Summer Voice Festival Part DEUX:
A musical blog, in which Erin has a hard day for no reason, and then remembers why she is here now and hear now, and then luxuriates in some of the most beautiful music on earth.
This blog may or may not take some turns for the happy, the silly, the giddy, the dark, the depressed, the whiny, the pity party, the come-uppance, and the reverent. Fasten your seatbelts…
Air, Alone in Kyoto)
One of my most infamous ex-boyfriends recently wrote me a note. It read: “Dear Erin. Manhattan School of Music. Really? How’d you get in? I mean, that’s where Marsi went to school.” (his ex-girlfriend previous to me.) Hm. Subtext… subtext… subtext… the answer is… I applied, I sent in an audition, and they accepted me. But that’s not the real answer because that’s not the real question… All this shows me, of course, really, is that after all this time, he still has no idea who I am. Why do I, a truly, sincerely, practicing, life-affirming person, open my blog with this note of notoriety? I don’t know. I don’t plan this stuff. But it seems important. I hope you’re listening to the soundtrack as you read this, because I am listening as I write this. I’d love for us to have a communion here, if you’d like. Any you, even notorious you, beloved you, sweet you, motherf$%er you, every you, me you, you me you, Ali Baba and John Paul Jones.
I’m being cheeky, but also a little sad, a little goofy, and a little angry, and a little wonderful. Just a little.
So Saturday were the big auditions for placement into scenes and productions. Auditions have long been difficult for me. I am really good live in performance, and really good on tape….. auditions, well, that’s a different story. I am learning to own myself as much in an audition as I do in a full performance. I did not plan well for this audition, however. Or rather, predictably unpredictable, I changed my mind at the last moment about what to sing. Since I am here to learn, rather than do the sensible thing and sing the song most likely to get me cast in a production, I decided to sing my most exciting piece that would show the folks what I can do and where I am going. So I sang a coloratura mezzo piece, “Una Voce Poco Fa.” I so love this song, and I am currently experiencing (somewhat, but without the identity swapping bits of the opera) the same sort of life as the heroine I was playing…
(Insert soundtrack #2: From THE JERK: http://youtu.be/AI8NuFAETMQ )
Well, I tried some of the new things I had learned from my lovely teacher and didn’t feel grounded. Oh. Alas. Sigh. They asked for some musical theater, so I sang eight bars of “A Sleepin’ Bee.” Then they asked about cabaret. I told them I had recently performed a one-woman show about my love life and could sing “Making Love Alone” for them. They laughed. And then laughed some more. I have such a way of making people laugh when I never mean to. ! ;) So I sang it and they laughed. I wished I had offered only opera, but I did what I did and I couldn’t take it back.
I always give myself 20 lashings after any audition. I am working on reducing the number to 18, and then 15, and then 12, and then, well, you get the picture, with the optimal number being 0. Or maybe even being like, “Go Erin! Yeah! You did it! You sang an audition and I think you are wonderful just for putting yourself out there.” But of course, some things, perhaps all things, are “progress, not perfection.” So, feeling a bit needy, I called my mama. She talked me off the ledge. As she has sooooo many times.
Meanwhile, at the school, everyone was convinced they knew me already. People kept asking me if I was a grad student here, or if I had gone to such and such school, or if I knew such and such person, and how did they know me, where did I live, etc. I admit, I was having a Groundhog Day experience myself, in which I felt as if I had lived this life but not exactly like this, but sort of similar, 50, 500, 5000 times before, every time a little different, some better, some worse, but…. It wasn’t déjà vu, but as if it were a recurring theme in a dream…
“I’m afraid if I kiss you, I’ll fall in love with you.” “You will?” “Then I don’t want to.” “You don’t?” “My mother sacrificed everything to send me through cosmetology school.” “She did?” “She has this dream for me to be someone.” “She does?” “To marry someone with power, money, vision. Someone with a special purpose.” “I’ve got one!!!! I’ve got a special purpose!!!!” “You do?”
The above scene did not happen on Saturday, but in that moment from THE JERK… I don’t happen to have the Special Purpose that Steve Martin is talking about… if you don’t know what I am talking about then please, please, please do yourself, and humanity, a favor and RENT THIS MOVIE! But I DO have those same fears, and those same hesitations, and those same dreams, and my own version of a special purpose… more on that in a moment.
(Insert Soundtrack #3: Believe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Uu3kCEEc98)
Saturday evening I visited a friend from childhood and we revisited a few old times, and new ones. I loved that I could connect with this sweet man in another incarnation. When I was a little girl, living in my mom and dad’s house next to the woods, at our house on 13th St in Sauk Rapids, I could look out the back patio door, through the oak trees, and see his front door across the street and a bit kitty corner. He and his sister would come over and play for hours, and of course the infamous story is the year he was a vacuum cleaner for Halloween. He was the cutest thing.
Nothing ever goes the way I expect it to go, so as much as I can, I try not to expect it to go anyway at all. That evening was the Barbecue for all the singers and staff. About half the singers got up to sing and it was for me such a joy, such a luxury. I sat and listened, thinking to myself, what a wonderful gift each person her has, and is, to this world… what a sweet gift I am giving myself, to be amongst so many wonderfully talented people. I suppose the gift of being a few years older than most (not all, but most) of the others is that I can appreciate being here differently. I can’t say better or worse because I can only speak for myself… but the gift of spending all day with other singers who love music as deeply as I do… and don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I am not grateful for my day job, or the experience my life has brought me touring in pop and cabaret and rock bands, and living in Hollywood, and having loss and grief and joy and life and having enough life experience to know that there is always another day, another chance, another thing to wake up for, and it can all start right now… but still. I know the toil of not fulfilling one’s dreams… I know a little bit about flirting with “deferring the dream,” and then losing sight of it…. And so I know the deep presence of love available through “musik!” and I was so grateful for the gift of getting to learn so much.
I sang Carmen- the Habanera…. Of course I didn’t just sing it. I had to be me. So I climbed up on chairs and got everyone else to sing the chorus. Look. I could say I was a good little girl and I sang a real pretty song. But damn if I’m not Erin. I just follow the spirit in the moment, and am thankful now upon writing this with some reflection, for time and age and wisdom, to be able to have some appropriateness these days. I had a blast, though. And people sang along, so it was fun for all of us! I used to sing it back in the days of Le Cirque Rouge in a bustier and top hat, so this was actually quite tame in comparison.
Kurt Weill, as sung by Anne-Sofie von Otter
I have long loved Anne Sofie von Otter. I’ll never forget once, I had this guy I was sorta halfway seeing, and really liked, who lived in San Francisco. I went to visit him there, and we spent a day browsing music and bookstores, and I found a CD of Anne Sofie von Otter and Elvis Costello…. then we went back to his place, where he lit a fire (I know! Right in downtown San Fran.) and poured some champagne. We turned on the music, and he put his arm around me, and he looked down at me, and I looked up at him, and he leaned in…. and suddenly I was freezing cold and yet sweating and he said… “Um, Erin, you’re kinda burning up.” I nodded. “No,” he said, “like, you’re giving off a lot of heat.” It hit me. Boom. “I think I need to lay down,” I said. Three days later I woke up. I had been in various versions of fever delusions during which time, apparently, I accused the poor guy of trying to poison me. I believed he was in league with the ex boyfriend (mentioned in the beginning of this blog) and that he was slowly killing me. The opposite was true; he had taken several days off work to nurse me to health, calling his Uncle the medical doctor to get advice on whether or not to bring me to the emergency room, and constantly changing my sheets because I was soaking them through in fever sweats.
I never heard from him after that, except for a few pleasantries on Facebook. I do NOT blame him. He was wonderful enough to take care of me while I was very sick and all I did was accuse him of trying to kill me. Sigh. Anyway.
My lack of polish doesn’t extend only to my love life. No. It also extends to my singing life. And I was, and am, very excited to be learning more about where I lack professionalism, skills, diction abilities, and, where, in general, I try too hard….
(SOUNDTRACK: Anne Sofie again, another Weill tune): http://youtu.be/b2MQCTgbW0c
(from The Seven Deadly Sins)
Most of the day was spent meeting my fellow singers, meeting the directors of the opera scenes I will be in and learning from my wonderful teacher. And the technique she is teaching me is so much simpler than how I sing, and so much more relaxed. And again and again, the message is: Too much. Too hard. Trying too hard.
Oh! To be an overachiever. It has a special frustration all its own, and then you try hard not to try too hard and then you eventually just call your sister or try not to call your mother for the thirtieth time all needy-like, and you just go to the Crepe place near your new apartment and say, give me your most delicious crepe, and they make you a crepe with nutella and strawberries and bananas and raspberry sauce, and you sit and eat it and gossip with the girls about men and love and Lauryn Hill, and you forget you ever tried too hard in the first place and calm yourself thinking about…
Ah, beautiful moments, sad and happy all at once. Some Groundhog Days happen only once, I guess.
Rain, and rain, and more rain. I have always loved the rain. To me it is profound, and poetic, and lush, and cleansing. Tuesday was a special day…
I decided to go for a jog in the rain. I needed a good cleansing of my emotional palate. I was trying way too hard, I was too hard on myself, I was having all these inner dramas. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I was having a ton of fun listening to wonderful singers, and learning, and eating, and sleeping. (yes! Finally getting good rest.) But I also… well, in setting up having no expectations of how anything would go during this time, I discovered a strange re-experiencing of my fretful and difficult youth: I was watching myself expect to know things I didn’t already know…. Do things I couldn’t already do… I wasn’t letting myself have the freedom to be a true student. So I went for a nice run along Riverside Park in the rain, praying for freedom, and availability, and-
….there, what was that? I stopped in my tracks. I turned around and looked down. There at my feet was the biggest four-leaf clover I had ever seen! I bent down to pluck it when… what was that? There was a five leaf clover! And there! Another four leaf clover! And there! And there! And everywhere I looked. I was in a field of four and five leaf clovers. I selected as many one hand could hold, a bouquet of magic, and walked, giddy, back to my apartment. I texted a few people the picture, and then decided the world of facebook might like to see these sweet little wonders…
TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY:
I have had the benefit of hearing some wonderful singers. I have been running the gamut of emotion. I don’t want to bore you with the run from needy to angry (with self) to joyful to bliss. I want to leave this tome only with bliss. Who knows what tomorrow may bring, who knows what the next moment may bring. But in Masterclasses with Neil Rosensheim, and then Ashley Putnam, I have been able to watch people transform. I have learned so much. I have heard Menotti, Sondheim, Rossini, Mozart, Verdi, and…. I will leave you with this. I heard an incredible singer perform this (and was excited that I have her teacher as my teacher for this program, and in the room that used to belong to Leontyne Price….)
(And you all know how I feel about Strauss.)
Breit' über mein Haupt dein schwarzes Haar,
Neig' zu mir dein Angesicht,
Da strömt in die Seele so hell und klar
Mir deiner Augen Licht.
Ich will nicht droben der Sonne Pracht,
Noch der Sterne leuchtenden Kranz,
Ich will nur deiner Locken Nacht
Und deiner Blicke Glanz.
Spread over my head your black hair,
and incline to me your face,
so that into my soul, so brightly and clearly,
will stream your eye's light.
I do not want the splendor of the sun above,
nor the glittering crown of stars;
I want only the night of your locks
and the radiance of your gaze.
and, another woman who tread these same halls…
Now it is time for me to go to sleep and awake refreshed. I will try hard not to try too hard. I will try not to punish myself for the subtleties of frustration in my heart that probably only I have noticed, and I will avail myself to the best of my awareness to the freedom of having room for life to occur. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful. Life. Life life life… self. Room for self. And love. And music, and fun. And joy. And laughing at all my foibles. What a piece of work is (wo)man.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012