Monday, June 21, 2010

O mio babbino caro

In all my years of singing (ok, really only 5 years), I have been able to avoid learning cliche soprano arias.  This is due to my Professor's interest in obscure and underperformed-- yet quality music, and also to the interesting color in my sound.  An example of some of the stuff that I've been singing:

  • Vocal Cantata by Carissimi:  "Apritevi, Inferni"
  • Bach's "Gelobet sei der Herr" from Trinitatisfest
  • Aaron Copland's "As It Fell upon a Day" 

Example of what normal sopranos learn:
  • "Deh vieni non tardar" from Mozart's Le Nozze de Figaro
  • "Ave Maria" by Schubert
  • "Batti, batti" from Mozart's Don Giovanni

Well, you get it.  But now I've come to the point of fach identification.  No, I didn't misspell a curse word.  Fach is a German word for voice classification.  For full explanation check out this link.  Basically, I'm a light lyric soprano.  Currently, more on the soubrette side.  Under this classification I'll be singing Ă„nnchen's aria "Kommt ein schlanker Burch gegangen," which fits beautifully in my voice, Adele's Laughing Song (performed that one in Austria), and most unfortunately, Lauretta's "O mio babbino caro."

I've been able to go my whole singing career so far without learning the most overdone soprano aria of all time, but here I am, needing it.  And not just needing it, apparently it sounds great in my voice. *As I roll my eyes* Although the aria is gorgeous, it has been performed by everyone, great and small, and with that comes expectations.  The aria is certainly not hard, but one is expected to linger gracefully on the high A's, and blissfully glissando down.  That's not me.  Give the the speedy Bach and Handel melismas, I'll tear them up.  But the Diva moment.  We live and die by the Diva moment. Blech.

To lighten the mood, here's a shot from Moony's photoshoot, and further evidence that life is hard:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Macro Mosaics

I spent the afternoon eating a large lunch and photographing wonderful mosaic artwork, both by Gainesville's Lane Pritchard.  This is a little something to help her sell her artwork, which is beautiful.

To see more, click here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blueberry Cream Muffins

I made by first Blueberry muffins from scratch last night.  It called for 24 muffins, but only having a 6 cup muffin pan and a 24 cup mini-muffin pan, I ended up with close to 40 muffins and mini-muffins alike.  I'm still giving them away today.

Blueberry Cream Muffins:

4 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sour cream
2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
In large bowl beat eggs, gradually add sugar while beating. Continue beating while slowly pouring in oil. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda.
Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with sour cream. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

I opted for a healthier option.  I used half AP Flour and half Whole Wheat flour.
I also used half sour cream, half organic low-fat vanilla yogurt.
I used 1 cup of white sugar (instead of 2) and half cup of brown sugar.
I just threw all of the ingredients into the stand mixer, saving flour for last.  It turned out a little over-mixed, but ok.  And super easy work for me.

I hear you can freeze muffins well, which I may well have to do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Found in the Sand

I'm still working on my pictures from recent vacation.  
Taking sunset picture after sunset picture became boring to me, so I shifted my focus to the sand and the myriad of creatures it had to offer.  

Never had I stooped so low and looked so silly as when I was taking these pictures.
My butt got wet from waves several times, but not my camera!

From top left:
1- one of those living seaweed-ish things that wash up occasionally.
2- a dead crab
3- mini "shark-eye" shell
4- brittle star in tide pools
5- coquinas with foot extended
6- Corona bottle cap
7- Sand piper looking for food
8- Mr. crab (juvenile crab species)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

how does your garden grow?

My boyfriend and I harvested some of our herb garden a couple of days ago, which contained two basil plants, a flat leaf parsley, and a cilantro plant.  We lost the cilantro recently to a vicious summer thunderstorm, but the basil and parsley pulled through with flying colors!

A majority of the fresh herbs went to infusing some olive oil, along with some fresh garlic and peppercorns.  We dried the rest.  Some of the dried basil was even used this morning to top an extremely delicious frittata.

Please disregard the bug on the basil plant...

RIP cilantro.  At least we got to use you for some shrimp tacos.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Messiah's "He Shall Feed His Flock"

"He shall feed His flock like a shepherd,
and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, with His arm,

and carry them in His bosom, and gently those that are with young.

Come unto Him all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden,
and He will give you rest.

Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him,
for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest,

and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

I have been asked to sing an introit this Sunday at Holy Trinity Episcopal.  I had mentioned to my director, the illustrious Dr. John T. Lowe, Jr., that I had been working on some Messiah arias, and lo and behold!- one popped up in the suggestion list.

For starters: G. F. Handel's Messiah (1741) is the most popular oratorio in history (my opinion, not fact, but probably).  It was written in the height of oratorio compositions.  The Catholic Church banned secular operas during Lent, so the next best thing, musical drama without staging and costumes and about a sacred subject, voila! Oratorio!  This one uses scripture to outline the life of Christ.  Just think Hallelujah Chorus, and you'll be there.

My selection is in the first part (out of three).  It begins with a recitative "Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened..."  The first part of the aria, "He Shall Feed His Flock," was originally written for a mezzo-soprano, but as in most Messiah arias, there are alternate keys written for different performers.  The subsequent part of the aria, "Come unto Him," is truly written for soprano.

This aria is a tricky little thing.  It starts from a high F and descends, gracefully, down the scale and back up again.  It is written in 12/8, which means that you get the feeling of triplets, but still count to four.  The difficulty with singing in English is that the audience must understand every word of the diction in their native language.  Also, there are not a lot of pure vowels in English, so there is a constant battle of placement and brightness v. darkness.  Small change.  The problem is the repetitiveness of the text and melody, which leads to boredom.  So, to embellish or not to embellish?  The style certainly lends itself to embellishment (interpolating notes in the melody), but how much is appropriate? Hmmmm. Something for me to experiment with in practice today.

Overall, it's a quite graceful aria.  Pleasant in every way.  As long as I don't screw it up!

For more music at Holy Trinity, click here.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Chruch