Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pearl Fishers Promotional Video

I have sung the role of Leila in Bizet's Pearl Fishers twice this season.  Each time I was fortunate to be a part of this wonderful production directed by Andrew Sinclair, choreographed by John Malashock, and designed by the fabulous Zandra Rhodes.  The production has traveled around the U.S. since 2004 and has received great acclaim.  This is the twelfth time this opera has been produced and second time it has appeared in Detroit.  Tonight is my final performance and I will miss this wonderful cast and delightful production.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bee! I'm Expecting You

Bee! I'm expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due—

The Frogs got Home last Week—
Are settled, and at work—
Birds, mostly back—
The Clover warm and thick—

You'll get my Letter by
The seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me—
Yours, Fly.

~Emily Dickinson

Monday, April 16, 2012

God's World

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
   But never knew I this;
   Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, -- Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, -- let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

~Edna St. Vincent Millay

*Photo taken at Muir Woods July 2011

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wild Geese

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
       love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~Mary Oliver

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles 
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come. 
~ Jane Kenyon 
*Photo taken at my parents' farm in Lincolnton, GA 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice ‑
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible. 
It was already late                                                                                 
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do ‑
determined to save
the only life you could save.
~ Mary Oliver

*photo taken on my honeymoon at Little Palm Island, FL on June 11, 2009

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lay My Head Down

Oh the party's kicked up a few notches look at us getting loose
She leans back against the wall and she watches tugging her collar like it might
be a noose.

And everyone's tied to their thing
To their past or their drink or the date that they bring
I just get tired all of sudden taking it in.

And I want to lay my head down on you

Because you're the only solid thing in this room

A room full of changes strangers illusion confusion,
I speak from my heart but I'm not really sure if its true.
I wanna lay my head down on you.

Oh don't waste too much time planning
Or you'll get rug ripped out
And the only way you'll be satisfied
Is learning to live without.
But some plan for the kingdom of heaven
And some take their chances and bet lucky seven
I don't know what to believe I just show up and breathe anymore.

And I wanna lay my head down on you
Because you're the only solid thing in this room

A room full of dressers, professors, lookers, hookers
If I don't get out I'll do something I don't wanna do.

And I wanna lay my head down on you.

Was it so long ago
That we sat and talked in your car
Your things were all packed
And the place you were headed not really that far
Years later I think
That I would have been much more alive
To have taken you up on your offer and taken that drive

Well everything that's come before us leads us to where we are now
And that's simple, I know so why can't I let go of the feeling
That i'm lost somehow
I'm just a ghost looking in
Out of my own life just visiting
In search of a body to have and to hold and to keep and to sleep.

I wanna lay my head down on you
Because you're the only solid thing in this room
A room full of missed chance, slow dance, cold fate heartache
I showed up for a party and saw my life story full view

And I wanna lay my head down on you

Emily Saliers

Friday, April 6, 2012

i carry your heart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in 
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere 
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done 
by only me is your doing,my darling) 
     i fear 
not fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want 
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) 
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant 
and whatever a sun will always sing is you 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows 
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud 
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows 
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) 
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's all I have to bring today

April is National Poetry month.  To celebrate my love of poetry and words I've decided to post some of my most favorite over the next month.  I start with my first love of poetry, Miss Emily.

It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Emily Dickinson

click here to read the poem and hear it read at

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Let's Get Physical

I've been chasing Spring this year.  After a beautiful time in Florence, Italy I came home to Georgia for the month of February where we had some of the warmest temperatures on record.  It was gorgeous.  The cherry blossoms started blooming in late January and by mid February the near 80 degree temperatures had me resisting the urge to start planting flowers.  The first week of March I headed north to Washington D.C. for a few days and then on to New York city for three weeks.  Again, I was met with incredibly warm temperatures and early blooms.  Now, I'm in Detroit and when I flew into town on Wednesday last week, I was greeted with a balmy 72 degrees.  I love chasing Spring!  These past two months of warm weather have given me the opportunity to get outside and get my body moving.

One of my New Year's resolutions (surprise, surprise) was to get into shape.  I've always been fairly active and have managed my weight by what I eat.  I've been practicing Yoga for 12 years, the last 6 years of which have been fairly intense and dedicated.  But, I wanted to push myself this year to new levels of fitness because, as I have gotten older I've noticed how much harder the travel and singing lifestyle is on my body.  I knew I needed more.  So I took advantage of the beautiful Springwinter and got outside.  

I began in January while in Florence.  I walked to the theater from my apartment.  It was a nice 40 minute walk and very beautiful.  To and from, I figure I was walking 3-4 miles a day.  I continued my Yoga practice but adding the extra cardio really helped when I had to run around on stage as the Contessa di Folleville in Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims.  I had to run around in high heels while singing high E flats.  That was easy in my 20's but ten years of the business and the hard travel has left me with some injuries that flare up at the slightest strain.  I joined a fitness group on Facebook led by the fit and fabulous tenor, Larry Brownlee.  It has become a great place for support and a place to ask questions concerning any level of fitness.  We discuss workout routines, food, favorite running shoes, and post accomplishments.  In February I took advantage of the sunshine and began running outside at the Chattahoochee Nature Trails in Atlanta.  Some days I hiked Kennesaw Mountain and I kept up with my Yoga practice by attending intense vinyasa classes.  I started an evening Fab Ab February challenge with my husband that progressively got harder.  We ended the month with 100 situps and a 2 minute plank hold.  It's amazing how one month of dedicate work made me feel.  In March I went to New York for voice lessons and coachings. Yes, I still have to keep my voice in shape.  Singing is identical to being a top athlete.  You must train and you must stay in shape vocally.  While in New York I visited my favorite Yoga studio and teacher as often as possible and worked out at the gym.  I walked on the warmest days, which there were many, and I continued with a Mad Abs March routine in the evenings.  I've lost 5 pounds since I started, which may not seem like much but I've gained a lot of muscle and have toned my body.  I feel strong and lifting those heavy suitcases while traveling to Detroit weren't near as hard or bad on my back.

I am in stagings for The Pearl Fishers by Bizet.  It's the Zandra Rhodes production directed by Andrew Sinclair that has gone all around the country in the last ten years.  This is the same production I did in this past November in Pittsburgh.  Yesterday we staged the intensely physical scene between Leila, my character, and the baritone Zurga.  It is a work horse just to sing standing still.  It is full and lyric and one of my most favorite duets in opera.  It's one of the only times on stage I get to fight back instead of give up and die.  It's a hot scene and very physical.  I get pushed to the ground several times.  I literally wrestle with a large baritone while singing very difficult music.  I sing full out while crossing the stage and we end with me screaming in his face and then he tackles me to the floor.  It's awesome.  Come see it.  Yesterday's staging work was incredible.  What I felt yesterday after three months of dedicate fitness was COMPLETELY different than what I felt in November.  I was less out of breath.  I could fall to the floor with ease and support from my muscles.  I am stronger and it makes singing sooooo much easier.  Singing opera these days is quite physical.  I've had to run in high heels, fall backwards down stairs, run up stairs and sing, fall down in a 30 pound costume then get up and sing, and I've wrestled with baritones while singing high b flats.  When I went on at the MET in 2010 as Marie in La Fille du Regiment, I had to run all over the stage, flail my arms while ironing clothes, and roll around on the floor and sing.  Opera is no longer just about the voice.  You have to be in top form.  

I write all of this because I know a lot of people who read my blog are young singers.  I encourage you to get physical!  Start now and add to your vocal practice some sort of workout routine.  You can start small but START!  Find something you love, that you will commit to and just do it.  It will help you stay injury free from the stress travel makes on the body and you will be stronger and more able to play your characters fully and truthfully.  Your body is your instrument.  It doesn't stop below the larynx.  Take care of your instrument like a top athlete does.  You'll find not only do you feel better and look better, but your singing will be connected to something grounded and strong.