operagirl takes on Norway

It probably seems like forever since my last post but that’s only because it has been. No really, it has.  At least I feel privileged to share with you I can finally make use of my full blog domain, operagirlfoodjunkietraveler… so I guess it was worth the wait.

Yep, that’s right.  I opera’d, I ate, and I traveled.  My 3 favorite things.  And I’ll be sharing all my experiences in 3 posts.  So stay tuned!

First thing’s first.  Operagirl….

So here’s the dish… I participated in a 2 week opera program in Oslo, Norway, this past summer. <gasp!> I can’t believe summer is over?!  My teacher invited me to come and after careful consideration my main squeeze and I decided it was a good investment for my operatic development. And it really was.

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Not only did I have the opportunity to work at this beaut everyday…

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 Now that’s a roof deck view! 

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Don’t you just love the Scandinavian Design? 

I also had the pleasure of meeting a wide variety of singers of every nationality. I was 1 of 2 Americans. So I really felt like an international singer.

Snakker du norsk? Errr…

Parlez-vous francais? Oui, Je parle un peu.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch.

Do you speak English?  Yes, doesn’t everyone?

The program I attended is called LidalNorth and it is an audition-based 2 week summer program.  My teacher, Mark Schnaible and his wife, THE Trish McCaffrey teach there every summer and it was the perfect opportunity for me to receive back to back lessons (nonsingers: you might be surprised how important that is for correct reinforcement of muscle memory) and also some role/concert experience.

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 The view during my voice lessons. 

I can’t express how much gratitude I have for Mark and Trish.  Their work ethic and knowledge of the voice is simply extraordinary.  I had my first lesson with Trish and it was possibly the deepest I’ve ever looked at myself.  EVER.  Tell me…. She has the uncanny ability to force you to face your demons.  For me, learning to sing has been the sharpest double edged sword I have ever worked with.  On one side of the sword is the pure beauty of the human voice.  It’s why I love singing.   The ability to use words to tell a story through music.  Which, as human’s, is the deepest connection we have.  And let me tell you, an authentic singer can make any heart bleed pure emotion on moment’s end.  And oh, is it mesmerizing.  On the other side of this blade lies all of the insecurities of our very own instrument. Our fears, our regrets,  our own false expectations.  If your piano is out of tune, you tune it.  If your violin needs to be restrung, you restring it.  And then you continue on your merry way.

What about your voice?

There isn’t a new voice that you can order if your old voice is broken.  You are given one voice and that voice is yours.  You use it to laugh, to cry, to show anger and joy.  It is with our voice that we are able to express who we are. Unfortunately, sometimes our judgement as singers can get a little cloudy.  We think we need to sound a certain way and we begin to manufacture our voice into something that isn’t ours.  It’s Trish’s job to make you stop.  And stop you will.  But it’s your job to figure out why you are doing the things you do.  And that kind of introspective thinking is what fascinates me the most about this art form.

The show must go on!

The program  staged 2 operas: Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Massenet’s Cendrillon.  I was part of the latter and it was such a fun production!  The story of Cinderella is universal and Massenet’s music is brilliant.

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 Here’s the finale. Glitter and all.  La pièce est terminée!

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Every production must end with a Cast Party and this one came with lots of bubbly.  Did I mention my honey jumped across the pond to come hear me sing too?  He is my #1 fan.  I’m one lucky gal.

 

 

Bien à toi,

~Ashley

 

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