Sunday, November 30, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A number of the blogs I follow seem to have gone through some sort of transition over the past months. Posts became less frequent or never appeared at all, burnout seemed to be prevalent, and now these writers seem to have found themselves heading in a new direction or writing with a renewed resolve.
Looking at the course of my own blog over the past months, I've noticed that since my time in San Francisco at the beginning of the summer, the frequency of my entries has dwindled in frequency, sometimes with as much as a month in between posts. Even pictures have been completely absent from my entries lately. To be completely honest, much like those other writers whom I admire and avidly read, I just haven't felt connected to my own blog in the same way as when I started it.
When I started this blog, I had been out on my own, freelancing as a singer for a little less than a year. It was the first time in my life that I was outside of any structured existence, away from any sort of formal training program or apprenticeship. I was working in Europe for the first time in my career and learning how to grapple with the challenges of a musical life on the road. In some ways, I started this literary journey in an attempt to find some answers to the questions I had in life, to find a way to process my experiences, to attempt to feel a little less alone and a little more connected to the world.
Over the past two and half years, I have found many of those answers that I was searching for, and I have processed much of the huge transition that these past three years have been since I finished my formal studies. I've grown comfortable with myself and my nomadic, musical lifestyle, I am beginning to enjoy it, and I have felt myself spiral forward on the coils of both personal and musical progress. And yet, life, like time, has a fluid quality to it – it just incessantly flows forward, and with each answer acquired, more questions arise; with each step forward on the path, more forks in the road appear, and so the journey, the adventure, the discovery continue on.
My friend, Philip, and I were out for drinks one evening at the end of August, discussing various things musical, when he said to me, "Well, what do you want?" I paused, mid-sip, looked at him blankly across the table and found myself not knowing what to say. What I found so challenging about the question was that I suddenly saw that so many of the goals I had worked so hard towards these past couple of years, I had accomplished. Find a manager – check. Get my career going – check. Figure out how to manage life on the road – an ongoing process, but check. Move back North – check. Marry Jeremy – check. Having accomplished so many of my goals, having made the transition from apprentice to artist, having achieved a new rung on the stepladder of maturity, I didn't where to go from there. While I had been thinking that I was settling, I had actually been aimlessly drifting, and I had no idea what was next.
So, inspired, I pondered what I wanted to be next, and I quickly saw that I still have dreams that I want to fulfill and goals that I have yet to achieve. In a couple cases, the goals that I did achieve are not how I imagined they would be, and I need to figure out how to adjust. In order to get to where I am now, I needed to let go of some of my grander fantasies for a while – I needed to put the cart before the horse. But perhaps it's time to think big again and see just how much closer I am to those larger-than-life dreams, and try to find some new intermediary goals to try to accomplish in between.
While I have often wondered why I keep this blog, I always come back to this answer – it brings me happiness. I feel good and virtuous after I've written an entry, and it is rewarding to feel like I have created something. At another point, Philip (my inspirational muse as of late) pointed out to me how charmed the lives that we lead are. "We should enjoy all of this," he said. I am beginning to see that part of the point of this blog is just that. To enjoy my life and the adventurous journey it takes me on.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This week marks the end of perhaps one of the longest musical gestations of my career.
When I was in high school, just discovering opera and just how cool it can be, the very second opera that I fell in love with was Rossini's telling of Cinderella. It was hearing Cinderella's final aria, Non piú mesta, on an aria disc that I had pilfered from my father's extensive collection that drew me in. I was entranced with the vocal acrobatics and the fun, champagne-like music that radiates joy with every note. I searched harder through my father's recording collection and discovered that he owned the complete opera, and I devoured it as fast as I could. I tried to learn the Prince's aria as best as I could from listening to the cd, not even thinking to look for a score, and sang along as best I could with the recording for days.
My fascination with La Cenerentola fell by the wayside as I started to study voice formally, and I became engrossed in the assignments given to me by my teacher – Handel airs, lieder by Schubert, art songs by Fauré, Finzi, and Vaughan Williams. I didn't think about La Cenerentola until I arrived to begin my interrupted Master's studies at Manhattan School of Music, where Tom Muraco immediately instructed me to learn the Prince's aria after our first coaching together. For my first months in New York, I worked diligently at getting the piece into my voice and used it at my audition for the Houston Grand Opera Studio. Shortly after arriving in Houston, I was offered the opportunity to cover the Prince at the Lyric Opera of Chicago – an opportunity that I would have a little over two years to prepare for. For the next two years, I slowly learned the rest of the score in my spare moments between my assignments at HGO, nervously preparing for a chance that seemed like a dream come true.
My first days at the Lyric, I walked around in a nervous, overwhelmed fog. My colleague who I was understudying fell ill for the first days of rehearsal, and I had the chance to rehearse for those first few days. He recovered, and I enjoyed the rest of my time in Chicago stress-free. A year later, I was offered my first actual performances here in Atlanta. Since then, I have periodically pulled out the aria and sections of the duet to keep it somewhere in my voice, knowing these performances were approaching. My preparation intensified over the summer as I gradually shifted more and more of my focus back to the Prince, and then for last six weeks before rehearsals began, I focused solely on the piece again.
Having studied, practiced, listened to, and thought about this opera for over ten years, Rossini's Prince Charming feels like an old friend even though I am only getting to take him out in front of an audience for the first time this week. The highest compliment my colleagues have given me throughout the rehearsal process is asking me at different times if I've performed this role a lot before. After so much time living with this music, it seems hard to believe that this is a role debut for me. The best part of it is, I've never been able to enjoy taking something so challenging out into public for the first time so much.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
History was made last night. Here in Atlanta, the cars were honking their horns, people were screaming in the streets, waving Obama signs until almost 2:30 in the morning. It was unbelievable, and I have never seen anything like it. Watching tear-stained faced chant, "Yes, we can!" as President-elect Obama gave his victory speech last night was a moving sight to behold, and yet, I found that in my elation, worry was still nagging at me. In my eyes, the election wasn't over – I was still very concerned about the results for Proposition 8 in California.
"ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments."
So far, it looks as if a majority of people voted in California today to ELIMINATE civil rights. They looked at their ballot, read what was above, and voted "Yes".
So, it looks as if, no, I can't.
I know that there are larger issues at stake here, and I know that there are so, so many reasons to rejoice.
The fact remains that it looks like I am losing civil rights in the state of California (a state where Jeremy will be almost half the year this season) due to a measure that was well-supported supported financially nationwide in an election with record-breaking voter turnout (82% of registered voters voted in Los Angeles County – a county in which Prop 8 passed quite comfortably and also the county where we got married a month ago). Seeing that anti-gay marriage proposals also passed in Florida and Arizona is, while unsurprising, adding insult to the injury. I try hold out hope that as the final votes are counted in California that the tides will turn, but in the face of these numbers, it is hard to maintain that glimmer.
So, to my eye, not much has changed. Sure, there is some progress. We have elected a President into the White House who is partially black and who is opposed to my marriage, and instead supports a separate-but-equal policy towards my civil rights. While I can appreciate that it is a step forward from where we were, the irony of the situation is not lost on me, and I am left feeling skeptical of his promise of "yes, we can".
As a citizen, I can rejoice for a great many things today, but a second-class citizen I remain, nonetheless.