Ok, well this has been one of the greatest days in my short career. If it wasn't the best, it is only second to when I won NATS last November.
It started out with an early breakfast followed by incessant calls to Delta, as I was still trying to get my luggage back. I finally got it at 2:30, so that was good. But, after breakfast I quickly went to the practice rooms to get some singing in before my lesson with French great Audry St. Gil. One funny thing about my practice room was that it was probably the most run down practice room there, and maybe in all of New York City. There was even a pile of animal poop of some kind...I would say medium dog size, but the New York City practice rooms are iffy at best. Anyway, my lesson went great. I sang "Questa o quella" from Rigoletto by Verdi in my lesson. It is my highest and most demanding piece. I rarely do it, unless it is requested. But Audry St. Gil is a genious. She had me sing the piece almost oppositely of what I had originally sang it. She changed it so much, that it has a whole new character and a huge power to it (something we try not to do pedagogically, but is very useful theatrically). One thing she said that came across real well, was that when I gave it my all, she said, "look right here, I actually have goose bumps!"
The definite highlight was the Audition Recital with the Vice President of Columbia Artist Management - one of the very best agents in all the world. Just so you know how an audition goes, I got to pick one song to sing and he picked the second one. An Audition Recital means that it was an audition in a recital setting so all the participants and some of the faculty were there.
I sang "Questa o quella" again, only this time in front of everyone. I was second to last, so I had to follow a lot of very talented singers. But, I sang it in this new way, with potent lyricism and bold high notes. Singing is very much like a sport and we have to plan and strategize the same way. One of my strategies was to hold the high notes as long as I could and release strongly as to give the effect that it was very difficult. I can and prefer to sing it as easy as I can, but people do not feel connected to it, so I have to give the impression that my easy singing is difficult, give the audience something to anticipate and be anxious for. Who wants to hear the tenor sing all the high notes like it's nothing, they cheer for their favorites to do the hardest thing they can and pray that they make it through, and then the audience is left with a feeling of victory. That's what I went in with, and at the very end of the piece, there is a very high note (b flat) and I held it for maybe 4 times longer than I normally would, and I felt that I had even more so I did an embellished turn that leads to an (a flat) and held that until I had no more breath. It is even more impressive because the piano does not play at this part, so I'm just screaming away. Then I sang the final measure and got a great ovation with whistling and hollering. It was awesome!
Then he picked "Dies Bildniss", the same piece that I sang yesterday, only this time I sang with a similar musicality idea, so it was actually vastly different than yesterday. The end of this piece is actually very hard and I just barked it out for all it's worth. I got the same ovation the second time. Amazing! Today was easily the best I have ever sang. Then the Vice President of CAMI gave me some advice on repertoire and roles. He took me aside afterward, and I had already spoken to him for half an hour earlier in the day before he heard me sing, but this time he asked me what my plans are for the future. I told him that I was wanting to go on to the doctoral level and also do Apprentice Programs. He told me that I need to be doing the best apprentice programs like the Metropolitan Opera YAP and Santa Fe YAP. And, sorry internet world, I will leave it at that, so I don't jeopardize anything. But, I was so pleased with his response and interest in me and the reactions of all the musicians there, it meant so much.
Two responses I liked in particular. One was in response to my near ecstasy on my face at the end of the second aria (I was actually about ready to laugh, because I was so happy with how it went) but they said that they knew no one else knew you wanted to laugh but they loved my "victory laugh". Second was from the Vice Pres. of CAMI when he said that my musicality was impeccable with both pieces and he really enjoyed living that moment with me. That meant so much, and that is why we musicians do what we do.
Tomorrow's Schedule: Sunday 6-14
Lesson with Maestro John Di Costanzo - Opera Producer - 10am
Lesson with Joan Krueger - Cecillia Bartolli's Vocal Coach, NYU faculty - 11:20
"The Singer's Body" seminar - 1:30-5:30
Mock American and European Apprentice Program Auditions and Stage Techniques - 6:45-9:30