Divas and other such

January 15, 2010

Last night I had the good fortune to see Grateful Divas rehearse their upcoming show. Rebecca Keith had invited me to come in and give some feedback. There was so much talent on the stage that I hardly knew what to say! I gave my notes and they very graciously accepted them.

The show is very sweet—a cabaret chronicling the different stages of women’s lives through spoken word and (sometimes altered) Broadway tunes. It’s a fundraiser for Cardinal Stage Company and  will really resonate with and entertain the audience. I hope to see the dress rehearsal next week (I have to miss the actual performances).

In other news, I went through the feedback from the final workshop round of BloomingPlays. After several iterations where everyone was focused on the sisters, now suddenly everyone’s focused on the mom! And she’s not even in the scene! Augh, the life of an artiste (back of hand to forehead)!

We have about a month to make revisions before handing in the final script. Some of the feedback called for pretty dramatic changes—such as throwing out the whole beginning of the script—so I don’t know what the end result will be. It depends in part on what Lori wants to do, too.

What is nice is that we do seem to have captured the issues surrounding caring for an aging parent. There was a couple in the audience last Saturday that hadn’t heard the play before and they seemed quite moved by it. When asked for initial reactions to the play, the gentleman just said, “Truth.”

It’s easy, in the midst of so much critique, to lose sight of the things that are working.

In other other news, I received a letter—a real letter—from my friend LC today! What a surprise. It was great to hear from him but I’m afraid his life circumstances aren’t tip-top at the moment. My evil side noted that the paper and envelope were black-edged—at some point in some culture, black-edged paper indicated death. So the note had a funereal tinge to it. Sort of Edward Gorey.

In other other other news, I’m continuing to evaluate my creative life and trying to determine what’s next. That’s hard to do when I’m not sure what is. Recent experiences have left me very chastened in relation to my talents, and I fear that my best creative work is behind me. Part of me says that’s just because I don’t have the right impetus, but the fearful part of me just grieves and whimpers. It’s a lonely world inside me sometimes.

Now I’m going to look for traces of an old friend. All I have is her ghost.


November 5, 2009

Last night was the first rehearsal for Sound of Music. All of us nuns together in a deserted office building, surrounded by torn down wiring and nondescript walls.

I was anxious going in because I had auditioned as a mezzo only because none of the other sopranos would move down. I am not a mezzo. I am a soprano with rusty pipes. Meh.

Our director had us self-select parts first, but there was only one of each of the other parts and the rest of us divas classified ourselves as first sopranos. Then began a meticulous process of determining people’s voices by singing as small groups, pairs, and solos.

Since Mother Abbess is a first soprano (and boy, is she good—she stood next to me in auditions and her voice is tip-top), there were only two other slots. I made it to the final three. The other two women were about 20 years old and clearly in the music school. I am not. On either score. Each of them could sing two or three whole steps above my highest comfortable pitch. There was no way—I was going down.

He asked if I’d hate him if he made me be a second soprano. I made a joke but then told him I’ve never sung second. I’ve been thinking about that ever since and I do believe it’s the absolute truth–I’ve actually sung alto twice and even tenor once, but never soprano II. Regardless, I’ve been trained since age five to listen for the highest line. I don’t know how to hear chords—I’m much more of a “line” person.

Anyway, I said I’d never sung mezzo and he said, “But you auditioned as a mezzo.” Rather than say the more appropriate, “That’s because you asked me,” I just said, “That’s the first time I ever sang it.” So he still thinks it was a totally voluntary decision on my part. I am still kicking myself over that.

Regardless, away we flew. My sister seconds are twenty-something music school types with nice voices. (Anyone reading this should book tickets now for the show—if the nun’s chorus is any indication, there’s going to be some phenomenal talent in the show overall!) And there I sit.

Rebecca, my voice coach, had actually worked with me on the pieces that afternoon and we’d done the SII line just in case. Even with all that prep, the SII’s were the weakest link in the chain last night. We made the most mistakes and needed the most assists. Almost everyone else in the room can sight-sing. I certainly can’t, and definitely felt the lack of it.

Augh, I am sinking into a pit of humiliation as I write this.

What complicates things is that I know the soprano lines on most of the songs. So I’m constantly pulled to SI because I know it and have sung it for 25 years! Augh!

What’s killing my voice is that the range of the pitches on the SII line goes right back and forth over my passaggio and it’s killing me. It hurts my voice. Rebecca says to keep it breathy and only practice the songs ten minutes at a time before giving my voice lots of rest.

I have no idea how I’m going to get through a whole show.

Oh GODS I’m depressed. What’s killing me is that I feel that I won’t be able to give the performance I’m capable of. I won’t sound as good as I know I can. I might even jeopardize any future chance of working with Cardinal because I’m so bloody stupid and I sound like crap. My fear walking in last night was that I’d be the weak link, and it looks like I was right. I don’t sight-sing—I don’t even sight read—so it takes forever to get a part down if it’s difficult. And as easy as these songs are, the lines are really difficult for me for all the blathering reasons listed above.

I can’t help but feel like a failure. Being consigned to mezzo-land means I couldn’t cut it as a first soprano. For the first time in my life, I’m not the star. Hear my ego get pummeled. Ow ow ow.

I’m so thankful for Rebecca, who’s making extra time to do an additional lesson with me next week. Plus she gave me two big pep talks today. I just need time to get through this and get used to the humiliation of screwing up every rehearsal. Because this really is all about me. The production itself is outstanding.

I can only hope that, when it comes to staging, I’ll be brilliant at things like gliding across the stage.

Oh Gods I pray I’m good enough. Let me be good enough.