Angels Vocal Art – Emerging Artists

July is a slow month in LA–so why not hit the training hard?  I’m diving head first into an young artist program with the Angels Vocal Art program.  Every morning, we’re attacking Commedia del Arte techniques and characters (I have to admit, my favorite is Pantalone, even though I’ll never get to play him…) and each other, in extensive stage combat training.  Followed by endless coachings and rehearsals…. I don’t think I’ve gone to sleep before 11 PM so far this week!  Digging into Adina and Fauré’s art songs and really getting into diction and natural cadence for recit (while still keeping with all the appoggiaturas and the like!).

I would really love for you all to the see the final product of what a lot of creative brains connecting the dots between music, history, classic stories, hair pulling, archetypes and symbols, and language can do!  And even better, I can get you a discount 😉  We have an Impressions and Expressions concert of art song solos and ensemble pieces if you prefer the edgier side of classical music–short and sweet and intense.  And then of course, we have two opera scenes concert nights where we perform highlights from favorite operas! Fully staged, with an orchestra. I will be performing Adina from L’Elisir d’amore and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (I know, you’re thinking ‘what the fach?’ but it’s just for the famous “Sola in Buio Loco” sextet), and Maria from West Side Story.

You can purchase tickets here for the art songs on July 19th, or the Opera Scenes concert on 28th and 29th.  Tickets are really affordable, only $25 for adults, $15 for students, and LESS if you use AVA9452 when you purchase tickets.

I have to admit, I’m psyched about what product we’re about to put on.  Even just speaking through the Don Giovanni sextet with these amazing singers was invigorating! And my L’Elisir d’Amore duette with a young tenor named Eric is the first time I’ve ever had to worry about a tenor out singing me!  His voice has power, and sitting in a practice room with him as he plunked out our chords and we practiced our harmonies was one of those rare moments of real musical collaboration–with as much listening happening as performing!  So please come on by if you are in the LA area because I’d love to see you! And share what my voice is becoming 😉

“There is no try” — Yoda

So this is gonna be a reflective post, rather that an update post.  But I’ve been getting a lot of the same advice across the board recently–singing lessons, Meisner classes, from my mother… all variations of the Nike trademark “just do it.”  Sometimes even “stop trying so hard!”  Which, I’ll admit, to my over-achiever brain, blows my mind. How can you do something without trying?

But you know what, damn it, they had a point. When I think about “doing my best” vs. “trying to be my best,” there’s a subtle but major difference between the two. Failure.

There is no way to fail at doing my best.  Whatever I do, however well I do it, that was the best I could do at that moment in time in that situation.  Just by doing something, just by completing the action, I succeeded.  The quality with which I completed the action is another, related story, but not the point.  Now, exceptions might include self-sabotaging habits and choices, but lets assume for the most part you are a healthy, sane-ish person who wants to do well.  By focusing on the action and not the outcome, I usually get a much better outcome! And am a much happier person in the meanwhile.

But with trying, you introduce the option of failure. If you try to do something, you can either succeed or fail.  You bring failing into the picture, sometimes even (if you’re like me) fixate on it. Some study somewhere on the internet shows if you say “don’t look!” to someone, all their brain really hears is “look” with the filter of “don’t” applied in a delayed manner later (I read it somewhere, don’t quote me on it).  The pressure, and the focus, is now on the outcome, not the process, which usually decreases the quality of the outcome and your enjoyment of the process.

If you’re a singer, you know pushing and tension = bad singing and openness and vocal freedom = good singing.  When I “try” to sing something right, I usually end up pushing, over-focusing on every little thing internally, my voice becomes strident. Sometimes nothing is technically “wrong” with my performance, it’s just not as pleasant for the audience.  When I just “do” it, my brain is style hyper-actively trying to do everything I’ve learned to do about quality singing, but I’m not focusing on that part. It still happens, but I’m counterbalancing it with being in my moment and being proud of myself for just doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  The same thing happens with my acting when I’m “trying” to nail it; only instead of my voice, I’m pushing my emotions (in your FACE audience!) instead of just letting them happen.

So for me (that’s a big catch! if these words don’t have these connotations for you, then none of this applies!), just doing something makes me focus on the action, the process, and more importantly allows me to subconsciously define success as having completed an action that was meaningful and important to me.  Trying something makes me focus on right vs. wrong, mistake and failure vs. success and achievement, pushing to make the one happen and avoid the other.  You know what they say, you subconsciously bring things into your life when you obsess over them. So when I bring the fear of failure into my life, I’m actually bringing failure with it, spending my mental and emotional energy on it.

But if these words don’t subconsciously mean the same things to you, or come with the same emotional baggage, then your words will be different. The phrase you whisper to yourself when you’re nervous and you need to center will be different. This is no prescription for how to “think right.” It’s just my way of admitting I’m ready to let go of the “trying” crutch that I’ve held onto for so long.

So I owe you one mom, and mentors, and shoe commercials and tiny green fictional characters–the less I try, the more I succeed.  Not because I work any less hard, but because I stop worrying about failing and start worrying about doing.

Afternoon Tea with Schubert… and me!

Remember the days when artists and scientists and citizens gathered together in a nice open room and shared music and stories and philosophies?  Neither do I because the practice died long before I came around–but I always dreamed of getting to participate in something like the Salons of yore and now I have the chance!!

Center Stage Opera is debuting their new Chamber Ensemble who will be performing Schuberts “Death and the Maiden” (and intense piece of music!), and to lighten up the afternoon, I will be singing some of Schubert’s most popular and beautiful pieces.  Du bist die Ruh, Ständchen, and Gretchen am Spinnrade to be precise!  It’s an incredible opportunity, and I’m really excited to be singing some lieder out here in California.  It’s kind of my LA classical music debut!  And to be honest, I’m starting to get a little more nervous, but the music is so beautiful all I have to do is get lost in it and I know I’ll find my way!

Goodness gracious, I’ve been putting in a lot of exclamation points, but I guess that’s what happens when you get excited. The concert is coming up fast; it’s on Sunday, June 11th, at 2 PM in the Westfield Promenade Mall in Woodland Hills. If you’d like to purchase tickets, they can be found here, or for more information you can call (818) 517-4102.

Truly, it should be an incredible way to see these german art songs as they were originally intended to be heard–in a private, intimate setting between performer and audience, on a beautiful summer afternoon before it’s time to go to happy hour!

Opera, Opera, and more опера

For those of you wondering where to see me next!  My next projects include being in the chorus of Independent Opera Company’s performances of Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades”–which for those who know opera is his second and arguably more beautiful opera based on Pushkin’s literature (Eugin Onegin), and for those who don’t know this opera is based on a poem about a man who has true happiness within reach (namely a woman who really loves him) and lets avarice and the fantasy of perfect happiness get in the way and destroy what was within his grasp.  And the Independent Opera Company is an incredible, female-led company that brings quality opera at AFFORDABLE ticket prices to the LA area!  They’ve been around for about 5 years now, which is no small feat for a local opera company.  If you know anyone who’s been experimenting or thinking about becoming a patron of the arts, this is an excellent local opera to support that’s helping young and established opera singers grow and perform and bringing accessible and quality opera to your neighborhoods!  They’ve started a GoFundMe page for the first time here.

And with a SEPARATE opera company, Center Stage Opera in the San Fernando Valley, I’ll be performing two Schubert pieces for an evening concert of chamber music and art song. They’re the incredible company who put on the young artist competition I just participated in, and are working hard to develop the local artists and make classical music (art song, aria, and other!) more accessible to the public! You should hear about a rock-and-roll mash-up they did between Chuck Berry music and “Quando m’en vo” from La Bóheme!

Finally, I believe I’ll be studying with Angels Vocal Art program that works opera scenes with a live orchestra, fully staged, and coachings that extend beyond voice alone and into how to have a career as a 21st century singer and full-body care techniques, and tips for dying while singing full-voiced! XD  Only in opera….

 

 

My first movie “premiere”!

Image result for recollecting elle

Two weeks ago on Friday was my very first movie premiere!  Recollecting Elle is a short film by a student of Woodbury University in Burbank, CA and was premiered with the senior thesis films around the time of graduation.  The incredible Ashley Paz was our director, writer, and executive producer.  It was my first time seeing myself or any of my projects on a big screen and it was a pretty cool experience.  The story is very emotional, and a little more dramatic than anything I’ve done before.

You can like the film on Facebook to keep track of where else it goes (hopefully to a festival someday!) or see when we release an online copy for the viewing pleasure of those at home 🙂

Center Stage Opera Young Artist Competition!

YoungArtist

I’ve been so remiss! I haven’t kept everyone up to date! Most recently I made it to the Final Live Concert round of the Center Stage Opera Young Artist Competition! The 5 Young Artist, the 3 High School, and 5 Young Professional finalists performed two pieces live for a panel of judges from the LA Opera.  I did not win, but I’m proud to say I had an excellent experience, and hopefully will have the opportunity to work with this great company again in the future!

“Native Son” at Stray Cat Theatre Review – Guest Author Momaconda

Top Ten Reasons to See Native Son at Stray Cat Theatre THIS WEEKEND. NOW. Click this link and buy tickets and reschedule other things to go see this show.

  1. So much talent in one room, you will think you are in New York. See these actors now while you can afford tickets.
  1. Debutantes hold the Money of America. The wealthy argue politics while poor families are kicked out onto the street. Families struggle to fit religion into their hard scrabble lives. Sound familiar? Richard Wright’s Native Son novel was written in 1940, Nambi E. Kelley’s play published in 2016. Close to 80 years later, and this story still has legs. You will be thinking about this tale for a long time after close.
  1. (White Privilege Alert) I’m a white female viewer—never, I hope, as ‘I-don’t-see-race’ as the literally blind Mrs. Dalton (who’s got a white cat named “Whitey”—how would she even know??), but not always one to dive into race issues, because maybe it’s not my business. But the audience was mixed race, mixed age range and if you want to spend a night with an intelligent room of people, see this show. And as of the election, it is everyone’s business.
  1. (Sexism Alert) Were the female characters completely objectified by the main, male character? Pretty much yes. One woman is killed (partially) because she represented all women of her type (white female, which, as you can see from #3, hits home). But does this make the play sexist? Nope. This play is about the inner workings of Bigger’s mind (made outer in the character of Black Rat). We are seeing what his life, his world—which (see #2 above) is an awful lot like our world—is turning him into. This is how he is being molded. He can’t see himself, either, so how could he possibly see the rest of us? It’s making all of us look at how our categories are defining those around us and ourselves.
  1. A modern day Othello. Or it begins where Othello leaves off, distraught Black male snuffing out the life of a White female. But instead of Iago getting inside his head, it’s the RFW (racist f*cking world). But not all Whites (or Reds) are evil in Native Son. People do try . . .

Although to me, Bigger’s treatment of Bessie is much more disturbing. I will say, if this show had been written by a man, I would probably have more issue with Bessie’s treatment. But as a woman of color character written by a woman of color, Bessie haunts me and seems especially relevant in this time of heated discussions of White and Intersectional Feminism. The different responses to the deaths of these women are, again, perhaps not limited to a 1930s setting, and that is breathtaking in its implications (imho).

  1. This show almost literally takes you to Hell and back.
  1.  (Disrupted Chronology Alert) The opening scenes take a bit to find your footing, as it were. You may not quite know what you’re seeing, but the frame holds and it all comes together at the end. And the shared-line transitions from one scene to the next really worked for me, how words are picked up and echo through time or people.
  1. Reason not to see this show? It did take me three times around the block to get into the parking lot (don’t judge). But as you approach from the East on Washington, get into the FAR LEFT lane (other side of the train tracks, it will seem like the wrong way but, since it’s a one-way-street, it’s fine). They serve beer and wine once you get in, so give yourself time for a parking reward.
  1. Phoenix needs to be the type of town that supports challenging theater. DVR whatever you might be missing and grab some friends and bring them along, be those cool people who know what’s going on in the city.
  1. Did I mention the overload of talent?  If you don’t laugh & gasp (I can admit, I had tears running down my face at the end, but maybe you’re not all criers), email me and I will buy you a beer or wine at your next show. Doesn’t drama exist to make us think, feel, see the world a little differently? This show does all of that. If you’re not feeling it, we gotta talk.

Bullets over Phoenix Theatre!

It’s not quite Broadway… but I’m started on my next regional theatre project!  I’m gonna be Ellen — the intellectual, over-intense, but secretly-middle-class-longing-for-simple-things girlfriend of the angsty playwright, David — in Phoenix Theatre’s upcoming production of Bullets Over Broadway.

So for the next seven weeks I’ll be back in my hometown, rehearsing my butt off for an amazing production that’s going to have incredible sets (moving cars on stage, revolves, animal print couches…), gorgeous costumes, and a cast of the best of Arizona and beyond! (The number of concert dancers turned Broadway artists we have in the ensemble is really exciting).

For more information, check out: http://www.phoenixtheatre.com/events/bullets-over-broadway

And of course I’ll be posting any reviews we get (even the bad ones).

(maybe).

First Professional Recording!

So, I’ve been having quite the adventure. Through a series of online submissions I found myself in contact with THE Philip Springer, composer of “Santa Baby”–a song I have grown-up singing every Christmas Eve at the neighborhood luminary night–and hired to record an original composition of his!

After a couple rehearsals, some time exploring the lyrics at home (he made me practice singing to my boyfriend to help me get the emotion of the song just right!), and even a heated political debate with the composer himself (that’s a story I’m saving for my grandkids), I met with him and his sound engineer for a recording session.

If I’m honest, it was my first time recording something that wasn’t on my home set-up “blue Yeti” mic.  It was incredible.  How I had to adjust my singing voice for the recording set-up reminded me of how I’m learning to adjust my acting for the screen.  The live performances I’m use to encourage a wide range of dynamics–the audience is along for the ride as you glide from a pianissimo extreme to a fortissimo, or as you build enough emotional energy to fill a theatre. But in a recording environment, you have to focus and condense the extremes into a smaller dynamic space (like how you learn to contain the emotions for a more intense and focused performance on camera).  It was quite the growth experience, and I’m finding myself very much drawn to new works and recording studios!  Hopefully, this may just be the beginning chapter in more work through music.

Next up: coffee with local voice instructors and performers to get some advice on segueing into more work with my voice! I’m still training operatically, but I’m open to a variety of next steps…