catchmyfancy: (dear buddha)
I am so behind in updating this journal that I may very well meet myself coming the other way.

Updates: fneh.

I shall tell you instead of a conversation I had with my Singer Enabler Friend Anna this evening on facecrack.  

Anna is the one who got me to audition for my current course, which I am one concert and one essay away from finshing...WOW.

SEF Anna is herself a big and burgeoning mezzo-soprano (although I reckon she's gonna be a dramatic contralto - Valkyries anyone?) and this semester we finally got to sing a duet together, and pretty much blast the roof off Melba Hall.  She loves singing with me because she can sing as big as she likes and I am all "eh. from bar 20?"   Seeing as I have been reclassified as a dramatic soprano and all.

I made the mistake of saying "....and yet sometimes I cannot think of myself as an opera singer."

And she came back with "Well, what else are you?  A gigantic cabbage?"

This is too fabulous not to put in my bio.  "Alexandra: opera singer, and DEFINITELY not a gigantic cabbage."

sometimes the Universe speaks, people, and it speaks of vegetables.  mostly of music.  but sometimes vegetables.
catchmyfancy: (enchanted island - neptune and court)
FIRST WEEK DONE AND DUSTED.

To fully render my feelings of glee-n-squee unto you is not possible without the use of dancing unicorns, sparkly rainbows and kittens riding about on fluffy bunnies.  So I shall simply say: it was joyful to be doing this.

And I am (unlike many of the stewents there) fully mindful of the joyousnessness. Ness. Of the doing.

For example: there is this thing called Concert Class.  One is required to attend just over half of them. And long and many and varied are the dodges people use to get out the following:
  • sitting in a comfortable hall
  • watching and listening to amazing musicians (and they are superb)
  • who are playing a varied and fabulous program (all instruments and all manner of musickes: one saxophonist came out and played Bach partitas, one pianist came on and wowed us all with russian variations on Rondo alla Turca)
  • for two hours with only the requirement of
  • a few lines of critique per item.
So basically, they put on a Considered Concert every week (I like to think it's just for me but I let other people attend) and people try everything they can think of to get out of it, to the point where they have implemented the most bizarre administrative methods to stop them (probably it is unhelpful that the coordinator used to be a stewent and thought up many of the dodges. *snorfle*)  Cos they are unmindful of what this actually is.

Every class makes me go "yes!" (in a "knowledge, I needs it, GIVE IT ME" sort of way) and hanging around the Con is fun, there's always people I know and I'm slowly getting to know the rest.  It is possible I may have made myself more well-known by singing some Tosca for the vocal ensemble audition.  *ahem*  But what the hell.  This is so NOT the year to be hiding my light under any bushels.  I am what I am, dammit.

I went off and had my singing lesson from a world-class soprano and she got her accompanist to listen to me and he said the nicest thing ever: he said I sounded like a young Elizabeth Connell

Is there an emoticon for "Holy Fucking Shit, Batman"?

And that takes us up to Thursday.
catchmyfancy: (shout! weightlifter)
...and I don't mean as in "quiet happiness".

I have both (a) actual things to say and (b) BIG LOUD HAPPINESS: I have a gig!  With an orchestra!  Ha!

Okay YES, it's a community orchestra, and a community choir, and the gigs will be in the far-flung parts of Melbourne....but finally: I get to sing with an orchestra! 

It is (finally, after so many fits and starts of the last few years) a Place to Start Building Things Up Again.

It's Lobegesang (or the Hymn of Praise) by Mendelssohn and I have the 1st Soprano solos.

Which is brilliant, as I get to sing a duet with James, the adorable little (well, quite young, but still taller than I - and his voice is as big as a Very Big Thing) tenor.  But he's just so sweet and we get on well (this is 90% of being able to do duets).

They sent me my audition video.  OY.  Many many many things to work upon.

WHAT A WEEK TO NOT BE ON FACEACHE!
catchmyfancy: (Jayne unzips to be bad)
TAKE ME TO YOUR LIEDER
Photobucket
Melbourne peeps: you can book here
catchmyfancy: Caroline Dhavernas as Jaye in Wonderfalls and the text "I surrender to Destiny" (Destiny)
Concert on 21st August.

TWENT Y DAYS TO GO.  METRIC FUCKTON OF MUSIC TO LEARN.

If you don't like hearing someone obsess about music and the correct pronunciation of the word "durch" (which is sort of "doo-oy-er-chhhhhh" but don't quote me) then - yeah. You're screwed.

Later.
catchmyfancy: (i can. i totally can.)
I sang Let the Bright Seraphim (that's the one sung at the Other Royal Wedding) this morning in my lesson, and suddenly transformed into Someone Who Can do Twiddly High Bits.

I don't know where it came from either. I've basically been sulking for the last two weeks and doing bugger-all practice. I would not recommend this as a way to add a new skill to one's basic technique.

So for homework this week, my teacher gave me Una Voce poco fa from the Barber of Seville only one of the most cadenzariffic arias in the history of EVER.

Bizarrely enough I have the sheet music - every so often my Dad buys me odd things like a book of Coloratura arias - either he's completely deluded or bizarrely prescient. Or a little from column A and column B. Anyway.

I tried it out.

And for starters: it's in the "low" key (only goes up to a top C or so - meep!) and it's boring.

So I went looking online. And now I'm like a kid in a sweetie shop. Which cadenzas shall I learn?

The cheeky gloriousness of Beverly Sills?



The even cheekier gloriousness of Diana Damrau?




The scary of Maria Callas?


Anybody got an absolute fave??

Of the raw

Apr. 5th, 2011 06:09 pm
catchmyfancy: (lieder)
I had Liederfest on Saturday and Sunday.

I made the Final and then, wow, all sorts of stuff happened (none of which was me winning in case you were wondering), to the point where the actual performance was a distinct moment of calm in the storm - I was, bizarrely enough, happy with my singing.  At the end of one lied I suddenly thought "oh" and knew Something Had Changed.  What, I could not tell you.  But Mike the Personal Trainer (maybe) coincidentally put all my weights the next day.

I ended up sending the following email to my sister (ever my fan and champion, bless her) this morning and it encapsulates some of it:

Still recovering after the rollercoaster that was liederfest – don’t know how much mother told you about the final and how I screwed myself over with repertoire choices (don’t get me wrong, I sang like a bird, but it was Not What Was Wanted)...I’ve come out of it older, and wiser; disappointed and yet hopeful; devastated, but feeling more in control of my vocal talent than ever; ready to hit adjudicators over their prim little heads, but also yet ready to hug the old biddy for one thing she wrote on my crit, which was the arresting word “exquisite!” (note the exclamation mark) and going around telling everyone that my “Du bist die Ruh” was one of the best renditions she had ever heard; and realising I’m still horribly insecure enough about certain things to behave quite abominably – but also way more comfortable in my own (singing) skin.


While all that percolates, I've had to change singing gears rather abruptly, starting with a 9am singing lesson on the Monday - I'm polishing up "Rejoice Greatly" from Messiah for a Holy Week service, and craving Donizetti (blame the Fifth Element) and looking very very hard at some beautiful, spinning arias (io son l'humile ancella, addio del passato, non mi dir) and very carefully not looking out of the corner of my eye as the lieder crazy-crazy slowly fades from my brane....
catchmyfancy: Me lying on my stomach, with my chin in my hands, in the sun (at the NPG)
As I have liederfest tomorrow night (or at least my heat in same), AND as the makeup was running low AND as I desire a more glamorous look for performing, today I bit the bullet and went and got my makeup revised by the lovely Lisa the beautician (seriously: as well as being completely lovely as a person she is just stunning, in a Love-in-a-Cold-Climate-one-just-wants-to-gaze-and-gaze sort of way).

And so, for your delectation I present: the Hackneyed In The Bathroom Mirror Photo. It sux, as the lighting is all overhead and you can't see all the nice things she did to make my eyes suddenly look three times bigger; and the orangeyness of the bathroom (it's a late 80s out-of-control-apricot deal) cancels out the lip gloss. But you can sort of get an idea. (And soon the cheekbones will be even more prominent, cos it's the good stuff, and I will be eating a lot of soup in the next fortnight...sigh.)
clickety! )
catchmyfancy: (Default)
WHAT A DAY!

Thanks to the lovely peeps in Gloriana Chamber Choirwho allowed me to be a ring-in 2nd soprano to sing the magnificent, pants-wettingly-good Rachmaninoff Vespers, to an overflowing church full of lovely responsive audience.

Responsive?  They actually drummed their feet on the floor of the all-polished-wood church and clapped for minutes and minutes at the end, including applauding us as we walked all the way out of the church.

And with a Melbourne audience, that is saying something.


A hyoooj sing, dripping with sweat most of the way through, and I had to sing the second half just in my socks so I could stretch out my feet between movements to keep the pins-and-needles to a minimum.....but as a tenor I know once said: what a way to go!  

And then we repaired to t'pub, the wonderful Napier Hotel a scant half-block - and a small half-block at that - from the Church for a PCBNG&S (Post Concert Beer, Nosh, Goss & Sing) in the glorious afternoon sunshine.

Perfection.
 
catchmyfancy: (happy sun smiley cupcake)
So, I saw on Facebook that Diamond Valley Singers (with whom I have done Cavalleria Rusticana and the Verdi Requiem) were doing a Flood Relief Concert for those poor sods in Queensland who have been given a proper shellacking by Nature recently, so I clicked “yes I’ll come”.  (Yes No 1)

Then they said, “do you want to sing something” and I said, “yes, sure”, thinking it would be at that little church in Diamond Creek and we could reprise the Easter Hymn or something, and I would walk out of the audience, sing and walk back. (Yes No 2)

 Then a couple other people put their hands up to sing.  And they said, “do you want to do a duet with the mezzo?” and I said “sure!  Could be fun!” (Yes No 3)

And so this is the end result.  Hoollly CRAP, that's Suzanne Johnston (and she is lovely and adorable and we are doing TWO duets and OH EM GEE IF YOU ARE IN MELBOURNE - in Oz - AND LIKE TO HEAR PEOPLE HAVING A GOOD WARBLE YOU HAVE TO COME)

Plus, you know, dollars for the Red Cross to assist in helping to rebuild and repair an entire bloody STATE.


Photobucket
catchmyfancy: (Bugs Bunny as Brunhilde)
Cos today I sang this in my lesson (*swoon*)(although I did not have asian subtitles plastered over my  boobs, I'm sure I would have noticed).

And then finally found a decent translation online (on DW? but of course); and one of the comments I found when googling away said they'd always regarded this aria as the Singer's Manifesto. 

Yeah, I can get behind that - but I would say it is more a Performer's Manifesto, seeing as the character is actually an actrine (albeit one who sings operatically about acting, but if we started looking for logic in the genre it might all unravel and then where would we be?)

Also because one's subconscious is much busier than one's thinky-thoughts part of the brane.....I've obviously been on the lookout for 'approachable' music in between all the Wagnering and Liedering, and my teacher and I today both had lightbulbs go on over our heads with something for me to DO with all my various Proclivities.   Still all a little nebulous right now...but watch this space!

catchmyfancy: (pic#692603)
I have just been to see the lovely peeps of Choristry and Exaudi do the cantata "St Nicolas" (no 'h' apparently) by Mr B. Britten and it is wonderful.

It's just a charming, delightful piece. If you ever get the chance to see it in concert: GO. I was thoroughly amused and entertained and engaged.

I am not in the slightest bit religious, but even I could see what a little gem it was: a hagiography in musical form that tells a story with what a tenor I know calls "the goddy bits" hung about it like christmas lights.

Oddly enough, the personality of Nicolas that comes through is: 'something of a dick and a holier-than-thou from an early age; but got a lot of good stuff done in his life, and he skipped off into heaven quite happily at the end' - more flawed human than I expected. (seriously: he was a pain, especially the bit in the boat, where I reckon he was lucky the sailors didn't drop him over the side or beat him up just to get him to STFU).

One of the cutest things about this is the audience sings two hymns with the choir ("All creatures that on earth do dwell" and "god moves in mysterious ways" - both droney congregational draggers that make choirs grind their teeth as the congregation gets slower and slower...although it's always fun to watch the conductor try so very hard to keep everyone in time and finally go "ah fuck it" and slow down to the congregation tempo-du-drone) and I ended up randomly sitting next to a very pleasant operatic baritone (who was visiting Melb to compete at the GAOG) and so we had a fine old time singing the hymns and Christmas carols - he knew all the bass lines....ooer!

So there's my Christmas musical experience...given the crazy-crazy of work this month, it's all I'm likely to get...but it was such fun that I am quite content.

Can't find much on youtube, so here's snippet of a Choristry rehearsal:



ETA: the last six minutes of the concert this afternoon. done on a hand-held iPhone. *boggle* Also: hurrah for electronic media and the internets!

catchmyfancy: (I try.)
I have my dear friend Fiona staying with me at present (no - not THAT one.  The other one.)

Growing up in our actually quite large provincial urban centre little home town, we were the Up and Coming classical singers.  There was me, Fiona and another girl.  Another Girl and I went to one teacher, Fiona went to The Other One, who was quite, quite mad, but could not actually ruin Fiona's voice, thank goodness.  We saw each other around the traps, as the people in a cohort of musicians tend to do. 

She went on to do a BMus/BEd and is a dedicated teacher and awesome musician (although she sings jazz more than anything these days, and is doing conducting and a Master degree in music - and I will get to graduate her!)  I went into the musical wilderness and slowly found my way sort of through it and discovered many odd things on the way.

And here we are, 20 years later.  Fiona and I reconnected through (of all things) Carols by Candlelight in 2006 and slowly cemented a new friendship.  Now we are valiant supporters of each others' endeavours.   

Last night it all got a bit giggly over the champagne she brought over with her to celebrate me passing the LMus exam.  Then it got serious.  And she said to me: "you do it because you love it, right?" and I honestly had nothing to say that didn't sound like a version of "a day late and a dollar short". 

One can witter on about wanting a career - but can I possumly have one at this "late" stage of the proceedings?  Should I have already Gone For It  (whatever the hell that means)?  Problem is, nobody tells you where you have to GO (I think Europe is involved, but nobody has been able to give me specifics).  Or even what "it" is.  And to tell the truth: I wasn't physically ready until much later than one is supposed to be.  The voice settles when it settles.  The mind and the spirit (for want of a better word) do too.  When I'm ready (really ready, following my own timetable) to do something, it gets done and happens easily. 

And yes, thanks, I want to make music.  I'm getting pretty good at a bloody demanding skill that is not exactly just screaming one's lungs out in front of a band (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'm even of the opinion that my winding path, frustrating as it seems to be to so many people, has been the right one: I'm not some bubble-headed 27-year-old coloratura with no social skills that don't involve my cleavage.  The music I want to sing is not for the faint of heart (or brain) and requires some emotional heft to really sell it.

The other thing Fiona said was that she was teaching a young student with a beautiful voice, and gave her Mondnacht to learn.  And the student said "thanks for that, but I won't be learning it.  Where would I get to sing it?"  And Fiona thought she had a point.  Wow.

I think that's the saddest thing I ever heard, for two reasons: 

(a) you can always find a way to perform a beautiful song which is
(1) HELLO, written by Schumann; and
(2) has final lines that translate as "my soul spreads it wings/and soars as if it were flying Home" (oh oh OH)
 
(b) she doesn't get to ever sing Mondnacht.  Think about the doors that girl slammed in one sentence.

Heh.  Maybe I am the eternal teenager, too big to sit with the kids, not quite polished enough to be at the adults' table.   So be it.    So long as I get to keep learning and making glorious music and singing it for anyone who will listen (preferably with cash involvement).....then you'll all get to hear allllll about it. 

Thanks for a quiet rant over a virtual coffee, Internets.  You rock (not that there's anything wrong with that).
catchmyfancy: (JB laughing)
Day of Excellence, Part thee Firste:

I got the envelope today:

I PASSED THE LICENTIATE EXAM for singing!

Well, the prac. 

I still have to pass the theory component sometime next year, but that's
(a) next year (seriously - they only have two written exam sessions a year and we are done now till 2011) and;
(b) written theory which I can actually swot up on, as composed to having to sweat my way through a long and difficult recital.

Never mind that: I PASSED.  And be grateful you weren't within earshot when I opened the envelope.  I didn't think it was possible to have hysterics on your own, but apparently you can.  Then I rang Tom.  Then I rang my parents.  Then my teacher.  Then I SMSed everyone I ever met.  Then I posted on facecrack.  And now here. I think that's everyone who matters. *grin*

Day of Excellence, Part thee Seconde:

I had the University equivalent of a blind date today.   I didn't realise this until last night when I caught myself thinking: hmmmm - what shall I wear tomorro - WTF?

He's tall and blonde and rather cute and at pains to point out he was straight.  Aw.  Oh, and quite a bit younger than me.  Which did not seem to phase him at all, thus I also was not phased.  Excellent.

We talked about work for about 30 seconds......ostensibly we were having coffee to whinge about the new student system, in the manner of cynical war-weary veterans, but that plan got tossed out of the window pretty early on, and it was straight into the Getting To Know You conversation.   

Time will tell if anything shall come of it, but he is a man with solid opinions about food and particularly about cheese.  I like a man who can sit there and rattle off his favourite Australian cheeses.

catchmyfancy: (captain logic is not steering)
LMusA exam yesterday.  Quite frankly: I have NO IDEA.  I think the singing went well. 

I managed to answer almost all of the questions in the viva voce part of the exam.  She thought I was stalling (having asked me a multiple-part question about Schubert) about naming some lieder he had written, so I rattled off an even dozen and that seemed to satisfy her.

Seriously, it is the shittiest thing to give a 40 minute recital** that HAS to be perfect in every respect and slam through 250 years of western musical development and then have to answer questions in a sane and coherent manner, when what you really want to do is get drunk and shag the nearest passing attractive male and/or jog around the suburb a couple of times to blow off the nyaaaaaargh* of it all.

In this respect, Tom the Accompanist earned himself a bloody MEDAL; being calm and supportive; telling me I looked good; giving me a huge hug and telling me I was fabulous and brilliant before we went into the exam; playing insanely well; and then calmly telling me I'd have post-exam "this was good/o god this was TERRIBLE" mood swinging for a couple of days, and suggesting a beer on the way back, and then it turned into two and it turns out he's a bit of a lightweight and we got giggly.  Aw.  And then he got to go and play accompaniment for a grade 5 violin exam.

Whereas I got to go home and be picked up by Kim and Justin (and driven home, woot!)(and just as well because I was at the stage where I couldn't even make a coherent decision on which camisole top to wear) and taken into town to the Paris Cat to go and listen to the very talented Doug de Vries play awesome Brazilian music with his mates and be fed Gs & T.  Then very late pizza.  Kim and Juzzie patiently listened to me go "WHY WHY WHY did i tell everyone i was doing the exam?  what if I fail?  o god o god" and it wound down eventually.  Then I got into bed and crashed and did not dream of music.  Then I woke up and went "uurgh".  So I am taking Kim to brunch.

And Praise be, mateys, it be international Speak Like a Pirate Day!

This means I can change the language setting on Facecrack to "English(Pirate)" and get the giggles for the next week.

*I can't describe it any other way.  other performers will know what I mean.

**Here is the program (for those of you who may be interested):
Rejoice Greatly - Messiah - Handel
Du bist die Ruh - Schubert
Er ist's - Wolf
L'invitation au voyage - DuParc
C'est L'Extase - Debussy
Dove Sono - Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
Pace pace mio Dio - La forza del Destino - Verdi
Als die Alte Mutter - Dvorak
Tell me the truth about love - Cabaret Songs - Britten
Hermit of Green Light; And no bird sings - Edwards

catchmyfancy: (leaning on the piano)
Did a run-through of the entire program this morning in front of Julia (my teacher); Julia's next-door neighbour, Miriam,who was kind enough to lend us her spotless front lounge (and beautiful old piano that Tom fell in love with at about the second keystroke); [personal profile] ginfancier; my musical nutty friend Anna, and Taryn, Julia's previous student who decided to come and listen.

It was just as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be, and things I had to watch: twitching my hands, and doing shifty eyes, being too singy on the recit and too much vibrato on the Mozart aria, not acting enough in the modern pieces, FRENCH pronunciation, my god.  Anna and I went over it all at lunch.  For someone who did 4 years at school and three at Uni, I pretty much suck.  But we worked out that if I pretend to be Edith Piaf, it sort of works. 

I am now taking a break and watching Julie and Julia (or if I get bored - although I can't wait to see Meryl and Stanley together again - Clash of the Titans.  Because it cracks me up that Sam Worthington pretty much plays An Australian Bloke Who Can Sorta Act in every movie - whether he's a space marine or a cyborg or a greek demi-god.  Not that there's anything wrong with Sam Worthington in leather, ooooo nooooo.)

Later, guys.

A DAY AND A HALF TO GO TILL LMUS!  EEEPLE.
catchmyfancy: (leaning on the piano)
I have my Licentiate exam on Saturday afternoon.

Following Tom the accompanist's advice, I have taken this week off, and it was the best.decision.ever. Yesterday there was sunshine and stillness. I admit to not getting dressed for most of it. Or today. Two Pyjama Days in one week - yes yes yes. There was basking in the sun yesterday. I was the lesser spotted pyjama lizard.

Not that I have been lazing about doing nothing - I have a Schedule. It is here.

And I should be doing more research, so as to not sound like a complete idiot on Saturday when they ask me Questions about the various composers and pieces and time signatures and lord only knows what else. Ask me about Hugo Wolf. Go on. I can tell you a heartbreaking story of a man who composed glorious songs, but was always looking to write the Big Piece that would make his name.

Schedule
catchmyfancy: (lieder)
Right, the concert today.

WENT WELL.

But really, we needed another week.  Hell, another three days.  Nah, a week.  two for preference.

I screwed up one entry and had to backtrack (finished flawlessly and without sweating too visibly thank goodness) and then forgot a phrase in my recit for another piece (not at all surprisingly the very next one, following that whole "one gymnast falls off the balance beam at the Olympics and then they all do"sort of deal) and had to look at Tom and say "nope - I got nothing", get the line, and then go on (also without sweating visibly and again finishing flawlessly, so at least I have picked up that trick).

i was fighting a glitch in my voice, and being vocally tired, and that feeling of "holy crap we are actually DOING THIS we are not ready it is TOO BIG" and also the sneaking suspicion that I'm human and have limits and are not nearly as awesome as I want to be, and  I did not feel that flow that comes with the best performances too often.

But the audience liked it, and were entertained, and really warmed up towards the end, and the Lyrebird people seemed happy.  Tom had fun (apart from a couple of his own *ahem* moments) and there was much positivity for the Tom and Alexandra show.

I'm still processing.  a lot of good stuff, but so much fell short of how I wanted things to be.  Guess that's what comes of a concert full of first-time performances of pieces.  Lot of stuff to think about!

Although here's one odd thing: I was wearing a new pearl necklace my parents had given me for my birthday, and it was quite snug around my throat.  Normally I hate that.  Today it was comforting. 

See, now i KNOW I'm tired.  Many thanks to all for the good wishes.  Soon is bed.  Singing lesson tomorrow as LMusA exam is in two weeks!
catchmyfancy: (lieder)
Biggest thing I ever tried.

I think it should work: the acoustic is awesome and I hardly have to work at all to make pretty sounds.

How one knows one is a musician (in case one ever spends time at 2am thinking: "can I really do this? really?" Not that I do, hem-hem!) - one spends most of rehearsal playing with the new acoustic and sorting out stuff in one's head about how to re-attack everything and generally wanting to jump up and down about how much fun it is all going to be.

The voice is a little tired and scratchy, but an early night, ginger tea and a decent warm-up should fix that.

Eeepity!  Concert report tomorrow night...

catchmyfancy: (nekkid)
This is from Not the Messiah, a full, proper oratorio (as in: orchestra, choir, soloists, royal albert hall, about a religious theme, holy moly!) written by Eric Idle for the 40th Anniversary of Monty Python.

If you can see the DVD or the movie in a cinema, YOU MUST GO. It is completely, fabulously barmy and utterly hilarious and my intercostal muscles are still sore from guffawing my way through this in the cinema.

Exhibit A: which Eric Idle coyly titles Amordeus; and which I instantly dubbed "the lost Handel sex scene". It is the nod at the end that slays me.

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