July 5th, 2006

Falstaff--Peril

(no subject)

Three hours is not enough sleep—I'll sound like shit at my voice lesson if I don't get more.

But that thunderclap…it was so loud, and right outside my open window. It jarred me out of the deepest slumber, and now my poor little heart is racing at a gigazillion beats per minute.

It seems to have been an isolated incident. There's some faint rumbling in the distance, but nothing else I might call local. Why, oh why, did that one explosion of thunder have to leave his colleagues to come torment me???
Attack of the Killer Chihuahua!

(no subject)

It seems there's a conspiracy underfoot, for not forty minutes after I managed to fall back asleep (or maybe it was a couple of hours later: I admit to being a tad disoriented) I was once more rudely awakened. This time it was a crew with what sounded like industrial-strength lawnmowers, there to make our garden look nice and pretty. Grrr…
Me

(no subject)

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.
You can't guard me!

(no subject)

What an exciting finish! What a great game!

People looked at me funny when I predicted Portugal to win the Cup this year. Nobody else expected them to make it this far. But I saw something others didn't see. I saw a team that came in second in the last European Championships. I saw a core of players that has been together for a the better part of a decade making their last realistic run at a title. I saw a team coached by Scolari, who had never previously lost a match in World Cup finals.

Portugal's run came to an end today. The game was decided by a penalty kick in the first half. It was the right call. The Portuguese defender, Carvalho, swept for the ball, missed, and stuck out his leg to trip Thierry Henry, who had made a nimble move to keep possession of the ball. I hated to see the penalty, but it was the right call.

—Ohmygosh, who is that cutie waving the Panamanian flag that the camera just zoomed in on greeting one of the players???—

Zinedine Zidane was chosen to take the kick. The best player in the world versus the best goalie in the world. "Super Man" Ricardo admitted after the England match that he could see in the players' eyes what they were thinking of doing with the ball, and truly he never guessed wrong in that shoot-out. Ricardo and Zidane stood meters apart, staring each other down, the air ripe with tension. Who would win this showdown, one wondered as a tumbleweed blew across the dusty pitch under the unforgiving sun of high noon. The soccer mystic, or Super Man?

Zidane kicked. Ricardo guessed right again. I think he got a finger on the ball, but Zidane's kick was perfect. France led 1-0. Zidane did not play the same mind-boggling game he played against Brazil, but he was once again the difference in the game, as France advances to face—and hopefully beat the snot out of—Italy.

The end of the game could not have been more exciting, though. With about 3-4 minutes left in regulation, the French goalkeeper, Barthez, faced a shot from Portugal. Inexplicably, he scooped the ball up into the air, where two Portuguese players awaited the chance to equalize. Figo took the header and almost deposited it into the back of the empty net. Then in the final minute, "Super Man" Ricardo was pulled from the goal on a corner kick. Portugal had all 12 men up front for a last-ditch effort to stay alive. They came perilously close to scoring, but France knocked the ball away. "Super Man" ran after it and executed a bicycle kick to get the ball back into the box and force another corner kick. Again, Portugal almost scored, but a fantastic defensive effort from France ended the threat and the game.

I'm disappointed that my Portugal pick proved incorrect. But I am excited for France. They have gotten no respect since their early exit from World Cup 2002, despite the fact that they field basically the same team that won it all in 1998. They are fun to watch. Zinedine Zidane is the best player of his generation and a joy to watch every time. Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira are amongst the best in the sport in their own right. And it is so much fun to watch Franck Ribery push the ball upfield with such bursts of energy and exuberance. I've decided I also very much like France's coach, Raymond Domenech, not only because he is a Sam Waterston look-alike but also because he seems to have a good sense of humor, as evidenced by certain amusing gestures and mannerisms from the sideline.

It goes without saying that I'm very much looking forward to Sunday's Championship. If Italy plays like it did in its last match against Germany and France plays as it did in its last two matches against Brazil and Portugal, it will be a Championship match for the ages! Viva la France!