Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Something New -- Singing Music on my Blog -- "An die musick" by Schubert

Many of you Avocational Singer blog readers have gone for visits to Frescamari's Practice Room to sit and listen in on all my experimentations and voice discovery missions.  I first invited everyone to come over to that virtual practice room in this post, where I compared visiting my practice room to visiting a painter's studio.

I chose the Posterous site for my virtual practice room because it was a convenient way to store mp3 files for free and it was simple to get the files posted, by merely e-mailing the files.  Posterous would automatically embed the files in a player, so the work was done for me.  I will continue to devote time and attention to the ramblings and scribblings and trial and error of that Internet practice room.  It serves as a kind of online practice journal for me and I have benefited greatly from posting my practice mp3 files there and commenting on them.  From the looks of the numbers (thousands) of visits, it seems that people enjoy browsing through some of the stuff I've got up there.

However, I have wanted to be able to post a file once in a while on this blog.  I just needed some time to do some research and tinker around and figure out how to embed a player.  I have created a little test blog to play around with this technical stuff and have been busy experimenting over there.

I think I have figured out how to neatly and easily embed a little player so that I can, once in a while, put up an mp3 file right on the blog, so you will not have to take the little cyber-journey over to the practice studio.  This would have been great to do when I was pursuing the 24 Arias in 24 Weeks project (which I have not abandoned entirely yet -- I'm just splitting the sessions up -- having completed 10 of them in 10 weeks last winter.  I think I may start another 10-week session this Fall.  If you are a new reader and don't know what I'm talking about, 10 of 24 Italian Arias I learned in 10 weeks are posted in Frescamari's Performance Space, another posterous blog.)

So, to test out my new mp3-player-embedding abilities, below I have embedded this morning's rendition of "An die musick," by Franz Schubert.  To help me learn this song, I purchased a book Music Minus One High Voice Soprano, Vol. 1 Schubert German Lieder (Book & CD), and have used the CD that came with it for accompaniment.  I have done most of the work on this song by myself, since I am between teachers right now.

Some other work I did on this song leading up to what I've got today can be found in Frescamari's Practice Room.

So, here it is, my progress thus far on "An die musick" in an embedded player right on the blog:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Classical Vocal Repertoire and a Book of Glinka Songs

I interrupt my regular blog posting to bring you a spontaneous post.  I know I just wrote a post about parental musical influences and I do hope you all get to read and enjoy that post, but I am just feeling so good about a music book that arrived in the mail today and I wanted to share the experience with you.

Remember a few posts ago, when I told you that the organist from my church, who is Russian, wanted to do a recital with me?  Well, in that post, I mentioned that he loved the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka, and he encouraged me to explore this composer.  He said he would help me with the Russian language.

Well, why not?

Well, here's why not.  Isn't singing in Russian kind of advanced?  Isn't singing in Russian something you do after you've established your international opera career and have a recital schedule around the world and a recording contract?  Isn't singing in Russian something you do for your thesis project in graduate music school?  Does a little struggling avocational singer such as myself ever sing in Russian?

To make a long story short,  I figured Russian was way off my radar, considering the fact that I don't know any other languages except Spanish yet, and I just figured that it would be years and years and years before I got to Russian, and being that I'm older and all, I just figured maybe Russian might be for another lifetime or something.  That's the way I perceived it, at any rate.  We all know how faulty our perceptions can be, however.  But, in a similar way as to how we have to give our voices freedom, and not constrict them or try to mold and shape them to what we want them to be, we also have to give our repertoire development and education freedom to develop and grow the way it wants to.  If a pianist comes into my life who would like to collaborate on some music and can school me on Russian stuff, I'm not going to say I'm not ready for that.  It's an opportunity and it's the way the larger musical forces of the universe are kind of guiding me to a new area of exploration, enrichment and study.

So, I set about to get my hands on some Glinka music.  I didn't have great luck finding a collection of Glinka songs from my usual Internet sources, so getting some was either going to involve getting myself to a good music store or library -- like the Juilliard store or the New York Public Library for Performing Arts -- or, as I wrote about in that same blog post -- challenge myself by doing something I'd wanted to do for a long time -- calling Glendower Jones, owner of Classical Vocal Repertoire.

I have to admit that I have a fear of calling people on the telephone.  They even have a psychological term for people afraid to make phone calls -- "Call Reluctance." It's usually connected with a career in sales, but it revolves around being afraid of self-promotion.  I've written on this blog before about how I didn't continue to pursue a career in theater because of this distaste for self-promotion.  One time I even bought a book to try to help me get over my fear, back when I had a little scrapbooking hobby business.  I can't find the book I had back then but it was something along the lines of  I'd Rather Have a Root Canal Than do Cold Calling!

Anyway, you'd think that if you were not a professional singer, you would not have to do any cold calling or self-promotion, and that one of the perks of being an Avocational Singer is that you'd have an easy life, right?


Avocational Singers have to do scary icky things too if they want to grow and be all that they can be.

So, after exhausting many possibilities, it seemed that the musical forces that be were setting me up to make that scary phone call to Glendower Jones.  Now, people who have phone fear are afraid of rejection.  It doesn't matter what kind of rejection.  Just rejection in general.  Rationality does not come into play.  If it did, it would not be scary, because our intellect would tell us that the worse thing that could happen when we call the music book store would be "No, I'm sorry, we don't have any Glinka."

Actually, no, for the person with these kind of fears, the worst thing that could happen would be for them to say, "NO!  We don't have any Glinka, and never never never bother me again!!!" in a really mean scary voice.

Okay, well, back to the task.  So, my task, if I really wanted to proceed on, was to make this phone call.

And I bet you all know what happened.  Glendower Jones was one of the kindest and most wonderful of professional people to call on the phone.  He was extremely knowledgeable and helpful, just as I'd heard from all kinds of singers that he was.

He had a complete volume of Glinka songs, of course, and he took the order and sent it.

Now the real treat is that the book came today and it was a beautiful volume, one that any singer would want to have in his/her collection.  Here's a picture:

The hardcover book felt soft and smooth to the touch.  It came protected by a sturdy cardboard enclosure, and the invoice was printed on a cream-colored paper that was heavy and smooth.

Since our phone conversation had gone so well, I was brave enough to mention an Argentinian composer, whose songs I had searched for and been unable to find.  Mr. Jones, as a response to that conversation, had enclosed with my order a sheet, on the same creamy paper, a list of available titles from that composer.

I ended up really liking doing business "the old fashioned way," without the impersonal filling in of Internet forms.

I was delighted by the entire experience, and feel that by pushing past my fear, I reaped a great benefit of now having a great source from which to purchase my music.

In the end, I've realized that having a passion for something forces me to grow.  When you really have an interest and you really love something, scary obstacles might delay you temporarily, but the desire to explore, find out and see eventually wins out overcomes the fear.  One gets to the point where in order to continue on, you have to face the scary monster and it is that desire to see it through that helps you take the growth step.

Parental Musical Influences

I'm sitting here in my kitchen with my book Pronunciation Guide for the Lieder Anthology open in front of me as I wait for the CD practice mp3 files to load import into my iTunes for my personal practice use.  (I find it easier to find and control the practice from itunes than from a CD player.)

Anyway, with the book open on my lap, I've been sitting here sounding out the German for "Auf dem Wasser zu singen" syllable by syllable.  It is slow, laborious work. It is being done without the benefit and advice of a knowledgeable coach or teacher at this point, but there is great value in what I am doing, even though it is quite a struggle.  But we all know that this is the kind of struggle has big payoffs sometimes, so I am patient with it.

In walks my daughter to heat herself up a little snack. I hear her repeating the "ich laut" sound -- [ç] -- as she's pressing the buttons on the microwave. She's picking up the new sound very spontaneously and easily (like a child without decades of muscle memory programmed in). In fact, she barely realizes she's doing it, like when you find yourself humming a little tune that's got into your head and you're scarcely aware that you are  humming. I stop and we talk for a minute, and I tell her that is a sound that's in the German language which we don't use in English. She is interested for a second, but I am gaging how much I can tell her before she tunes out.

"German's a weird language," she says, as she takes her snack out of the microwave.

I resist the urge, as a parent, to capitalize on this "teaching moment," by embarking on a lecture about languages. I've ruined too many moments of true and natural interest in my children by trying to get too much in on these little opportunities. So, I restrain myself and content myself with that little exchange and release her to go have her snack in the other room.

But in my heart I am happy. Because I know that these little moments add up. I know what it feels like to look back on childhood and remember the little moments that stand out and stayed with me when I became a grown-up (Am I a grown up yet? I'm still waiting for that to happen.)

How many times have we read a book about some accomplished masterful singer, and the first chapter almost always tells us all about the musical household they grew up in?

I have engaged in some reflecting in recent years on how my musical interests came about from the influence of my musical mother. I have vivid memories of her practicing the piano or organ in the living room, rehearsing with our local community theater group or having wedding singers over the house to practice songs for weddings. It was her involvement in these things that brought me into the world of music. At the time I had not realized what was happening exactly, but it was as natural as learning to walk or to talk, and I find it fascinating that it can happen like this.  It is a beautiful example of how the life of an avocational musician makes waves in time and space, and makes the world a more musical place.

So, I don't know what little memories will impress myself on my daughter when she is all grown up. Maybe this moment in the kitchen when she picked up the [ç] sound and learned what it was will be one of those memories.

I don't want to ruin what is natural by coming in and trying to force or manipulate the situation. In fact, I'd prefer to not even be conscious of any effect my pursuit might be having.  I will just continue to pursue my passion and leave those other effects up to the greater scheme of things.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guest Post: An Avocational Singer Attends a NATS Workshop

Well, dear readers of this blog, I have a little something different for you today, and something that I hope you find informative and enjoyable. One of the avocational singers I have come to know through this blog, Blue Yonder, has graciously agreed to share her recent experiences attending a NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Workshop.

Blue Yonder is a lyric soprano who has been a commenter on this blog for many a post, and some of you may have already learned a lot from her astute comments. I recently learned that she had attended her local NATS workshop and I thought you readers might be as interested as I was to hear about it, and whether it was a comfortable environment for an avocational singer.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to help us avocational singers find each other on the Internet and share our experience of being high level singers with a passion to master the vocal instrument, yet not on a career track. I have been so happy to have heard from quite a few of you, through comments on this blog and in my e-mail.

I hope you will all benefit to hear about Blue Yonder's experience.

Blue Yonder Attends a NATS Workshop
As a high-level amateur, it's always a challenge to find the right kind of training opportunities for my level and goals. Consequently, I was delighted to learn about a performance workshop held this summer by the local NATS chapter and advertised on their website. It is a week-long program consisting of morning coachings followed by afternoon masterclasses in acting, bodywork, and diction,and culminating in a recital. Each participant brought in two pieces to coach for this program.

My first minor concern about attending was whether I could hold my own in a summer program like this. The program is non-auditioned, but I did not know what level of participants it would draw and whether I could keep up. My fears were unfounded. Ages varied from 16 to 40-something, and levels ranged from performing newbies to very good conservatory students working on master's degrees. I landed pretty squarely in the middle. Also, other avocational singers were in attendance.

The program itself was intense (for me) and enriching and positive. Every day, we sang one or both of our selections for our peers and the program faculty. We had access to well-reputed coaches with whom I never imagined I would get to work, being an avocational singer. The singers were nice people and I enjoyed getting to know them and hear about where they are in their journey. The masterclass teachers were generous with their time and expertise. They were fully engaged in working with each singer, regardless of level.

Actually, I love the masterclass/workshop format for three reasons. First, you get practice performing a selection and working on it in front of an audience. Also, you get exposure to lots of different repertoire inside and outside of your fach. And lastly, when there is diversity in the level of singers, you get to learn about the different issues faced by singers at different levels, and how to address those issues given an individual singer's particular strengths and weaknesses.

Overall, I would say that this workshop and the other local NATS events are great opportunities for the avocational singer to gain performance experience and training. I've felt welcome at the events I've attended so far, and the local NATS festival even has an "Avocational" category for participants.

I do think it's important for us avocational singers to approach performance and training situations with the right attitude. I often have doubts and ask myself, "Do I belong here with these other singers who might be career-track? Can I cut it?" I realize now that I need to take the attitude: "I BELONG HERE!!!" Aim high and prepare to work hard--but once you get in, never question whether you belong in the program, regardless of whether you got in by audition, application, or just by putting your name on a signup sheet.

I'll close with a couple of my favorite learnings from the workshop:

1. Italian texts require a surprising amount of detailed diction work. One must go through the aria or song with a fine-tooth comb and make sure all of these points are addressed

a) Vowels - Pure (non-dipthongized) and Italianate (e.g. American "a" versus the considerably brighter Italian "a")

b) Consonants - Can the listener distinguish whether any given consonant is a single or a double?

c) Vowel clusters - Can the listener hear all of the vowels in the cluster? Is the correct one stressed and/or lengthened, if applicable?

d) Text underlay - If the text underlay is ambiguous, match syllables to the notes in the manner that is the "most Italian" (observing Italian speech inflection and important words)

e) Inflection - Would a native Italian be convinced by your speech inflection? (alternating stressed-unstressed syllables - think of the stereotypical Italian accent)

f) Open/closed vowels - Are the e's and o's pronounced correctly as open or closed, depending on the word? (this one is debated by the experts)

2. 100% dramatic commitment is not just a native talent that no one else can acquire. It is something that I can practice and improve. As part of my practice regimen, I want to start doing dramatic readings of aria/song texts in a 100% committed, uninhibited way. Then I want to practice singing them with so much dramatic commitment that there's no room for thoughts about technique, mistakes, etc.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Grieving a Loss -- Yet Another Voice Teacher is Gone

I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about this, but since it is part of my avocational journey, I must.  So, here goes:

I recently received word from my voice teacher telling me that she would no longer be able to accommodate my lesson time in her studio.

One reason I didn't want to write it, was because I feel embarrassed to admit I was rejected and not one of the more desirable students.  I had thought I was doing pretty well, and was finally beginning to put together a technique. I was working hard towards my goals, and I was excited about the progress I was making. I felt that I had momentum going and was not prepared to come to a screeching halt unexpectedly like this.

I had hoped that this new thrust would be the one to take me to a point, at long last, of a basic mastery of my vocal instrument.  I say "basic" because mastery is a lifetime pursuit that is never fully attained due to the truth that there is always more.  But I have always believed there would come a point where technique became secure enough and awareness of the ins and outs of vocal issues became such that a singer "arrived" at a moment where she didn't need a teacher any more -- at least not every week -- except for a basic tuneup once in a while.

I have been very slow and long to get to this point, as I've noted on this blog. But in this late time of my singing life, I have finally sensed it on the horizon.

But now I have a temporary setback in that I am without a teacher.

This journey cannot be undertaken without a guide.

Here is how I'm feeling right now.  I feel like a person who had wanted to climb a giant mountain and had hired an experienced guide to help navigate the way to the top. Just when I got to the point where I could see some peaks, the guide can no longer continue the journey and must leave me there out on a ledge.  I feel stranded and alone on top of a cliff, close to the mountain top, but without a guide.

So, I sit on the little ledge.  First, I just cry.  "Oh, whatever shall I do now?  What will become of me?"  But since that isn't really going to resolve the issue, once that indulgence has passed I have to sit and think of my options.  First I have to make a decision, sitting there out on the snowy ledge by myself.  Do I still want to try to get to the top of the mountain or do I want to give up?

If I give up, I can just find my way back down to the comfy lodge at the foot of the mountain, go in and order a glass of wine, and sit curled up by the fire reading a nice book.  That would be very comfortable and nurturing.  No tough things to go through. No scrapes and bruises from grabbing onto rocks. No feeling exhausted from the exertion of effort. No getting discouraged. No rejection. No disappointments.  Lots of comfort and "peace." I can watch the young people come in breathless, with their rosy cheeks and talk about how wonderful the view was from the top.

But if I decide that I still want to try, then there's work to do.  I must begin the work of trying to find a new guide to help me get to the top.  As I make the rounds of the mountain guides, many of them might discourage me.  "Why don't you just take the nice little bus tour up with all the other older folk?  You shouldn't be exerting yourself at your age."  Or "Why don't you just admit that your body isn't made for mountain climbing and just take the cable car up?"

But I have to pick myself up and get out there and make the rounds.  Make the rounds until I find someone skilled who is willing to help me the rest of the way, and won't abandon me mid-mountain.

Finding a good voice teacher is a lot of work.  There is a lot of asking around, gathering of names, and then the legwork of getting to sample lessons .  Sometimes this work has to be done when you have a low level of confidence in your mission.  There are so many questions.  Will the teacher want me as a student, or find me undesirable as the other teacher did?  The kind of mission I'm on -- older avocational singer who's not giving up -- is one I have to sell, or at least find the right kind of person who would get on board with me and help.  I can't do this if I'm not feeling like I'm believing in my mission myself.

So, the first work I have to do, before I make one phone call or set one foot on the pavement, is to find a way to believe in myself again.  This is the task that will help me get the job done.  A way I've used to achieve this in the past is to pray and renew my spirit, so that's what I'll be doing as a precursor to getting out there to embark on a new fresh stab at getting to the top of the mountain. The clock is ticking, but it's still not too late for me to get there.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Visit to Opera New Jersey

I am going to be brave and write about my experience attending the opera a couple of weeks ago. The reason I say "brave" is that I don't really know too much about opera. As a natural extension of my interest in singing, I have been dragging my husband to see a few performances in the past couple of years, and I have been enjoying exploring this interest.

Since I do not have the qualifications to review a production from an educated standpoint, I can only give my impressions as a fledgling fan.

My husband asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. Since my birthday fell on the eve of my participation in the Westminster Choral Festival in Princeton, NJ, I searched online for something to do in Princeton. I found that there was an opera company there, Opera New Jersey and on the night of my birthday they would be performing Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti. I asked my husband to come down with me for the night and kick off my week at the choral festival by taking me to dinner and to see this opera.

This would be the fifth opera I would attend, and it was going to be the first one somewhere besides the Metropolitan Opera.

Up until now, I have been thoroughly preparing myself for each performance I was planning to attend. When paying the hefty prices for the Met, I have wanted to get the most out of the experience that I could. So, I would obtain a recording of the opera and listen so that I would know the music. I would study the libretto and the commentary on the opera along with its history. I would read about the singers whom I was going to hear, and also listen to some of the arias by various singers on youtube.

This time, however, I was so busy preparing for my trip, studying the Mozart Requiem score, entertaining friends, packing up my daughter for her week away at Grandma and Grandpa's, that I only had time to read a brief synopsis of Don Pasquale, and by the time we got there, I didn't know much about it at all and had never heard any of the music.

I found out that there is such a thing as an opera you don't have to "prepare" for and can just sit back and relax and enjoy. Opera NJ made this possible for me by their absolutely wonderful production. The opera, Don Pasquale is a perfect one to have this experience with because it is just a lighthearted very fun comedy that almost seems like a funny musical theater piece.  Of course the beautiful music and the highly developed singing voices take it a step way above that.

It's not so much that I would like to tell you about the opera itself in that I wanted to exclaim how wonderful a job Opera NJ did on the performance.  I told you above that this was my fifth time at the opera and I liked this experience way more than I did my experiences at the Met.

For one thing, the house, McCarter Theater, which is just steps away from the Princeton Train Station, is elegant, charming, and intimate.  I felt really comfortable just being in the place.  A man on line for the men's room at intermission -- who came across as being much more experienced opera-goer -- told my husband that this theater experience was more like what it feels like in the many small opera houses of Europe.  I loved the deep rich colors of the seating and curtains, and the cozy feeling of sitting together with all the audience.  It felt like we were all friends who had just had a nice dinner together and had moved to the drawing room for an evening of pleasurable entertainment provided by our host.

Another thing I loved was that the orchestra was so present in front of me, and I could watch the instrumentalists.  I could observe every draw of the violin bow, and watch the conductor preside over the experience.

The voices of the performers were of a high quality. I enjoyed the voices more in this intimate setting than I did at the Met.  At the Met, even with very good seats pretty close to the stage, everyone still seemed smaller.  Here, I couldn't believe how clear the voices were even though there was a substantial orchestra so close between me and the singers.

To be honest, I had expected, going in to the performance, that the voices I would hear in this smaller company might be less masterful or beautiful than some of the famous names at the Met, and I learned that this is a wrong prejudice to have had. I probably just picked up this notion from the marketing and the way our culture dictates what is supposed to be good.  It filled me with great pleasure to hear really fine singing at this little production, singing that I felt was every bit as good, if not better even, than what I had heard on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.

And it was not just I who thought this.  At the choir festival later that week, I ran into a woman who had seen Opera New Jersey's production of Don Giovanni that same weekend, and she had a similar story to tell.  She also thought the production was more enjoyable than ones she had attended in Manhattan. In fact, she told me that she had stopped going to the Met altogether.

The sets were really wonderful. I was aware that they were not quite as "grand" as what I had seen at the Met, but they were so well-suited to the space and were as charming as the theater itself. In fact, this performance seemed to integrate so well and match the setting and feel of the entire theater space. And I felt that was part of what was so well done about this production -- the opera knew it's space and knew who it was as a performance piece in that space.

I was incredibly impressed with the acting of the singers.  They told the story with their bodies as well as their voices.  There was a lot of visual joking and I felt that children would enjoy this performance, should they not even understand a word.

I also enjoyed the performance of the chorus.  Each and every choral member had a distinct personality and character and the acting of even these "lesser" roles contributed to the story and helped us understand exactly what was going on, and what it was like to be employed under these circumstances in the household of Don Pasquale.  In one scene where they were singing about the new activities of Don Pasquale's new wife, it was clear that some of the servants, the younger ones, viewed all the hustle and bustle with breathless glee, and that some of the older ones thought the whole thing a great nuisance.  Each singer portrayed a character who would react to the happenings in a unique way and not all the same, while maintaining a unity of ensemble. I thought it was perfect and that these lesser cast members were very talented.

All the lead roles had marvelous voices and wonderful acting interpretations of their roles.  I could write paragraphs of how much I enjoyed each one of them so I hope that I am not insulting by focusing on just one lead in particular.  I was enchanted by Ava Pine, who played Norina.  She pulled off the authority, mischievousness, lovableness, humor of her character so well.  As I sat back and enjoyed her performance and singing, I thought of the times I'd fantasized about being an opera singer, and I knew that there was no way I would be able to capture all the nuances of a character as well as this singer did, at least not without many more year of study and experience, and perhaps never at all.  She was sophisticated, clever, sparkly, and very lovable and her singing was strong and beautiful.

I also loved the way the stage actions were incorporated into the interpretation of the music.  I'm trying to remember a specific after two weeks, and there is one point I remember where Norina was singing a particular phrase and pouring herself a glass of lemonade at the same time.  While singing the phrase, she raised the pitcher so that the stream of lemonade into the glass matched the music she was producing.  The thing that was great about it was that it was not gimmicky or extraneous to what was going on, nor put in as a mere cheap trick to delight the audience.  The action helped establish the playfulness of her personality -- a gesture that brought us far along getting to know her -- and was musically appropriate.  It was also executed so naturally that it looked easy, but I was aware that to sing the difficult passage, and perform the lemonade pouring accompaniment was no easy feat just to pull off, much less look as natural as it would be in real life. Ms. Pine accomplished it masterfully.  She made it look simple and easy.

Another example of the type of place where the action was integrated with the music was where the fluttering feather duster of the maid dusting off the bookcase seemed a natural illustration of the fluttering of the violins (a tremolo? -- sorry to lack a better musical vocabulary to describe). It happened in a way where it was hard to say if the music had suggested the action, or if Donizetti himself had been inspired by such an action to convert into music.  At any rate, the interpretation of it was delightful.

These are just a couple examples of many such actions that were incorporated with the music throughout the entire production.  Each one of these actions brought out the musical phrases and the appreciation for Donizetti's music, and I applaud the insight of the stage director and conductor, Michael Scarola and Mark Laycock for incorporating these little touches.

Besides these little actions that so helped me appreciate the music, there was another great scene where Ernesto was wandering forlornly through a park, singing about his lost love, and there was present on stage with him a street musician, playing the trumpet.  The music being played by the horn player in the park was actually being played by the horn player in the orchestra, but it was accomplished in such a way that the horn player on stage looked very much like it was his music we heard.

The horn player acted as a sympathetic "listener," and musical partner to Ernesto's aria, reminiscent of that objective but sympathetic observer character such as Bert in Mary Poppins, or the fiddler on the roof who accompanies Tevye.  I did not know this opera, so I did not know if it was a convention written in to the libretto, or if this was a unique interpretation of Opera NJ, but I had a feeling it was a unique interpretation, and in my very humble opinion, it worked really well.

To sum things up, I am definitely going to try to get over to see more performances by this little opera company.  I felt there was something so right about the idea of this high quality intimate way of presenting opera in a community.  How wonderful, I thought, for artists to spread themselves out in these little companies, bringing these kind of productions to the little communities of our country. It makes more sense to come together for theater this way, providing rich entertainment for each other on the weekends as we go about our daily lives. Something much better than the isolation of sitting home watching TV or on the Internet, and providing jobs for people who love to make music.