Saturday, June 27, 2009

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose--Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Admit it, bloggerini: Blogs are tiresome. I honestly don't wonder that they are abandoned like so many luxury condos built precipitously in more fortuitous times and left empty and inhabited by wild animals. I've just chased out pigeons that were roosting in this blog. Potential buyers have no longer have any money; I've little inclination and time. But here I am, nonetheless...

Things have changed and things haven't changed. I've finished BRO's production of Verdi's Ballo and yet, I am doing Ballo again, albeit under a diferent aegis. Things annoyed me about Ballo previously (pesky English translation, trying to sing/shout over ever-increasingly loud orchestra) ; things annoy me about it still (pesky Italian elided vowels, finding out I sang a particular line wrong for two months straight). I'll miss the excessivly snazzy Act II costume I pulled together for myself (above), but undoubtedly I find something nice to wear for the concert performance. No knives, though.

Good Verdi requires so much of its performers--time, energy, creativity--jeez--it's like a blog. Wild animals are roosting in my Ballo.

Having turned down the aforementioned Trojan opera, I've decided to embark on an extended studying jag, namely, finding out how to sing. Seems odd, after singing for the better part of 10 years, but so much of my training has been hinged on performing as opposed to learning how to do what I'm doing while I'm performing, so I'm obviously overdue.

It's funny, really, because even as I embark on this period of study, I'm still casting out nearly invisble nets (emails, really) for my next operatic project--Gilbert and Sullivan? Strauss?

.....24 Italian Art Songs?*

*G. Schirmer's famous title 24 Italian Art Songs is a collection of baroque art songs and arias oftentimes given to young singers at the beginning of their studies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Trojans in *my* future--Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Let's start with the Battle of Troy opera....I'll try to make this brief:

I saw, I sang, I conquered.

I was offered the title role, that being Hector.

I began to think highly complimentary things of myself.

My voice teacher, when apprised of this offer, was like, "Um, what....?"

I rather unwillingly turned the role down.

Then the Boyfriend was like, "Um, what....?"

I assured him that my voice teacher and I had made the wisest decision.

The role was given to a wildly-talented former-mezzo, the aforementioned Bryn Jimenez.

I returned to Verdi and silently ground my teeth to powder.


I mean, really, it's been almost ten years and only now am I sorta learning how to sing properly. To wit, there simply isn't a moment where I don't wonder whether I've made the wisest decision--the title role, people!!!--but I'm telling all inquiring parties that I have; that's my story, I'm sticking to it.



Whew.........what a difference a month makes! Everything, I mean, everything has completely changed, though whether all this is a virtue still remains to be seen...Where do I even begin?

I suppose I should take this one plot point at a time....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Slouching towards Troy--Thursday, May 28, 2009

What becomes an opera singer most on his day off from seemingly endless rehearsals? An audition. The aforementioned audition for the new opera based on the Trojan War has arrived, and after so much Verdi-derived skull-duggery, I'm wearily trying to wind my way up to impersonating divinity--I understand there's some gods on the dramatis personae, but chances are, as a bass, if I'm cast it'll be as some gruff grody soldier.

Might I mention that I haven't heard jack from the Rape of Lucretia people, after writing a nice little essay and everything? I simply don't have the time; Lucretia is going to have to meet her unfortunate fate some other time as far as I'm concerned......which is probably just as well.

So tired....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Directionally Challenged--Friday, May 22, 2009

All is not well in the kingdom of Ballo.....

.....but far be it from me to be so indiscreet as to drop any details. Suffice it to say that the musical direction is not lacking in any respect--it is exacting, dramatic and stylistically informed, full of the kind of insights one really has to pick up on the job with a knowledgeable conductor.

It occurred to me at my last rehearsal (almost definitely while standing around somewhere center stage right, trying to "act with my face", for lack of a better dramatic pastime) that, vocally, I would probably make more headway in the future as Tom instead of Sam, seeing as it is a much role. Sam is nice (except for those F's--but Tom has the same ones for some reason), but if I ever decide to do this opera again on a larger stage, chances are Tom will be found to be more suitable for me than Sam.

It seems that I have to costume myself for this production, so the perpetual question still applies in this case--What the hell am I going to wear?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

LIVE! Sitzprobe Smackdown--Sunday, May 17, 2009

Orchestra rehearsals excite and terrify me. I'm still wildly excited at the thrilling prospect of singing over an entire orchestra that is playing, at various moments, for my voice alone. I'm also still completely terrified that during one of those rather long soprano and tenor stretches I'll start daydreaming about lying in bed, eating bonbons and watching the Real Housewives of New York City reunion on "mute" while listening to the Callas Mexico City Aida, and just as I'm lipsync-ing that crazy long high E-flat at the end of Gloria all'Egitto--

I will suddenly hear utter silence....!

Thirty stone-faced instrumentalists, one irate conductor, all of the double-cast principles and the better part of the chorus are staring at someone behind me. Oh no...they're staring at me.......I can't figure out why.....wait...

I've just missed my entrance. And then I fall over and have a stroke.

As you can imagine, this NEVER happens. Reality-Anthony pays far, far more attention to his operatic surroundings than "paranoid imagination-Anthony" does, but the fear of the latter beautifully supports the hyper-attention of the former.

98.7% of Ballo's sitzprobe went off without a hitch. Our conspicuously able assistant director, Mr. Chu, had to pull some strings (ahem-ahem) to get things running smoothly, but overall everything with thrillingly rendered by the orchestra.

I hastily scribbled down my impressions at various parts of the rehearsal, which were as follows:

2:25pm--Looks like the other Sam is not going to be at this rehearsal, which means that for one rehearsal SAM IS MINE!!! To quote my Act 2 solo ensemble entrance, "Ha Ha Ha! Oh how delightful...."

2:37pm--Orchestra warming up. Various solo instrumental parts of the opera popping out here and they're well-played and in-tempo (!!!). Promising. A tenor is warming up loudly somewhere. Isn't there always?

2:47pm--First Sam/Tom entrances over. Voice feels thick, intractable and foggy. Thank you, seasonal allergies. 2pm is still morning for bass voices, BTW.

3:05pm--Act I Scene 1 finale just finished. Orchestra played quickly and brilliantly. Voice feels a bit better, though unsure whether my three high F's came out because everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs on the same note. Oh well.

3:13pm--Act I Scene 2. Ulricas (Ulriche?) just finished their entrance. BIG difference between Slavic female mezzo and American counter-tenor timbres, needless to say. Their vibratos are engaged in a vocal Cold War.

3:57pm--Just missed an entrance by a beat. That little noodly flute thingy in the orchestra was for me? Yikes.

4:28pm--One chance with the orchestra. Two sopranos. Two vibratos. Too many high notes. One bad idea?

4:40pm--Very end of opera went by like a bat out of hell. Unsure whether my mouth made pitches and words at that speed.

5:36pm--It just so happens that we won't have time to go over the second half of the second act, which, of course, is my big moment. F%€k. S#!t. Stupid soprano and tenor bits.

5:47pm--Verdi's brilliant and all, but I haven't eaten all day and I will starve and die much faster than these opera folks.

Back to staging rehearsals this afternoon. (grumble)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

ANNOUNCING: Brooklyn Repertory Opera's "A Masked Ball"

BROOKLYN REPERTORY OPERA presents Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece "A Masked Ball" (Un Ballo in Maschera), a fully-staged production with orchestra and chorus in the historic Lyceum Theatre in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Anthony Russell, bass, will be playing the role of Samuel, a scheming courtier bent on assassinating the King of Sweden for personal reasons you will have to find out yourself by attending.

Performances are on Sunday, June 7 at 3:30pm and Friday, June 12. There are other performances of the opera, about which you can find out here, but seeing as I'm not singing at those other performances, I can't imagine why you'd want to attend those as well as mine except out of a great love for Verdi.

Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. Seating is general.

The Brooklyn Lyceum is located at the 227 Fourth Ave., Brooklyn, New York on the corner of Fourth Ave. and Union Street. It is immediately across the street from the Union Street Station on the Brooklyn-bound M and R trains.

"A Masked Ball" is sung in English, minimally set and in modern dress; Brooklyn Repertory Opera is a small opera company that exists primarily to bring great musical drama to Brooklyn and to provide a chance for young up-and-coming singers (not unlike myself) to make their voices heard.

A link to Brooklyn Repertory Opera's decidedly minimalist website is here.

A link to Wikipedia's article on Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera (including a synopsis) is here.

Hope to see you there!