La Traviata

Classical Singer: Update!

I know I said I would update after the competition…but obviously that was a lie.  Instead of giving you an update, I went shopping.  I’m really sorry about that, but I’m heading to Fort Lauderdale/Miami this weekend for a little vacation and needed new adorable, colorful, beachy clothes (when you live in NYC, your entire wardrobe is black).

Anyway, I woke up Saturday excited to sing in this competition.  Took a shower, ate a good breakfast, got dressed , and – unlike the last time I warmed up before a competition – I was in “good” voice.  I warmed up with some lip trills, sang scales on AH and EE, went over the most difficult and highest passages of the three arias I had prepared, and voila, my voice was exactly where I needed it to be.  I was ready to go.

My go-to audition/first round competition dress is from White House Black Market.  I ADORE that store – it might be my absolute favorite clothing store, actually.  The dress is strapless, A-line, and fits me just right so I can still breathe well in it.  And of course, I HAD to wear white pearls.  White and black, my favorite color combination. So simple yet exquisite.

It was pouring on Saturday, so I put my dress into a garment bag and headed downtown to NYU.  Once I arrived and found out which floor the Classical Division was on (there was also a Musical Theater division), I changed into my dress, warmed up a bit more, and waited for my turn.  My time was 2:08, which is a great time to sing, it’s neither too late nor too early.  I can sleep in but not spend the entire day anticipating my performance.

As I sat on the chairs lining the hallway, waiting for my time, I heard one woman sing the Queen of the Night’s aria from The Magic Flute.  She was AMAZING.  Her tone, her high notes – everything was gorgeous and consistent.  I made sure to tell her that she did a great job when she was finished.  As an artist, it is easy to compare yourself to other artists and begin to worry about your own talents or worth.  We all do it, but it is also important to encourage each other BECAUSE so many artists have massive insecurities that we know nothing about.  Someone impresses you?  Tell them, even if you are “competing” with them.  Why put out negativity into the world?  Besides, that singer may be the Queen to my Pamina some day.

Once it was my turn, I took one last gulp of water and went in.  There were two judges, one male, one female, both disarming and very nice, which always helps when it comes to nerves.  I had prepared, “Ah, non credea mirarti…ah, non giunge!” to sing first.  Bel canto is where my voice really shines and so most of my rep is bel canto, and this aria is perfect since it shows agility and range but also legato.  Was I nervous?  A little, but I was mostly excited.  I was excited to perform, not nervous to “compete.”  I showed the accompanist (who was very good, I didn’t catch his name) where my cuts and ornaments were in the cabaletta, turned to the judges to state my name and which aria I was starting with, and began.  This time around,  unlike the competition I did in March, I wasn’t “in my head” or “self-conscious” during the performance.  I was simply performing.  Amina (the character who sings this aria in La Sonnambula) is so heartbroken during this part of the opera, and it is important to bring out the character as well, and not only sing the notes on the page.

I finished the first aria, feeling very good about it.  I wouldn’t say it was perfect, because honestly, when you are so immersed in your performance, you don’t have time to think.  I couldn’t think about whether it was perfect or not while I was singing – I was busy creating art.

The judges asked for “Addio, del passato” next.  I was THRILLED.  This is my most favorite aria in all of opera, and I recently learned it, so I hadn’t performed it for anyone yet except for my coach.  I made sure the accompanist knew that I was doing the traditional cut, and began.  Violetta knows she is at the end of her life during this aria, and thinks that she will never see Alfredo again, who is the love of her life.  Shortly after this aria, he runs in, they have their final moments together, and she dies.  It is absolutely heartbreaking and beautiful.  No wonder La Traviata is such a beloved opera.

I began the aria, and once again, I wasn’t “self-conscious,” I was performing.  I trusted my voice, it knew where it needed to go, and I focused on the character and the translation. I was telling a story…creating art.

Once this aria was finished, the judges looked up, smiled, and said thank you.  They had been writing very much during both arias, which is fantastic because Classical Singer mails each participant the judges’ feedback.  Constructive criticism is always good.

Once I exited the room, the woman who had been checking everyone in (I didn’t catch her name either) told me that I sounded great and that she loved my voice.  That made my day – considering she told me before I went in to sing that she has won the competition before.  A compliment from another musician always means a lot – their ears are finely tuned, so they will know when you mess up. =)

I changed back into my jeans, left NYU, and hopped into the subway.  I had been at NYU for maybe a total of 45 minutes.  The whole process was very simple and quick.

At around 1:00 am that evening, while I was out with some girl friends, I received an e-mail from the CS competition.  “Congratulations, you have advanced to the Second Round of the CS Vocal Competition in Boston at the CS Convention, May 27, 2016.”

I beamed.  I was so happy.  I AM so happy.  Hard work DOES pay off.

I guess I’ll see you in May, Boston!

~ Christina

 

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Diva Damrau

The first opera I ever saw was Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera (setting the bar high).  It was my junior or senior year at Muhlenberg College, and my voice teacher was slowly exposing me to classical music (I had entered college at the age of 18 with the dream of being on Broadway.  That all changed when I realized how operatic my voice was.  My Broadway dreams turned into an Opera obsession).  She suggested that we take a field trip with one other student to New York City to attend an opera at the Met.  Seeing that both students were sopranos, Christa (my voice teacher) chose Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.  I was still new to opera, and quite frankly, didn’t care which opera we saw.  I was just excited to go.

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