June 26, 2013

Dark chocolate mezzo I wish



Did anyone else listen to the Cardiff Singer of the World competition last week?  Twenty to-die-for singers from all over the planet trying, and mostly succeeding, to knock your socks off.  Meanwhile last week was again not a great week locally in terms of sleep, stress levels, and hellcritter digestion, and while I can tell myself that singing cheers me up—and intellectually I do know this—after you’ve listened to the latest elimination [no puns intended] round, for someone who only hits high C when she’s found a slug in her tea pot* it’s like why bother.**

I missed some Mondays due to exigencies of the above plus Nadia had a week of streaming children and cancelled so voice lessons have been patchy anyway.  But I think I’ve had them three weeks in a row now because I was musing driving over there this week that it’s beginning to be just the thing I go for, I don’t have a voice lesson, it’s much more basic than that, I need Nadia to reset me.  So I can sing.  At all.  Every time a hellcritter starts streaming again my throat closes up and my chest gets all tight.  Arrrgh whimper gacking noises etc.  So I go in and croak at Nadia, Please reset me!  Ah the life of a singing teacher.  She has me lying on the floor practising breathing and then on my feet doing complicated calisthenics that involve figuring out which is your right hand/ear/shoulder/hip/knee and which is your left hand/ear/shoulder/hip/knee. . . .

I am supposed to be learning my first German song.  It’s some blasted Schubert thing with a name like Noswurrdvegglfruzngnarlgarglefrau.  You haven’t even looked at the music yet and you already know you’re in trouble.  Nadia has patiently and painstakingly dragged me through the frelling pronunciation several times and the tune is actually rather jolly, except for the places where you have to enunciate BLORGLERFFIED at the exact same moment you are supposed to be taking a breath.***  Jeepers.

This explains why I’ve been learning another Italian song—there’s nothing like German to make Italian look dead easy—and handfuls of folk songs.  But I am singing.  And it is cheering me up.†  I could sure use more sleep though. . . .

* * *

*  Yes.  The memory lingers.

Diane in MN

If you held on to the teapot while recoiling in horror and hitting the high C, you’re a better woman than I am.

I’m fond of that tea pot.  It came overseas with me twenty one and a half years ago.^  And the slug was on the inside.  And slugs don’t move fast.  If it had been a SPIDER. . . .


Reminds me of the time I was about to take a big drink from the mug of water beside my bed and thankfully opened my eyes first. SPIDER.

 I now refill a plastic bottle of water beside my bed.

Yes.  I have a cotton handkerchief over the glass of water by my bed because I got tired of things drowning themselves in it.  Furthermore the handkerchief is a pretty Liberty pattern so it’s a positive addition to the décor.


If I found a slug in the teapot (or any container I was about to put something to drink in) I would undoubtedly make a noise (not a lovely high C) and drop the container, probably on something hard even if soft things were available.

It was not a lovely high C.  I believe the neighbours have been discussing the distressing noise that accompanied the earth tremor last night.  And I could tell you a story about how the hellterror rushed up just in time to be in the way for the tea pot to land safely–she having assumed that the noise I was making must have something to do with FOOOOOOD since what else could cause such emotion?


And then, right after reading [last night’s blog], someone asks “does the coffee taste funny to you this morning?” No. No it does not. No. Nope. Not at all. No no and furthermore no.

::falls down laughing::


I think I’d have to wash my teapot about fifteen times before I could bring myself to drink from it.

Yup.  Wire brush and industrial strength cleaner.  Plus the sulphuric acid and the blowtorch.


This incident shows the importance of warming the pot – it can double as a Unwanted Guest Removal Procedure!!!


^ Although it has had a change of lid.  Since the first lid broke by falling off onto a hard surface once too often, I cannot understand why the second lid, which, not being made for it, fits even less well and falls off even oftener, hasn’t gone the same way.  Yes, I should hold it on while I pour.   But it’s, you know, hot.

** The Cardiff competition only happens every other year so I can’t remember if I always say, oh, it’s a particularly amazing group this year, or not.  Well, I’m saying it this year.  At the same time I think the woman who won—won both categories, the lieder and the opera—blew everyone else out of the water WHAAAAAAANGGGGGG BOOOOOOOOM.^  But I would also eagerly and rapidly pay money to hear two of the other finalists, the bass-baritone^^ and the Argentinian soprano^^^ sing anything they had a fancy to.

^ If I’m going to be snippy, however, I’ll say I was just a weeny bit surprised she won the lieder.  She totally won the opera, the rest of ’em might as well have not bothered, she’s got one of those ginormous, dazzling dark-chocolate mezzo voices, and I hope she spends a long time singing Verdi before she moves on, as I’m sure she will, to Wagner.  But while her lieder were spectacular, I’m not absolutely convinced that you don’t want a classy intense sorbet for your lieder rather than the death-by-chocolate approach.  If you follow me.

^^ Who just by the way is cute.  He also has a nice deep speaking voice.  I always feel cheated when baritones talk tenor.

^^^ Who is GORGEOUS and has a yowzah figure.  Yeep.  And she sings?  UNFAIR.  —Our winner, Jamie Barton, is another big girl, like Stephanie Blythe, but while I’ve read reviews of Blythe’s earlier performances that praise her timing and her footwork, that hasn’t been my experience of her:  she can sing but she can’t move.  Barton, on this showing, can do both—she did a very funny take on an aria as the witch in Hansel and Gretel—I hope she keeps this skill.  I agree that casting should be blind in terms of age, weight, race and so on, but I feel  you need to have the stagecraft to inhabit the role to some extent, like mezzos in trouser roles clearly must.  I seriously want the stand-still-wave-your-arms-and-sing style of opera to be over.

*** And furthermore there may be a trill involved.  Because you’re SURE it’s not possible, you break training and go look up professional performances on YouTube and . . . I think professional singers have an extra lung or surgically altered throats with teeny-tiny hinges put in or something.  I’m way too mortal.  And skittish.

So long as there is no more streaming.  And at least a certain amount of eating.  Knock on wood.


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