Category Archives: Bel canto opera

Voices in ‘Siege’ Set Glimmerglass Stage Spinning reviewThe Siege of Calais presented by Glimmerglass Festival
Live performance: Monday, July 24, 1:30 p.m.
Alice Busch Opera Theater, Cooperstown, New York
Music: Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto: Salvadore Cammarano
3.5 out of 5.0 stars



The Glimmerglass Festival’s 2017 production of the American premiere of Donizetti’s “The Siege of Calais.” Photo: Carrington Spires/The Glimmerglass Festival

This summer Glimmerglass Festival took on a seldom-seen Donizetti work, The Siege of Calais. To their credit, the production dramatically underscored the centuries’ old adage: “War is Hell,” famously attributed to General Sherman during the U.S. Civil War. How many times has that sentiment been uttered by not-so-famous conquerors and conquests alike? Many of us are thankfully spared the scope of war’s true horrors.

The Festival’s Calais reminds us the devastation caused by war is as real today as when that siege occurred on the port city on the Northern coast of France during 14th century. Director Francesca Zambello sought to connect the crisis in medieval Calais to war-torn Syria in this century. A blockade ordered by Edward III resulted in besieged civilians lived in abject agony with no fresh food or water–some of who resisted, many of whom had no hope. Her association was apt and the message received.

“The Siege of Calais” | Photo: Carrington Spires/The Glimmerglass Festival

The functionality of the spinning set mirrored the vicious cycle that ensnares those living in war-torn towns and cities, past and present. A towering ruin slowly whirled around to reveal the bombed-out shell of a building, just different faces of the structure depending on the degree of rotation. Each turn showed the audience facets of a town where no one would have chosen to live but who lived there just the same.

The leading roles in this work were both sung by women, soprano Leah Crocetto and mezzo Aleks Romano, with Romano singing a trouser role. During the show talk, the presenter said the Donizetti, who wrote many more operas besides the ones most people know, always wrote to the talent pool available and that no tenors impressed him at the time. For that reason, he made the male lead a mezzo. The show is also not a prima donna-centric work–no opening aria signalling, “Hey, operagoers. I’m the reason for attending this show. Here’s my opening aria.” That choice made it unpopular and almost uncastable.

So Calais did not follow the expected formula of the time to attract the most highly touted sopranos in Donizetti’s day, but this production certainly featured a classically talented prima donna in Crocetto.

Leah Crocetto as Eleanora in The Glimmerglass Festival’s 2017 production of the American premiere of Donizetti’s “The Siege of Calais.” Photo: Carrington Spires/The Glimmerglass Festival

The garbage-strewn stage stands at odds with a bel canto style opera. It is Crocetto’s powerful and pure soprano voice that ushers in the bel canto, the beautiful singing, the opera requires. Her performance was rich and nuanced. While evidencing genuine despair, frustration, loss, and other strong emotions, her technique never faltered.

Aleks Romano as Aurelio, Rock Lasky as Filippo, and Leah Crocetto as Eleonora in The Glimmerglass Festival’s 2017 production of the American premiere of Donizetti’s “The Siege of Calais.” Photo: Karli Cadel/The Glimmerglass Festival

Cast as wife and husband, together she and Romano sang beautifully and believably all the music Donizetti created for two complementary women’s voices.

Aleks Romano as Aurelio in The Glimmerglass Festival’s 2017 production of the American premiere of Donizetti’s “The Siege of Calais.” Photo: Carrington Spires/The Glimmerglass Festival

A trouser role in a dramatic opera is a devilishy difficult role to play just right. As Aurelio, Romano had the appropriate amount of swagger and male physicality to suspend our disbelief that these two characters deeply loved one another as man and wife. Her voice was a strong and facile instrument, which sounded at its most beautiful when paired with Crocetto’s.

Young Artist Adrian Timpau delivered an outstanding turn as Aurelio’s father, Eustachio de Saint Pierre, mayor of Calais. He sang the role with gravity and sensitivity, never losing his conviction, despite the odds of saving his town mounting with each day his war-torn city is under siege.

Adrian Timpau as Eustachio de Saint-Pierre in The Glimmerglass Festival’s 2017 production of the American premiere of Donizetti’s “The Siege of Calais.” Photo: Karli Cadel/The Glimmerglass

Under Maestro Joseph Colaneri’s baton, the orchestra is in fine and varied form–brassy and militaristic, and at other times, pensive and atmospheric, matching the emotions on stage.

In this piece, Donizetti opted for more ensemble numbers than arias, and all rang gloriously throughout the house. After all, resistance makes for impassioned singing and captivating choruses.

In sum, directorial vision was sound, the staging and lighting were arresting, and the voices soared. So, why 3.5 out of 5.0 stars? Sometimes, pieces fade in the repertoire because they should fade, because they are flawed. They lack excitement, memorable music, and sufficient onstage action.

A convention hailing back to the Ancient Greeks of never showing audience violence onstage, but rather, speaking of it once the deadly deed has been done, handicaps theatrical works presented in the 21st century. It may have been a convention honored by Donizetti, but it is far less appreciated by today’s audiences, sorry to say.

When the piece premiered in 1836, it included a lengthy ballet–a device Donizetti hoped would provide its entré to the Paris Opera. Thankfully Glimmerglass jetéd his ballet scene. If this opera tended to be dull without a ballet, imagine the piece with one!

It was a noble intention to breathe new life into this rarely done work. Sometimes good intentions just aren’t enough.

* * *

Plenty of Glimmerglass Festival remains through August 22. See the Festival Calendar for all the events that remain this season.

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Filed under Bel canto opera, Festival Opera, Italian opera, North American Opera, Regional opera, Reviews, seldom heard works, sopranos, young artists programs

All About Brenda: Wisconsin coloratura captures Phila’s heart review: Tancredi presented by Opera Philadelphia
Live performance: Friday, February 10, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
Venue: The Academy of Music, Philadelphia
Music’: Gioachini Rossini
Gaetano Rossi
4.0 out of 5.0 stars




 Tancredi opened February 10 with Stephanie Blythe in the title role.

Tancredi opened February 10 with Stephanie Blythe in the title role (but another woman stole the show). | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

What could have been sleepy homage to opera seria was instead transformed into a moving, vital production at the Academy of Music last Friday evening. Tancredi captured loads of advance media attention and cachet for Opera Phila, who attracted Metropolitan Opera star Stephanie Blythe to the City of Brotherly Love. Ultimately, Opera Phila’s reproduction will remembered for the virtuoso vocal performance of coloratura soprano Brenda Rae as the lovelorn Amenaide.

Yes, seeing Blythe on the Academy of Music stage was a gift to me and all assembled. Yes, the directorial execution, both beautiful and controlled, by Emilio Sagi was impressive. Yes, Corrado Rovaris, who can conduct anything, has extraordinary facility with the bel canto canon.

But simply put, once the stage fog settled, this production of Tancredi was all about Brenda.

Brenda Rae delivers a show-stealing turn in Opera Phila's Tancredi

Brenda Rae delivers a show-stealing turn in Opera Phila’s Tancredi. | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

Tancredi is hardly the most dynamic of operas and is admittedly flawed–mostly static and plodding in pace. It can’t be the opera on which Rossini wanted to hang his Bombetta–too simple in plot, too staid in tone. The storyline proves barely palatable to progressive women and men in our modern era. Tancredi is a tale extracted from the Middle ages, when the Byzantine Empire was under constant threat of attack from the Saracens. Amenaide is wrongly condemned to death as a traitor without any process, let alone due process. Though her honor is defended by her secret suitor Tancredi, essentially she had no voice, no rights, and no recourse, having been stripped of her stature and dignity without any proof of her treason. Scary? You betcha. Laughably archaic tenets? Don’t we wish!

 At their wedding, Orbazzano (Daniel Mobbs) accuses Amenaide (Brenda Rae) of being a traitor.

At their wedding, Orbazzano (Daniel Mobbs) accuses Amenaide (Brenda Rae) of being a traitor. | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

So, the feudal-era mores undergirding the story are tough to stomach despite the setting being updated to the 20th century. In spite of the inherent shortcomings in the work, Tancredi succeeds on the Academy of Music stage as a showcase for superb vocal artistry from a winning cast and chorus: tenor Michele Angelini as Argirio, bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs as Orbazzano, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe singing the title role, and the powerful and versatile Opera Phila Chorus.

But most especially because of Brenda Rae, whose meltingly lovely tone, stunning vocal range, and vocal agility spurred the audience to dozens of “bravas” after aria, each more taxing than the last. Bring this talented performer back to Opera Phila in a stronger show, pretty please.


Amenaide (Brenda Rae) is released from her chains after Tancredi comes to her defense. | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

In the title role of Tancredi, the power of Blythe’s voice sent it right up to the rafters. However, her vocal runs were not as easily accomplished especially when compared to Rae’s facility with Rossini. While it may have been Blythe’s wish fulfillment to play a trouser role with such heft and dimension to it, and it was commendable for Opera Phila to give her the chance to realize the title role in a fully staged production, the reality of singing Tancredi proved a less than perfect picture. Certainly, the voicings in Rae and Blythe’s duetti succeeded, with Rossini pairing soprano and mezzo for optimum effect. But this could not have been the versatile Blythe’s finest turn on stage of late. A solid turn, but not a stellar one.


Tancredi (Stephanie Blythe) and his family have been stripped of their estates and inheritances and banished from their homeland. | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

The patriarchs, despite their provinciality and geopolitical shortcomings, were both a vocal triumph. Both Angelini and Mobbs came to their roles vocally well-equipped for the demands of bel canto. However, the fact that two men were deciding the fate of a powerless woman was not lost on the audience.  One couple at intermission couldn’t help but compare Amenaide’s tribunal to a much-publicized political tableau of six white men deciding women’s reproductive rights. (Though likely an unintended consequence, perhaps thanks are due to Opera Phila for reminding us how deadly the world can be when women have no voice.) More to the point of this exercise, their pairings with Blythe and Rae made for rich and complex trios and quartets.


Orbazzano (Daniel Mobbs) negotiates a truce with his rival Argirio (Michele Angelini), with whom he has been at war for many years. | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

While the director chose not to set the work in the medieval period, citing cost-savings, his choice turned out to be an aesthetically rich. The set combined grandeur with enough flexibility to create the various change in stage sets to support the plot, sweeping and subtly turning back and forth to create fresh staging areas. Sagi and his design principals’ (sets by Daniel Bianco and lighting by Eduardo Bravo) seamless mastery made the reproduction as successful as it could be.


Tancredi (Stephanie Blythe) dies in the arms of Amenaide (Brenda Rae). | Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia

It may be unfair to have enormous expectations of an opera star like Blythe and few of an up-and-coming soprano like Rae by comparison, and to allow those expectations to guide this review. But that is the beauty and the treachery evident in live performance and reviews by sentimental human critics.

In the final analysis, Tancredi is a solid presentation of a seldom-seen show and deserves to be seen for Rae’s breakout performance, everyone’s vocal calisthenics, beautifully controlled conducting, and clean and sexy staging. The show continues through February 19. More information is available at the Opera Phila website.

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Filed under Bel canto opera, Classic Opera, Reviews, seldom heard works, sopranos

two top contemporary tenors!

One of my most popular posts on “Operatoonity” is called Today’s Top Tenors, a somewhat informal and exhaustive listing of purportedly the best tenors performing in the greatest houses in the world today. I created the list since I couldn’t find one on the Internet that was anywhere near up to date.

Since I posted it almost 18 months ago, “Today’s Top Tenors” has had more than 23,000 visits. And it attracts a lot of commenters as well, who are very well behaved, most of the time.

My latest commenter, who was in fact polite, nonetheless lamented in essence that he thinks the Golden Age of Tenors is behind us. And while he is certainly entitled to his opinion, which I am happy to post, I wanted him to know that he need lament no more.

I’m here, dear readers, with glad tidings of great joy. Ring out the opera bells! The Golden Age of Tenors is actually ahead of us–for decades to come.

And here’s two golden reasons why: David Lomelí and René Barbera. 

David Lomelí, Operalia winner, 2006

René Barbera, 2011 Operalia winner

Both young men (and I DO mean young) are past winners of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, an international opera competition for rising stars, both were featured here on Operatoonity (David and René), and (drumroll, please) both were just profiled in Opera News’ Sound Bites in the past year:

Click here for David’s Sound Bites profile.

Click here for René’s Sound Bites profile.

I haven’t yet had the privilege of seeing René perform in person, but I have watched every videotaped performance of his available, including his winning performance of “Ah Mes Amis” from The Daughter of the Regiment during the Operalia competition.

Here is René’s winning performance captured on YouTube  below, where he absolutely lasers all those top C’s. I can’t imagine Donizetti himself wasn’t smiling at this performance, never thinking any tenor would someday hit those notes straight on from the top rather scooping up to them in a yodel. I can’t help myself. I find myself clapping with joy every time I listen, as if I were in that Operalia audience, too.

YouTube Preview Image


In 2010, I had the extraordinary privilege of seeing David Lomelí starring in The Elixir of Love at New York City Opera, Lincoln Center.  He was absolutely captivating in the role of Nemorino, skewering all of our hearts with his sheer artistry and abundant energy. He leaves everything on stage when he performs. He doesn’t know the meaning of marking a performance. He stopped the show with “Una furtiva lagrima”–literally. The audience applauded for at least 3o seconds during a matinee! You can read more about what I thought of David’s performance at my Bachtrack review of Elixir.

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite YouTube recordings of David singing “Nessun Dorma”:

YouTube Preview Image

So, for the kindly commenter yearning for the Golden Age of Tenors, yearn no more, my friend.

A new age is just beginning. Oh, and a new list.



Filed under 21st Century Opera, artists, Bel canto opera, opera competitions, tenors, Uncategorized

soprano Rochelle Hart: following her heart back to the opera stage

Soprano Rochelle Hart

Meet Rochelle Hart, a self-described “slightly grumpy, bel canto singing Soprano. Yank ex-pat &  failed Roman archaeologist who loves wine, food, shoes, dogs, sleeping late, and drinking too much coffee.”

Apart from the fact that I’m not an ex-patriated American nor do I have a doctoral degree in archeology, she and I have tons in common. Okay, I’m not a bel canto singer either, but as far as loving wine, food, shoes, dogs, and drinking too much coffee, I’m there. Rochelle and I could be, well, sisters — separated by a pond.

She would be the talented, overachieving younger sister (while I’m the plain, dull, older sister with far fewer talents.)

One of the wonderful things about Rochelle is that she doesn’t hold my dearth of talents against me personally. In fact, she reached out to me on Twitter because she loves to talk about opera, and I guess I can be pretty noisy at times Tweeting, ReTweeting, etc.

Within a short time, Rochelle became a loyal  Tweep though I didn’t know her really well, just well enough to know she was an exceptional person–intelligent, selfless, talented. Have I mentioned we have the same favorite aria? Which aria is that, you ask? Read on . . .

She has a fascinating life story about following her heart back to the world of opera that captured her imagination as a child that she’s sharing with Operatoonity readers. I’m telling you right now, you’ll want to catch every word of this interview that proves you can “go home” again with hard work and focus.

So nice to have you on Operatoonity, Rochelle. Can you tell me a little about your childhood? How did you grow up and how did it affect your decision to sing opera?
I grew up in Portland, Oregon. It was (I’m sure it still is!!) a very creative town with lots of opportunities to get involved in theatre and music of all genres. The Portland Opera is great. My mum used to get matinee and dress rehearsal tickets and take me as a kid. I remember my first opera, Aida. They brought in a live elephant from the Portland zoo for the triumphal scene. The idea of being able to work around a live elephant had me all a flutter. I went home singing the arias from Aida. I was, like, 9!

Personally, I started doing musical theatre quite young. My first role was a singing tree in Snow White when I was 5. I moved on to be an orphan in Annie after that exciting trip to Aida, and it kind if spiraled from there. I did some child opera stuff with the Portland opera groups and sang in loads of choirs. I also took up playing instruments quite young, and by the time I left high school I could play pretty much everything apart from the drums and the piano. I still wish I’d put down the wind instruments and focused a bit of attention on the piano! Alas. During my last two years of high school I sang with some professional chamber choirs and did some symphony work, but I can’t honestly think back to a time when I ‘decided’ to sing opera. My voice coach (thankfully) wouldn’t even let me touch an operatic aria when I was a teenager! It just kind of happened as I progressed through University. Although I spent those years dabbling in Musical Theatre and Jazz as well, opera was where I landed on my feet. It just felt “right.”

You wound up in Manchester, England? Do you like the ex-pat life? What keeps you there?
I love England. I miss various things about the states (Widmer Hefeweizen!!!), but England had always had this draw on me. My first trip to the UK was when I was 15, and I fell in love at first sight. That being said, I never intended to stay here. I took a break from music in 2004 to come over and do a year-long MA programme in Roman Archaeology at the University of Liverpool. I wanted to ‘round out’ my education and do some traveling and experience living abroad. I’d planned to go back to Portland when I was done and decide what to do with myself, but then I met my husband. He’s British. I stuck around and did a Ph.D. in Roman Archaeology while we dated, and then we got married in 2008 and here I am! We lived in London from 2005 until this past June. In 2009 I decided I had to go back to music. I’d put it off long enough, and I’d ‘rounded out’ my education as far as one possibly can! I found myself a voice coach, started going on master classes . . .  And that leads me to . . .

What has been the greatest thrill in your career thus far? Greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge of my career, by far, has been returning to a career in opera. One doesn’t usually just take 5 years off and think they’ll even have a career in opera. Especially since I’d only done a handful of professional operatic things in the US before I stopped singing. In fact, when I first started back to singing in late-2009, I spent a good 16 months trying to do musical theatre instead of going back to opera. I thought that I’d been out of the game way too long to be able to catch up and be competitive in the industry at all. Especially when, added to my lengthy absence, I also had to deal with a totally different voice. In the US, I sang mezzo-soprano. I’m not sure what happened between 2004 and 2009, but I came back and was categorically not a mezzo anymore – which meant re-training, learning completely new repertoire and trying to identify with myself on an entirely different plane artistically. I think it’s why I initially tried musical theatre instead of going straight back to classical and operatic music. I was scared. Heck, I still am scared. It wasn’t until I auditioned for Cameron Macintosh and was told, “You need to be singing opera, not musical theatre. You’re wasting your time here with a voice like that!” that I went, “Okay . . . ,” and came back to opera.

I picked up mezzo rep initially and was told off left and right by everyone I encountered. So I started singing the soprano rep. I wasn’t entirely sure where to start, and started out a bit bigger than I should have at that point (Aida…!), but after a year of playing around with the difference between what I could sing and what I should sing for where I am at this stage of my development, I finally landed on my feet. That was only recently, though. The beginning of 2011! I’m still working on developing the soprano inside me. It’s still a challenge and every day I have to fight with myself not to go back to my old mezzo ways, but I am loving the rep I’m singing now. I’ve found a kind of vocal peace in singing Bel Canto rep. It fits like a glove right now, and it’s helping me continue to settle into my new abilities.

I actually think that this next year is going to be the most thrilling part of my career. It hasn’t happened yet, but I have to remove myself from who I was prior to 2004 and who I am now. As my therapist says, there is no point in looking backwards. Singing my first professional gig (Carmen) was brilliant, but it’s not who I am anymore. I haven’t done much over the last few years as I’ve been focusing on finding my new voice and getting “back on the horse”, as it were – but I don’t do things by half! My debut role as a soprano is Anna Bolena – no small task. It let’s me dip into that mezzo richness I still can bring out and play with, but also lets me expose my newfound coloratura and my developing high notes. I’m also a bit of a Tudor history obsessive, which makes it all the more fun! The company I’m doing it with is performing all of the three Queen operas in upcoming seasons (Roberto Devereux and Maria Stuarda are concert-style, though), and I’m singing the range of them. I think that is the most exciting thing in my career thus far – getting to sing Bolena, Elisabetta and Maria! It’s a lot of extremely hard work, and some nights I go to bed wondering what I’m doing and have nightmares about falling off the stage, but I wake up every morning knowing I’m on the right path finally, and I’m totally excited about it!

“Rochelle Hart’s voice soars and depreciates delicately but powerfully, making the most of the high ceilinged acoustics in St. John’s Minster. It’s a mesmerising performance that will leave opera fans and sceptics alike spellbound.”
         — Katie Siobhán Mercer for The Two Hats     

Do you have any favorites? Composer? Opera? Role? Venue?
I love Puccini and Donizetti. Honestly, if I never sang anything else ever again apart from Puccini and Donizetti, I could probably die happy. My favourite role has got to be Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor). I’m working on it between other things and it’s such a thrilling part to sing, and to listen to. Stunning music. My all-time favourite opera has to be Tosca. It combines my love of Rome and my love of opera into one dramatic, climactic piece. “Vissi d’Arte” is kind of my go-to aria, and is just a piece of musical perfection. Every time I hear it I want to cry!

Do you enjoy performing in the UK? How do UK audiences compare to US audiences? US opera houses compare to UK houses?
Performing in the UK is interesting. Audiences seem to come in two varieties – the ones that are totally receptive to everything, and are encouraging and generally lovely, and the ones that have to sit and tear performers apart. It’s hard being a singer, knowing that there are those people sat somewhere in the audience that will pick up on every single flaw of everything you do, and will talk to each other about your said flaws, especially when music is such a personal thing and we’re bearing our souls to perform these roles. Then one little old lady will come up with tears in her eyes and tell you how much you moved her, and it will make it all better. I’m not singing for the critics, I’m singing for the soul of the character, and for the general audience to appreciate the music the composers put on the paper. No human is perfect, but we are all human.

I digress…

I’ve not yet sung in a house as a soloist on either shore – only with companies who perform in different theatres or churches depending on space or the production. Generally, though, I think US audiences, in my experience, seem to be more ‘roll with the punches’ and don’t expect the same level of superhuman perfectionism that European audiences do.

Have you picked up a British accent?
Oh heavens, no! I have picked up a bit of a British “twang.” You can tell I’m American, but I sound like an American that has lived in the UK for a while. I get odd looks in the States when I’m visiting, and often get asked if I’m Irish when I’m in the US (which I don’t understand at all!), but to the Brits I’m most definitely American. Mostly what I’ve picked up is pronunciation. You say toh-may-toh, I say toh-maaaaah-toh….

Singing Tosca at Murray Edwards Hall

Where would you like to be in five years? In ten years?
I’m realistic. I took 5 years off, and spent the first two years back in serious singing having a crisis of identity. If you asked me 5 years ago where I saw myself in 5 years, I would not have said “singing Anna Bolena in June!” I’ve changed fachs completely since my original training, and I have a lot of new repertoire to learn to get back up to speed. My voice still hasn’t completely settled into its new identity, and I have a lot of work to do to catch up with other people my age that I’m competing against in the industry. Some of them have been singing roles for years that I’m only just now starting to look at. I know that I’m not at the level I should be for a 32-year old professional soprano, but despite the odds I’m persevering and I’m getting opportunities to get out there and improve myself and my art form. I’m feeling much more at ease in my own vocal skin, and I’m forging my own path. Everyone I meet seems to have a differing opinion as to what my soprano-fach should be, so I’m just moving forward and singing what’s comfortable and it’ll all fall into place eventually – whether that be 5 years or ten. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about where I’d like to be, though!

In the next 5 years, I’d love to be singing at the smaller houses and with the touring companies in England (ETO, Glyndebourne, Opera North), and possibly in Germany and parts of the US. I’d love to sing Butterfly at the Portland Opera someday. For now, I want to be cementing the roles I’m singing with small companies now and really burning them into my soul. I believe that less is more, and I’d rather sing 8 or 10 roles really well, and have them be part of my soul, than sing 40 roles but never real feel like any of them are one with me. Not to say I wouldn’t take something outside of my standard repertoire, or that it won’t change completely when I’m in my 50s or whatever, but I don’t want to learn something now just to never sing it again! Been there, done that….

In 10 years, I’d like to have made my debut at Covent Garden and the English National Opera, and possibly Vienna, even if only in smaller roles. I don’t expect that as the outsider who took time off that I’ll ever get to sing a lead role at a major international house, but a girl can dream! Hey, stranger things have happened . . .

What is something most people don’t know about you, something not on your professional bio?
I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. My friends and some of my closer colleagues know this, but it’s not something I go shouting to the rooftops. It’s difficult, and I don’t want people to pre-judge me based on it. I’ve lightly blogged about it, but I try not to bring it up too much.

Basically, my brain overreacts about everything (far more than the average person). I worry myself into state of pure panic quite frequently over even the smallest things and find it very hard to snap myself out of the ‘downward spiral of doom’ as I like to call it. We’re talking can’t breath, think the walls are closing in on you, I think I’m having a heart attack type panic. I have to fight every day to ensure I keep my mood on the positive side of the tracks, so I don’t end up sabotaging myself. Honestly, it nearly kept me from coming back to music. I could have taken the easy route and gone about working in academia and archaeology, but I knew that deep down, even though I loved archaeology, I wasn’t happy. I had to have a serious period of self reflection to work up the courage to return to singing, and to this day I still struggle massively with that decision. I can still manage to convince myself that nothing I do is ever going to succeed, and I have nightmares about it quite frequently. My brain latches onto the fact that I look, on paper, to be so far behind my competition because of the time off and the fach change, and in my head I am sure that people think I’m a fraud. I know deep down that it’s not really the case, but anxiety disorder takes your internal niggles and exacerbates them to the point that some days I have a hard time even getting out of bed.

The funny thing is that when I’m on stage, and I’m lost in being someone else and interacting with my colleagues in their characters, those are the times I’m free from the clutches of the anxiety. But other times, like auditions and job interviews and even meeting a new person for the first time – I have to really work on not totally falling apart. I know I don’t audition well because of it, and I don’t give off a good first impression because of it. But it’s something I work on every day.

Also, singing a mad scene or two when I’m having a ‘bad’ day usually helps. 😉

 * * *

You can find out where Rochelle is performing through 2013 at her website. Or you can follow her on Twitter @raketje.



Filed under artists, Bel canto opera, Favorite arias, Interviews, Q&A, sopranos

what’s your favorite Donizetti opera?

Gaetano Donizetti

Today is composer Gaetano Donizetti’s birthday!  He was born on November 29, 1797, in Bergamo, Italy.

Some wonderful links to recordings, broadcasts, publications, and performances of Donizetti’s work have been posted at the Donizetti Society web page and a worth a visit.

 To celebrate the occasion of this marvelous opera composer’s birth, I thought would revive my Donizetti poll.

So, gentle readers and bel canto buffs. Would you like to weigh in on your favorite Donizetti opera? Write-ins welcome in the comments, of course.


Filed under Audience participation, Bel canto opera, Classic Opera, Poll