Listen to Your Life

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. When I graduated from the Mozarteum in Salzburg, I did not expect to create an opera festival in Nepal. That was not part of my “five-year plan” for launching my career. But in the summer of 2009, due to a very unusual chain of events, I found myself singing and teaching in Kathmandu!

Just a few months earlier, I had been struggling to survive in New York City. My master’s degree in opera was framed on the wall, but I was not getting enough “opera gigs” to pay the rent. So I took a day job with a non-profit organization called Hope Partnership Nepal.

While working for HPN, I learned that Nepal is a beautiful country that has been ravaged by civil war and political upheaval. Most Westerners are completely unaware… Read More

Full post at icadenza.com

Soprano in NorCal

Watch out — I just showered some high notes on Northern California!

I was invited up north for a couple of auditions. Auditioning is a funny thing. A typical opera audition only lasts about 10 minutes.

That’s enough time to sing two or three arias, and have a quick chat with the casting director. Opera singers will often travel for days to get their 10 minutes onstage!

And we plan our audition tours very carefully to ensure that we will have “a good ten minutes.”  We eat well, we sleep well, we save our energy, we warm up our voices and we focus our minds… all so that we can be dazzling when we step into the spotlight.

But what happens when the audition is over?  That’s when it’s time to relax and have fun! Whenever I audition in a new city, I just love to go exploring. So without further ado, here are my latest travel tips:

Sacramento

* California State Capitol Museum – Inside the magnificent capitol building, you can take a 45-minute tour emphasizing Californian history and politics. Unfortunately, there is no coatroom where you can leave your luggage, so I had to drag my little pink suitcase through the entire State Legislature, into the Senate, through the Assembly, up into the cupola, down into the basement, past the Governor’s office, and out into the gardens. But I had a great time.

* Old Sacramento – This historic part of town has an Old West atmosphere. There are several Gold Rush exhibits nearby; in fact, this would have been a better setting for the ill-fated Gold Rush tour that I took in San Francisco in January.

* Sacramento International Airport – Don’t ask me why there is a huge red rabbit suspended from the ceiling of the Sacramento Airport. It’s artistic, and it’s fun, and that’s good enough for me. In fact, there are a lot of fun surprises in Terminal B, including WI-FI lounges and a massage bar.  If you want a bite to eat, I can recommend the Gateway Bar, which features cushioned sofas, a selection of California wines, and a really amazing Greek sandwich (the “Icon,” a heavenly combination of gyro meat, lamb gravy, and tzatziki).

San Jose

* San Jose Museum of Art – if you like contemporary art, you’ll love this colorful collection.  And if you simply need to take a break, you can sit beneath the palm trees in the outdoor plaza, or visit the museum shop and café inside.

* Extended Stay Deluxe Hotel (San Jose) –  My suite included a kitchen, a desk, a queen-sized bed, a sofa, a TV, and a washroom with a full bathtub. I also had access to the swimming pool, the jacuzzi, the fitness room (mostly cardio, no free weights),  and free ensuite high-speed internet. The hotel has plenty of parking, and is located just one mile from the airport and two blocks from the nearest light-rail station. The Bay Area isn’t cheap, and it can be tough to find affordable accommodations in a town where it costs $15 just to open the door of a taxi cab!  But this hotel fit neatly into my travel budget.

Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport deserves a shout-out from the Globetrotting Soprano because it is the only airport I have ever seen that has live piano music in the baggage claim area! That’s pretty impressive in and of itself.

And that’s all for today. Have a great weekend!

Superior Vocal Health

How do singers stay in peak vocal condition?

“Water, sleep, and good technique!”

That’s what I always tell my students. But what about throat sprays? Do they really work?

To be honest, I don’t trust every throat spray on the market. I’m skeptical of anything that claims to improve vocal quality. Even when I’m ill, I rely on my vocal technique to get me through a performance.  Technique is a singer’s first line of defense!

But there are days when your throat gets attacked by allergies, cold viruses, air conditioning, altitude and humidity. Is there a throat spray out there that can make those days a little easier? Yes, there is.

I’ve just discovered a line of all-natural products by Superior Vocal Health.  These organic herbal formulas were created by a professional singer, so they are specifically designed for singers. And they work.

1. Throat Saver (spray). Throat saver is a refreshing spray with a sweet, minty taste. It moistens the throat, reduces mucus, and boosts immunity. It’s safe enough to be used several times a day, in between rehearsals.

As a frequent flyer, I notice that my mouth gets dry after several hours on an airplane. So there is already a special place for Throat Saver in my flying pharmacy, the little medicine kit that travels with me whenever I get on a plane.

2. Sinus Clear Out  (tongue dropper application).  One April day, I woke up with a miserable headache behind my eyes. My nasal passages were swollen and painful. After putting two small drops of Sinus Clear Out on the back of my tongue, I was overwhelmed by the taste of horseradish and alcohol! But just 9 minutes later, my headache was completely gone. (It’s rare for any sinus medication to work that fast!) Within thirty minutes, my Eustachian tubes were clear and my nose was back to normal. Since I suffer from chronic sinus allergies, I was absolutely amazed. This is seriously good stuff.

3. Vocal Rescue (gargle). This gargle solution combines Turmeric with ginger and honey to soothe a sore throat.This is made for more serious conditions like laryngitis or tonsillitis. It can also save your voice from wear and tear during an intense performance schedule. But please do not swallow; Vocal Rescue is only to be used as a gargle.

Of course, this is great news for singers. But it is just as exciting for actors, professors, politicians, and for anyone who does a lot of public speaking. Just remember that everyone’s body chemistry is a little bit different, so you may react differently. I strongly suggest that you do not use any medication in a vocal emergency until you have first tried it on a non-performance day. But take the time to experiment with these formulas. I think you’ll find that they are safe and effective.

Personally, I’m very careful about what I put in my throat, so I might never have discovered these products if I hadn’t received free samples for the Globetrotting Soprano. But at $19.95, they are reasonably priced, and I have been genuinely impressed by the results. I’ll be buying more.

As a traveling opera singer, I need to stay in peak vocal condition. Most of the time, I can rely on my health and my technique.  But there are days when I need an extra boost, and that’s when it’s nice to know about Superior Vocal Health.

Upcoming Concert in L.A.!

Please join me on Sunday, May 13th at 4 PM at the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro for a springtime concert.

There will be some fun surprises, including special guests and exciting music. It’s Mother’s Day, so treat your mom to something special, a bouquet of MUSIC AND ROSES!!!

Our festival of spring will include a wide variety of songs, arias, opera scenes and concert pieces. Works by Puccini, Verdi, Schubert, Bartok and more! At the piano, you’ll experience the award-winning Romanian pianist Bogdan Dulu!

Don’t miss this! Meet us on Sunday, May 13 at 4 PM at:

First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, 731 S. Averill Avenue, San Pedro, California. Admission is free. Donations will benefit the church music program.