Okay, nothing THAT exciting has happened since my last post, but starting to write this morning made me think of this:
Actually, it’s been a pretty stressful few days, what with epic failures by UPS (who couldn’t seem to understand that “Chambre 509” IS the apartment number on the package I was sent) and Chase (who, despite my having contacted them several times, put a hold on my debit card because they still don’t know that I’m in Europe. Though, oddly enough, the charges they were concerned about were both under five dollars–I’m surprised they didn’t make a fuss about the printer I bought, or the theater ticket…oh well), not to mention delays on the RER due to construction. Last night after my theater class I waited for the train for about fifteen minutes, then got up, left the station, and walked ten minutes back the other direction to get on the bus. Which arrived three minutes later, exactly on schedule.
But I’ll give you some highlights of this week so far, à la Patrick Dennis.
1. I’ve realized that it is, it is a glorious thing to be under 26 in Paris. There are, by my latest count, about 84,000 theater companies, opera houses and concert spaces in this city, and the vast majority of them offer a tarif jeune. Sometimes it’s under 26, sometimes under 28, or even under 30–but it doesn’t matter, because I always qualify! This week I’ve stumbled across four or five exciting things to see and procured hilariously cheap tickets to most of them. Doubtless I’ll be reviewing things as I see them, but I have tickets for a concert of Yiddish and French chansons on Saturday night (at the Bibliothèque Medem, which is the Yiddish cultural center of Paris), Le tour de l’écrou (The Turn of the Screw–the opera by Benjamin Britten) on Sunday, L’Opéra de Quat’Sous (Threepenny Opera) next Thursday, and Les Noces de Figaro on October 30th.
The funniest thing is that I keep stumbling across advertisements for these things–I’m not seeking them out! The Turn of the Screw and Figaro I saw posters for in shop windows (for Figaro I had actually gotten off at the wrong métro stop on the way to the library and was trying to find my way to Rue de la Bourdonnais when I saw the poster–quelle chance!) and for Threepenny, the advertisement was in the Métro, underground! And the Yiddish concert I discovered on my quest to find a public music library…
2. …which happens to be located on Rue de Vézelay, wayyyyyy up north by Parc Monceau. It’s so far away that Montmartre is on the way BACK. Anyway, my next door neighbor Heather (Baroque and Broke) is an organist, and she asked me if I’d be interested in singing something with her and her boyfriend (a flutist) at a concert in November, hosted by her conservatory. Which just happens to be in Versailles. Yes, THAT Versailles. So I was not only interested, but thrilled. (When I had lunch with Kara and her friends, they asked what I was doing in Paris, and my answer was more or less, “Singing for anyone who will listen.” So that’s another part of it.) They pretty much gave me free rein on repertoire, so I picked out a couple of Bach arias that I really ought to have in my repertoire that happen to have flute solos, and trekked all the way up to Rue de Vézelay for copies. There was probably an easier way, but the Bibliothèque de Musique Gustav Mahler (BMGM!) was just cooler. Plus I got to make copies out of the Bärenreiter editions of the St. John and St. Matthew Passions, as well as Cantata 210 which doesn’t seem to exist anywhere else. The copies are exorbitantly expensive, and it’s a pay-to-use library, but it has an excellent collection. And it feels kind of special because people like Claudio Abbado, Luciano Berio and Jessye Norman are on the artistic board of directors.
3. On Monday I was having a terrible, awful, no good, very bad day (thanks, UPS!), but a terrific voice lesson saved it from being a total wash. It’s amazing what a week of practicing while staring at your mouth in the mirror can do. Also amazing that I made it out of undergrad without really learning how to practice, and without a specific regimen of vocalises (exercises, mostly scales and arpeggios) to do every day. Madame asked me to look at “Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen,” which sounds funny but is actually a really sweet little aria from Der Freischütz, which also sounds funny but is actually a completely ridiculous German opera with some colossally good music.
Anyway, this is one of the few arias for my voice type that I have never even contemplated learning before. So I threw it together last week (and practiced it with my Monoprix hand mirror!) and brought it to my voice lesson on Monday. And you know what? There was almost nothing wrong with it. After last week’s minor fiasco (Madame looked at me and said, “But you have to actually DO what I’m telling you to do!”–but at the end of it she gave me a kiss, so I knew we were all right), it felt amazing to really show what I’m capable of with hard work and brain power.
4. I’m getting paid to sing on Saturday! My organist friend John (from the concert with the hymns, back in September) asked me if I was available to sing at a funeral service. I am nearly always available, as it turns out. We’re performing “Bist du bei mir” (for a few hundred years attributed to Bach, but actually written by…er, somebody else?) and “Panis angelicus” (César Franck). John has also proposed a possible project to me for a little later this year–a chamber piece by Joseph-Hector Fiocco for soprano, three cellos and organ. Again, not so much interested as thrilled–not to mention tickled pink to be asked!
5. I’ve booked tickets for a trip to Belgium! From October 26th to October 28th (arriving in the morning and leaving in the evening), I will be in Brussels. I’m also looking into a day trip to Bruges on the 27th, because of this:
Anyway, more on Belgium after it happens.
And that’s about it for the moment! Wow, I wrote slightly more than I had expected to. I never was good at being concise.