Monday, July 31, 2006


I am taking a break. I have been looking forward to this break for a long time. In order to work, I need to be away from home. Being away from Jeremy is really hard – it is insanely difficult to maintain and nourish a relationship through the phone. Yes, we have a home together, but I am almost never there. Plus, I think that if I had taken the work offered to me this summer, Jeremy might have castrated me.

When I first arrived in Frankfurt in late May, I was so frustrated by the lack of convenience. Things closed early, I couldn’t easily pick up a wireless connection in my apartment, I had to use internet cafés to check my email for the first two weeks, stores aren’t open on Sundays and holidays, cell phones are insanely expensive, you have to sort your trash, they charge you for bags at the grocery store, toilets barely have any water in the bowl. I missed American convenience – shopping for everything and anything at Walgreens, grocery stores open 24 hours, the seemingly ubiquitous internet connection, being able to call Jeremy at any hour of the day for free on my cell phone, air conditioning, free paper bags at Whole Foods.

Now, I find that I miss Europe. I loved my routine there. It felt so independent and relaxed. I loved getting up in the morning, writing my morning pages, eating some breakfast, and then leaving my apartment and walking through the city. My schedule was structured so that we rehearsed mostly according to the follow schedule: morning rehearsal, 4 or 5 hour break, evening rehearsal. At first, the break in the day really bothered me, but eventually I grew to treasure it. It allowed me to go outside during the day, run errands, eat a leisurely lunch, perhaps take a nap, read, and arrive refreshed for the second working session of the day. I read voraciously there, I started this blog, I threw myself into rehearsal everyday, I started taking pictures. I felt my creativity surge.

Back in the states, I find it really hard to focus again. Things feel fuzzy. I am taking a much needed break now, firstly to have some time with Jeremy as well as to regroup and get ready for all of the upcoming new projects I have coming up for next season. I actually have a lot of time on my hands now, but I find it is really difficult to get moving. I feel my creativity and energy are stuck.

We are staying with a host named Bill here in the Washington, DC area while Jeremy is working at Wolf Trap this summer. Bill is a nice, 70 year old widower whose passions include bicycling, learning biblical Greek, and seeing opera. He has a nice home in suburban Bethesda that we are staying in. My days mostly consist of waking up, morning pages, taking Jeremy to work, driving into DC, checking my email on my laptop at a café, reading the news online about how the world is blowing itself up, studying Hungarian for a bit, translating a bit of L’incoronazione di Poppea, going to the gym, eating a quick lunch, driving back to Bethesda, practicing, then picking up Jeremy at work. This routine is killing me and my creativity slowly. The sheer amount of time I spend alone in the car (not to mention the gas that I guzzle – therefore doing my part to perpetuate our American unquenchable thirst for oil) is draining my soul. I have tried to do this without the car – and it is massively inconvenient. There is no public transportation between Bill’s house and the nearest Metro Station between the hours of 9:03 am and 3:23 pm during the week. It is simply so hard to get anywhere that is a public place, my energy is sucked into simply getting around.

In a nutshell, I am growing restless. Nothing feels right – I am easily irritated. All I want to do is go to bed. I feel like I am wandering much of the time. About restlessness, Julia Cameron writes:

“…a bout with restlessness is best met with curiosity – not with the conclusion that your true cranky character is surging to the fore. Irritability is the flag waved by restlessness. Restlessness means you are on the march creatively. The problem is, you may not know where.” - Julia Cameron, Walking in this World

She is right – I am irritable, and I am certainly on the march creatively. And I also don’t know where I am going. Or do I? In some ways I do. My life is scheduled for the most part until the spring of 2008. I have a list of upcoming projects that are satisfying and interesting that need attending to. So why am I so fussy? Is it because I actually do know where I am going? Or am I just suffering from reverse cultural shock? Or is it that I am a workaholic and simply don’t know how to relax?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Le calendrier

Since people have been asking where I’ll be in the coming months, I’ve decided to post my calendar of performance dates here so everyone can see it and use it for future (future, meaning now until June, 2007) reference. Obviously, this is subject to change. I hope to have a real, grown-up website soon, where I can post this information in a more adult and professional way along with pretty pictures of me that I will ideally have taken in the near future, pending a good haircut. In the meantime, this will hopefully do.

Atlanta Opera

Pagliacci & Carmina Burana - October 5, 7, 8, 2006

Los Angeles Opera

L’incoronazione di Poppea - November 26 & 30, December 3, 7, 10, 13, 16, 2006

The Helicon Foundation (NYC)

Chamber music recital - February 11, 2007

Chicago Opera Theater

Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria - March 28 & 30, April 1, 5, 7, 2007

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra

Cantata Profana - April 12 & 13, 2007

New York Festival of Song - May 9 & 10, 2007

Oper Frankfurt

Ariodante - May 25 & 28, June 3 & 7, 2007

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dona nobis pacem

Descend, kind pity, heav'nly guest,
Descend, and fill each human breast

With sympathizing woe.
That liberty, and peace of mind,
May sweetly harmonize mankind,

And bless the world below.

-Septimius, Theodora (G.F. Handel/Thomas Morell)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I ride a lot of public transportation. I love it, actually. I find it provides some pretty choice people watching time.

I grab a seat on the Metro from Vienna, VA into Washington, DC. It is the weekend. A fat, slovenly, pasty-white woman sits across from me. He husband tends to her needs and makes sure she is comfortable. She lounges in the subway seat, sprawling one of her legs across it, seemingly unable to get enough space. She coughs, grabs an unopened bottle of frozen water from her husband and sips it. A girl behind them sucks on some beef jerky, proud that she has managed to extrapolate the meat-substance from it'’s casing. Another white, blond couple that looks to be around 24 years old get on the train, a 3 year old daughter in tow. I look around me on the train, and notice that roughly 85% of the people around me have white skin, are fair haired, and at least slightly overweight. All seem to be tourists to visit their nation'’s capitol. The weekend Metro-crowd is clearly different from the young, slim, ethnically diverse professionals that flood the subway clad in Banana Republic and Ann Taylor during the weekday rush hour.

It occurs to me that these are people who are rarely in shared, public space. The only time that they might be in shared space with people that they don't know is in line at Wal-mart. These are the people who piss you off in the airport security line, because they don't know to remove their shoes before you get to the metal detectors and slow down the line as a result. I imagine that they spend most of their days in their cars, at work, or at home - a lonely and monochromatic existence. I wonder if the conservative base of America fears the corruption of our family values because it is the only human contact that they can truly cling to. If their families leave them or drift away, what else do they have? No wonder they fear what is different - their lives aren't structured in a way that doesn'’t allow for diversity. Isn't fear the root of hate?

Friday, July 14, 2006


The green forests of the east coast blur by my window as I ride back to Washington, DC on the train from New York City. My mind drifts back to the train rides in Germany and the passing views of the German countryside flying by my window there. My laptop sits open as I try to finish a blog entry I started yesterday, but my mind is much like the view from my window – fast-moving, fuzzy, and unable to focus on any one thing. I feel restless, anxious to arrive into Union Station. I’ve been on the move a lot since I left Germany – back to my American pace. One day in Houston, a concert and rehearsals in Bethesda, my good friends Markus and Laquita visiting for a weekend, a voice lesson in New York, a dinner concert in Nashville this weekend. The pace makes it hard to concentrate. Perhaps in order for me to think clearly, I need to press pause, and find a place to just be for a little bit.

I promise to have something interesting sometime soon.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Loss of a hero

I have a passion for Handel. He is my favorite composer, and I listen to his music incessantly, which many people poke fun at me for. My first year in Houston was a busy one, and I happened to have a night off for the first time in weeks. I had recently purchased a video of Peter Sellars’ production of Handel’s Theodora from Glyndebourne, so I decided that this night off was going to be a night to relax, turn off my cell phone, sit on my couch, crochet, and watch a video of Handel. About twenty minutes into the piece, I stopped mid-stitch, transfixed by the singing that I heard. I looked up and saw Lorraine Hunt Lieberson kneeling on the floor, singing passionately one of the most beautiful arias in Handel’s canon. It was my first time to ever hear or see her perform. I’ve never been the same musician since – it was a type of commitment to a performance that I will always strive to emulate. Never had I seen someone so devoted to making music with all of her being.

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson died on Monday at the young age of 52. She was taken from us too quickly, and it saddens me to think of our musical world without her.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Independence Day

I arrived back into the states late yesterday, just in time for our nation’s birthday. My journey home took me from Frankfurt through Cincinnati to Houston. It was a long, exhausting trip, and it was interesting to be surrounded by so many Americans for the first time in six weeks. Now I am on a flight to Washington, DC, to begin my time as housewife to my beloved Jeremy – a prospect I am looking forward to after so much time away this year. I know this means that I am on my third plane in two days, but I am used to this pace of travel.

My friends Michael and Cody picked me up at the airport last night, and we sped to downtown Houston for dinner. The highways were fairly empty, although I marveled at the sheer size of American cars – they are tanks compared to the cars in Europe.

Whenever I am away from the States, my tradition is to eat a burger the first chance I get. Burgers are the one type of food I crave while I am away, and I refuse to eat them while I am abroad. Sure, I’m afraid of mad-cow disease and all that, but more importantly they simply don’t taste anywhere near as good. As we sat in Barnaby’s, eating our burgers, Michael and Cody asked me about the details of my trip. I told them about the wonderful time I had, how the show went well, how good Jeremy was with the language when he came to visit, about my good times with Nadine, and about the great food I had. When the subject of dining abroad came up, Michael mentioned that he thought the culture in Europe allowed people to enjoy their time more. Six weeks vacation, no waiter bothering you with the bill at dinner until you ask for it, stores closing at 7:00pm, almost nothing open on Sundays – he has a point. In the first three weeks of rehearsal for Finta there were three random holidays in which we didn’t rehearse at all. When I work in the States, it’s debatable if I’ll have Easter or Christmas off.

When Jeremy came to visit for the premiere of Finta, he and I got into a heated debate about how he felt about being American. He was a little apprehensive before his arrival, because he was embarrassed about his nationality. When I mentioned this to Nadine, she shared his feeling. Yes, I understand we are not the perfect nation – by far. We are propagating an empire through globalization, are at war for reasons that get more and more vague as time goes by, think we are above international law – I understand all of these things. These were many of the points that both Jeremy and Nadine pointed out to me during this debate, as well as how Americans don’t know how to enjoy food, are constantly in a rush, are insanely wasteful people, and are incapable of learning a foreign language. I see these points, but I also see things that are positive. There is so much that is wonderful about our country – we are a polite people, we are an intelligent people. We are a diverse people – whether we like it or not. It is part of the beauty of the principles that we seem to think our nation was founded on. America is not just one thing. It is a country full of widely disparate ideologies, religions, cultures, and people – isn’t that the point of being a free country, where you are free to be who you are and think what you think? Why is it that people see us and only think of the religious right, George W. Bush, and obesity? Yes, we may disagree on many things – but the point is that we can. I don’t think that this is a privilege to be taken lightly.

Yes, I miss Europe, it’s food, it’s diverse people, languages and cultures. But the feeling of relief that sank into my heart as I got off the plane in Houston yesterday was the reassuring, happy, contented feeling of coming home.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Homeward Bound

Time to go – almost. I have one final performance of La finta semplice tonight. My apartment is in a chaotic state. Dishes finally clean sit piled on the drying area next to my tiny, two-burner stove. There are bags overflowing with paper to be recycled next to the trash bin, which is waiting to be filled with the foodstuffs I have not been able to consume this week. My clothes are clean, but have yet to be folded, and are covering the bed. Mysteriously, my suitcases are still in the closet – empty. I could be filling them with all of my belongings right now, trying to pack evenly, so as not to make them too heavy (I don’t want to pay the extra fee). I’m not doing that yet.

I went to Cologne to say goodbye to Nadine on Tuesday. We met at the train station, helped her run a couple of errands she had to attend to before leaving for Spain the next day, and then had lunch at the old fire-station in Cologne that is now a great restaurant. We took a bunch of pictures, bummed around the city some more, and then headed back to the train station to say goodbye. When we got the platform to wait for my train, there was a weight in my chest, and a lump formed in my throat. I suddenly realized how attached I had grown to seeing her so regularly for the first time since college. We looked at each other and were surprised by our sadness. Saying goodbye to her, I realized what a special time I have had here these past six weeks.

Cologne, Nadine tells me, was a Roman city that used to be surrounded by walls. Eventually, as time went by and the city grew, the citizens of Cologne decided to tear down the walls in order to make it a bit easier to get around the city. All that remains of those walls are the gates that used to allow people into the city. Now they stand alone, doors with no walls that one can simply walk around. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve built my own walls to protect myself, like we all do. As time has gone by, I have fortified them more and more with each hurt life has inevitably dealt me, and it gets harder and harder for people to get through – and for me to get out. Seeing Nadine so much has allowed me to let the walls down for a bit. I hadn’t noticed how nice it felt to be open and relaxed and free with someone on a regular basis. At the train station on Tuesday, I suddenly realized how much I was going to miss that with Nadine.

My time here, while scary at first, has really been a great time. I’m not as alone as I first thought. I’ve really come to love it here. I can’t wait to come back.