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Weekend in Review

Saturday and Sunday presented a stark contrast to each other this weekend. One day I was the model of activity and the next the model of inactivity. One was fun; the other not.

Bri called me up on Friday. "Hey, Derek, are you doing anything tomorrow?" "Well," I answered, "I have my opera workshop from 2 to 4-ish, voice coaching from 4:30 to 5:30, and book club afterwards. Other than that, nothing much."

Saturday was the first meeting of New England Conservatory's Spring Opera Workshop. It was a shorter session than usual. We got through some procedural stuff: when we meet, what expectations are, when our dress rehearsal and performances are, etc. Then each participant got up and sang an aria. This was so that each of us has an idea of the other voices in the group and so that the two directors, Mr. Wyneken and Ms. Giampa, could hear all the voices anew before they assigned opera scenes.

Knowing that I would be singing, of course, required extra preparation in the morning. In addition, I had to show up an hour early so that I could register for the class. So my morning was taken up in class preparations.

I volunteered to go first and get my singing out of the way before my voice got too cold. I thought I sang passably, but my leg started trembling at various points during the aria, which was a mightily annoying distraction. Afterwards I was able to sit back and listen. At the end of the class I was told I would be one of the three singers singing at Wednesday's audition class, so I have to treat that session as if it were an actual audition.

I think all the singers in the group are decent. I expected to be one of the worst singers, but after hearing the others I would rate myself as third or fourth out of the eight. I would put the two Indian women ahead of me and would put myself on a par with the other baritone. The other baritone has a better, more resonant middle register than I have, but his higher register is suprisingly wispy and unsupported. I was shocked when he started singing high notes; it sounded like two separate people, one a big baritone middle voice and the other...well...suffice it to say it was a stark contrast.

Which, tangentially, reminds me of an observation I made to myself that afternoon. I keep being reminded how I have a slight advantage getting into grad school because I am a man, and I look at groups like this workshop and see 5 sopranos, 2 baritones, and one very mediocre bass. I mean, yay, so my road to a career in opera is easier than your average soprano's. But, all selfishness aside, that's not a good thing. I love listening to the male voice. And as much as I love singing and want to make a career of it, I would be okay with doing something else if it meant I lost out because there are so many great male voices out there. But there aren't. I wonder if it's because we perceive, as kids, that singing is for girls, or if it's because our school system fails to put a premium on music education, or if there are other reasons.

Anyhow, after the workshop I went to my voice coaching session. I ended up having to park on the opposite side of the Common and having to buy a bottle of water at Starbucks to get enough quarters to feed the meter. And I still had a parking ticket when I returned a few minutes after the meter expired. <sigh>

The coaching session went extremely well. With the help of my coach, I settled my repertoire for my Cincinnati audition. I will be singing two Mozart arias, "Non piu andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro and "Deh vieni a la finestra" from Don Giovanni, Schumann's "Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome" from Dichterliebe, Ives' "Charlie Rutlage," the first of Ravel's Don Quichotte songs, and Vaughn Williams' "Bright is the Ring of Words" from Songs of Travel.

On my way home I stopped at Wild Oats to get some cheese, crackers, nuts, and beverages for the book club. Then I rushed home, cleaned the areas of the house that most needed it, and arranged the food, finishing just as my first guest arrived.

We had a wonderful time discussing Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist and wandering off into more philosophical areas only tangentially related to the book.

An interesting incident occurred during the meeting. Two of the recurring themes of the book are that the Universe conpires to help an individual pursue his Personal Legend and that one must pay attention to omens. One of the members of the group, a practicing physician, confessed that he believed his Personal Legend was to be the greatest sorcerer in the world, and that as he grew up he realized that practicing medicine, being a healer, was one way to fulfill his legend, but that he believed ultimately he would fulfill his legend by writing fantasy stories, thus becoming the greatest sorcerer in the world through his fiction. We discussed several of his favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors and learned that he hadn't read any Le Guin. I offered to lend him The Left Hand of Darkness. A few minutes later we were discussing Flatland but couldn't remember that the author was Abbott. I offered to go into my room to get my copy of Flatland and figured, while I was at it, that I could retrieve Left Hand for the doctor. I looked through one bookshelf. I spotted Flatland easily enough but could not find the Le Guin. I was about to give up and go look in the other bookshelf. I pulled out Flatland, and as I did so, something fell out of the bookshelf, nearly hitting me in the head. Yes, it was The Left Hand of Darkness!

I thought Sunday would be just as busy as Saturday. I had football in the morning, hyounpark's a cappella group's CD release party, and church in the evening, as well as possibly some web design work with a client. I woke up with a sore throat, though -- not a good sign. I went to football anyway, since I am the league coordinator, and it was a warm, sunny day. I felt worse afterwards though: in addition to the sore throat I had itchy eyes and did not feel strong. I could have gone to the party, but with all the singing I'm going to be doing in the near future I cannot afford to have a lingering cold, so I decided to spend the day at home resting. I went to CVS and bought zinc lozenges, echinacea, and vitamin C, then I went home, watched a couple of musicals on the Tivo, and lay on the couch resting. Then in the evening I went to church, got some Tom Yum chicken soup on the way back, and vegged on the couch a little longer before going to bed.

I still have a cold, but I am hopeful that it will be gone by Wednesday's workshop session.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2004 08:53 pm (UTC)
I'm glad your opera workshop went well. :) And I missed you at the party, but that's OK.

The only real reason that I wanted you to come is that one of our guys goes to Williams and one of our members' husbands went to Williams, so I'm always surrounded by Willyums alums. It's quite sad.

Someday, we will have a gig where there are more Lord Jeffs than Purple Cows!

Mar. 8th, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC)
I wanted to go, but with the workshop and the Cincinnati audition... I need to do what I can to be healthy.
Mar. 8th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC)
Chicken soup
I'm not sure the galago, the ginger in the Tom Yum, is as beneficial as the ginger we are used to. You should make yourself some real chicken soup, with wings, backs and drumsticks, lots of onion, some whole garlic and plenty of fresh ginger.
Mar. 8th, 2004 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Chicken soup
I should, and I'd like to, but time is something I don't have a lot of right now. And making a decent soup requires time.
Mar. 9th, 2004 12:22 am (UTC)
Re: Chicken soup
Not that much. Not the way I do it. Chop and lightly fry the onions, toss in wings and legs directly from the freezer, add water and vinegar, heat to boiling. While the water heats, peel the ginger and garlic, slicing the ginger coarsely across the grain. When the mix boils, lower the heat, add the ginger, garlic and any additional spices, adjust the saltiness, and let it simmer two hours. If the meat falls off the bones, it's ready.
Mar. 9th, 2004 05:39 am (UTC)
Re: Chicken soup
"let it simmer two hours"

Uh-huh. I'd be eating dinner past midnight!
Mar. 9th, 2004 11:13 am (UTC)
Re: Chicken soup
Set it on low and have it for breakfast.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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