Tuesday, May 22, 2007 by Opera Dude.
3 remarks

That title banner up top is the first real opera house I sang at in Italy. So far I've found nothing more nerve-racking than singing in Italian for Italians on a raked stage in what felt like a dead room. The sound dropped in front of my face like an unsuspecting sparrow that didn't notice the sliding glass door.

That is, until you walked into the house, sat in the red velvet seats, and took advantage of a lavish and ornate hall in which opera has been appreciated for generations. It was in that seat, hearing Puccini from the perspective of his countrymen that the sound soared and I felt so strongly the urge to mount the stage again and make the room mine.

Standing on that stage was a defining moment.

Each career that is more than an occupation but is a constant state of adoration for what you do has defining moments. Dawning realizations that got you there.

I had always wanted to be a vet. Not a veteran, but a veterinarian. Equine specifically. I started riding horses when I was 6. Certain people are cat people, dog people, lizard people or fish people. I am a horse person. They understand me and respect me. It's mutual. Therefore, it seemed natural to go into that field of study. It seemed natural. The test results came back positive for being allergic to nearly every substance that grows outdoors...and every animal. It's difficult to work with something which constantly inhibits your ability to breathe. I learned this at 16 years old, right about when I was considering a college at which to start a program early. That was a defining moment.

At the age of 11, I sat down at our family piano and opened the Alfred beginner books. I taught myself for almost a year, playing what I could understand. My mother found this most enjoyable so she and my father came to the decision that I was to take piano lessons officially. For one year I had to endure them, even if I despised them. But in fact, I loved them.

My first teacher was perfect for me. I went to his house for instruction, where I enjoyed the company also of his wife, baby, and several large cats who occasionally felt the urge to add a note or two on the piano.

I was trained classically and it took me in the direction of a Music Education degree at a local private liberal arts college close by. Since animals were clearly not the way to go, I fell back on piano. It flowed nicely and seemed effortless, the transition from one extreme to the other...science to art.

Year one was fun, and I was musically getting my hands dirty. It was slightly more strict a schedule than I was used to, and I often found my way in and around work I needed to get done. Second year came and I had learned how to play the system until finally one teacher caught on.

Music Ed. majors were required to also take voice lessons, and I had been placed with the head of the vocal department at his request after my audition. It was year 2 when I was falling behind on my vocal requirements.

"I don't like to see you slacking like this." He said. "Take these four pieces and if you do not have them learned by your next lesson, you will fail it."

Four songs, 3 languages. French, Italian, English. I was in a nasty habit of severely overbooking myself socially and scholastically, leaving no time for practicing voice that week. Piano had also started to drift from my grasp as the college distractions took hold. So the night before my lesson, I found myself with 45 minutes to spare, took the music to a practice room, and learned all four.

The next day he exclaimed, "Well, I didn't think you could do it! I'm surprised."
I replied, "So they're decent?"
"Better than. Why?"
"I learned them last night...in 45 minutes."

He was a bit shocked. "Why are you a piano major?" "I don't know. It's just what I've done and know best." "Perhaps you should rethink that." That was a defining moment.

I went from Piano Ed. to Vocal Ed. and then realized there was no chance I ever wanted to teach in a public school. I was learning how to be responsible and do actual work at this point and opted for the more difficult road as a Vocal Performance Major. That year the school's big performance was going to be Le Nozze di Figaro and I was interested in finally doing a real opera. Dying for the role of Figaro (being a baritone) I auditioned for the role along with a good friend of mine. He got the role and I received the role of Il Conte, the Count. It was hard to know what I was getting myself into, because it was the first full opera I had performed and the longest role I had approached.

The rehearsals were often difficult and arduous, and I had a hard time getting into character. It was far more work than I was ready for. Finally, tech week it clicked. The character arrived, the director was relieved, and I found myself as the Count. The day before curtain, I reached the point where I couldn't sleep because the entire opera would run through my head when I closed my eyes. I was ready and it was about bloody time.

Act I had my entrance and I came on stage ready to conquer the world. I sang my brief Act I stint and exited. As I walked offstage into the stage right wing, it hit me. The biggest defining moment. I made my way, practically floating into the backstage hallway and said aloud to myself: "This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I finally found it."

At your service, Opera Dude

26. Male. Obsessed with classical music, specifically opera. This blog is the ongoing tale of a rare artform, and going from nothing to hopefully everything, in it.

lackluster profile

Last posts

Defining Moments

Archives - posts from the past

May 2007
Powered by Blogger |