2.26.2009

Three Good Things

Three good things happened tonight while I was at rehearsal:

  1. I received a voicemail message from the casting director booking me for the Massachusetts Lottery commercial.  Yay!  A subsequent call arrived from wardrobe, providing me with instruction on what to bring to tomorrow's fitting.
  2. The director assigned me "Ich folge dir gleichfalls" from J. S. Bach's Johannes Passion, a lovely little ditty I'll sing on March 15.  So, if you will be in the Boston area at that time, come and listen!
  3. I received an email about Fate Scores, indicating early good press.  See that photo there at the top of the article?  A good-looking photo, right?  Well, that's my dear friend Albert prominently featured, but that photo wouldn't exist if it weren't for me.  I took it!  Yay me! (Say, 77 Square: Movies: Blog: what about some credit, eh?) 

Now, all I've got to do is get rid of this nagging, wheezy cough I've picked up and I'll be golden. 

Pushing my way in.

Yesterday I had a callback for that Massachusetts Lottery spot I auditioned for. I must admit, I was shocked to receive one. However, I showed up yesterday, outfit on, headshot and resume in hand, ready for more miming.

Though I arrived on time, I actually sat around for 45 minutes before being called in, which gave me a chance to chat with friends in the waiting area and review the competition (most of whom I knew). As with other auditions, I was the only one that looked like me. Colleagues who auditioned before me came out of the audition room offering a smirk, a roll of the eyes or a shrug of the shoulders, indicating they too had that Who knows? feeling as had I after the first audition.

Going into the room, I knew the client was present and I had prepared myself to showcase the best car miming I possibly could. So, of course the first thing the client asked of the casting associate was, "Can she do the 'push" one?" The "push" one? What's the "push" one? Well, it turned out to be another spot I had not reviewed nor auditioned with the first time around. Briefly, the action was described to me and I then spent what seemed like ages pretending to be stuck at an imaginary door, pushing it. I pushed in all capacities. I pushed with my hands. I pushed with a shoulder. I pushed with my butt. I pushed with a leg. I sounded constipated on occasion. I feel fairly certain in saying I made some odd faces. There was an occasional chuckle from the client. When requested, I also did my car driving actions, even humming along with my imaginary radio. During all of this, I did my best to follow the direction as given. Then, like others, I left the room feeling not unlike a trained monkey and having no idea how I had done or how my actions had been received.

I resigned myself to the idea that I wouldn't get the gig and went on with my day. Then, just a few hours later, a casting associate called me to say I was the client's first choice and asked if I would agree to first refusal. Well, of course I did! I couldn't believe it! I was the client's first choice! I'm trying not to get too excited just yet because I haven't been officially booked. However, if and when it happens, I will be so very happy.

2.24.2009

Extra, extra!

In the world of fun news: a short film I worked on has been accepted to the Wisconsin Film FestivalFate Scores will be shown during the festival, which occurs 2-5 April 2009 in Madison, WI.  I was assistant director under my good friend and performance colleague Albert M. Chan

Founded in 1999, the Wisconsin Film Festival is the state's premier film festival. This four-day annual festival takes place each spring in ten downtown Madison theaters (all walkable, TYVM), presenting new American independent and world cinema (narratives, documentaries, shorts, experimental films), restored classics and (of course!) the work of Wisconsin filmmakers. There are more than 150 films shown over the course of the event and it draws nearly 30,000 people.  

Exciting!  I haven't got all the details yet, but when I do I'll certainly post them here.  This isn't the most well-known of festivals, obviously, but it is the first acceptance for my little movie and I like to think it could be the first of many. 

2.19.2009

Do we have a winner?

Yesterday I auditioned for yet another lottery commercial.  Those of you who know me know I've already racked up spots for the Maine and Vermont lotteries.  (I once auditioned for the Connecticut lottery but didn't get the spot).  This particular audition was for the Massachusetts lottery.  I think I've made it a goal to do a TV spot for every lottery in New England and I'd love to be able to add the Massachusetts feather to my lotto cap.

This particular spot was another one of those unusual ones: it had no dialogue, meaning the communication had to be all visual, physical action.  I was requested to arrive dressed in a "business casual" style.  So, I wore what I like to think of as business casual: a relaxed wool pant and collared blouse.  I looked as though I walked out of The Office.  Well, once I skimmed the description of the spot I was a bit concerned about my wardrobe choices: I was supposed to be driving a snazzy car like a convertible, or something.  Immediately I thought, Oh.  I don't look like I belong in a sharp-looking car.  What can I do?  Thankfully I had my sunglasses with me, so I popped those on and put up my hair in an attempt to disguise my carefully-planned outfit.

What I don't feel confident in is my car miming.  I don't feel confident in my miming, period.  I'm not Marcel Marceau.  I'm an actress.  I need a tangible item or object with which to interact.  I did a couple of takes with some direction before each one and mimed and reacted the best I could.  The woman behind the camera said, "Oh, I liked that one."  I hope she meant it.  I am really not sure how things went.  It can be so hard to tell with these types of auditions!  Oh well.  What's done is done.

2.18.2009

Indie Attempt

Yesterday evening I auditioned for an independent feature film.  I was looking forward to the audition because I enjoyed the sides that were provided in advance: the script seemed to be well conceived and the storyline appeared to be well edited.

Upon arrival, I found a friend of mine waiting to be called into the audition room.  She had been waiting for nearly 40 minutes beyond her audition call time.  My eyes grew wide upon hearing this, but tardy can be the way indie film auditions are conducted.   Eventually she was called in and before I knew it, it was my turn--but only after a wait of about 15 minutes.

I had been asked to prepare two characters, one of whom I indentified with in a variety of ways, and the other whom I loved for her extravagant ditziness.  The latter would be so fun to do but I'm fairly certain I won't be cast in that role, if for no other reason than my hair is not blonde.  In the audition room, the parties present were relaxed, fun and friendly.  I did a couple of takes for them and tried to address the points as directed.  Overall, I felt I was as sincere and truthful as I could be with the characters.  I wish them well on the casting of their project (and hope that I am in it)!

2.17.2009

Rolling with it

This past Friday I had an audition that was important to me for a variety of reasons.  A few weeks ago I had solicited for one of the time slots in the Boston Lyric Opera general auditions.  These are typically annual auditions at which those who are selected may showcase their wares for the listening panel while not being considered for a specific role or production.  Since this was to be my first formal singing audition in quite awhile, I wanted to do my best to have everything in order. 

After having been briefly sick, and after the performance of the Mozart, I worked to focus on the audition and presenting the best me possible.  I thought of bobsled drivers who take photos of competition tracks and their turns, and then mentally review the runs multiple times in the weeks leading up to the event so they have achieved a laser-like focus.  I made a list of my goals on a Post-it note and stuck it to my mirror, so I could read it each time I looked in or passed the mirror.  My most important goals were to have a good time and leave the audition room feeling as though I had given my best.  But, as can happen, there are many elements out of one's control in situations such as these (and especially in auditions!) and this one was no exception.

We were instructed to arrive no later than 15 minutes prior to our audition time slots, which I did.  I'd had a bang-up rehearsal in the practice room about 90 minutes prior, so I was feeling confident in my presentation of the characters and in the physical performance of the notes.  I met a lovely woman at the check-in desk and retrived the forms I needed to complete per her request.  Oh, crap!  I'd forgotten to type my repertoire list.  I knew from the audition materials received previously that a typed rep list was suggested, but I'd forgotten.  How silly of me!  No matter.  I could write in my selections for the day at the bottom of the one of the forms. 

There were three or four other individuals waiting to audition before me, and I knew a couple of them from the BLO production in the fall, so that put me at ease somewhat.  One thing I used to hate about singing auditions was hearing the people before me through the audition room door.  However, this time, I didn't seem to mind so much.  Perhaps this is due to maturation, or mental preparation, or knowing that this is a general audition.  Whatever. 

I stepped into a provided warm-up space (amazing, as they're hardly ever available) and checked to make sure everything was still in working order vocally.  When I came out, it was revealed that the tenor scheduled to sing after me ended up auditioning before me and was already singing.  I ended up being the last one to sing before lunch.  Hm.  Okay. 

Prior to stepping into the room, I had inquired if there was a chair available in the room.  "A chair?" came the incredulous inquiry.  Perhaps I had just sprouted a second head.  I deduced from this reaction that no one before me had used a chair.  The woman working the check-in desk volunteered the chair she had been using for the morning.  When my turn came I entered the room, chair in hand, and placed myself accordingly after handing the pianist my notebook.  One of the individuals on the panel observed I had brought my own prop.  I replied, "Yes, if that's alright with you." 

"What would you like to begin with?" I was asked.  I named the aria I wanted to start with, indicating that it was rather long and I thought it best to begin in the middle and go to the end. 

"Thank you for respecting our time." came the reply.  Honestly, I figured I was the last one before lunch, lunch was already late and they were probably hungry, so making my first selection brief might encourage them to request another piece if they so desired. 

Luck was not on my side.  The pianist seemed to acknowledge the notations I had indicated on the score and we began--at a too-slow tempo.  I tried to speed her up by singing ahead of her, but it didn't work: my first melisma was too slow and I ran out of air near the end.  This was after I accidentally stepped on my dress.  (Not that graceful, really.)  As we made the return to the A section of the aria, I felt I had things under control and I can say I feel confident I wrapped up well. 

"Thank you." came the response.  This is the universal commentary for: We don't need or want to hear any more.  You may leave, now.  I thanked the panel and departed with the chair and my music. 

I didn't feel I'd had a good time, nor had I done my best.  I wanted to give a kick-ass performance and that just didn't happen.  I did take away some good lessons, though, for my next audition. 

Lessons Learned:

  1. always remember to bring typed rep list
  2. when beginning with a lesser-known aria, consider bringing own pianist
  3. remember to pull up the dress so not to step on myself
  4. think karmic thoughts to avoid being scheduled immediately before lunch
  5. don't be outwardly shocked when a request to borrow a chair elicits ostensible confusion

2.15.2009

Allegro?

A week ago I sang the Allegro from Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate as part of one of the services at Old South Church.  After having had a brief stint with Crud and not having sung the four days immediately preceding, I was quite pleased with my performance and looking forward to my big audition later in the week.

While I feel my performance wasn't perfect (some of the onsets were not clean), after four days of not singing and hardly talking I thought the outcome was adequate and could not have been much better given the circumstances.  There was a low-quality audio version of the performance available at the Old South web site that I listened to as part of my preparation for the big audition so I could recall how I felt during this performance  The recording is here if you want to listen as well, but place the slider approximately here to find the Allegro:


(Keep in mind this mp3 is optimized for podcasting and voice, and not music; you may have to turn up the volume.)

Well, I think I'll need to be content with this performance because I was not happy with my performance at the big audition.  But that is another blog post.

2.11.2009

Of Mind and Memory

It's amazing to witness the way the mind and memory operate. I was riding the bus this afternoon when suddenly, for no apparent reason and with no obvious cue (perhaps it's all this focusing on performance I've been doing), I began to recall concerts I had participated in as an undergraduate student--concerts I have not thought about in some time.

Internationally-renowned operatic soprano Gilda Cruz-Romo was a faculty member who coordinated concerts each semester in which students could sign up to present one aria in order to obtain public performance experience. She would decide the order of performance and frequently the concerts were two hours (or more!) in length. I made it a point to participate in every one I could and I think I still have the programs to prove it.

I remember the first conversation I had with her. To participate in these concerts, one had to make an appointment and visit her in her studio to sign a contract agreeing to perform and abide by the guidelines she outlined. There were always two copies of the contract that both she and the potential performer would sign: one for the student to keep and the other for her to hold onto as producer. The purpose of the contract? To emphasize the importance of following through on one's professional commitments. If I recall correctly, there was even a requirement stipulating that at least one week's notice had to be given should one need to cancel.

One line of that first exchange with her is seared into my memory: "Oh, bebita!," she exclaimed in her elegantly operatic Hispanic accent. "If I had eyelashes like yours, I would not have to wear these!", she said, referring to her own false lashes. She exuded this marvelously larger-than-life persona in everything she did and I can see now the appeal for much more learnèd students than I was at the time to want to study with her and bask in that fabulousness.

I can say now, unequivocally, that as shy as I was in her presence, I would not trade those interactions or performance experiences for anything. Part of me is hoping I still have those signed contracts, too.

2.10.2009

What I Should be Doing

Tonight I should be putting my music in order in preparation for the upcoming audition.  I should be making any necessary notations for the collaborative pianist.  I should be working on my mental strategy.  I should be washing my hair.  I'm not.  I'm tired.  I'm being a vegetable.  I think sleep is in order.  While procrastination is not my typical modus operandi, I must admit that sometimes a calming respite is necessary. 

2.07.2009

Call me Drug Dealer

Yesterday I auditioned for another industrial video.  It may seem as though I audition for many an industrial video and I do, in a certain sense.  Other parts of the industry are running on the slow side currently and industrial videos are a relatively consistent form of employ, though perhaps not providing the most dynamic of characters.

My character this time was a pitchwoman for a pharmaceutical company conversing with a medical professional about the status of a (fictional?) drug in current trials.  Sound dry?  It was, kind of.  My scene partner was most fun, though.  The client, who was in the room, was polite if reserved and the CD ran an excellently ahead-of-schedule ship. 

I realized--after the fact--that I inadvertently gave diabetes to the patients in discussion.  One of my lines mentioned decreasing blood glucose levels, but in reflecting on my two takes, I realized that in the second take I had substituted the word "increase" for "decrease".  Oh well!  I can only hope the shade of alluring huskiness still present in my voice swayed the client when it came to my ability to sell this medical product--real or otherwise.

2.05.2009

Rest is Best

It is undeniable.  After a few observations about the state of my throat, I can say with certainty that I have Attack of the Crud.  My voice sounds not unlike a frog. 

The timing of this mucosal blitz is rather inconvenient, as I have an audition tomorrow, I will be singing selections from Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate on Sunday, and I have a big audition coming up.  So, to combat this untimely assailant, I'm opting for complete vocal rest today along with an assortment of the following:

  • hot tea
  • steaming
  • gargling
  • napping
  • water
  • vitamin C

My outlook is positive and my fingers are crossed that I can knock this off in a day, or so.  Wish me luck, please.  I really need it. 

2.04.2009

This is an award-winning blog!

Yes, it's true folks.  This is an award-winning blog. With many thanks to French horn-playing blogger Bruce Hembd, this blog is the happy recipient of the mysteriously fabulous Premio Dardos Award!  The Premio Dardos Award aims to acknowledge the values that every blogger shows in their efforts to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day. This hallmark was created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers and as a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.  Personally, I like the fact that the award title can be abbreviated PDA.  (Public display of affection?  Anyone?)

The rules for acceptance and granting of the award are as follows:

1.  Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2.  Pass the award to at least 5 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award. 

For my five choices I have chosen blogs that relate to my fields of employ: classical singing, music, voice over, acting and, well, fashion.  (I know, I'm no fashion model.  But I do do print work and I have a great appreciation for the artistic in the everyday garment.)  These blogs are not only of interest to me but well-designed.  (I have a penchant for clean design.)  The winners are:

Opera Chic: This opera-loving American keeps us all in-the-know when it comes to things gossipy and operatic. (Not to mention that my friend and former studio-mate Hanan Alattar is featured in this entry's image.)

The Collaborative Piano Blog: While focused on things collaborative-y and piano-y, Chris Foley doesn't limit himself to those items solely percussive in nature.  This well-connected Canadian always posts something musically interesting.  Plus he's got a gaggle of links in the sidebar. 

Emma Clarke: This world-famous voice blogs about her vocal escapades behind the mic with a dash of wit and a touch of snappy sarcasm.  (She hasn't updated in a few months, but I'm hoping this entry will entice her to write yet again.)

David August: While bare on the image front, David August keeps all those interested in the LA and Chicago acting scenes succinctly and frequently informed about acting information, news and resources that help one to be an actor in these areas. 

The Sartorialist: Quite on the up-and-up, this once stay-at-home dad presents snaps of everyday fashion captured on the world's streets whilst globe-trotting as a fashion photog.  I like to think he inspires the dapper dresser in each of us.

Congrats to these fine bloggers!  I am so pleased to have been given the opportunity to grant them this award.

2.02.2009

One For the Books

A few weeks ago, I indicated that I had resumed active solication of singing auditions.  Well, it seems one of those has come to pass.  I don't want to say for what I will be auditioning for fear of jinxing it, but I can say I was shocked to be contacted and I am nervously excited in my preparations.  Now I need to calm down, focus, practice and have a good time.