Let's Start at the Very Beginning

I want to start by stating the obvious. This blog is about my triumphs, struggles, thoughts and wishes as an aspiring opera singer. The opinions and thoughts shared are completely my own. I hope you find them insightful, useful and in some way, I hope that they help to give you a glimpse into my heart. Tomorrow I pick up my score. I cannot believe that this day has arrived and though I am not allowing myself to crack the spine before Wednesday afternoon (big Italian composition test that morning), I cannot wait. But I am going to be honest with you. It has been a rough past few months. I started out the school year thinking that I was going to be going back to a summer program that I had been involved with in the past. I believed this without a shadow of a doubt. The audition did not go as well as I had hoped. I ended up being a bit nervous and was suffering from a cold, but it could have gone worse. Over the next few weeks, I waited… and waited… I knew that offers were being sent out... and I waited some more. I struggled a lot as I waited. I despaired. In my mind, everything was set on me going back to that program. If I didn’t, I thought of myself as a failure. A month after the offers started being sent out, a month of despairing, I received my answer. It broke my heart and made me furious at the same time. I wept openly on the street. Waking my Mom up with my early AM phone call as I walked to Italian class, sobbing and trying to calm myself down. Not only was I rejected, but every single thing that is wrong with my singing was laid out for me, there in black and white, as reasons as to why I had not been invited back. Don’t I know these things? Of course I do. I am well aware of what my faults are as a singer. But to see them there, laid out in great detail… I know this person felt that they were doing me a huge service by putting all of these things out there for me, but it just destroyed me even more. For the next two months, I contemplated quitting all together. Every singer reaches this stage at some point. Every singer questions their sanity and why they are pursuing this career. But I had never in my life felt so utterly lost and hopeless. My Mom, being the wise woman that she is, continually told me through tears, to trust God. That He ultimately had a plan for me and knew what doors He would open, when. In speaking with a dear friend of mine, I came to the conclusion that I would take this summer off from summer programs and just pay off debt. I haven’t spent a summer in Toronto since 2009 and it is about time that I see what this city has to offer. I knew in my heart that I needed to trust God, that this was the right decision for me. But it was still difficult. I was hurting in ways I could not put into words. I was struggling. I was quitting. During this time of impossible self-doubt, a friend and I sang at our bi-yearly staff party at work. Two folksy songs. In a way, it revived me. I am forever grateful to him for encouraging me to sing with him. Throughout this time, I had a lot of wonderful people reach out to me and try to make me feel better but two in particular stand out. The day that I was rejected from working with the above company again, a friend found me, hugged me, let me cry it out and then encouraged me to go to the voice lesson that I had later that day and challenge myself to let it be the best lesson ever. I did. I needed the words that she shared. I needed her strength. Another fellow performer whom I don’t know very well (though we’ve performed once together and run into each other on occasion) asked for my phone number and gave me a call. Her words, encouragement and faith helped me more than I can ever express and I am forever grateful for her. Any performance art is difficult. You really have to grow a thick skin in order to survive and flourish. I had weakened myself by my self-doubt and self-loathing. It was a horrible time for me emotionally. I cannot remember being that depressed in a very long time. But I had two shows coming up, so I brushed myself off and got back to work.The first time I opened my Le Nozze Di Figaro score to remind myself how the Countess goes (I had sung the role a few years back), it was difficult for me. I was in a practice room at the U of T and I almost had a panic attack. But I worked through it, and had a good time bringing this character back to life. Two days after performing this iconic role, I had an audition for a summer program here in Toronto. It was the last audition that I was going to do for this summer and I was not honestly expecting anything from it. Again, the audition did not go as I had hoped and I called my coach after the experience and opened our conversation with “Well, I won’t be working with them this summer”. More waiting, but waiting is easier when you are expecting rejection. I had to sing Donna Elvira again less than a month after this audition, so I had to get back into her shoes quickly. She is such a delight to portray and I hope that I am given many more chances to sing this role. After the performance, that was it. I had nothing coming up officially, just a few projects that I was talking about with a few friends, but nothing solid. The next morning, I cried. By the end of the day, I had a game plan. I fear becoming stagnant. As a singer, you must always be moving forward, always growing. So I had my few tears and then made an ambitious game plan for myself. The morning that my Mom was leaving to fly back home, I received a role offer from the last audition that I had done. I kept looking over the words, in shock. I could not believe my eyes. I kept looking for the word ‘understudy’ or expecting Ashton Kutcher to jump out from behind something and yell “PUNKED!” Summer Opera Lyric Theatre had offered me Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. I screamed. Then I shouted, “God, what are You doing!?” and burst into tears. Mom, through tears, hugged me and told me how proud she was of me. I spoke with my voice teacher, coach and a director who knows me well throughout the rest of the day as we made the decision. Ultimately, my teacher and I decided that I had to try. So, I am. Thank you for reading my first post, for sticking this out. I am going to chronicle my journey here. If you have any questions about how I am preparing, or about me in general, please do not hesitate to send me a note using the ‘contact’ form. If you have any questions specific to something that I had said, or music in general, and would like me to answer in my blog posts, please ask! Looking forward to the next one. xo, De.

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