Well I hope this Tuesday afternoon finds you well, and I hope this last blog makes some sense. I am running on about four hours of sleep, but I am safe and sound back in Chicago, and my goodness what a insane last few days in Prague.
Sunday was more than I could hope for….
We all met at 7:45am at the bus that was going to take us to the Severočeské divadlo in the city of Ústí which is about an hour outside of Prague, that is where our final concert was being held. I woke up wide awake and ready to seize the day, I can’t say the same about my fellow colleagues. We finally arrived around 9:45am and got shown to our dressing and warm up rooms. The theater was amazing, and so old. Unfortunately it also smelled very old… but absolutely breathtaking inside. The theaters in Europe are much smaller than most houses in the US. Smaller meaning they have less seats so this particular theater seats about 1500 people, so perfect for opera singers. At 10:00am we started the Sitzprobe. Quick sidebar…a Sitzprobe is actually a German term used in opera to describe a seated rehearsal—the literal translation of Sitzprobe—where the singers sit and sing with the orchestra. Now it’s more commonly known as the first rehearsal with orchestra. We were on a very limited time schedule so everyone had eight minutes with the Maestro. I got a chance to really warm up and sang around 10:45 am. For some that was very early, but for me it was fine. I was really pleased with how I sounded. As soon as I got done Jelena, the artistic director stopped me in the hallway to talk to me. So told me that she was absolutely amazed at how I sounded and that if I sang as well as I did in the rehearsal everyone would be so impressed. So I was on cloud nine and it was only 11am. After the rehearsal got finish they provided us lunch, and had a few hours to relax and get ready. I ended up watching Cinderella on my computer with some of the other singers just to pass the time. At four we had a group photo shoot and then the gala started at 5pm.
I was sixth on the program and we had a really good size crowd, it is alway better to have an audience to sing for. The energy of the evening was fantastic, everyone was really giving it their all and just performing so well. After a quick prayer I got to the stage and started to sing. I am not sure if it is the energy of singing with orchestra or the conductor or just the absolute high that I get from singing, but I will remember that performance for the rest of my life. I felt like I sang, and acted well and for the first time all week finally got to throw off all the worries and technicalities and do what I love. As soon as I got done the crowd erupted and I heard a few bravos. I was in a bit of a daze when I got done so I am curious to see what I actually did once I get the video. As soon as I left the stage I ran into the nearest dressing room and loudly and enthusiastically proclaimed….”I just punched that freaking aria in the face!!!” to which I just heard wonderful feedback. We capped off the gala with everyone singing the brindisi from La Traviata and received a standing ovation from the audience, it was a rare and magical moment.
The rest of the evening was just everyone coming down from there high on the bus ride home and then going our separate ways. Most of the singers flew back on Monday, but a few of us hung around. I ended up sleeping in a bit and did some sightseeing the following day. For those of you who have been to Prague I made it the the Prague Castle, the St. Charles Bridge and then the St. Vitus Cathedral, but it was closed so I just walked around it. I also was able to have a private coaching with Jelena which was really great. She was very kind and complimented me again about the gala. She said that I was amazing, that I blew everyone away including the Maestro. She also said her girls told her I was there favorite, which to me was a high compliment. We spent most of the time talking about different repertoire to learn and perhaps where I should be thinking next with my voice and career… and like the theme this summer I need to be singing in competitions………
I had some time to reflect yesterday and on my nine hour flight home about this past week. Honestly there were some upset and angry singers. Some who felt jipped because there were not lots of contracts to pass around, and a few who felt like they didn’t receive as much training or coachings as they would have liked. I didn’t feel either, I am just happy I survived and made great art. As a friend reminded me these experiences are not so much about the end, but about the journey. This whole experience has been incredible and not to be to dramatic, but a bit life changing. I have learned some valuable things……. I was reminded that I don’t give myself enough credit. I do…I mean I really do know how to sing, and sing well……. I was reminded I really do know how to perform and that I do this because I love it…… and lastly I know my voice more than anyone and I can trust the advices and technical instruction that I have been given. I know these all sound like things I should already know, but the truth is I get nervous and intimidated very easy. When I hear and watch others, well quite frankly I get so wrapped up in thinking how great they are I forget my own voice as an artist. Not just at the beginning of the week, but I think for a while, that has been my biggest obstacle when it comes to booking auditions. I don’t…well didn’t trust my talent, my technique and my voice as an artist….. again maybe a bit dramatic, but as Maestro said, I have all that I need to succeed now it’s just choosing to trust that I do. It took this past full week to get out of my own head and past my nerves, and the truth is if I want to be successful in this business, auditions, competitions, I don’t have a week to get past it all……I have one shot to really shine. So to me this was and is a huge mountain to overcome. With this season’s upcoming auditions I feel Prague really has given me a completely different look. The work is there and the work will continue, but I feel that this season more than ever I have ownership of my own voice and where I want it to take me. This season is not about do I sound go, or do I have the right repertoire, but rather I in my own right have something to say as an artist and it needs to be heard.
I am not sure about the results as far as any general managers who were listening on Sunday night, but like always in this career your life can change overnight. I want to say thank you again to all of you for making this opportunity possible for me. This has been the perfect opportunity right at the perfect season. Thank you for giving me the chance to add another international stage to my resume….. the privilege to work alongside some amazing coaches and colleagues, and for helping me realize I still have a lot to say and sing about.
I will be continuing to update my website, but I am excited for some upcoming things this fall. I will be singing the National Anthem at the Arlington Heights International Race Track in September as well as singing as a finalist in the Symphony Bel Canto competition with orchestra. You have all been so wonderful to come alongside me with this and I can’t wait to tell you all about the next adventure when it comes…. till next time
“Musical expression only begins to be significant where words and actions reach their uttermost limit of expression. Music should be concerned with the emotions, not with the external events….It is only then, that which cannot be expressed otherwise, is worth expressing in music. -Frederick Delius