Good Things Come… ~170


Yesterday began with another incredibly inspiring voice lesson with W. Stephen Smith and ended with subway singing with Carla Wesby and Robert Arthur Hughes of Opera Collective and some fantastic time spent, during and afterwards, with marvelous people. This morning, I had a one-on-one voice-over introduction lesson via Skype with Voices for All, as part of a deal I purchased through a deal-a-day website specifically designed for the entertainment industry called Holdon Log. All this, plus a full weekend and a packed upcoming Social Media Week signal a return for me to the very best of committed, happy living.

Although I continue to write about the Tableau Vivant, I take a brief pause in this content until at least Monday. Photographer Sarah Small has asked me to draft a portion of my perspective on the project for potential publication. Potentially good news for me, I obviously feel the need to focus on that direction for a few days before returning to write more here. Not believing in teasing my readers, I do promise to answer the long-awaited question of “what it all means” shortly. For now, I leave you with the top six things I’ve very happily learned in the past twenty-four hours (too good to narrow down to five). Until next time, enjoy a weekend worth living.

  • Singing truly parallels life. Living and singing in the moment, willingly exposed and without hesitation or apology, makes both more compelling, unique, and beautiful – to both singer and observer.
  • Performing underground with a group like Opera Collective can really help loosen up one’s acting in opera, jog one’s memory of older or newer repertoire, and provide a little extra cash. Don’t expect anonymity; five friends happened to stop by our location by the Times Square shuttle in less than three hours. Do listen to the accompaniment beforehand. If not, fully expect at least three of those friends to walk by during the absolute worst possible mistake of the day. Oh yeah.
  • Although I apparently do not have a voice well-suited for motherly voice-over acting, I look forward to hearing what type of roles Leah Frederick of Voices for All does think would suit me in her upcoming coaching evaluation.
  • When whisking Chukar Cherries Black Cherry Cocoa Mix, as per the instructions on the tin, one should expect a delicious and sweet-smelling mess. Some solid Andrew Bird, fresh juice, a bowl of cereal, and this fantastic hot chocolate make an excellent start to the day.
  • It took me a few decades, but I have begun to understand that patience really is a virtue, and good things really do come to those who wait. Not just clichés.
  • Although life best begins afresh when one decides to live regardless of the weather, the sound of birds chirping outside on a gray not-yet-spring morning never hurts.

A Pinky-swear Beats a Resolution Any Day of the Year ~ 148

Pinky Swear

Six years ago, on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, I needed a fresh start more than oxygen. Traveling to New York City and meeting a friend for the ultimate ball drop in Times Square, I converted myself to the worship of this annual holiday and sought to celebrate each year in style ever since. As for resolutions, I’ve lost weight, changed relationship status, exercised more, visited grandparents, made fewer excuses, and oh yeah, started a blog.

Beginning a journey of writing about abandoning excuses and embracing change led to regular resolutions, which changed my life and path and made the need for an annual “New Year’s resolution” a bit trite and, after a busy season of work and travel, unnecessarily exhausting. This year, I felt a bit under the weather and actually turned down party invitations to (gasp!) stay in with someone special, rest, and watch the ball of newly swirling lights descend above the crowd from the comfort of my upper Manhattan apartment. Despite my best attempts, the relaxation and healing ended a bit prematurely as I traveled on Sunday to Philadelphia after my church job to hear my friends sing an incredibly worthwhile concert with The Crossing Choir, conducted by Donald Nally.

Still recovering from this cold that thankfully waited for a short break in gigs and rehearsals to attack, I have now have a bit of enforced downtime to reflect, and the concert proved well worth the extra effort and travel despite the minor health consequence. Having sung for several years in Philadelphia, I sat in the audience at my old church job and home at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian and missed the acoustics, the beauty of the space, the clear and inspired conducting of Donald Nally, and the uniquely beautiful voices of my friends who perfectly blended to give life to all of the recently-composed works. Afterwards, I refrained from alcohol but not from colleagues or good company, as I enjoyed the brief time to reacquaint myself with some dear and beloved musicians and friends.

Somewhere amidst the din of the reception, I stumbled upon the best and most motivational impetus for resolutions imaginable : the shared goals of my competition. You may imagine classical singers sabotaging one another’s auditions, withholding valuable advice and information, secretly wishing for the other to fail. Although I too have heard the urban legend of pianists booby trapping the pianos at Juilliard with razor blades, I literally can only remember one instance of another singer intentionally giving me bad information since I began singing (from the womb), and I didn’t know her at all. Very much to the contrary, other professionals in my fach (voice type) have given me good advice on agents, jobs, upcoming auditions, networking, and just about every opportunity imaginable.

A few weeks ago, my dear roommate and fellow mezzo soprano Ariana Chris began turning my accountability wheels when she suggested reminding each other about important goals, from sleep schedules to marketing. Sorry Ariana, but I have stayed up way past my bedtime tonight and will have to work on that one yet again tomorrow. In the meantime, I have spent a bit of time thinking about my successes with Skydiving for Pearls and realized that with a few small exceptions, I have not accomplished the very longtime and important goal of increasing my number and quality of auditions, one of the many demons I still hope to face here. Enter Super Maren.

Maren Montalbano sings and writes, brilliantly, in Philadelphia. While that somewhat places us in different markets, we each have sung in the other’s city, share the same voice type and interests, and could shy away from encouraging the other to succeed in order to maintain some kind of edge. Not for a second. Instead, we decided to keep each other motivated and auditioning with a pact. Actually pinky swearing, we pledged to initiate a minimum of five contacts per month, either applying for auditions or completing them. While this number pales in comparison to some incredibly motivated actors in New York who manage to audition at least that many times per week, I find it both realistic and a less overwhelming place to begin.

Born with a desire to perform in almost all aspects, I find my career bewildering at times with choices, options, obstacles, and rejections. On the docket for ways to improve my career this new year includes far more time in deep practice, improved preparation, and increased visibility in networks, auditions, and media. I sing, act, and write. Apparently, in the new year, I also research and learn as much as necessary to act as my own agent, publicity and press manager, and perhaps most importantly, strategist. Already swimming with infinite possibilities and fears, my brain has much to assimilate, understand, and initiate. Still, I hope it helps you as my readers if I share sort through some of it here, reporting my progress and findings along the way. In the meantime, I thank God for my friends who share my burdens, goals and dreams. In the end, you make each year and every day worth the reinvention and resolution.