Decompression

I can feel my brain reaching its pitiful saturation point, and I’m oh so thankful that there’s no singing in my Friday.

Spent the day getting from Seattle to Chicago and catching up on some paperwork. And as if to make up for the fact that we couldn’t see Mt. Rainier from Seattle because of the fog, today’s lift-off provided a spectacular view of the Cascades.

Books

It’s appropriate that on our way to Chicago I finished reading Fortissimo (“Backstage at the Opera with Sacred Monsters and Young Singers”) on the plane. William Murray’s report of a year spent behind the scenes in the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists just hit the bookshelves this fall. A pleasant and easy read, informative without being dry, frank without being cruel.

Richard Pearlman runs one of the great year-round young artist training programs in the country, and he’s quoted to good effect in this book. “Every would-be opera singer, no matter how talented…soon discovers that it’s a long, often painful road from having a beautiful instrument in your throat to being able to compete in one of the world’s most demanding and difficult professions.”

And the Chicago theme continues – I’m in the middle of The Devil in the White City. Great historical novel about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. A story of truly operatic proportions:)

Knowing When to Quit

Ever since we set up the schedule for the audition tour, I’ve been eyeing the Lyric Opera’s production of Manon Lescaut, with a 7:30pm curtain this evening. I love Karita Mattila’s work, and this piece isn’t done very often. But it became clear this week that in order to do good work in auditioning our final 70 singers tomorrow and Sunday, I’d better make it an early night. Deep dish pizza, some clerical work on this year’s aria frequency list (it’s almost ready… maybe tomorrow’s posting…), and hashing out some possible permutations for next summer’s schedule.

Coda

Some random parting words on the art and craft of practicing – of learning music.

  • From Benjamin Zander in his fabulous book The Art of Possibility: “What? You’ve been practicing it for three minutes and you still can’t play it?”
  • From Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: “There is nothing more pointless, or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results.”
  • And finally, two divergent points of view, not surprising considering their respective sources: “Chance favors the prepared mind” (Louis Pasteur) and “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative” (Oscar Wilde).

Have a great weekend! I’ll be posting throughout as we wind up this little odyssey of ours. Parting image is of the always-astonishing Beaux Arts ceiling here at the Palmer House in Chicago.

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