber of young musicians for three years, and the performances were magical.  I cannot write enough good about this school.

The most memorable experiences were the operas. Curtis’s Opera Department puts on at least 4 major operas per year. Nothing teaches more than experience, and they were always sure to bring in highly qualified guest conductors and stage directors, as well as provide excellent coaching in various languages. I’m posting pictures below of some of the best moments caught on camera:

Cleopatra, in Antony and Cleopatra, by Samuel Barber

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Plus mp3 of “Give Me Some Music”:

 

The Cunning Little Vixen (in Czech!!! thank you to Milos Repicky, for those coachings)

Cunning Little Vixen (Czech) VixenBlanky

 

And Marguerite, in Faust

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I truly still dream about my time there, maybe because I loved it so much and sometimes wish I was back. Final pic: from graduation, with a much-loved benefactor and brilliant composer.

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How to get the most travel out of your degree

So… you’ve finished high school. You want to get a college degree. Phrassertantjasmount Where should you spend the next 4 years of life?

My advice: take 5 years, and learn the most through travel and study abroad.

Just after high school, I went to Rouen, France, with Rotary Club Student Exchange. I attended a French high school part-time and the Conservatoire de Rouen full-time. By the end of year 1, I was fluent in French, and could sing French coloratura with grace and ease.

Then I attended Pacific Lutheran University in Washington for 2 years. This is where my standard liberal arts education took place, so I can write beautifully in English (see this blog), as well as construct a fugue or chorale. I also sang a couple of operas, and learned how to die on stage (Street Scene, Anna Maurrant, 2007).

While at PLU, I signed up for another study-abroad program in Chengdu, China. WOW. Not only were my eyes opened to an entirely non-Western way of living, my heart was also touched by the tenacious humanity I witnessed in rural places like Tibet. And I also learned some much about Chinese music, including extensive work on a set of Chinese folk songs at the Conservatory in Chengdu. The MP3 of one of those is at the bottom of this post. The pictures below are from a trip to Mt. Everest, seen only by the light of the full moon, and a concert in Chengdu.

Everest in Moonlight

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And after France, PLU, and China, I decided to formally finish my Bachelors degree at Oberlin Conservatory, in Ohio. This school is hardcore training for any would-be opera singer. I was completely immersed in music studies for two years, hardly coming out of them for socializing or free time. The theory and music history classes are fierce, though not nearly as fierce as the opera production auditions. domain info I sang in three operas while at Oberlin, and landed leading roles in all three.  Below is the most amusing of those- myself and Alexandra Roth as Stepsisters in Cendrillon (Cinderella).

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Undergrad was simply an amazing experience- in which I learned equally about life and music. If you’re going to pay $40,000 a year, then take my advice and get the most bang for your buck: travel, ask questions about everything, and don’t waste a moment.

Extra goody: a recording of my favorite Chinese song that I learned in Chengdu, and will always keep in my repertoire. The English title is “The Rose’s Three Wishes”