Oh blogosphere - can I just sing Cherubino for ever and ever, all over the place, and never have to do anything else? I'm telling you, if I had to pick just one role to sing for the rest of my life, it would definitely be this one. It has the perfect combination of being the highest impact with the littlest amount of effort, which means I feel no stress when performing it (which frankly, is really great), I adore playing this little trouble maker who is always dressing up like ladies and jumping out of windows, and most importantly, I could listen to the music to Le Nozze di Figaro every single day for the rest of my life and never, ever get tired of it. Mozart's music, and particularly the music in this opera, just does something transformative to me every time I hear it. Even if it's just in a little practice room with singers and a piano, I am absolutely transported every time I hear it. I'm positively giddy when we get to the sitzprobe and I get to hear it with the orchestra. I get goosebumps every single time I hear the overture. And I've been performing the role for 10 years!
I'm in Liege, Belgium, by the way - as I mentioned in my previous post about traveling. I haven't actually sung Cherubino in several years, and being back in his trousers just reminds me every day of what I love about this opera. And especially after all this fiendishly difficult baroque music that I've been doing lately, Cherubino is like a fabulous vacation from stress, where I not only get to relax and have fun, but also get to hear my absolute favorite music every single day! Last night, I was called to a rehearsal where all I did was sat and listened to the finale of Act II for two hours (my favorite part of the opera, musically - it's a pity that Cherubino jumps out the window just before it begins so I only get to listen, not sing in it!). Normally I would probably be annoyed to sit there for so long and not rehearse, but not with this music. And I'm such a dork - I'm constantly telling everyone "Ooooh - I LOVE this part!!" and humming and swaying and mini conducting when I'm sitting there listening. I can't help it - Mozart really brings out my inner music nerd.
And one thing I've been particularly enjoying about this production is that there are two italian singers in the roles of Figaro and the Countess, and I have been listening carefully to the way they deliver the text of this libretto that I know so well. As I get older, I have learned which things to pay attention to as teaching moments for myself, and one of those important things is to always listen carefully to the way the native speakers of any libretto deliver the text. I was listening to a lot of italians when I did Clemenza di Tito in Torino, but since it was my first time with the role, it didn't have the same impact as it does listening to this libretto that I know so well. Plus, this is the first time I've performed Nozze since I learned to actually speak italian myself, and although I always knew what all the words meant, speaking the language allows me to play with the text in new and exciting ways, and easier comprehension frees me up to play with other things more.
Speaking of languages, this is my first time working in a francophone country, so I'm really giving it a go with french. It's funny that it has taken me this long to really improve my french, since I started studying french in the 9th grade. I took 4 years of it in high school, and was at least somewhat proficient, and then have had not one, but two french speaking boyfriends in the years since, and have studied privately a bit here and there. But I have honestly never had the occasion to really speak french for more than a few words here and there. (Lesson learned; if you're going to find a foreign boyfriend, make sure they don't speak any english!!!). And then, since I took all those lessons, I actually learned to speak italian, and that became my default other language. So when I first arrived here in Liege, I knew most of the words I wanted to say were in my head, but the passage from brain to mouth was slow and rocky, and peppered with about 25% italian words. I insisted to almost everyone, however, that they please speak to me only in French, because I knew that I would never get any better if I didn't force myself to speak, even if it meant sounding really stupid 95% of the time. It has definitely gotten a lot better in the two and a half weeks I've been here, although I still hate how tongue tied I get if I try to speak too quickly. I can understand everything everyone says to me, I just sort of sound like a french hillbilly when I respond. And in the meantime I still speak italian to the italian singers because I don't want to lose that while I'm switching to french, so my brain is basically on high alert at all times.
By the way - I received a comment on a post that the YAP tracker facebook page had put a link to my blog, so I want to say hi to any young artist type singers who might be checking in - I basically write this blog for you guys - and so my mom and dad can admire their daughter's lofty prose. I really want to recommend to all you YAPpers, if you haven't already seen it, please check out Susanne Mentzer's blog posts on the Huffington Post. She's a great lady and a really wonderful writer, in addition to being one of the best American mezzos that has ever graced the stage. Here's a link to the most recent post. Trust me - worth a read.
Oh also - I'm now officially on itunes! Like as in, if you type my name into itunes, tracks of my singing actually appear!! It's because they have now released the Agrippina recording to itunes, so there I am, in all my 99 cents per track glory! Pretty neat-o, huh? Okay, see y'all later - I mean, a bientot!