Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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Thursday, August 14, 2008


I have joined facebook and brother, can you spend (waste?) a lot of time on there.

But through a Fan Group/Discussion Board, I found this clip.

It's from the Peter Sellars production of Theodora that was done at Glyndebourne about ten years ago.

I don't even want to say anything about it. There is such purity here, such clarity, such ecstatic abandon, such transcendence.

Oops, now I am writing stuff when you should all just be listening and watching.

Try not to weep. I dare you.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Israeli Holiday

I haven't posted on here in about a hundred years. There are so many singers I want to write about, but today, I am only writing about myself, and only peripherally about me as a singer.

I am in Israel on tour with the Collegiate Chorale. We're doing concerts in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. We've been here for since late Tuesday afternoon. There are a total of about a hundred singers here, approximately one-third of whom are paid ringers. The non-professional contingent of the choir will be going on guided day tours of the area, some of which we are also invited to attend.

Yesterday we went to the Rabin Memorial and to Old Jaffa. I'm not so great with history on this stuff. I just respond to beauty around me. (No snide remarks, please!) Old Jaffa is the oldest part of the city that was been restored and now houses mostly art galleries.

The day I left NYC (which feels like a month ago, even though it was the beginning of the week) I was out running a few last minute errands. I decided that I was going to get a disposable digital camera, since I didn't want to spring for the Real McCoy. But after trying three different places and not being able to find one, I'd decided to give up. On an impulse, I walked into a Staples and found an inexpensive little Kodak camera. I bought it purely on impulse and it's really fabulous.

I took some pictures of Jaffa and I've been trying to email them without success, so I thought, what the hell, I'll just post them on my blog.

So here they are. Enjoy.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Where I've been/CyberSing 2008

It's been a long time since I've posted. I've been working very hard on my various writings for children. I'm putting finishing touches on the ninth (!) of my picture books, and am on the fourth chapter of a hard-hitting young adult novel. :-)

And I did a recital at KHPR, the Public Radio Station in Honolulu (the tan has already fated from my pasty-white skin) and I am really excited about my latest performance effort: an evening of songs by Edith Piaf. Sounds weird, but believe me, it seems to work. I've tried a few out on three different audiences now, and the response has been tremendous.

But enough about me. I did want to post this information about CyberSing, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation's art song performance vocal competition. I'm not the publicist for the Foundation, but I am the vice president of the Board of Directors, and I'm dedicated to getting the word out (ever the proselytizing minister's son!)

In the meantime, sending all the best to my sometime readers. I do promise to get back on the blog bandwagon ere too long. There are so many great singers I'm eager to share with you. Just lately: Janine Micheau, Galina Vishnevskaya, Berta Kiurina, Rosanna Carteri, Hugo Hasslo, Francesco Merli... ah, the list goes on and on!

But for now, here's the press release:

The Lotte Lehmann Foundation has released the new rules, regulations, and dates for CyberSing 2008, its fourth biannual art song performance competition.

The stated objective of CyberSing is “[t]o recognize and award performance of art song by singers and pianists throughout the world.”

Entrants to the competition may enter in one of two Divisions: Division One, for singers 23 years of age and younger, and Division Two for singers over the age of 23. Prizes will include a Top Prize of $1,000 for the Division One winner, and a Top Prize of $5,000 for the Division Two winner. Prizes for best individual song performances will also be awarded in each Division.

Singers of both divisions will submit audio recordings of a range of art song repertoire, including German and French art song, a required song composed expressly for CyberSing by Larry Alan Smith, which is available for download exclusively at the CyberSing website.

In past competitions, entrants were judged exclusively on their submitted audio recordings of a prescribed art song repertoire. This year, for the first time, finalists will be requested to submit a performance DVD. The final round will be judged exclusively on these submitted DVD recordings.

The Foundation is accepting applications now through August 31, 2008. Finalists will be chosen by October 15, 2008, with a November 15, 2008 submission deadline for finalists’ DVD recordings. The winners will be announced on or before January 31, 2009.

Daniel Gundlach, the vice president of the Foundation’s Board of Directors stated, “CyberSing has always been a crucial element of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation’s activities. We are all thrilled with the new parameters of the competition, which will enable the judges to more completely and accurately evaluate the performances of the participants.”

Repertoire requirements and complete rules and regulations for the competition, as well as application forms, are available on the Foundation’s website: or at

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Hardly “Silent” but kinda “Heavenly”

I just happened upon recordings on youtube of two great Wagnerians giving their take on "Silent Night".

So, two Scandinavian farm gals (I'm just speaking figuratively; I know that Flagstad didn't grow up on a farm) who were the two supreme Wagnerians of the last century singing the most innig of all Christmas songs. How do they do?

It's really interesting to compare and contrast them. Flagstad's was a voice of dark honey (occasionally threatening more toward molasses) and Nilsson's was one of ice (that sometimes veered more toward laser beam). Flagstad's work emphasized the humanity of her characters; Nilsson's their imperiousness. There's a reason her Turandot was so celebrated. And why Flagstad's Isolde was so revered. And there's a reason why (in my opinion) Nilsson's Isolde was not her most successful role and why Flagstad never took on Turandot (apart from the fact that her top was never as secure as Nilsson's).

Those virtues are certainly to be heard in their singing of this Christmas favorite.

And so, without further ado, here are our two contestants:

In this corner, from Norway, weighing in at 250 pounds, Kirsten Flagstad:

And in this corner, weighing in at a trim 200 pounds, Sweden's Birgit Nilsson:

They're both some kind of wonderful, these gals, aren't they!?!?

Will we ever see their equal?

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Ritorna vincitor?

I have been gone from the blogosphere for so long that I wonder why I would even start reposting. I hope it has nothing to do with those annoying things called New Year's Resolution. Besides, it's not yet 2008, so I am getting in just under the wire.

I have an issue with putting my work out there and feeling like no one notices. I am not passive/aggressively asking people to write to me here and say, "Oh, no, we love your writing; don't stop!" In the nearly three months that I have been away from here exactly two people have asked me why I haven't been writing. Hardly an earth-shattering fan base.

I guess I could just say that my heart has not been in it. That doesn't mean that I have less to say than before . It's just that I hate putting my work—my writing, my singing, whatever—into a vacuum. And that I would rather withdraw than be ignored.

But why? But what does this really achieve? It just means that I don't have to deal with the pain of feeling ignored. It also means that I suffer daily from denying myself the opportunity (the right!) to do those things which I really love. And who suffers when I do that? One could say that everyone suffers. Only those who miss out on my work as a result never even know what they've been denied. So in fact, I am the only one who suffers. And I've been suffering from it.

Dawn Powell remains my favorite writer. Here is someone who constantly felt the exigencies of the real world closing in on her: an alcoholic husband, an autistic (though improperly diagnosed) son, financial difficulties, loss of home, her own serious drinking problem. But she never stopped writing. The lack of appreciation embittered her, to be sure, but she never stopped. And how much poorer so many would be now if she had simply given up.

It is the survivors who inspire me. Those who fight back, or at the very least persist, when the light is taken away and the pathway is obscured. So perhaps I can take a page from their book and crawl out from under my rock and put myself back out there. (This was an intentional Block That Metaphor sentence.)

In spite of the fact that I have done no singing this fall since my recital at the Donnell, in spite of the fact that this is the first fall in fifteen years in which I have not sung a single audition, in spite of my grief that I may never again sing in the high-profile venues that I once did, in spite of the fact that I have not written in my blog now in nearly three months, I have remained faithful this fall to one artistic pursuit: my children's writing. I took another course this fall at the New School and will take the winter course as well. I now have eight picture book manuscripts and one easy reader in various stages of completion. But in my case it is less the work itself that proveds daunting: it's putting it out there in front of other people. This means risking their rejection, their incomprehension, their unfavorable response, or worst of all, their failure to notice me. I hesitate—no, I actively resist—putting my work on display. I tell myself that those fears are too great for me to bear. But here's the truth: it is the coward's way out.

I write this all only as a means of giving myself a semi-public challenge. I have so many dreams that I have just let die because I believed all the naysayers. I say SCREW THAT. Who am I living for, anyway? If I really want to overcome my need for constant approval, then why the hell do I still care what other people think? I have so much to say. Why should I stop saying it now? What do I care for all the assholes that have dissed or insulted or rejected me in the past? And whom I could (and perhaps should) name by name. They have since continued garnering adulation themselves and have completely forgotten my existence or the pain they caused me. So by remaining silent I certainly don't Make Them Feel Really Bad. Am I doing penance for never having achieved perfection?

Okay, I'm done. I shouldn't even post this shit. The only reason I do it prod myself in a semi-public way to get back out there. Only once I do these three things can I remove this entry:

1. Send out my stories to at least five editors or agents.
2. Plan my recital that I will be giving in Hawaii in March.
3. Start the ball rolling on that performance project that simultaneously lures and terrifies me.

Okay, that's it for now. The use of the non-word "proactive" is one of my pet hates. Or maybe I am just daunted by the meaning of said non-word. If that is the case, here's hoping for a more "proactive" New Year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

We all knew birds could sing...

...but not all of us knew what great dancers they are, too!

I wouldn't have believed it possible, but see it right here with your own eyes!


I was just poking around youtube, and saw some other dancing cockatoos. For sheer musicality and choreographic brilliance, none of them can hold a candle to Snowball! He squawks with as much rhythm as he dances. His dance also has a real shape. When the Boys start singing, he steps up the moves. And at the climax of the piece, he lets go with the plumage. Plus that, he knows exactly when the song is over and receives his applause rapturously, as any true artist would.

I don't know of too many opera singers who were equally good dancers. I know Cathy Malfitano trained as a dancer. It's just one of the things that made her Lulu so wonderful. Going back a few years! This was probably the best thing she ever did. Certainly better than her Senta. Not sure that Snowball doesn't surpass her, though I'm not sure he has quite the technical ability to give us a credible Lulu. You never know, though.

But I digress, as happens frequently. I love me some Snowball and I hope you do, too.

I've been missing in action for a while, but I hope to get back on track with my blog entries.

Not making any promises, though, since I hate breaking them.

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