Friday, January 29, 2010

Blissful Routine

Since I moved back to New York a few years ago, it's been hard to find my rhythm here. In the city that never sleeps, it is easy to feel pulled in numerous different directions. The constant hum and bustle here can make it difficult to relax and recharge – what I used to associate with coming home. Sometimes, I almost feel more at home on the road than I am at my own apartment.

What has been so lovely about this week is that I have felt myself settling into a comfortable routine here, almost blissfully monotonous – something I've never experienced here. Every day, I've woken up in my lovely new home, done some work around my place, headed out to rehearsal, lesson or some other appointment, and then settled into my kitchen to make dinner for people I love. It's felt so wonderfully mundane that I almost haven't felt like I've had much to write about this week.

So, while it may seem boring, it's a great joy to feel home in my actual home for a change.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


The view leaving Dusseldorf on Monday morning

The view greeting me as I arrived in New York on Monday evening.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Revisiting Marlboro

Waking up in my own bed this morning was heaven. At the end of yesterday's delayed, excruciatingly long (14 and half hours door to door) and turbulent journey, I was rewarded with the best night's sleep I have had in a while. After a breakfast at the local diner and a morning spent unpacking, I ran off to my first rehearsal for the Marlboro tour.

We started with warm hugs and some catching up, and then dove right into Haydn. We set off into the world of Nisa and Tirsi, a world that we only briefly explored two summers ago, opting to focus on Schumann's duets instead. We reminded ourselves of the twists and turns of Haydn's music, trying out ornaments and decorative flourishes as we went. After a while, we shifted our eyes to Schumann, revisiting these pieces that we performed two summers ago up at Marlboro. At one point, I joked that I was experiencing a bit of déjà-vu, Lydia replying that she felt just like we were in the dining hall up in Vermont even though we were in wintry New York City. We finished our second Schumann duet, and I sighed, realizing how much fun it was to be making music with this group again. It not only felt good to sing with friends, but also to make music on such an intimate level again after months of singing opera - music at it's most flamboyant. It felt like putting on a beloved t-shirt – familiar, happy, and comforting. It made me realize just how much I am looking forward to the next two weeks.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm Home

I spent the day in the sky above the Atlantic. I'm home now. That's about all I can muster today, unfortunately. Be back with more tomorrow...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tchüss, Lindoro

I would love to say that today's Lindoro was perfect, but, of course, that is not the case. How could it be? Such is the nature of live performance. What makes it exciting is it's imperfection – the vulnerability of being openly human on stage in front of an audience. No safety net, the possibilities endless. Aside from being incredibly happy with today's very successful show (our best yet in my opinion), what I will say is that today was undoubtedly the most fun I have ever had on stage in Lindoro's shoes. From the first notes of Languir per una bella, his first aria, I felt a freedom and a focus that I had never felt before singing this music. It was exhilarating. And what was more was that I felt the audience react – as I enjoyed myself more and more with each note and just gave over to the music more than ever, I felt the audience join me on the ride and enjoy themselves, as well.

I thought I wouldn't be nervous about this final foray, but I was wrong. I woke up this morning about forty minutes before I wanted to, and as I hopelessly tried to grasp onto a few more minutes of sleep, my mind started to race. It dawned on me that I was nervous, which caused me concern. Part of the reason I felt that Friday's show had been so good was that I felt so calm. I started writing my morning pages, and my nerves about the show started to morph into anxieties about the future and what was next. I had to jerk myself back into the present and remind myself that I should enjoy this final show.

While I was nervous, for the first time I was not afraid. In Frank Herbert's Dune there is a motto that is repeated over and over: fear is the mind-killer. Today's performance really illuminated precisely how true those words are. Free from fear and energized by nerves, I found that choices would open themselves up to me in those scary passages where, in the past, my mind would simply go blank as my fear overcame me. It was liberating, and I really started to have a lot of fun with it. At the end of the first aria, as I lay on the floor (as the staging here has me do), I couldn't help but crack a small, proud smile.

At intermission, I found myself pondering exactly what it was about this piece that struck so much fear into me. Of course, it is nerve-wracking music simply because of its virtuosic difficulty, but there had to be another layer to prevent me from conquering that until now. It got me thinking about visiting the Tate Britain last fall with my friend, Susie, who was invaluably helpful getting Lindoro back in to my voice after a two-year hiatus. The exhibition that we went to see, named Turner and the Masters (which is still on until January 31st) highlighted his competitive relationship with both his contemporaries and the masters who had come before him. A description on the wall in the first room of the exhibit discusses how "it is impossible to be an artist without engaging in the art of the past." It goes on to say that in Turner's time, it was expected for artists to "aspire to greatness by copying, then trying to rival those who had come before…"

When it comes to the training of singers and musicians, nothing could be more similar. We are surrounded by countless recordings of all our repertoire, performed by both past masters and our contemporaries alike, and we spend our careers trying to rival them if not, at the very least, match them in the level of their quality. A while back, when I was looking for management, I remember auditioning for an agent with Languir, and while she was interested, I immediately received a lecture. "Why are you beginning with this aria?" she asked, "It's an incredibly big risk you're taking. When you sing for people, you will automatically be compared to whoever it is singing this repertoire at the Met, the Vienna State Opera, at Covent Garden, and whoever just made the latest recording of it. This is a massively difficult aria – are you sure you want to put yourself forward for a first impression like that?" While I didn't end up working with this person, their message had wormed its way through my confidence, preyed on my insecurities and stuck with me. Thinking about what I was so afraid of at intermission today, I realized that I had been afraid this whole time that I wouldn't – that I didn't measure up. Today, singing this for the last time, I realized it didn't matter. My performances were mine – that is what makes them unique and special, and having had so many opportunities to do this was not only proof that they were worthy, but also something to be grateful for and enjoy.

Lindoro, more than anyone else, has been the greatest voice teacher that I have ever had. Every time I have encountered him, I have left feeling like I have taken four or five steps forward vocally and each time I am met with more challenges. Today was the wonderful culmination of those lessons, and it felt like, to steal the words of one of the managers I did end up working with, bidding a fond farewell as opposed to running away. Taking my final bows today, I was beaming, feeling a sense of accomplishment that I have never felt before after a run of performances. I am so grateful to him for everything he has taught me – and for helping me conquer my greatest vocal and technical fears over these past seven years. I look forward to taking all of these lessons into all of the incredible music that awaits me – including that other Lindoro, that is actually a count named Almaviva.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day Trip

On my last free day in Germany, I elected to make a rather long day trip to Heidelberg to visit a colleague and good friend from my HGO Studio days, Aaron. We had tried to get together a couple of other times this trip, but our timings never worked out until today. Every time I come to Germany, I make it a point to see Aaron, as it is so easy to get around here with the train system, my favorite mode of transportation.

We had lunch and caught up on each other's lives since the last time we saw each other, which was about a year ago, and reminisced about Studio days, talking about our friends from those intense times. Oddly enough, it was my second HGO reunion in two days – I spent a large portion of yesterday morning on the phone catching up with another one of my friends who went through the program with me and has since become one of my closest friends in the world. Both yesterday and today, it seemed like those days were really far away even if we only finished 5 or 6 years ago, and it was quite fun to take a trip down memory lane. When we were there, the music director of the Studio, Richard, used to refer to the place a "singer boot camp". Revisiting those memories, I was grateful for the strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie that were forged in the intensity of that experience. They have truly become friendships for life, and I miss going to work with those wonderful people on a daily basis.

Friday, January 22, 2010


A short post today...

Our 4th performance of L'Italiana in Algieri was tonight, and it was perhaps our best yet. Everyone is completely back to health, and we were all relaxed. Perhaps it is because my final Lindoro is approaching rather quickly, but I felt quite calm tonight as I began the first aria - something I have never previously experienced performing that piece. I felt a focus and energy that was exciting, and it opened up some new possibilities. It was the most fun I've ever had singing it, to be honest, and I find that I am really looking forward to having another crack at it again on Sunday.

That paired with an unexpected, yet brief visit with a colleague I hadn't seen in almost ten years who came to see the show made it a really lovely evening.

Time is flying by. I can't believe I have only 2 days left until home!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Falstaff Overdue

These photos are incredibly overdue, but I finally took the time to go through them tonight. I spent most of the day in recovering from a night out in the Altstadt with some friends from the Opera (the beer here is good - and so is the Schwein...) and resting up for tomorrow's show, providing ample time to sift through pictures.

During our final show on the Glyndebourne Tour, I experimented for the first time with taking my camera backstage and trying to snap a few photos. Here are the results of that first experiment.

Me trying to figure out how my camera works in my dressing room

The Ladies reading Falstaff's letters in Act I, scene ii

Falstaff and Ford (Sr. Fontana) in Act II, scene i

Alice and Meg plotting in Act II, scene ii

Nanetta/Elena posing backstage right before our heavy-petting fest behind the screen in Act II, scene ii

Mistress Quickly standing strong in Act III, scene i

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Revisiting Pulcinella

Almost a year ago, I arrived in Chicago to begin rehearsals for a project that I had been very much looking forward to for a very long time with the Chicago Symphony. Originally, when the idea was proposed, my manager simply asked if I would be interested in auditioning for a series of concerts with the Chicago Symphony, and I was excited at the simple prospect of singing with them again for the first time since I made professional debut with them back in 2003 during a run of concert performances of Part II of Berlioz' Les Troyens. When I found out that the project was to be Stravinsky's Pulcinella, I excitedly jumped at the chance to audition for it, and immediately ran to my music library where I pulled down my score of the piece that I had inherited from Rosie, my teacher from my Michigan days, who had inherited it from her own teacher. I quickly learned the first movement, and then a few days later traipsed down to the audition, where I sang for all I was worth, determined to nail this. All of this was before I knew who would be conducting or anything else about the concerts. None of it really mattered to me – I had been dreaming of singing this piece since I first encountered the music as an orchestral musician in high school. Stravinsky's arrangements of Pergolesi's music had been entrancing me from the age of 15, and I was not about to let any chance to sing this rarely performed complete version of the ballet slip by, no matter who my colleagues were going to be. I had simply loved this music for too long.

That I would later find out that Pierre Boulez was to conduct or that we would also bring the program to Carnegie Hall after a run of concerts in Chicago was all icing on what was already (to me) a pretty delicious cake. As the concerts approached, and I found out more about who my colleagues were to be and where we would be performing the piece, it just started to become even better than a dream come true. It was becoming to be something more incredible than I could have ever imagined. So, to find out that we would also record our performances that week in Chicago for release on the CSO's own recording label blew my mind.

Yesterday, our recording of the piece was released on iTunes, and it will be released worldwide tomorrow and next week in the US. I must admit that seeing my name on an album cover next to Maestro Boulez, my wonderful singing colleagues, and the Chicago Symphony is incredibly surreal, and I am tremendously excited and, well, giddy about it. It really seems almost too good to be true.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mood Swing

After tossing and turning until quite late last night, I awoke too early to the dull light shining into my bedroom. Unsatisfied with the time I read on my phone, I tried unsuccessfully to roll over and fall back asleep. I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed and opened the blinds to see yet another low-ceilinged, grey day. The sun has shone through the clouds perhaps a total of three days since I arrived here, and – perhaps because of grumpiness due to fatigue – I hit my limit today. I rubbed my eyes and sighed, fantasizing about sunny beaches, my heart aching for the cheer of sunshine.

My funk continued throughout the day. I slogged through some very whiny, anxiety-ridden morning pages. I very grudgingly cleaned up the mess in the kitchen from my culinary excursion last night (tagliatelle bolognese, in an effort to use up the rest of the plethora of carrots and celery that was sitting in my fridge). I half-heartedly made an attempt to empty out my email's inbox. I tried to lay down for a short nap, again unsuccessfully finding sleep. Giving up, I opted to try a short yoga session instead, my tired muscles protesting in earnest as I tried to get blood flowing through them.

My day started to change when I went out to meet a friend and colleague who, much to my surprise and delight, was in town to do an audition. We chatted and caught up on each other's lives over coffees, not having seen each other in a year a half. As we talked, I felt my mood start to lift slowly. We agreed to meet up again after her audition, and then I headed off to the Opera for a coaching to work on some music for upcoming concerts. The minute I started to warm up, I felt myself crack a smile. My mind drifted randomly back to some of my first lessons with Ted Puffer during my early Manhattan School days, and I remembered him telling me to envision a big 'H' in my throat so that it would stay open. His advice suddenly made sense to me in a new way as I had a mini-epiphany physically, and I felt myself cheer some more. The pianist I was to work with came in shortly after, and we started to crash through Bach arias for a concert in a couple of weeks, working his twisting, instrumental lines into my voice and body, finding endless possibilities in the shapes of the phrase and enjoying their flexibility. Our music-making started to feel spontaneous and fun, and I felt myself smiling from the deepest part of my being.

I walked the short path to my home away from home, my step considerably lighter, beaming and marveling for the millionth time at the amazing power music has to bring unbridled joy into our lives.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Goodbye

My last week in Germany started with a goodbye.

Nadine, one of my best friends in the world, lives in Cologne, which is so very near to Düsseldorf, which has proved to be incredibly convenient. On top of our close proximity, she has been singing in a show that has been playing at the Düsseldorf Theater, so we have gotten to see a lot of each other since I arrived here. We spent a quiet New Year's Eve together with her boyfriend, cooking a lovely dinner together and then lighting fireworks outside in the snow. We also spent my birthday together a few days later, thankfully sparing me from a lonely natal day. Over the past few weeks we have, like always, shared countless laughs and listened intently to each other's life issues, offering validation, support, and more laughs.

Today, we met at our favorite lunch place that we have lunched at many times over the past years – an old fire station that burned down twice, and then was converted into a restaurant. We discussed a variety of things ranging from music, retiring Lindoro, our futures, her upcoming projects, to our personal lives, laughing (as per usual) all along the way. Our meal was brief - she had to run home to teach a voice student and then finish packing for her trip to Spain tomorrow to rehearse fr an upcoming concert. By the time she gets back to Germany, I will have returned home to the States. At the end of our lunch, we parted ways near the main train station, momentarily sad that we didn't know when we would see each other next. We then made sure that one of our little traditions remained in place, and took a picture of ourselves – something we do every time we see each other. We hugged one more time, did some logical thinking, and trusted that we would see each other again before the year was out somehow. And with that, we waved goodbye to each other, and I, a little wistful, boarded my train back to Düsseldorf .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Retirement

Last night's performance of L'Italiana was great fun, with our Mustafa closer to healthy and very able to sing. The audience last night was especially appreciative and relaxed, and they seemed to greatly enjoy the show's inane silliness and zany antics with hearty laughs and applause.

Looking ahead to next weekend, in which I will sing my final performances of Lindoro here (I leave before the last performance to do the Marlboro Tour – a very talented young tenor from the Opera Studio here will take over for me for that final show of the run), I feel a bit mixed. While I am looking forward to the prospect of going home and reuniting with Marlboro friends, I feel a little wistful about saying goodbye to Lindoro.

As this project as approached since it was proposed since last year, I have given a lot of thought my future with Lindoro and how well are matched. Seven years ago, a very influential manager advised me to take a look at Lindoro's first aria, Languir per una bella, and suggested that it might be a good aria to add to my audition list and an important role for me to consider. Being the eager singer, I went and dug the aria (which is the very first music sung by Lindoro in the entire evening, lasts about 6 and half minutes, and contains more than 20 high b-flats, at least 3 high C's, and pages of fioratura) out of the HGO library and promptly took it to the practice room. So began my very fraught relationship with Lindoro, the single-most difficult role in my entire operatic repertoire.

Seven years later, next weekend will mark my 20th and 21st performances of Lindoro, making him the role that I have performed the most to date in my career. This is a bit of a pleasant paradox, as I have countless times struggled in the practice room, in coachings and in lessons, questioning whether he was a good role for me. Because of the struggles I have had in learning how to sing this music, some of these performances have been the most rewarding ones I can think of. Every single time I have stepped into his shoes, I am able to count some step forward, some knowledge gained that feels victorious as I have ascended another level, no matter how small, on this musical mountain that has been the greatest vocal challenge I have ever encountered.

What has always hovered in the back of my mind is the fact that since his music is the most difficult in my operatic repertoire, that also means that he is also on the edge of my operatic repertoire. Being on the edge, I always have known that he would either become more comfortable as my voice grew towards him or he would begin to become more difficult as my voice grew towards other things. As I have prepared over the past 6 or 7 months for this, reviewing his music and slowly breaking down his most challenging passages, I have discovered that the latter has happened. While other things have become easier, like singing Bach, Handel, Mozart, and roles like Fenton, Lindoro has grown more challenging and taxing. And while I feel these performances are among some of the best I have ever given of his music, I can sense that it is time for us to part ways. I've had a lot of debate about this with my teacher and coaches as well as my own inner debate, and, like any break-up, this has not been an easy decision to reach. But it is time, and after our 21st time on stage together, we will bid each other farewell.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Slow Day So Far

The third of my five performances of L'italiana is today, so I've spent most of the day sleeping in and relaxing. I'm sorry to not have much to report today, but the excitement just hasn't happened yet. If I were following my normal routine here in Düsseldorf, I would have waited to blog until I had something to write about. Normally, I do the show and then come back home, where I make myself a nice dinner and have a glass of wine to relax and would have a moment to report on the show. What is different about today is that I have people coming to see the show! So, instead of coming home alone, I will dine with friends after. As a result, I don't think I will be home in time to post later…

Until tomorrow...In the meantime, send me good thoughts - that first aria gives me hives…

Friday, January 15, 2010


A mere 5 days into my little project, and I've already missed a post. What are the rules for this? Is there some sort of blogospheric schoolmarm who will come and slap me on the wrist and give me a demerit? Or do I just have to deal with the consequences of my own guilt and shame?

Regardless, I think that primary reason I missed yesterday was that I really didn't have much to say. What happens in the event that I have nothing to say? Do I just write a post saying that I have nothing to say? I guess, according to the rules of this little game, I have to at the very least do that.

Yesterday, I picked up a visitor at the airport, and then spent the day at home, relaxing and cooking. I experimented with this recipe, which caused momentary panic, as I worried it smelled too rich and too much like dirty mushrooms. I proclaimed that we would toss the culinary disaster and eat downstairs at the local moules establishment in the event that dinner was a disaster. Crisis was averted, however, with the addition of a little extra wine to the risotto – it turned out to be quite good and a recipe that I will most definitely repeat.

Apologies for breaking the rules so soon into the game. Although, isn't there a maxim that states something like rules are made to be broken?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Looking Forward

After a show opens, it's unbelievably tempting to go into vacation-mode. After an intense, regimented period of rehearsal, it's hard for my sense of self-discipline to kick in when faced with (as I am here) five days straight of zero scheduled responsibilities. Nevertheless, a brief look at what is coming up right after I am finished here next week, and the sheer amount of music I need to get into my head, throat, and heart provides a healthy reality check, reminding me – not very gently – to get my butt into gear.

I actually find that I am excited by the busyness of the next month and half. It feels good to have a lot of projects coming up, and I get to spend a lot of time engaging in my favorite part of my job: woodshedding new music. There is nothing like discovering a piece for the first time.The prospect of doing that for much of the next two months is a very exciting one, indeed. Especially when it involves Britten, Bach, and Handel - three of my favorite composers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

L’Italiana part 2

First things first – the internet is functioning again, much to my great relief. I don't quite feel as if I am constantly banging my head against a brick wall anymore.

Now onwards to today's post…

Performers universally complain about the second-show syndrome. The adrenaline of the opening night has faded, everyone has sort of settled back into a more relaxed mode, and without that electric buzz of excitement and nerves coursing through the performers' body, dramatic reflexes are a bit dulled. Countless times I've heard or said any variation of the following: "Wow, I am so tired and just can't get into this today – this totally feels like a second show." It's an incredibly surreal feeling, because the sensation of standing in front of 1,000 - 3,000 people, wearing makeup and a costume - and perhaps a wig, singing in a foreign language at unnaturally loud volumes in other people's faces suddenly feels somewhat banal and mundane. Sometimes, the performers blame the audience, but more often than not, it is just the natural progression of things. Euphoria is always harder to reach and never feels quite as good the second time around.

Sunday's show was not your typical second show in the sense that we were prevented from sinking into the second-show syndrome by the fact that our poor Mustafa was sick. Because of the short notice, a guest whose name was Derek came in and sang the role from the side of the stage while Oleg, the incapacitated Mustafa, acted his role. I found out about all of this when the director who remounted the show caught me on the staircase to my dressing room just as I was going to get my hat for my first entrance in Act I. I never found out his last name, and didn't even lay eyes on him, let alone shake his hand, until intermission. He was magnificent, grace under pressure, as was Oleg, who despite not singing, was threw his usual 150% commitment into everything he did on stage. It certainly did keep things fresh and us on our toes!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Off Kilter

After rereading yesterday's rant, I have come to the conclusion that I most definitely have not felt like myself as of late. I've been irritable, tired, cranky, and well, prone to the negative, and I'm not sure why. I certainly do not feel as if I have been putting my most attractive foot forward. All I can say is that, while non-functioning internet is an irritation, it is most definitely no reason to stop enjoying the rest of my life. I've often been asked by yoga teachers during a class to join the two halves of myself together. Lately, I've lost my sense of perspective, and I truly feel as if the two halves of myself are disjunct.

There are probably a variety of reasons for this – I've been feeling a sense of rootless-ness lately, most likely a combination of having been on the road for so long (I've basically only been at home in New York for a total of three weeks since last July) and the fact that I moved into a new apartment back in August (which I have only lived in for two weeks since I moved in). Add to that the fact that the 2008 tax man came and hit me hard towards the end of last year, making things tight financially, and a run of L'italiana in Algieri (the music I find the most challenging in all of my repertoire), and you have a recipe for irritability.

Yet, I don't mean to complain – what concerns me is that while, yes, it is hard to be living out of my suitcase, pinching pennies, and stressing about a plethora of high b-flats, I am working. To be so busy is a big blessing, especially in this economic climate. The most frequently asked question over the holidays? "Have you had a lot of problems finding work with the downturn in the economy?" The answer is no, thankfully. I am living the life that I dreamed of and have worked hard to achieve – so why have I not been enjoying it lately? Why have I allowed it's challenges and pitfalls to bring me down into the doldrums of grumpiness? Is this how prima donnas are made?

I'm going to try to set myself aright and join my two halves – and one way I thought I might do this is by trying one of those 30 day projects where I try to write a blog post every day for the next month. A warning: quantity does not necessarily equal quality (I once had an English teacher in High School say, "Remember - Length does not necessarily equal strength!" which immediately set the whole class of hormonally excitable teenagers atwitter). But I hope that in attempting this, it will help me chill out and I might be able to take a step back from the abyss of negativity and re-adjust my focus.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Internet Withdrawal

Please indulge me as I vent just a little steam here…

So far, 2010 is not getting off to the smoothest start for me. The primary cause? The internet – or the lack thereof.

I know that there are people out there who are technophobes claiming the moral high-ground, not understanding why people waste so much time on the internet. They are the people who don't understand why people don't read books or watch tv or go on walks out in the world instead with their time. In fact, this summer, a friend of mine who has spent countless summers at Marlboro claimed that the internet was the sole reason summers at Marlboro were less crazy than they had been in the past. People used to have to socialize with each other and come out into the real world to play (and get into trouble), he said. Now, they could just sit in their rooms and communicate with people all over the planet without even taking off their pajamas (staying out of trouble).

When I first arrived here in Düsseldorf, the first question I asked my landlady as she handed me the keys was: "How do I access the internet?" to which she replied with her charming German accent: "oh…there is no internet…but we are getting some next week!" A week without internet, I thought. Very annoying, but I'll manage. To add insult to injury, she told me that she would also have to take the phone with her so that the internet could be installed for reasons that I must admit, I still do not understand. Yet, grudgingly, I managed. I did more of the non-internet-related activites I do anyway. I read books. I did yoga. I went out on walks and explored this new city. I cooked a lot. I visited a friend in a nearby city for new year's (which I spent much of using their internet). I watched German TV, trying to improve my German. And then, ten days later, the internet arrived. Finally, for three glorious days, I was able to Skype, Tweet, Facebook, watch American television, catch up on the blogs I follow, do research on some projects I have on the backburner, and email at my leisure. Imagine my horror and irritation when I woke up on Friday to discover that the internet was not working. Imagine how much my feelings of frustration increased when I found out that it will not be fixed until Tuesday.

My landlady told me that I should relax about it all. Yet here is the catch: I don't want to relax. I am not here on a pleasure cruise or a vacation (and, to be frank, if I were on a pleasure cruise, I would certainly have chosen a warmer and sunnier locale then snowy, grey Düsseldorf). I am here to work. I basically live out of my suitcase, and the main way that I attempt to maintain some sense of normalcy and consistency is by utilizing the internet for all that it is worth. It is how I work, communicate with loved ones, and entertain myself – it is how I have learned to cope with all of the challenges that this life on the road entails. The memories I have of sitting in the local internet café these past two weeks, where there is only one working microphone for Skype that I have to fight over with Brazilian teenagers, where I have listened endlessly to Russian women screaming into the phones at whoever it is they are talking to at home, and where I have been harassed repeatedly mid-conversation by drunk, belching Turkish men who want to be my friend because I am an American have perhaps have made this the worst trip I have had abroad in a very long time. I am in a foreign country on a different continent, in a city I have never been in before, working and going about everyday life in a second language, singing the most difficult music in my repertoire in an opera house where I have never worked before. How much more out of my comfort zone do I really need to be?

And how am I blogging right now, you ask? From a Starbucks that blessedly has an internet connection. At least there are no drunk people invading my personal space here.

Supposedly everything will be set aright by Tuesday. In the meantime, I remain frustrated beyond belief, yet hopeful (and perhaps almost on the edge of desperation).

Oh, and the show? We opened on Friday, and it was great. Thank God for music.