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Music I am working on right now:

Erda's aria from Das Rheingold
A whole bunch of Handel
Schubert's Winterreise
Mahler's "Du bist der Welt abhanden gekommen"

...and today my singing teacher asked to hear Eboli's Veil Song from Don Carlo. Surprising. I remembered the words, but forgot the cadenza. Eeesh. Thankfully, the top As no longer present a problem.

Confusingly, I'm getting the Veil Song ready to audition for Amneris, because Amneris has no arias. It may well be the only audition at which I ever perform the Veil Song, since Eboli herself is sadly out of my reach (seriously, if I ever tried to sing O Don Fatale I'd end up splattered over the orchestra pit).

There are few things I love better than singing music with long, sustained phrases. To me, it feels like the vocal equivalent of speaking in complete sentences. Also-- I don't know if this is oxygen deprivation talking or what-- but there are times when those phrases make me feel this sort of expansive, wing-spreading euphoria, as if borne aloft on a tide of fire. It's a good feeling, and a salutary reminder of why I do this.

It has been a sad, barren year in terms of finding work, and the most high-profile job I had was in extremely difficult circumstances. I coped, because I am a warrior, and because the alternative was nothing-- but the end product was nowhere near as good as it could have been, had I been cast six weeks from opening night and not two.

It's hard to keep faith during the lean times. I mean, it's easy when one's mood is positive-- those times of "Rrrraaah! I am Elizabeth Oakenpiano, sole heir to the Kingdom Beneath The Stave! Fear my semiquavers!" I have learnt to recognise the negative moods and try not to introspect overmuch during them, or make any permanent decision while feeling lousy.

But in the practice room, things are going well. Whenever an opportunity comes onto the radar, I trust to be able to meet it halfway.

on 2013-01-20 04:54 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I hope 2013 is the year we finally get to hear you sing Winterreise. I've been looking forward to it.

There's a beautiful passage in Richard Powers's The Gold Bug Variations about listening to 'Ich bin der Welt' for the first time (he doesn't identify the singer by name, but it's pretty obvious he's talking about the Janet Baker recording):

"Before I realized that the piece had started, a door opened beneath me, and I fell effortlessly into another place. An orchestral work, but deployed in a chamber, slower, more melancholy than any music I've ever heard, a sound written after the history of the human race was only a faint memory. Someone was singing, a contralto, although it took me measures before I identified voice as that new, ravishing instrument that had entered. She sang in a language I didn't know but understood perfectly. The song was so agonizingly drawn-out -- sustained loss unfolding in the background of a peaceful scene -- that I couldn't make the pulse out. One measure became eight; eight crystallized into sixteen. I knew that sound: the last day of the year. Just as the tune seemed reconciled to ending, its texture thinned to nothing, the strings waited on the verge of resolution, that reed hung on a suspension, and the whole chord stood still in space, frozen, refusing forever to give up the moment of quick here now. Then the portal closed."

Courage, and I hope 2013 brings good things.


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