I'm really not sure why I'm one of those people who either seems to write 4 posts in a week or none for a month. It's like I have creative spurts in various parts of my life, but can only focus on one at a time. Plus, because I'm so honest and like to tell the absolute truth about what's going on with me in my blog, I tend to avoid writing too much when either a) I'm gainfully unemployed ("Wow. That episode of the Mad Men last night was crazy, right?" Not good blog material), or b) when I have a project or event happening that for whatever reason I can't yet share with the public at large ("I'm busy learning a new aria for my big Met audition! Update; I didn't get it." Also poor blog material and just plain embarrassing (that is not a real example by the way - I haven't auditioned for the Met in a long time)).
But comments will occassionally trickle in on old posts, and after reading things about how much people look forward to my entries, I'll kick my own butt and realize that even if I'm not feeling particularly writerly, I need to just put something down and stay connected with all the people who have bothered to follow me for all this time. I was having a coaching yesterday, and when the singer after me arrived at her coaching she said, "love your blog, by the way!" which reminded me I needed to get cracking. Then I saw that my last entry was over a month ago! Jenny Jenny Jenny!!!
I can't tell you everything that's happening and is in the works just yet, but I can tell you that at the moment I'm knee deep in memorizing a new role. I leave in about a week and a half for Europe - first Italy for a week, then on to Innsbruck, where I'll be singing the title role in "La Stellidaura Vendicante" by Francisco Provenzale. You've never heard of it, you say? Don't worry - few people have. It's one of those baroque operas that is rarely done, there is no recording in existence, and few people have even heard of the composer. But the Innsbruck Festival for Early Music loves to rediscover and reintroduce forgotten works from within the baroque repertory to the public, and present them in lovely productions with a fabulous baroque orchestra.
At the Festival's Website you can find a bit of interesting information about the opera (along with a big picture of my face from a few headshots ago) and why the company has chosen it as their opera this summer. It's the earliest baroque opera I've sung thus far because it's pre 1700's, so I'm facing the challenges of making it exciting and visceral without the flashy arias I'm used to with Handel and even Pergolesi. But there is some achingly beautiful music with that complex simplicity that you only find in baroque music, along with a pretty awesome character who says things like "I'm going to avenge you with this sword because I've been wronged, I'm a woman, and I'm your lover!" before she runs off to try to kill someone who beat up her boyfriend. She's seriously badass - and all the way back in the 1600's! I'm used to avenging people with my sword when I play all those pants roles, but it will be very nice to be playing a strong woman instead of someone just lying around dying of lovesickeness or something.
But that brings me back to the fact that I have to memorize this entire role that I had never even heard a note of before I received the score a couple of months ago. And it's not like I could listen to a couple of recordings to get a feel for the harmonies and the flow of the piece. Or read through an already translated libretto to get the ins and outs of the story. In fact my first introduction to the piece was a giant package I received from Innsbruck, which contained a photocopy of the manuscript. And let me tell you, I could NOT always read Provenzale's handwriting!
Luckily, since then, they have put the whole score into the computer and I have learned it all and know what's happening in the story (thank god I have an excellent coach who can sight read a full score and can figure out the harmonies and stuff. She is absolutely indispensable to me when I learn these unknown baroque pieces). But I still need to get the whole thing memorized before I arrive. We do have nearly a week of musical rehearsals in Italy before moving on to begin the staging in Innsbruck, but I always have been and always will be an over preparer. Honestly, this doesn't come from my outstanding work ethic, but rather from my desire not to be horribly embarrassed. I'm totally serious. I have never understood how people arrive for the first musical rehearsal not knowing their music and don't die of shame right there. I would just melt into a puddle of goo on the floor beneath my music stand. So I learn my music, always.
But that doesn't mean I don't spend the few weeks before I arrive banging my head against my music stand in the hopes the music will just GET IN THERE ALREADY DAMNIT!! There's that point where you know it, but when you try to look away from the score you are suddenly hopelessly lost, and you think - well, I may have memorized every single score for the past 15 years, but this is the one I just can't remember. My brain is officially full. There is apparently no more room. Then one day, miraculously, you just know it. I'm still waiting for that miraculous moment with this score - or at least with the third act. And I'm going to ignore those voices in my head telling me that there is only so much Italian recitative one person can hold in their brain and I'm officially at capacity, and keep cramming it in there until it sticks.
And I get to go to a gorgeous town in Northern Italy for a week, followed by almost 5 weeks in Innsbruck, which is just such a special place. So that music is going to GET IN THERE so I can spend my free time when I arrive eating and climbing mountains and not pounding my head against any music stands.