Sometimes it’s hard to believe that people pay me just to enjoy my life and sing.
A few months ago, I was asked by Maestro Benjamin Shwartz to do a concert of “American Ditties” in Ingolstadt, Germany, as part of a summer concert series present by Audi. These ditties ended up including things like Summertime & I Got Rhythm (Gershwin), I Feel Pretty (Bernstein), and What Good Would the Moon Be? (Weill). Of course I said yes! And it was so much fun. And easy to sing, and just FUN.
The setting was in a vast lawn amidst a beautiful garden, beside the Danube river. There was a huge outdoor stage, constructed for the event, and an equally huge sound system. 30,000 people showed up on the grass that night, and I got to serenade each and every one. :-D
Big plus: there was a ten minute, very fancy firework show afterwards.
Big plus #2: I got to test an Audi A8 for a day. Boo-yeah.
Here’s a clip that I used as inspiration for this concert, and stole a lot from:
Warning: this page isn’t going to be about just opera anymore. But it’s still all about music and sound.
I LOVE video games, have often been called a “gamer”, and also enjoy hanging out with other gamers. Back in February, I started taking a wider look at the music business, and specifically I wanted to know where else I could employ my talents. I took some classes in some of the modern technology that is required in the music industry, all the while continuing opera. THEN, I realized that I could employ both my passion for music and video games into one goal: writing sound for games.
Video Game Composition works astonishingly well with opera, because there are many times when I need to stay home and be quiet- but still have a burning need to create music. Also, composers for video games often work on their own, not needing to be physically present at the company. I have all of the basics of music theory down, and even privately studied composition in college for a few years. A lot of the orchestration techniques in opera transfer directly into video game scoring. So, musically— I’m really well qualified.
Some people might think this is a strange hobby for an opera singer, but I am incredibly excited about the future of video games, especially Virtual Reality. I want to help shape the new worlds that are being created. Opera is one of the highest forms of traditional musical expression, but the game industry is exploding and evolving at hyper-speed- what better combination could there be, than to take the highest traditions in music, and use those to help shape and evolve new realities? AND, I don’t have to stop one to do the other. I can do both!
I wanted to share an example of something I wrote a couple months ago while learning Logic X. Some of the other students thought it would work well in a video game. What do you think?
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:
This fundraising concert was organized by the talented Carol Wong, whose playing is always a standard of excellence. The program had stars and young artists from the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and each was featured in 2 songs of their choosing. I really enjoyed being able to pick any two songs that I wanted, and chose “Joy”, by Ricky Ian Gordon, and “What Wealth of Rapture”, by Rachmaninov.
The concert was outstanding! Each person shined in a different way, and I was so impressed with how Carol put together all of these different songs to form a cohesive program. We raised $53,000 altogether for the Siteman Cancer Center, which will aid in research. I feel grateful to be able to sing for a good cause. :-)
“Soprano Elizabeth Zharoff’s Pamina was well sung and affectingly acted.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 2014
When I learned that Isaac Mizrahi was going to be directing me in the upcoming Flute production at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, I most definitely did do a double-check in the mirror. And decided that I’ve been exercising and eating quite well for the past couple of years- and it shows.
I want to take a paragraph to express how much I love the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. I was Gerdine Young Artist with them for 3 summers, and returned in the lead role of Flute this year. They’ve also brought me back for concerts and special events. Not only are they a joy to work with, but they also break the boundaries between singers and the audience more than any other company I’ve ever seen. The audience is seated close enough to feel our loving spit, and we’re encouraged to mingle after every performance at a candlelit outdoor reception. At the end of the summer, I knew almost all of the regulars by name- and I also liked them all. I think this audience/artist relationship is the largest reason OTSL is so successful.
If one thing stuck out the most to me about this production of Magic Flute, it was the “doubling” that Isaac Mizrahi designed. I had a dancer-double Pamina, and my wig and make-up were designed to look just like her. Of course, she was tiny and, uh blonde. Tee-hee!