Thursday, June 11, 2020

May you have a smooth and painless path through light , into light, and back to your protectors of light, dear Nuli. February 10 1972- June 11 2020

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sunday, December 25, 2016

  • My dear friends! 
    ***Please help save a singer from Homelessness!*** 
    Bellow is a fundraiser a personal good friend of mine created. 
    She is a wonderful , extremely smart and talented lady, and such a loving and kind human.
    But for many reasons , she found herself singing in the subway tunnels of Paris , where even the few coins that used to be tossed in her hat , have recently stopped due to lack of tourism and harsher circumstances around the world.
    She is not well and is unable to work, like most of us can.
    If you can spare *something* this could help her to pay a rent deposit for a new place , hopefully , BEFORE she is (soon) evicted from her tiny 6th floor walk up attic.
    We are ALL artists and we are ALL aware of the possibility of the END of our work options.
    Many thanks for your kindness.

    PLEASE CLICK HERE to support

  • Tuesday, April 21, 2015

  • The other day,  being vain and a bit bored, I looked through  Youtube clips of mine. Under one which was recorded in Vienna, of me and  tenor Roberto Alagna,  there's a comment stating something such as "Alagna is fabulous, but the lady singing with him ,  is unfortunately not a Carmen".

    This kind of comment is not new to me. Throughout my career , I've heard this several times. Imagine- even from intendants who hired me based on my manager's recommendation, and then discovered that to them, I am "not a Carmen".

    What IS "a Carmen"? The answer is as varied as your taste in lovers. Could my Carmen be a good lover to your very very specific expectation of who Carmen *should* be? to *you*?

     If you  (and many of you do) expect a heavy-voiced, slow walking, tall heavy boned amazon roaring powerhouse of a singer for your Carmen,  you sure will be disappointed with my soft-grained, petit, lolit-ish, quick on her feet, anti-thesis to your choice little me. My nuanced pianissimo will be written off by you as "small voice" as much as  when my forte, although heard, won't ever never, ever be what volume it is that you are expecting to hear. My legs will be too short for your taste, my dancing - not grand enough, my  eye locking looks with  Don Jose, will be surely lost way before they've reached your eyes , as you are trying to figure out what *is* there in that nobody who is daring to take up your favorite role, and is, goddamn  not -delivering? 

    But you know something? Somehow I have managed to , despite the insane expectations , and the good old comparisons,  to sing this role again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again,  and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again (I said "and again around 40 times, did I ? ) and at a certain point, it stopped being because of my manager's recommendation, or because I have black curly hair. And it stopped being because of the reviews, and because of social media, and because I am nice. 

    I must have been doing something right, even tho, I am "unfortunately not a Carmen".

    No, I am not. I am a Rinat Shaham. 

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

    Carmen Disruption at the Almeida

  • An opera singer, a real one,  quits. I am not entirely sure what are all the reasons for her to make such an enormous decision, but I find it fascinating that  this  comes right as the play about an opera singer who quits, is opening at the Almeida theater in London, and I've been (again) busy with this play, in my mind and in my heart. 
  •  You can read here all about Carmen Disruption , and me, and how this came about, through the beautiful. beautiful  words of my playwrite and friend Simon Stephens. 

    "I wanted to tell the story of an opera singer who through years of travel and the dislocation of the virtual world was starting to lose any sense of where she ended and the opera began. All around her the people in the streets of an unnamed European city began to blur into the characters of the opera."

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

  •   I recently gave an interview   for   the very lovely @Operatraveller about my experience singing my first Donna Elvira in this  special production of Don Giovanni, produced by La Monnaie Brussels, directed by K. Warlikowski , conducted by L. Morlot.   I will expend more about it all, on my own blog, but for the interested, here's some about our work.   
  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Disruption and its lessons 

    I can tell you , that being considered a decent actress on the opera stage, doesn't mean that you'd find the same comfortability while on the theater stage.

     I kind of underestimated the many differences that are naturally existing between our crafts , and I am finding it absolutely fascinating to work through this process of assimilating into this new universe.
    While I feel I could do a good job reacting to someone's operatic line, and using the music in the background in a believable way to my advantage, here in the theater, I have come to be introduced to a complete stranger:  SILENCE.

    With the written word, there are so many different ways you could present it.  The sentence could be said a thousand times differently and each would be valid. But Silence is a lot of times, a very important part of it. 
    Interesting to me was the fact that my director, Sebastian Nübling, has asked me to tone down my dramatic inclination and tendencies. While at the opera, I am considered quite subtle with my acting, in our theater play, it was my character, singled out , which needed to be the private one. While my colleagues are doing an amazing job speaking their monologues out, with direct contact to the public, and a lot of melodrama I, on the other hand, need to keep my monologue to a quiet minimum. Reason is- my character is the one who was not invented.

    My character in this play is the fruit of a very intense collaboration with the brilliant playwrite Simon Stephens, who has interviewed me so intensively , I am not sure he knows me  any less than my own oldest best friend.

    After the 6 days of 8 hour a day conversations with him, I was a bit concerned that this play will end up being a life  exposure  for which I was not really ready.    
    But with his sensitive approach and intelligence, Simon has only created an image to me which is not a clear mirror, but slightly inflated, deflated, crooked, spotty and then cleaned again, until it IS my mirror, but not quite only mine.

    This is really the first time I actually encounter such exposure, in every sense of the word.
    If I normally sing the story of a mythological gypsy rebel, here, I am basically quoting my self, some with direct quotes, just more skillfully worded.    Where normally, I make sure that my costumes and wigs hide all my 'problem areas' and sit perfectly in order to make me look at all times  my best, here in fact, I  use a wig which is supposed to look like a *wig*, and very shortly after the "overture" I take it off, as I do with my "Carmen dress"- changing in front of everybody, (problem areas and all) into my pajamas. I strip down to a skin-colored under garment. Almost naked, I put on my PJ's,  and I remain with my own messy, squashed hair, and loose outfit assembly (beautifully envisioned and created by Amit Epstein) for the rest of the show.
    But it is the text which is what really  is the big dare here-   Have I ever told the press something like: 
    "I get a message from my agent in New York. And
     all of a sudden I’m on Washington Square in the summer time.
     Drinking an iced tea. Am I available to go to London? 
    Am I available to go to Tokyo? How would I feel about giving 
    Russia another try. 
    This is all a complete lie,
     of course.
     I don’t get a message from my agent 
    in New York. I don’t get a message from anybody in New York.
     I wonder for a  while if there is anybody left at all
     in New York".

     Have I ever tweetted or admitted in an interview that the world of opera, as much as it is so amazing, can also be so cruel? You begin as a promise and you most likely  end up a ghost? You sacrifice your home, your family life, your sense of identity, your health, your heart, your all,  and you can , at any moment, be replaced and forgotten? You get cast, what is pre- decided by managers and intendants and casting directors, as would  your stardom or failure be,  and you bring glory and success to the places and people  who hired you but most likely won't keep loyal to you or offer you any continuation because, like a Hollywood designer evening -gown,  what you showed once is not needed to be seen again, and because darling,  you have become old news?     This, and all the texts that I recite during the show,  could be fabricated or exaggerated , but in essence, they  are all based on my own reality: my life, my dreams, my fears, my nightmares.  And here, I have no music to hide behind. No orchestra is playing, not even a mere piano.  When I speak- I speak alone, and when I sing, I sing A- cappella .
    I find this kind of work so refreshing.  Never in my life did I have to put my self in front of a public and feel like what I can say or act or sing is essentially completely shielded from any criticism, because in the end- the criticism  is all mine to give, whether it is with words, with A-cappella singing , or with the silence that's  in between the lines.

    About the play: (review)  in German
    Review in English

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    Carmen disruption by Carmen disruption

  • Some more details on what I am doing now (because it is unusual).
    Back story:

     A few years back I performed in an interesting production of Carmen, in Stuttgart. It was a "regietheater" production, and it was clear that the director who created it, was coming from a different medium (namely- theater), and that he was a very creative person.  I only did the repeating shows and not the premiere, so I did not actually work with him personally ,but mainly rehearsed with his assistant, until a much later date into rehearsals, when he arrived to supervise and watch a show. His name was Sebastian Nübling, and all I could think of, was that I probably could be really good friends with him.(You know that feeling? You meet someone and they're your kind of people?). After the show we talked for a while and when he'd realized that his production was for me, one of so many Carmen productions I have already done, Sebastian was curious to hear more about my bizarre experience of  traveling the world playing the same character , under so many different directions, so many different concepts… but being "her", again, and again, and again.  From this conversation, our current play derived. One of  (or maybe the) largest German theaters- The Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg,  found the idea interesting,  and to our hear's content agreed to produce it. An amazingly gifted playwrite from London named Simon Stephens, (my "kind of people" too!) has jumped on our wagon and after 6 intensive days of interviews with me  plus a year or so, he has given birth to a play! Not in any way autobiographical, but inspired by my life as Carmen, my life as an opera singer who sings Carmen, my life, our lives,  as  nomads, with not such  a clear identity anymore, as we step away (sometimes very far away) from religious, linguistic and geographical, and so many more other borders, in this age of the  Internet and flights.
    So, I have decided to put some operatic opportunities aside for a short time (of the duration of the play), and dive head first into the very exciting, if deep waters of theater work. 
    If you've ever read interviews with me, you'd remember that acting was always something  I wanted to do. As a child and as a teenager, I always took after school classes and summer camps for acting. Even during my operatic studies I always enjoyed the acting classes and improv exercises, and the freedom it allowed me. But after having chosen the parallel , if slightly different road of  professional operatic singing, I never returned to do a play play. Until now.
    In this piece, named "Carmen disruption" we will, of course, utilize my singing capabilities, and I will get, together with 4 other amazingly talented actors from the theater, to also speak the wonderful words that Simon has so carefully , lovingly , skillfully put together in this gem of a  play.
    The work thus far, has been nothing but facsinating. Unlike the operatic preparation, I was asked *not* to memorize my lines prior to arriving here (which in fact, freaked me out!). We all (4 actors, my self, director, playwrite, costume designer, set designer,music director, and a dramaturge) have started from scratch.  Lines have been changed as we read  along. Music is being decided upon, as is movement and costumes, and the way we 'act', just based on what we, the actors, can bring to the rehearsal stage. We mainly improvise, being as creative and as imaginative as we possibly can, and what it is that comes out of us, can be then kept or not, depending whether it 'works'. Sebastian is gathering ideas, basing his direction , on our ability and skill, and expression. I must say, that it has been literally years, since I was allowed to be so creative. Normally in an opera (which usually, I would allow myself to say: mostly,   has not been written for *you*), the margin for that (being individually creative) is quite narrow , as we have to firstly fit into the very defined technique and style of the piece we are singing, before we have to more or less come to an agreement with  the director, conductor, and costume designer's concept. Our own creativity within that, is sometimes kept to a nuance (which is also something  I admire,   because at the end, you still, I am not quite sure how, but you still  get a unique performance from us opera singers!) . It is truly fascinating to me, to approach a piece of art from such a different angel than what I am used to. So far I am having a fantastic time with this play and with  the entire process. I will write more as we advance . RS

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    So… I  am in Hamburg, to work on a new play (yes- in the theater. As  an actor), which was written inspired by a series of personal interviews with me.
    The play, (called "Carmen disruption"),  wonderfully written by the great London playwrite Simon Stephens, will premiere here in Hamburg on March 15. It will involve 5 characters (actors) and a full acting chorus.
     Shortly after arriving into Hamburg, I learnt that the opera here is about to open with Carmen.I thought it would be a relief for them to know that I am going to be in town, if they ever need an emergency Carmen jump in. Little did I know , this was going to happen quite fast. On Tuesday late afternoon, I got the call asking me if I could jump in the following day.   I thought it would be interesting for you to know what is the process of a quick "Jump in":

    The Chronology of a jump in 24 hours:  

    1) (5 PM) Phone call from my current employer (The theater) telling me the opera house is looking for me, and handing me a number to call
    2)  Phone conversation with the person from the opera house, asking me if I could  possibly sing the following evening. (An email has been already sent to my manager)
    3) Waiting until 7 PM to hear whether I am indeed needed (has the singer decided to cancel or not)
    4) Getting the green light
    5) Go back to hotel from my current , full day of  theater rehearsal, quickly shower, go to opera house
    6) (7 PM)  Meet with assistant director, go through  at ll the dialogues (they are doing full version of spoken dialogues, a version I fully did last in 2004)
    7)  Go back to hotel, go through the dialogues,  try to sleep
    8)  (10 AM) Get breakfast, go to opera house.
    9) work with assistant director , (in a rehearsal room… Stage won't be ready until the show). Quickly hearing what my general moves will be on stage ("Come onto stage with chorus. Stop here. Get shoes from on-stage locker #4. Throw scarf to the right. Throw shoes at this direction. Go dance with the chorus guy on Stage left"… Etc etc )
    10) Meet with conductor, go through a few musical points  (" I am doing a Fermata on this note. Taking a breath here.." )
    11)  (1PM) Go to costume department, try to fit into all kinds of different alternative costumes (fit for my size and body) and try get the right shoes. (This, is not a simple process.. since they don't have exactly what works for my shape, and will need to quickly adjust different current costumes, and assemble some new pieces for me).
    12) Go into makeup room, try fit wig/ extensions (That work with my hair color and texture).
    13) Go into a dressing room and warm up (Haven't sung a note for a .. loooong time)..
    14)  Get some  quick lunch to go
    15) (2 PM) Eat very , very quickly  
    16) Try , just try to sleep a little (got 1 hour)
    17) Go to the theater for make up / hair  call (5PM).
    18) Go get dressed  (6:30 PM)
    19) Warm up a bit more, get ready
    20) Meet with my Don Jose, go quickly through our dialogues together, and "mark" the knife moment.
    21) Show begins.  Go on stage and try to remember what to do, where to go, what to say
    22) Try to sing, too. (and act). ;)

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

  • It's been so long since I've written here (blame Facebook and Twitter, of course), that I am testing to see , that just like riding a bike- you never forget how to do it, even after years with no practice.

  •  Testing, testing.  :-)
  • Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Recipe for operatic grand success

    I have been pondering this one for a while now, realizing how hard it is to survive in the business of singing opera.
    From  a few hundred young opera students that we were, (at school, in summer festivals), I can only think of a couple of dozen who are still making a living solely from singing.
     And out of those, there are only a hand full who are singing in major opera houses and are having a good career.
    I have friends and colleagues who have had some amazing "momentums" during the course of their career. They were the "next opera star". Some had a major triumph at houses like the MET or Scala, some had won big name competitions.... but after a few years, you couldn't find much about them, or they had been "demoted" to some lesser roles in some lesser houses.
    What is it then? What makes one climb up and remain there? How did Anna and Jonas and Juan Diego do it?
    Well, I think the answer is this: There is a recipe. Yes, there is. And the degree of which you might succeed, depends on how many ingredients you have and how much of each ingredient you carry.
    You must have most of these ingredients, and the important ones have got to be very secure. If some of the basics are there, but not fully evolved, it's ok as well, as long as you can compensate with the others.
    Not every opera "star" has all these qualities, but if you notice, each one of the very successful singers, has most of them, or is famous for a certain speciality which compensates for his weaker qualities.  Some of these , you can learn and acquire, some- unfortunately not. As this is not exact science, of course, there are always some exceptions , and some mysteries. And granted- This is very arguable.
     For what it's worth, here is my  idea of "soup for operatic success":
    *Instrument (good size or projection)
     *Technique  (i.e steady vibrato,good uniformed range, vocal advanced "tricks" like superb pianissimo, floating, etc)
     *Expression (The ability to connect to the text, facial  and body movement, musical phrasing etc.)
     *Looks  ( "agreeable" weight/height/handsomeness/  or speciality)
     *Charisma / Stage personality (communicator)
     *Voice speciality ( unusual agility/hight/depth/size etc.)
     *Style speciality (Baroque, belcanto, etc.)
     *Self assurance and belief
     *Ambition (+ persistance, disciplin, consistency)
     *Acting ability
    *Resilience (thanks for reminding me,
     @gtltornt :) )
    *Mental/ physical health  (As long as one's health does not effect one's  rehearsal/performance).
     *Connections (management/conductors/directors/GD's/record companies)
     *Public Relations
     (*Luck) ;)

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    0.2 cents (number 2) list

    continuing my first 0.2 cents thread of advice to singers and everybody else on that similar road, I decided to go ahead and share with you a list of products that have changed my traveling life for the better.
    Here are my personal secrets to keep my self well- travelled , well rested, looking presentable in my field, and generally survive 'the road'.

    For technology:
    *Macbook pro
    I used to travel with a little PC that was acting up at the worst moments- when I was lonely, in a foreign country and in desperate need for communication.Then I added MAC to my collection and began traveling with both (just in case). Shortly after, I realized that my MAC is indeed superior , and usually I have no problem connecting it to a DSL or WiFi, it is stable, reliable, light , and beautiful.

    *Airport express (to go with your MAC)
    This gadget WORKS! When you find yourself in a place where there is only a DSL connection but no WiFi, you hook your Airport express and turn the place into a WiFi zone. If you have a guest and need to use more then one computer, this is simply a fantastic solution!

    *(at least 1) Unlocked cell phone
    Why "at least one"? because it is important to have 1 number where you can be reached at all times. For that I keep one SIM card on at all times (as my permanent number). However, I keep another phone which is (also) unlocked and in which I alway make sure I have a local SIM card, wherever I am in the world. This way, I don't roam, and my local friends can easily get a hold of me, without bothering to call abroad every time they feel like chatting. Two unlocked phones will back you up for any strange reason.
    There are dual-sim phones out there, but I simply carry on me my unlocked iphone ( I block all incoming data so I can only use it over WiFi and it's free) and one unlocked Nokia for everything else, and am pretty happy with it.

    *Skype (and Skype credit!)
    Skype has changed my life. really. The ability to talk AND to see my friends and family on a daily basis and for free, is just a miracle! But what is even better , is Skype credit which you can purchase, and make calls from your computer to any phone in the world. It doesn't cost much, and it gives you the ability to have your own "landline" and not have to use your cell phone to place what would be an extremely expensive call otherwise.

    *Electricity world converter+ extension
    The World converter is great. It really does work worldwide (you just need to adjust to the right position). But what is the genius addition, is the extension cord I bring with it. That way- I don't need more then only 1 converter, and can plug all my American gadgets into the one extension instead and I also gain mobility!

    For travel:

    *4 wheel suitcases
    I mentioned this before, and I will mention it again- buy thyself a 4 wheel suitcase and trash your 2 wheel one. You will understand what I am talking about once you experience this simple but great revolution!

    *Airline lounge membership
    Whether you have accumulated enough points on your preferred airline, and have managed to get into their "gold" or VIP club for free, or whether you have to invest some kind of money into acquiring that status in order to use the lounge at the airport- this might be worth it.
    The idea of sitting with a bunch of businessman and getting free cocktails and food and WiFi before and in between flights, might not sound that appetizing right now, but once you experience it, in a life full of travel- it is hard to not desire it for the rest of your road.

    For high performance:

    * Sleeping pills
    I am not one to preach for drug use. Sleeping pills are addictive and horrible. However, if you are an opera singer and you are about to sing a leading role and it is 4 AM and you still haven't slept a minute... and you have a matinee where you sing dance and act for 4 hours... and the show depends on you... you really do want to have some kind of a sleeping aid available to you.
    You might carry melatonin, herbs, teas and/or your personal meditation CD, but when it is already 5 AM, and you are still hyper, trust, you'll thank me for taking that Ambien pill and getting your Z's in order.

    You never know what noises you might be forced to endure doing the one night you have to get your Z's. (here are some of my encounters: drunk tourists coming back from the night club at 4AM yelling right outside my hotel door. A neighbor who loves her stilettos at all hours of the day (and night). An old def lady next door who forgets her TV on, letting it blast 24 hours a day).
    Very bad acoustic isolation wherever you are is almost a given, and to make your life a little bit easier, I recommend that you travel with these, and lots of them. (the reason I say "lots" is because they tend to disappear to the same black hole single socks disappear into after laundry. It's a mystery that can only be soothed by quantity. :)

    *5 hour energy bottle
    To counter the sleeping pills, again- if your last resort is "drugs", go for this one. When coffee and sugar stopped working, and you simply don't feel up to the task of entertaining full-blast because you are way too tired- try one of these little devils. They work.

    *Wellness formula
    I use this whenever I start getting sick. I use the liquid form of this preventive all-natural potion, and it usually saves my health (and the sanity of the opera house where I am singing) :)

    Girl talk:

    *Victoria Secret "miraculous" push up bras
    The world is marveling in the "boobilicious" presentation I manage to acquire on stage. But what they don't know is that in reality these girls are ...much more humble, let's say.. ;)
    My Carmen is not complete without it! Highly recommended.

    *Hair extensions (hairdo by Jessica Simpson)
    For concerts, bad-hair days, wig-hair (when you take off the wig after a show and your own hair seems very shy ;) ) I use these extensions for added volume and length. They look natural and they clip in within 10 seconds. One of my favorite products.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Spoken words

    For anybody interested- a full radio interview I did a couple weeks ago on ABC Classic FM (Australia) with Margaret Throsby, one of the most highly regarded Australian interviewers.

    Interview directly here.

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    0.2 cents

    Being on the road for quite a while, I was thinking about early investments for singers, and came up with a short list, in no particular order.

    (Invest in):

    Do it while you are still young. I need not say any more. Nobody has a perfect technique, but the ones who actually get to work professionally and *maintain* it, are the ones who arrived into the business in a pretty descent shape already.
    You keep on perfecting your technique as you develop , and you keep learning and correcting over the years, (and thanks to experience), but your basic foundation should strive to be as little faulty as it can, *before* you get out there.


    Same as Technique. But I can not stress more how *important* it is to be able to understand the words and the grammar of all the languages you sing.
    slightly less important , but this would make your life SO much better, is the ability to communicate with your colleagues, conductors and directors later on (and you WILL find that if you work in Europe, English will NOT be the language spoken around). This will also help immensely to elevate your comfort of living as an international citizen. (It makes a huge difference if you get lost in a foreign country and still can ask and understand directions in the native language).

    3)Friendships and relationships

    Being on the road makes you so detached already, by default, from your friends and family.
    MAKE AN EFFORT to keep in touch with everybody, and I mean: EVERYBODY, and I mean: EFFORT. Actually *invest* your time into Emails, phone calls, Facebook, whatever can keep you an available, good friend. The more random acquaintances will unavoidably, gradually drop out of your life, as you are so absent, so try to keep your profile up in order to (at least) keep your good friends and important relationships around.
    {You will find later how nice it is to be in a foreign country and have a whole list of local friends to invite for dinner (or to be invited!)}.
    Loneliness is a major factor in our life. Having available friends to you, whether they are physically or virtually around,and being an active, real friend to them, is a very important thing, both ways, I find.

    4)What's important to you and makes you comfortable

    Are you attached to your 15 year old stuffed Teddybear? Do you sleep better knowing you have a sleeping pill around, just in case? Is your French coffee presser and turkish coffee is something which gives you comfort every morning? Are you in need of a Macbook pro/ iphone/ + Internet WiFi key? TAKE those things with you, by all means. Make yourself at home, because this WILL be your home. What you carry *with* you in your suitcase might be the only thing to soothe your aching heart.

    5)Your mental health and spiritual state

    This is a hard one, because you might think it gets better, but frankly it doesn't. The more you are on the road, the more obstacles cross roads and question marks are bumping into you.
    Pressure, instability, loneliness, burdens, decisions, doubts, will try to sink you down. Try really hard to have something or somebody (yoga? meditation? guru? religion?help books?) to help you balance and bounce back.

    6)Your physical shape

    This is very connected to the mental shape advice, and I can't stress out enough how important it is to get into SOME kind of a routine with exercise. The more you do it , the better the world around you would feel and the better you'd feel about your self.

    7)Your image

    Invest in your image. Whatever it might be. What you put out there is what they will want (or not) to buy. Decide on WHO you are, try to be your own PR manager, represent your self the way you want people to perceive (and buy) you, as if you were a product, which in fact- you (kind of) are.

    8)Human relations

    You need to be charming, in some way. What you lack in technique, looks, or general goods , could be filled in by your human relation skills.

    9)Good luggage

    Seriously- for me: one of the major things. Investing in a good piece of luggage (or a few) is my number one rule. Traveling the world with a four- wheeler samsonite (and also a carry on) has changed my existance. Life is so much better. Spend that money , you won't regret it!

    10)Travel/ accommodation

    Don't try to save a buck on how you travel and where you stay.
    avoiding an extra connection, 4 hours lay over or a dumpy cold and empty hotel room, will make your life so much nicer.
    When traveling becomes your world, your hotel room is your home. Make it nice for yourself and your entire being will be elevated.

    11)Support circle

    Along your career, you will be subjected to unimaginable amount of opinions and criticism. You will be reviewed, you will be loved and hated, you will be watched and no matter how well you think you did, it is never going to be well enough for some.
    Pick only a handful of people in your life whom you trust. Make them your support circle. They should be the only people you can TRULY listen to, take advice from, and still feel safe and loved and constructive.

    12)Etiquette skills

    Like languages, it is important to know when to talk how to talk which fork to use for which dish and how to approach people.
    You will find that schmoozing and having fancy meals with fancy people is as large a part as the actual singing.
    If you can't stand social etiquette rules, it's fine too,. You can always acquire a "bad boy" image and play against the rules. That's an image too. But before you do that- Know how to behave anyway.

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    Life and mirrors

    I don't know why I want to tell you this, but I will anyway write here this short little story:
    While doing my daily routine of 60 minutes cardio on the elliptical machine at the gym, I noticed two women with identical backs, identical pony tails, identical shoulders, identical legs, working out right in the row in front of me.
    I could not see their faces , but I was extremely curious to wait and find out if indeed they were a set of identical twins, or just two very, very similar back sides of random strangers.
    I was patiently waiting (while still working out), to catch a glimpse of their front.

    Half an hour passed by and we were all, good girls, still on our exercise machine, when I noticed that on the TV screen , they were showing an episode of trash- show "Jerry Springer" where they featured a set of identical twins who shared the same man.

    I was so taken by the show on TV, that when it was over, and I suddenly remembered to examine reality and finally find the answer to my curiosity I have been holding for the past hour, the real life twins in question, were already gone.

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Status (or: Gold singer)

    With "star alliance", a group of a few different partner airlines , I already managed to accumulate a respectful amount of miles. I have flown so much in the past years, that I am now a "Gold member" of their VIP club.
    This entitles me to unlimited visits at all their lounges around the world's airports, special first class check in, free upgrades and all kinds of other sweet little treatments.
    Before reaching this status, I was content flying like a normal, middle class person, but since I have become "special" I can't imagine going back.
    The smiles at the first class check-in desk, the (politely not even mentioned) "you are over the weight limit, but oh well, you are important so we'll let it go", the civilized, quiet, sophisticated well air-conditioned room on its leather arm chairs and well dressed, well behaved businessmen, the free full breakfast/ lunch/ dinner/ cocktails/ snacks/ magazines/ internet services upon my arrival at the lounge,these little things I now feel I *deserve*, will not easily be given up or forgotten. In fact, in my world, they now seem almost necessary.

    I enjoyed watching the film "Up in the air", about a frequent flyer who's main goal in life is to accumulate a life-time highest "status" with his airline.
    It might seem like a sarcastic joke to you, but to a frequent flyer, who is away from home for most of the year, these little touches make life so much more bearable.

    Don't think for a moment that airline glitzy statuses come easy. You need to fly enough miles and enough "segments" ( what is that?) during one year, with your company, to get it right and , you also have to maintain that flight frequency in order to remain a V.I.P.
    If you haven't flown enough, you could at any moment , be demoted!

    I live in fear.
    (Am only joking here, but maybe not a full 100 % ).

    This airline status, reminds me of a singing career.
    How easy it is to get used to a certain illusion of success,money, respect, glamour, (this, a singer can be fooled to believe in over the course of even one single production), but how with the same easiness, you can fail to achieve enough (or so simply : fail), and get dropped.
    (First to drop you, would be the fickle public then the hiring companies then your management. And If you are still buckled on that unlucky coaster ride, it could even continue into your personal life, until you've been dropped so low there's nothing bellow-er anymore).
    I see this happening to colleagues left and right, and I am trying to stay afloat here, on my humble "silver" singer status, not even "gold". LoL.

    On my recent visit with my parents, my mother asked me :" What will you do when your shining star goes away? let's assume (being positive) in 10, 15 years or so? what will you do?"
    … What WILL I do after I have sung the Carmens of the world, stumbled through some other operatic repertoire, had my one woman cabaret / recital show, have gotten older - my skin, breasts, vibrato- all defeated by gravity- , got cast as "the mother" and then "the grandmother", until there is no role old or small enough for me? (that is most likely to happen , in opera years - around the ancient human age of 50 or so )…

    That was a question with no immediate answer to be found.
    (I hope that by the time this happens, I can still visit my mother and let her believe that I am singing Carmen at the MET and at Covent Garden and at La Scala , and , like a good, trusting old mother, she would really and truly buy my lies and be content).

    What will I do when I don't fly consecutive gazillion miles per year, when I get kicked out ,dropped from Golden heaven, becoming once again a faceless dot in a loud crowd of ordinary people at an airport, standing in line, if able to, in order to buy a small overpriced bottle of water?

    " when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"
    …I guess I'd have to try to make a lemonade with this ridicilous water I'd just bought at $4.99? …that's if I can find a slice of fresh lemon and some sugar anywhere… I guess I could always beg the lady working at the lounge to be kind, for old time' sake, and slip me some…

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    L'Chaim (to life)

    Before I left to restart my "world tour" I was a bit fearful, since I couldn't foresee any real downtime and my only chance to unpack my winter clothes and repack for the summer season, was some 4 short days at home in between shows, after three months away and before 2 upcoming ones.

    What I didn't expect, was a decline in my health. Oh health...something we all take for granted, when we are blessed with it and are able to ignore.
    Many of my issues derive from the high- stress, high- pressure state in which I live, and since I really haven't had the time to acknowledge any of it (or even get checked), like a tooth- decay untreated, all has worsened until I was actually forced to stop and pay attention.

    Toronto, Berlin, Baden Baden, Tokyo and Stuttgart, dealing with much travel, criticism, high expectations,loneliness, no regular exercise, change of weather/ diet, crazy sleep pattern, and not enough of what I do need to survive well balanced, and my body was starting to collapse on me, working on "empty", trying to survive on the top of a fragile cracking base.
    What was the last "straw" actually made me almost fear for my life; Four hours before my most recent premiere, feverish, and with extremely low blood pressure , I fainted on a random doctor's bed (I managed to get my self to one, across the street from where I temporarily live).
    Aided by some Intravenous infusion, I somehow phoned the opera house ("hello?... I don't want to worry you.. but I am in no shape to even stand up straight...") only to find out that if I don't show up, they'd have to cancel the entire show. (No stand by, and not enough warning time to fly anybody from afar).
    I finally got up,popped in a few fever reducing pills, drank an energy drink, and then I went on to sing the premiere with all the power I've got within.

    Since then I actually had tests done and found the physical source for some of my symptoms, which I will now be able to manage with medication.

    Maybe I take things too much to heart, I don't know. I am an artist. I should take things to "heart"- my one artistically most important "organ", shouldn't I, but then I get so personally hurt by a nobody blogger who calls me a "bad singer", or by an opera company who might pass me by if I am not to their casting director's liking. I get so sad when they "don't get me", especially because I do make all this exhausting effort only for the sake of this one thing I know how to do: sharing my silly singing and soul with you.
    I hope to get stronger, tougher, and to learn how to ignore all the elements which weaken my spirit and body, and know that if I manage to live and to give - I've not only survived, but I've actually thrived.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    I got a blog too, baby .

    A couple of years ago, I sang Rosina in Venice. (you can still read my blog entries from then- March/ April 08). I was nervous to be the only foreigner among an all Italian cast, singing an Italian opera. Although I did alright, I agree that it wasn't my best, and for that, I got trashed by a known mean-spirited Italian blog (it's a group of different Italians who go to every opera they can, then review it).
    At the time, I came across that blog and was devastated to read how badly I was received (by them). I remember a day of trying to get to the one and only, far away supermarket, in the rain, with too many tourists blocking my way.. and me crying the entire way).
    I learnt my lesson- don't read these blogger reviews.

    Something interesting happend to me recently. An older Italian gentleman (living in Germany) asked to be my friend on my private Facebook page. Since I don't know him in person, and have never met him, I wrote him a nice message directing him to my public "Fanpage". (This is my own general policy regarding FB, for my own privacy sake). He replied and said that he would come to see my show in Baden Baden. I wished him an enjoyable evening.
    Looking at his page, I noticed that he had an opera review blog.

    That's how I came to visit his blog now. A fan on Facebook. I was quite curious to see what he would have to say. (pros and cons).
    To my surprise, his review attacked me in some ways I couldn't really imagine:
    He was explaining that I am a Soprano in disguise, who has no low note, but no high notes either... etc etc: an unimaginatively harsh, cold, and hateful review (which was almost word to word similar to the Venetian one) but underneath, in a side comment, as he criticizes the "production", he mentions that my Carmen is a "Zingara, prostituta, ebrea e terrorista. Che si vuole di più?" (Gypsy, prostitute, Jewish, and a terrorist").
    While you can somehow explain the "Gypsy", or even the "prostitute" (the costumes?) or the "terrorist" (I was at one little point carrying a gun), I truly don't recall wearing the yellow star on my arm or praying to the bible in this production.
    In other words: an antisemitic remark which shines a whole other light on this new FB "fan" and his "review". (He is no longer my Fan on FB). .... UPDATE: Mr. gianguido mussomeli has quietly and cowardly erased his little fascist remark.

    I decided to do something I never do; This just infuriated me too much- I responded to his comment.
    I wanted him to realize that since he actually WAS in personal touch with me, I came to read his blog. I wanted him to realize that I am a human being, a real one, and especially because we HAVE met on cyber space, he might want to reconsider his offensive ways. ... UPDATE: Mr. gianguido mussomelli has quietly and cowardly also erased some of my responses, and other readers comments, and has left his blog nice and "clean".
    I don't expect privileged positive reviews just because we exchanged words on the Internet, but reading such a harsh critic which is laced with an anti- Semitic foot note, was really an unpleasant surprise.
    To my comment, he replied by digging up and posting this 2008 unrelated (Barbiere!) VENICE review from that other blog I was mentioning earlier. LoL.

    I guess here is where I should really stop. and I am. But at least I am not crying all the way to the supermarket anymore (on the contrary- I am smiling all the way to there, to the theater, AND to the bank, too!) :)

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Bad 'N baden

    The Icelandic volcano gained me a week of suspension at home, but I was anxious to be already in rehearsals. I actually hate knowing that they have begun without me. What I find the most interesting about my operatic life actually is the process itself. (Appearing a day before opening like what seems to be a desired situation to some of us is not at all my cup of tea). At least we had a few good weeks of rehearsing for this new (and very interesting) production, so when I got here to Baden Baden, I easily caught up with work (and work is all we have been doing- on a 6 or 7 hours per day, every day).
    I think stress, which got me before hand, made me join the opera singers main disease club: "The heart-burn sufferers".
    It's been a known fact that we singers get acid reflux more than anyone else, but I wasn't aware of this until recently, when I became a "sufferer" my self.
    Here in Baden Baden- a disneyland of a town,(clean air, flowers and trees, smily vacationers sipping on white wine), I thought I would relax and get rid of the stress , but it turns out that the problem never deserted me, and here I was, several days short of opening night, on all kinds of medication. Over- rehearsing plus uncontrolled stomach acid is bad news for a singer, and having it eventually effected my poor little cords, I had to fly to Berlin on an emergency trip to see the best voice doctor on this continent so he could diagnose me correctly and try help me to regain my old self before the premiere.
    No price would have been be too high to pay because I was so excited about singing this one: Period instruments and a genius conductor , on the top of a well thought -out new production with a most talented cast.
    For this one, I decided to take a big risk. The conductor has recognized some qualities in my instrument and in my musical personality- some of which shown best at my gentlest; Accompanied by most sensitive historic instruments (and their maestro) I was asked to sing this opera as if it were a chanson.
    This, as you can imagine, goes against the operatic norm, and against what people expect to hear from an opera singer, especially a Carmen. But I agreed to oblige and with much pleasure too, and interpret this music in a new and fresh way, where the audience can *if they want to listen* hear new colors and nuance they usually don't get from an operatic stage.
    By that, I have almost signed a condemning contract over my own head, being (as I was expecting) criticized for "size of voice" .
    But let me tell you- I take full responsibility and pride in my work. I so enjoyed creating something special, that I don't really care (anymore) if someone grills me for not getting the usual generic brand they expect.

    Thursday, April 08, 2010

    In short

    A month go by, or two and I haven't written on here mainly because of the ups and downs. Sometimes it's just too much of it too put it all into a long blog entry.

    Thank God for Twitter where I can briefly sum up my day with not too much explaining to do. The advantage of being a woman of few words is great when my voice or my body or my soul are simply too overworked.
    But Berlin was wonderful, and the production (a returning one where I was to be the premiering mezzo, but for unfortunate schedule reasons, I had come to sing it only now), this production agreed with me. A bare stage with a shallow pool in its middle and sand surrounding it, a little black short dress, that's all. Oh, and everybody dies. A recipe to my own liking.
    In this one, (unlike the previous production, see below), I switched back to the more cruel Carmen, the lioness who falls for the lion, not for the wolf. And at the very last scene, Escamillo's dead body which is carried across stage, is what motivates her to face her own death. Not the fathomed freedom she has been fighting for, but a real, true love which would be realized only in death.
    Anyways... Back home, I managed to do a successful photo shoot with one of the best fashion photographers around- Fadil Berisha (some of the results you can check out on my FB page).
    Now I am off again, back to work, 5 months 'on the road'.
    Will update Twitter in between blog posts . :)

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    First meeting- carmen VS Audience

    Curtain's up. Conductor begins, Carmen overture starts. You are sitting in your dressing room. The speakers are up so you can here what's going on. From now you have got about 19 minutes until it's your entrance.
    You warm up your voice a bit more. Scale up to high C down to lowest C, make sure all the notes are solid; For Act 1 "Habanera" and "Seguidilla", you have a high B and a low B, and an ocean of public expectations... Better stretch everything well beforehand. A little breathing control, a little jumping jack- just to move your muscles around.. get in the mood.
    Minute 15- "Ms. Shaham to Stage left" you hear on the speakers. Your dresser takes a good careful final look at you, to make sure your costume is right. Your makeup lady also inspects you and secures the flower in your hair one last time.
    You walk to "stage left". Chorus sings, you get the green light, you make your entrance.


    I always find this first aria to be somewhat of an awkward moment in the life of Carmen. "we don't see Carmen" they all sing and then she appears. there's a little orchestral intro, a little "here she is" sung excitedly by the people on stage, during which Carmen, who is supposed to be nonchalant and a bit blaze' about it, (what's the big fuss?), usually finds herself in a bit of a static moment here. even if you are given specific instructions from the director (like washing your face/ legs/body/eating an orange/pushing/ fondling a chorus member... I am mentioning these actions because for some reason they seem to appear in many different productions), but even if you include these little fillers, you are still left at the top of a staircase, or the middle of a stage, stared by a big chorus and an entire amphitheater full with thousands of people. All awaiting your word.
    You must command the stage at this point. If you fail to do so, you would have to work hard to redeem yourself for the rest of the night (or your career, really). This is the big moment.
    The recit begins. You must be secure, poised, charismatic, in control, sure, sexy, alluring, desired, commending, and at the same time- without seeming to *try* to be any of it.
    When the aria starts, the light strings down in the pit begin with a faint bass line which to your ears sounds like a quiet solo pizzicato- Lucky if you can hear it at all.
    Here you start your famous aria, which is not only a big dramatic challenge, but a vocal one as well ,as it is composed of tricky passages; Like the dramatic nature of this aria- {*seem* like it is nothing, but in fact make an impact}, so is the musical challenge: Chromatically descending notes you must sing extremely accurately and stylistically , without the ability to hear much else but your own voice.
    If you are not warmed up enough, or slightly too warmed up, if you are not really 'tuned' yet, or you are simply not feeling your best, it is here that you would be fully exposed, nowhere to hide, nowhere at all.
    You are telling a story, you are telling your belief, you are being charming, you might be flirtatious, but you should never ever cross the very fine line between that and being vulgar, *too* eager, too much. You need to be simple, but hint of complexity.
    You need to ACT like you don't care, but not really. Come to think about it- this is some good advice for any first date. :)

    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    The advantage of saying "crepi" over feeling "crappy"

    Last night was my surprise premiere at the lovely Canadian Opera Company . I say surprise because only a week ago, I was picking my nose in New York and complaining about my life.
    So this quick change was just what the doctor ordered- I flew in, I did cliff-notes rehearsals and then -bam- opening night.
    What was returned to me, in a heart bit, was this immense joy I get when on stage.
    Last night I decided to change my interpretation slightly- I wanted to add a different angle to my Carmen- which is more evident especially in act 4- after discussing the director's concept: I wanted to try take a more subtle approach where Carmen at the very end of her life still loves Jose, but decides to put on her tough face. (subtle, because more than anything, it's a tiny detail one can only notice very quickly in some passing moments, it's a nuance). So I added a bit more *noticeable* vulnerability to the mix, just to try it out, and it felt pretty good.
    (You can see here what the *other* way to do it looks like- when my Carmen is decidedly shut to Jose's imploring).
    At any rate- I am grateful to be here and be thrown into the water, which in fact is a refreshing fountain for my soul. Sounds poetic, but hey- when you feel content, poetry is one of the side effects.

    Saturday, January 23, 2010


    So as life is- full of surprises, I find my self in Toronto, about to sing an open dress rehearsal of a show I have never rehearsed (well- I got about 3 hours of blocking, a full crazy run with orchestra and chorus and costumes, and another 3 hours of blocking!).
    Having fought with a slight cold and a really filthy mood for a month, this is a sign of destiny's love which I greatly needed and fully appreciate. More later, but first- I need to go through some dialogue lines which I haven't done since 2004 and try to remember from where I enter, to whom I sing, how I dance what I say and how I die at the end .

    Friday, January 01, 2010

    New year, yay.

    Happy new year my dear readers! Please accept my apologies for this big break I have been taking from writing. I kind of didn't have a great month (other than a few highlights of working with some very good people and meeting lovely new friends), but I have not had the pleasure of being on stage , in front of an audience, for too long it seems, and when that happens, I can't help but become a bit... well- negative; Not a good mode for blog writing.

    I am very much looking forward to this new year- some interesting travel to places I love and miss (like Berlin and Tokyo), and a few new and old productions I am excited about. Next month I will most likely get me some refill of joy in my cup, and will spread some of it around! :)

    Wednesday, December 09, 2009

    Who is the real C

    Sorry to have to be quiet lately; Sometimes I simply have to keep things to my self, I am sure you can understand why.
    What I can share, is that I have been following all the latest headlines that other Mezzo Sopranos are making (or about to make) with their very important debuts as carmen, in very important opera houses.
    It is so fascinating to me to see how Carmen the role, and Carmen the opera always cause such a controversy and debate. Nobody ever agrees on who Carmen IS and who really can BE her and how it should be set.
    Follow other opera blogs (like here or here or here to see what I mean). :)

    Friday, November 27, 2009

    The Loyal treatment

    I've been in Europe the last few days; an orchestral concert: preparing, rehearsing and performing.. To tell you the truth- I was quite nervously excited, having been so immersed in opera performances lately, the concept of standing on a stage as the only soloist, and showing "what you've got" in a few concentrated minutes , is something I adore, but had to shift gears for, no, change vehicles for.... especially for repertoire which I have not sung in a while.

    Happy to do the concert I rejoiced that this engagement was the fruit of one conductor's loyalty.
    I have to explain this, because if you are not involved in the business of performing, you probably wouldn't have an idea how loyalty is scarce here, but how so very important it is.

    When you look at people in my field who have made it, you have to realize that there's somebody mighty behind them, who made sure they emerged. By one's self, achieving any kind of public career only by the sheer talent or skill or charm is super-difficult. We need a powerful and reliable "motor" behind us, who would push- start us at the beginning of our trip, and then maintain us on the track for as long as we are out there.

    You see- even at this point of my career, I couldn't possibly have come to where I am, if I didn't have the support of a few special people like my beloved mentors, and some key people in my life who happened to be influential themselves.
    More than anything, I am so thankful of my good connections with certain opera houses, conductors and directors who loved my work enough to invite me again.
    Without those people, we singers can only hope for a career, really; If you sing once at a place , and never return, it's almost like the tree falling in the if you've never sung there at all; The public (unfortunately), has a short memory.

    That's why, whenever I work with a new conductor or director that I like, I pray that they will be one of the loyal ones, who stand by their word.
    When they say: "You are an amazing artist, we must work together often" I believe them. And most often they really mean what they say, but it's easy to let time slip on away, and promises fade like the very sense of security that they represent.

    The concert I just sang was a little festive celebration of loyalty; The collaboration between two artists (and that's all we are, at the end), who kept the simple promise to stick together and maybe survive the fickle nature of this business through what we do best: making music, hand in hand.

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Tavern on the green Halloween party scam fraud 09

    I wish to direct anybody who got scammed on Halloween night at the over-sold (or : non existent) "Tavern on the green" Halloween party:

    Action group here:

    We got scammed by Tavern on the Green 2009 Halloween!

    News coverage (so far)here

    Thursday, October 22, 2009


    Speaking of... A most enchanting old film, with what seems to be a very realistic portrayal of gypsies and an amazing love story (very close to the one of Carmen's)

    Take a look at this film,based on a 1892 story by Maxim Gorki: "Gypsies Are Found Near Heaven" (Табор уходит в небо)

    here is a clip:

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    fate and fortune

    I find that my friends divide into two groups: the mystics and the not. I always had a tendency to believe the world of spirits, cards, stars, and magic. I am not a full hundred percent into it, as I really have to keep at least one foot and most of my head on the very much realistic and materialistic ground, but I do believe in the power of guided thoughts, prayers, wishes, destiny and fate.
    At any rate, I was traveling to Paris to be with close girlfriends of mine, both I think have strong witchery talents, and we 3 ended up at a fourth one's apartment, where we were all given some "reading" and some advice.

    I like listening to advice, because like anybody else's, mine is not a perfect life, and the things I so much want to achieve, sometimes have more chance if I stop at my tracks and slightly change the direction. Sometimes we are so stuck on one way of doing things, and we might miss what is just around us. So- advice it was.

    But getting back to do my show (where I am playing a gypsy who reads her own cards, and foresees her own fate), I was quite distracted.
    What is one show compare to the rest of my life? ... I tried very hard to concentrate and be in *that* moment, give my whole self to the role, to the music, to the audience... But I simply couldn't get away from a much larger cloud which I was trying to blow away by singing loud.

    At the end of that evening (my manager found me in my dressing room very upset with my self yelling out loud: "fuuuuck!"), I learnt that one of the most significant persons in the entire business, was in fact there, to watch me.

    Was it by chance? Did my spiritual trip bring some sort of misfortune on purpose? or was it in fact a great fortune and I still do not know its outcome?
    Did I only feel like I was not being the best I could, but in fact I was impressive to others? Or was I fortunate enough to have a well-experienced judge there, who can anyway forgive and overlook a temporary weakness and still believe in me? Things take time my friends. I will probably only find out the answer to these questions in many good years from now.
    At the moment, though, I am trying to recover from the place where too much spirit and too much material together just makes me want to leave the knowing to someone else.

    Friday, October 09, 2009

    From me to you

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Diva fit

    Remember this childhood dream?: You are in the middle of a huge crowd. They are all staring at you. The reason: you are butt-naked. You are naked, fat, and your things dangle, and they all point at you and laugh.
    I haven't had that dream for years, but it actually happened to me , sort of, the other day.

    A couple of weeks ago, when I was able to try my costumes for the first time, I had a big concern, (which of course I expressed to the costume department); All of my dresses (and there are plenty.. many more than the usual 3 or 4 changes), were designed for a completely different kind of body. For starters, all of them are made of stretchy, clingy material that grabs and holds to your skin.

    Having been a teenager of 86 kilos, materials such as these, find no hardship in grabbing all they can on me.
    As opposed to a skinny-girl gone fat, Fat girl gone- skinnier will always retain some schnitzel somewhere on her body, no matter how much cardio she might do (well, at least this is true in my case),
    So, having dress after dress hug the flabby points of my body (which normally I know exactly how to hide), was already raising a big red flag.

    But I do put my trust in opera house tailors- They all have years of experience under their belt. So for the next time, I was pretty hopeful to have a wonderful costume adjustment.

    But when I stepped into my first dress; The one in which I have to make my big entrance, and sing the Habanera , (and in it I immediately transform from Rini to Carmen, feeling fierce and sexy) , looking in the full-length mirror in my dressing room, all I could see was a frumpy , dumpy, short and fat woman staring at me with horror in her eyes.

    I tried really hard to hold my tears, and somehow managed, being rushed onto stage , where the show already has begun.

    I made my entrance and started singing the first line. But instead of feeling like the desirable, beautiful woman, the object of all women's envy and all men's desire, I instantly turned into that fat naked girl, and everybody- the chorus, the soloists, the people watching me from the house, were pointing at me and laughing.

    I was literally choking on my vocal lines and was planted into the stage in a catatonic state. That's at least how it all felt to me.

    At the end of my scene which I just somehow did on "automatic", I ran back to my dressing room, and cried:
    " I can't".

    They all (feeling sorry and largely apologetic) had to agree with me, and the General Director of the house came by and asked that I should wear whatever would make me feel, and be my best . This was not only a kind allowance but also a smart, invested one.

    The following day was my only (and final) dress rehearsal. In the morning I arrived at the costume department and we went through several different dresses and shoes that were similar to the original costume, but had a much better outcome. We eventually found a few perfect pieces, that got me safely onto stage, back with the "oomph" , and the security that clothes do give me, being the center of a large clothed crowd.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Prima la prima

    I have been pretty content here; Rehearsals have been lovely. Even though this is a returning production (and not a new one, as I thought before), the girl who is remounting it is a talented director with whom I have worked in the past (on Pelleas et Melisande in Berlin), so it was nice to meet again. And since this is (German, couldn't be else)- modern production, I find that in fact those "modern" ones actually tend to fit me much better.

    Set in an intimate space (currently, it is a living room- a rug, a sofa, a grand piano. pretty classy), I feel that I can actually do much more straight theater and be *seen* and ahm- noticed (as oppose to being swallowed by an ocean of grand sets and choruses and extras and animals, with tons of props and different surfaces and flamenco skirts and what not).

    Where all I have is a sofa and a Don Jose, the energy naturally flies between us with no artificial obstacles, and bounces off to the audience, no other distraction... which I love, especially when there's a good rapport between us.

    Opening night is about to happen here. Unfortunately I will not get to be on stage for it , because it will be sung by a wonderful artist I respect and admire, (however-) not quite the one who has been rehearsing with my cast for 3 weeks. (me). But it's OK.
    I am still genuinely very excited to get another shot at anther angle of the heroine in me, even if I'm not the prima donna.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Follow the (damn) (yellow, brown, whatever) brick road

    I have this eternal problem of what to wear. Thing is- when I am on a gig, I can't show up with JUST rehearsal clothes... Heck, I can't even arrive to rehearsal with "rehearsal clothes", I need to "represent" my self well. This means that the only shoes that don't give me backache- my sneakers, are not anything I want to be seen in. Ever.
    So all the shoes I brought with me , are all heels. Boots and shoes- heels heels heels.
    If you ever been to Cologne, you probably noticed that most of the side walks are built of little (impossible to walk on with heels) bricks. (But you probably were a tourist, and didn't need to think to yourself: "I need to look representable.". You were just wearing your ugly sneakers and not giving a flying frog that you are looking like an American tourist, and you were zooming around town feeling fabulous anyway).
    But you see- *I* can't do that. I need to walk on my heels and slip fall and ache all the way to the theater and back, because I simply don't look good in flats. That's all I have to say.
    In my rented apartment in Cologne, there is a corner where I found 3 big crystal rocks, resting by the window. I naturally gravitate towards that corner of the room , even though sitting at the chair which is there, by the little table, is most uncomfortable.
    Still, I find myself again and again siting on that uncomfortable chair, by that window with the three crystals.
    I arranged a beautiful wooden bowl with fruit of the season, which I put on the table, by the chair , by the window with the crystals.
    There I sit and carefully chose from my bowl of fruit of the season, which will be eaten, and with how much pleasure.

    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    click your (stiletto) heels 3 times. (now start prancing around)

    What is it with my "luck"? .. Why is it that where EVER I go in the world, there's ALWAYS a bimbo with high heels living just above me and waking up at 7 AM (in her heels) ?

    Tuesday, September 08, 2009

    why fhy

    I am in Cologne, and after quite a tiring first day here, I am starting to feel much better.
    My first and outmost urgent mission when getting to a new place, is to nest and nest well. For that I need a few basic things: First one and above all, is an Internet connection.
    If you don't do something similar to what I do for a living, you probably don't quite understand that sick obsession and deeply rooted need to be so connected, but I promise you- Internet in a foreign place is like what my orthopedic insoles are to my lower back pain: salvation.
    Upon arrival at my new apartment here, I already knew that there was no phone line here therefore no DSL, but I was hoping for an unlocked kind neighbor's, or some kind of a lifeline, maybe a T-mobil hotspot.. something...
    But as it seems to be here- no German is a fool (as apparently they can get jailed for their hacker's surfing habits); There are literally dozens of WiFi signals here- all *locked*!
    I actually spent some desperate time trying to knock on my neighbor's doors to ask for their password (nobody was home), and then proceeded to try and *guess* them. LoL.
    The apartment was nice but empty. The TV spoke German which I was way too tired to try to understand, the fridge was plastic cold empty shelves, and the shower was soapless.
    I put my things down and since it was a Sunday, I like the rest of Europe, was put on a hold. No supermarkets open, no dealing with Internet connection possibilities. I *had* to wait.
    At least Monday was a sunny day, the cell company O2 got me on a portable USB stick which gives me WiFi wherever (What a fabulous solution!), I got a huge first shopping done (ground coffee, bananas, ricecakes, olive oil, and some other eclectic products that make no one decent meal at any point, but still fill up that un-lived-in-place feel).
    We even covered more or less the entire first act and I still have the feeling that I am going to like being here for the next two months.

    Saturday, September 05, 2009

    Happy season

    I am excited today, as I am flying to Cologne this afternoon, to start rehearsing for a production of Carmen. I visited the director's website , and it is looking like his work might be right up my alley. (and more so, my friends who have worked with him all love his ideas and his style).
    So happy just to be starting my season. Work again! Sing! Good bye New York City for a little while, time to Deutch Spechen again :)

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    No slacker here.

    I deleted my previous "fanpage" entry because it somehow might make people (especially new guests) think that I am trying to "hitch hike" on the OC entry (where I in fact wrote an innocent invitation, a week b4 OC's mention, to my 20 daily readers I've had since 2005, to join me on FaceBook)..

    At any rate; I maintain my innocence , and my humble, un-famous little corner in blogsphere, and if you wanna join me on facebook- find me :)


    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Oh the expectations, the stress in our lives! Dear - dear O.C readers welcome to my lame-o blog. (There. Now I got the pressure off me). :)

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    Defending Carmen

    The more I sing Carmen, the more I learn about her, believe in her and love her, and the more I feel that I have to defend her.
    After a long and interesting path of 15 different productions of this magnificent opera, I find myself almost sure of my relationship with Carmen and my knowledge of how I want her to be, and how I want to portray her.

    In my most recent production, in Israel, I found that not only did I have to "defend" Carmen, the fictional woman, but also the Carmen whom I have created.

    Judging from the misguided ideas of some Israeli critics , even the ones who didn't have the pre-notion that Carmen was a "whore", thought she *should* be at least the cliche that one expects to see from her.

    I so resent it.

    I also resent that the bigger and grander the production it is, the more I am expected to be part of that grandeur...
    Carmen wasn't this man-killer monster, she was merely a woman, a girl. Sure she had courage, charisma, beauty and oozes sex appeal (for that she was so popular among the men), but, she was by no means a whore, or a bitch.

    I was so lucky to have worked on one on my very first Carmens with the Genius director David McVicar, over a period of almost four months, (this opportunity, by the way, rarely happens in today's opera world anymore), creating an intimate Carmen that was real.
    With such an important foundation, from such an immense teacher, I hope I never lose my integrity and tools, and I always try to maintain that core, and only grow from there.

    Today, I *know* in my heart, that the Carmen I sing and act, is for sure what is in my best interests, as an artist , to show to my audience; Not their usual big-breasted, big voice, flamenco dancing- thigh rubbing, slow moving, vulgar cliche they mostly expect to see, but something else; more childish, girly, even shy sometimes. hurt. with a rainbow of emotions and colors; a human being, my friends.
    What art is reflecting in its mirror is just us.

    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    The fifth Element

    For opening night of my Israeli debut, I was forced to deal with a few unusual elements: One was the extreme allergy to the horses on stage , the other was having to sing on Cortisone pills and a steroid inhaler (just to be able to breathe), and just for fun, I had to sing for the very first time with my tenor, who only got here a couple days before. (Of course we brushed up on all the specific spots we have together in advance, but we have never sung together on stage before).

    If you ever watched my Online Interview, you might remember me talking about "not being 100% for a show, and having to know how to deal with only 75%).

    Sometimes, this 75% descends to an even greater depth, and you are left with whatever is given to you that night.
    That's what I call: Dealing with the elements.

    In this production, I get to sing with three different tenors. This for itself , is not an easy task. If there is no sense of built- rehearsal process, and not enough clue as for what your counter part is going to do, things can get a little fuzzy.

    My opening- night- guy is a busy man and one of these "nervous" types. (In opera, I can put singers under these 2 categories: "casual, channelling their nervousness into excitement and cheerfulness backstage" (*me*) , and "nervous"; Do *Not* Speak. just be there for them").
    So my absolute calm and support, was something I had to provide, not only for my tenor, but for my self as well.
    The horses pooed all over stage, and we had to maneuver ourselves, skipping in between their doodoo, and trying to keep our own drama going.

    It was really not an easy night, what can I say.

    For the next show, thank God, they realized that they HAVE GOT to get rid of the horses. I wasn't doing all that well on meds. and stepping on poo while singing the Seguidilla...

    So .. I had no horses, and a completely new tenor this time.
    You see what I mean by "deal" and "Elements"?

    Show biz doesn't always smell of roses...

    Sunday, May 24, 2009

    Can't be horse.

    The physical difficulties I thought were only a passing matter, have not stopped back then.... After arriving onto stage, I discovered that what used to be an allergy to the touch of a horse, became an extreme asthma to the area where a horse might be "parking". And this production, a typical Zeffirelli production, has not only one horse, but three plus a donkey.

    For an opera house, having a main-role singer who can't breathe (and therefore can't sing) is worse than having to clear off the already well paid, beautifully costumed stable guys on their trained horses... However ,it is a huge deal to try and re-stage all the scenes involving them, and give up this big part of what the PR here has been using as a selling point: a spettacolo. a grand show. So we are trying all kinds of solutions.

    On the top of that, having been weak for a month now (with an un-identified stomach thingy), feeling like hell and not being able to breathe, I was starting to panic.

    The doctor suggested that this is all related to stress, and that I was losing too much weight on this "blood type" diet, and suggested to reintroduce some wheat and dairy (which I immediately did... being "skinny" is great, but losing strength and voice, is something I'd rather correct ASAP). I also went to a healer who has once helped me a great deal with other allergy issues.

    So, I have been forcefully (I never imagined I would come to that!) gaining some weight back, so I can sing normally, the horses will be waiting on Stage Left, where I will never set foot, and we hope that where they pass, on stage itself, the contamination won't be too strong for my system to handle.
    If tonight's dress rehearsal proves differently, as much as I love these wonderful animals, they will have to be respectfully released from their stage duties (and doodies).

    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    How I *should* warm up!

    (thanks to Lar who fwded this !)

    Saturday, May 16, 2009


    For somebody who usually hears the voices of children and hurries away, just to not get annoyed, I was surprised to come back to Israel, and actually listen in on local kids' conversations, and to have an unusual reaction to it...
    I must have probably found it painfully endearing, because I burst into tears, walking away , trying to figure out what was happening to me;

    I was finally *understanding* them.

    Of course I understand the meaning of words spoken by Americans, or Australians, or Italians for that matter. But here, for the first time, I realized that there is so much more into my own mother-tounge that I was willing to admit.

    Other languages, are understood by my brain as translated. As is. But Hebrew, Hebrew is an entire different matter. Hebrew to start with, is a language with words that are like trees: each word is based on a root, each root has a stem, , which has many secondary branches. One single word, can have multiple meanings, connotations, and of course a rich, old history; General, and personal.

    That's why, it just dawned on me, that all of a sudden, I can't let meanings pass me by, untouched, and live the light existence I usually do, where I can *chose* to understand , or *not* to.
    You see, I can chose to read some political graffiti in Paris, or wall-posts in Italy, and I can chose to understand the argument between the German lady and the fruit vendor, but I really don't have to, especially if my day is demanding enough. When it's not *really* your mother tongue, you can ignore it, (like it's somebody else's child).
    Here, however, I just can't shake anything off my shoulder and go on with my day uneffected.
    And everything, EVERY thing, is rooted deep in me, deeper than I imagined.
    The very specific smells, the asphalt on the side walks, the bushes and trees and flowers I grew up with. The sand and the dust. The mentality, the foods, the sounds, the innocent words of a four year old.

    This suddenly hit me, like a huge wave.
    To be continued after I somehow finish swirling in it.

    Saturday, May 09, 2009


    It turns out, that this time around, I returned to my home land to be treated almost as if I were a war hero; I guess a certain level of international success makes people appreciate your home game in a much deeper way.
    The phenomenon of having made a little name for my self out side, in fine-print English letters, has enlarged my Hebrew-prinetd name to bus-size signs and newspaper titles .

    I can finally see how the big opera starlets of "Universal" must feel; It seems that no matter how bad their performance night might be, (sh*t happens, to stars too...), their ground is so previously- padded with admiration that the margin for failing to deliver doesn't even exist.

    When people already "know how good you are" , marvel in your beauty and with almost religious-blindness, believe in your talent and promised goods, no matter how you'd do, like a cat, you will land on your feet, (and into a big round of standing ovation!).

    I don't foresee that a taste of stardom would be something difficult to deal with; Giving a 3 hour photo shoot, a four hour interview and repeating the same for other papers the following day, in between 7 hours-a-day rehearsals, is nothing I complain about.
    I might be exhausted, It slightly feels like I am cutting a deal with the dealer, but hey , what's wrong with sprinkling some love potion on my people a head of time...It's all kosher.

    Saturday, May 02, 2009

    Land of anxiety

    I don't know about you, but whenever I go back to the place where I grew up, I feel like I automatically regress to whomever little person I used to be when I was there, before I left.
    do you get that too? visiting the house where you grew up, your home town, your local park, (all looks so small all of a sudden , doesn't it), your family, maybe your old friends, (if you are lucky to still have them)... you kind of revisit your own self as you were. As you used to be.

    The clock has gone back, and I turned backwards with it.

    I guess it could be a wonderful feeling for someone who's had a magical childhood, and adulthood turned crappy... but for me it's certainly not the case; Not to say that I had a crappy childhood, but what I have today, in my thirties, is a way sweeter deal. (for one, I am not the 186 pounds sun-burnt braces-smile frizzhead anymore ).

    Going back into childhood, turns me instantly into that goofball , with all of her problems, and when I can observe the situation realistically, this almost makes me laugh, (or cry), because here I am today, feeling the most comfortable playing (=being) the femme fatal ,sexiest lady alive called carmen, but at the same time, in a drop of a hat (or a 10 hour flight), I am able to turn into ugly betty. poof.

    Usually this condition disturbs me, but not that much, because my visits to my home land, are only that: visits.
    This time, however, I am about to work there , debuting my carmen, and showing off the adult that I've become.
    How do I float above the muddy swamp of regression?

    I've been having these anxiety dreams about taking taxi's there, that drive me to unknown destinations, people speaking to me in languages I don't understand, I get lost.

    Today , would be my challenge to look the past in the eye and conquer that ugly duckling with my present tense, and what has become my salvation:

    I . am. singing.

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    The business of underestimating

    Sometimes it's easy to underestimate the effort needed to accomplish your mission successfully.
    "Oh, I can do that!" you think to yourself, basing your assumption on past events that might be similar, in your mind, to what is coming up. And then, alas, you realize that somewhere you were just so wrong.

    Doing a song recital on a Sunday and singing Carmen in concert the following Sunday,even if on a different continent, seems a fairly easy task to accomplish.
    But I haven't taken into consideration that the recital would be so extensive, emotionally and physically exhausting, and would demand a tight and pretty consuming rehearsal schedule. Looking for the right things to wear is another mission one often tends to forget as the much painful and tiring thing that it truly is. (Walking for 2 days around town, hysterically trying to find gowns. Yikes)
    I also didn't consider the long flight to Europe a day after, the stomach virus I caught that day, which lasted all through the week and into the big concert,(so, working with hardly any food in the system), the busy rehearsal schedule once arrived in Munich , the constant singing (even if marking, still , using the voice and the energy), the jet lag, the nerves, and of course, the fact that this concert was a stand-up version ,(no sitting really, yup, on high heels. 3 hours...) as it was recorded for the radio live, so no moving, with only 20 minutes of one intermission.

    I am now in the Munich airport, about to faint of exhaustion, waiting for my Lufthansa flight to board.
    I think I managed pretty well with both my events, as well as I could, under all these circumstances , but next time I would know better how to mentally prepare for it a bit better, if I have to agree to it at all.