Friday, July 30, 2010

Week Two of TOP!

As we round out week two here at TOP, I could not be in a happier mood! Regrettably, the week had a bit of a nasty start as I wound up getting some yucky stomach bug from food here. I wasn't the only singer to suffer from this 24 hour spell and I'm glad to report that everyone (even our Wagnerian tenor) has recovered quickly.

Sadly, I was out and missed our Monday concert. I heard from numerous sources that despite my absence, the concert was a huge hit! SJ sang as the Countess from Marriage of Figaro with much success and I was told our friend Theresa sang a fabulous and sassy rendition of "Fair Robin I love."

I took Tuesday easy but was still busy with classes and lessons. We started doing "neutral mask" studies in our Dance and Movement course with Paul Kusterman (also known as Gloria Winterbottom if you dare to Google his name!) Anyone from my acting class at Carnegie Mellon can vouch for my skills when it comes to neutrality.

Wednesday was our day off and I did the coolest thing I've ever done. I climb(ed) every mountain, and I ford(ed?) every stream.

Yes, that's right! I climbed the Alps! It was an intensive 3 hour hike straight up into the sky but it was worth every step. The view was stunning. I was joined by SJ, Theresa, and Liz (all singers at TOP) as well as Paul and David (Paul is a TOP director's assistant and David is our super pianist). We climbed through gorgeous valleys filled with wildflowers and over several brooks. Which, in Austria, really do laugh as they trip and fall over stones on their way.

Okay, I promise not to make any more Sound of Music references but it was so picturesque I could barely believe my eyes. It was like standing in a postcard.

Once at the top, we rewarded ourselves with hot Quese Spitzel. (Although I'm certain that's not quite how you spell it!) It came out on steaming pans and tasted delicious in contrast to the chilly air at the top of the mountain.

Thursday we had our usual morning classes before taking a drive to Salzburg! Let me state, I am in love with Salzburg. The old part of the city is spectacular. As one of my friends said, "Well no wonder Mozart was great! If I lived here, I'd probably compose beautiful music too."

There we watched a masterclass with Sir Thomas Allen at the famous Mozarteum Conservatory. Even though the majority of the class was in German, I understood a surprising amount. Music is a universal language and opera is fabulous and funny everywhere. I found myself learning without needing an explanation of every word.

Today, was spent preparing for our train station concert tomorrow. We are taking the cutest choo choo train through the Austrian countryside to Jenbach where we will perform. After the concert, we will eat hot pretzels and mingle with people from the area. I'm very excited!

I'll make sure to upload photos to this post (and several epic videos from my Alps adventure) soon but for now, SJ and I are off to bed! Guten Nacht!

Climbing the Alps:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tirol Abend & Kirche Concert!

So much has happened here in the Alps! Last Wednesday was "Tirol Abend." We all climbed aboard an old fashioned bus driven by one of the local sponsers (who of course was dressed in his traditional lederhosen.) He smiled brightly when SJ & I appeared in our matching beer maiden outfits.

We drove to a resturaunt in Pertisau which is a town right across the lake from Maurach. They had a live band who taught us how to yodel and some other locals showed us how to do the traditional dances. SJ & I caught on quickly and became a hit as dance partners in our identical clothing.

At dinner, we ate the most delicious macaroni and cheese type dish I've ever eaten. There was also a performance by a few young Austrian boys in lederhosen. They did this strange dance where they hacked and sawed on a piece of wood in rhythm before jumping up and doing what I believe is called "schuhplattler". It's a a type of dance where they repeatedly hit themselves. All the while, an older man flipped pancakes in rhythm and then fed the boys the pancake as part of the dance. I'm not sure what this all signifies, but it was cool none the less.

Thursday was a whirlwind as we prepared for our first concert on friday. However, we did find an hour or so to wander down to the beautiful Achensee for a swim! Our friend Johanna (who is from Innsbruck) drove us to the crystal blue lake and the three of us went for a dip. It was incredible to swim in the clear lake with the Alps surrounding us 360 degrees. The friday concert was held in an old "kirche" (church) on the top of one of the Alps. From the outside, it looked like a simple little chapel but the inside was incredibly ornate. In one corner of the murals on the ceiling, there was an actual sculpture of a foot coming down from the painting of an angel's leg. It looked as though the angel was actually desecending from the sky!

I sang "Il padre adorato" from Mozart's Idomeneo. It was not my best performance but every performance is a learning experience. I know I will sing even better at our next concert on Monday!

So that brings us to Saturday (today) which was another busy day packed with dance class, german class, a lesson, a coaching with the wonderful Melanie Helton, a chorus rehearsal singing the Bundesbahn Blues, a somewhat disheartening lecture on the probable financial struggles of opera singers over dinner, and followed by a master class on how to promote yourself as a singer.

I feel like I'm on a spinning carousel. Everything is whooshing by quickly and I don't want to get off the ride just yet!

Also, I learned that in Austria college is free. Let me repeat that, collge is free. Anyone else down for becoming an Austrian citizen with me and studying music here?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Time is flying by!!!

I can't believe I've been here for over 5 days now! Time passes so quickly when you are busy and having fun.

Yesterday, I had my first lesson with Carol Kirkpatrick. It was wonderful! We got through about two phrases in "Il padre Adorato" (an aria from the opera Idomeneo by Mozart) because we really focused on technique. It is exactly what I need right now and I couldn't be more thrilled for the opportunity to work with her. I just hope I will accomplish everything she's looking to teach me!

Today we also had our first dance class. I love dancing and it is always such a bonding experience to don a leotard and jump around with people. We also had our second German class. I've learned more German in the past 5 days then I did all year at school! I've also made friends with some really nice girls from Austria and Germany that are in the program. They are so funny and it's amazing how life as a voice major at CMU is so similar to life as a voice major in Innsbruck.

On Saturday night, we went to the Tiroler Festpiele Erl. (Me & Lindsey, a soprano in the program, pictured outside of the opera house!)
We saw the Wagner opera, "The Flying Dutchman." I was blown away by the music. I've never heard Wagner live and the music really gets deep down into you. It was so cool.

I'm rushing off to eat dinner now because I then have a staging rehearsal with the amazing Elizabeth Bachman and my first coaching with Kathryn Wright!

Auf wierdersehen :-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Goodbye Munich, hello Austria!

Day two (and a half? The change has really skewed my sense of time!) has been another happy and successful day!

SJ and I arrived in Munich yestderday and spent the day wandering around. Our hostel was a ten minute walk to the Marienplatz and surrounded by a million shops. We strolled along being proper tourists and taking pictures of everything.

Surprisingly, the germans didn't mind us at all! When SJ pulled out a map to make sure we were walking in the right direction, automatically a german man stopped and said in perfect english, "Where are you trying to go?"

When we told him the Marienplatz, he pointed the way down the street, smiled and said, "Auf wierdersehen!" with a friendly wave.

The Marienplatz was so cool. The architecture was amazing. When you were inside, it was like standing in a castle cuckoo clock!

SJ and I then wandered down the street where we found a lederhosen shop. Curiously we ducked in and were surprised to find a rack of drindles for a very cheap price! We couldn't help it. We bought matching german maiden outfits. They are hilarious and we've made a promise that whenever it is our last night in a city, we will wear them. (We figured we'll be leaving and no one knows who we are anyways, right? haha!)

The jetlag hit us both pretty hard last night so we went to bed by 9 o'clock. We woke up early to catch a train to Maurach Am Achensee, where the program is located, in Austria. One of the program assistants, Paul, drove us from the station to the Hotel Kilinger!

It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen! The Alps surround the little village which is next to a clear blue lake speckled with white sail boats. (Motor boats aren't allowed on it because it is so clean and pure!)

Flowers are abundant here! As are the chocolates, pastries, and sausages. I certainly won't be coming back any thinner, even if I do scale a mountain or two.

Tomorrow is our first real day of the program and we have to sing for everyone for the first time, which is always a little intimidating. I'll do my best not to stress out about first impressions and just enjoy my first experience of singing "Opera in the Alps!"

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Video from the plane!

Newark to Munich!

We are here!

And by "here" I mean Munich, and by "we" I mean my good friend SJ Tanzer & myself!

After a successful flight and an easy train ride we have arrived at our friendly and clean (yes! clean!) hostel without any hassle. We lucked out on the flight, having an entire row to ourselves, and we spread out over 2-3 seats respectively to snooze with as much room as those in first class. I got about 4-5 hours of sleep but my body is a little confused. It kind of feels like how I did in the fifth grade the day after a slumber party. I'm in a bit of a happy daze!

Friends have already been made. Two very cute german boys, Harry & Reuben, flirted with us the entire flight. Harry was 13 months old and Reuben was almost 3. They giggled with us the whole trip and we nearly died when we heard one of them squeal, "Bitte!"

We also befriended two boys on the train platform for the S-bahn. They asked us if we were American and then said they were students from, get this, Pittsburgh. They were around our age and went to Duquense and Pitt University (two schools right down the road from Carnegie Mellon). Of course the first people we would meet in Munich would be from da 'burgh. (The first things we saw outside of the airport were a Starbucks and a Mc'Donalds.)

The trip only started to feel real as I watched the little animated plane on the screen infront of my airplane seat slowly move across a map. As it passed by cities like London, Paris, Barcelona, and Milan, I started to get truly excited. Being the emotional person I am, I nearly teared up as we were landing. (I was squeezing SJ pretty hard too.)

Right now we are seated in the hostel's free WIFI room and we are about to explore the city! I can't believe I'm here :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Beginning!

You know that obnoxious little kid who is all too eager to sing at the top of their lungs and tell you that someday they're going to be a famous singer?

...yea, that was me.

I've been telling people since I was three years old I was destined for the stage. Nowadays, I don't try and win other's affections by belting songs from Annie (THE SUN WILL COME OUT) or worse, Cats (ALL ALONE IN THE MOONLIGHT) in people's faces. 17 years later and I still can't be quiet but this time, it's a little more exciting.

In just four weeks I will be attending the Tyrolean Opera Program in Austria!

This isn't shocking news to my friends and family because I think I have discussed in exhausting detail how thrilled I am.

The program is around three weeks and I'm staying an extra week to travel around with my friend SJ, who is also attending TOP (Me & SJ pictured to the right). There's dance classes, acting classes, German language classes (mein german ist um, not sehr gut) operatic staging classes, voice lessons, vocal coachings, master classes and so much more! There's 20 singers in total and famous teachers and coaches from the Berlin Opera!

I really will do my best to not put too many exclamation marks (!!!) in this blog, but it will be difficult.

It's my dream to be an opera singer. I have a perturbing amount of things to learn before my dream comes true, but I love it and I work hard. I just finished my sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon University as a vocal performance major. It was a difficult year for everyone in my program and I was no exception to going through hard times. Yet, it only further convinced me that no matter what sad events may befall on your shoulders, music and singing will always be there to inspire and encourage.

Hopefully someday I'll be singing in opera houses in Germany! And have a beautiful home. Also, a dog. Oh and a rich handsome husband.

Girl can dream right?