All the talk in the house today has been about the thunder this morning. There was only one loud crash, but we all agree it must have happened right over the garden or house. I don't think I've ever heard such a loud explosion. As I said to my South African housemate—moments before he snuck up behind one of the Polish women and shouted "BOOM!" scaring the bejeesus out of her—once I looked out my window to make sure there weren't dismembered bodies lying about the garden, I realized it must have been thunder and not a fallen airplane or a terrorist attack. Although there were rumblings of thunder in the distance, apparently there was just the one loud crash of thunder in our vicinity, and it woke everyone in the house.
Normally I would have stayed awake. I mean, I was wide awake and my heart had jumped clear out of my throat and was bouncing between the floor and ceiling like game of Pong on ludicrous speed. And waking up at 6:30 is just the sort of thing I need to get on a regular sleeping schedule. However, I didn't get to sleep till 3:00-3:30 "last night" and I had a voice lesson this afternoon. On three hours of sleep, I would not be singing well. I did eventually manage to fall back asleep somehow, only to be woken up by the lawn mowers at about 7:40-8:00. Again, if it weren't for my voice lesson, I wouldn't have attempted to sleep through it. Once I finally did get enough quiet to sleep, I stayed asleep till after noon. Ugh!
Once I woke up on my own terms, I logged on and checked LJ and the Chargers Board and my e-mail and the weather. Finished the chapter I was too sleepy to finish last night. Checked my memorization of a couple of songs. Did my pushups and ab exercises. Somewhere in there, it started pouring outside. I went downstairs, dripping in sweat (more from the humidity than the workout), had a Müller-Rice for breakfast, and showered. Back upstairs, I gazed at the rain while I dressed, dreading having to go out in that. Fortunately, it stopped sometime between the time I left my bedroom and walked out the front door.
Pollard originally wanted to see me at 8 tonight. I would have done it if he had nothing else available, but I asked him if I could see him earlier. I really did not want to miss any of the Portugal-France match. He said he could see me at 3:30 this afternoon, but I had to go to Guildhall rather than his home. Not a problem. Plus, that increased my chances of running into Tania…but no such luck; I'll have to wait till Friday afternoon to see her.
It was another good lesson. I sang very well, despite the poor quality of sleep. It felt weird having a lesson in one of the Guildhall practice rooms, as the space is far more acoustically live than Pollard's studio at home. I focused as much as I could on singing by feel than by sound, so as to avoid inadvertently compensating for the room's acoustics.
We were going to work on the Mozart today, but Pollard heard something from me during the vocal exercises that convinced him he wanted to work on the less flamboyant Schubert instead. "Let's just run through the Mozart once first before we go on to the soft stuff, though." "Do you really want me to sing the Mozart before the Schubert?" He looked at me for a moment, then understood that I was reminding him I have trouble coming down from and singing softly after vigorous singing: "Point taken." So I sang "Gute Nacht" (first time from memory), "Die Lindenbaum," and "Der Wetterfahne." He was very pleased with all of them. He pointed out (and asked if I'd noticed the same thing) that my soft singing seems both freer and more connected to my support now. I am keeping the tone and color light, but light with a lot of depth and richness. The key is that I am more aware of and connected to my support and can allow the voice to go where it's supposed to with ease. I really am making some beautiful sounds right now. And, as Pollard pointed out in the loud parts of "Die Wetterfahne," this makes my loud singing freer, richer, and more resonant with far, far less effort.
On a non-singing note, I asked Pollard if he had inquired about making me a part-time Guildhall student. Yes, he said. Right now the bureaucratic wheel is turning so that I can be admitted sans audition; he should have word back from the school shortly.
We also talked about (1) my cashflow and (2) local opera.
(1) I mentioned that I'm deciding whether it's worth returning to Boston 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule to submit my paperwork for work authorization or whether I'll wait till my scheduled August 1 return. I mentioned that it would be 4-6 months until I received the proper work permission; until then, though, I have about $4500 in unemployment benefits remaining and should shortly receive a $3600 check from BU that should enable me to stay in London for another 4-5 months. Also, I continue to look for work that pays under the table. I've signed up for a medical study that will pay me £570 for three nights of hospital stay, and I continue to look for web work. I pointed out that he doesn't have a website, that when I first heard about him from Carole Bajac I couldn't find much information on him, just on his students. He maintains he can't really see the point of having a website, as he doesn't have the desire or need to advertise. I mentioned that his students who are professionals or on the verge of becoming so could benefit from having a website. He agrees and will mention me to some of his students.
(2) He asked what I thought about Nixon in China. I gave him a wry smile, which he seemed to understand. But I expanded on that. I mentioned that the singing was very good. There were times when the music was appropriately dramatic or mystical or whatever, but overall I just confirmed that I am not a fan of the minimalists. "Adams is better than Glass," I said. Pollard smiled and told me about a student of his who wanted to learn a soprano aria by Glass: "A monkey would have written better music!" I mentioned I'd have to try to see Tosca at Covent Garden as an antidote, and we discussed same-day tickets at the two opera houses. We talked about his student, Mark Stone, who plays Premier Chu in Nixon, how I really liked his voice but can't see him as Giovanni (a role he recently sang) because his voice seems to lack the darkness and edge I expect from Giovanni. Stone will singing in Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades shortly at Holland Park Opera, so I asked Pollard to enquire about the possibility of getting me tickets to that.
My next lesson will be Friday, probably around 11:00. Pollard said he'll let me know by tomorrow at the latest, to which I responded, "So I should expect to get a text message sometime Friday morning, right?" Pollard laughed. So, Friday will be an opera day. We'll spend the lesson working on "Aprite un po' quegl'occhi" and possibly "Non più andrai." Then I will go see Tania's opera scenes and possibly (hopefully) hang out with her (and maybe other Guildhall students) afterwards. I'm looking forwards to both the lesson and seeing Tania.