Month: August 2013

It’s merely me… A singer’s cover letter

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What does a young singer tell a panel of adjudicators who are all going to hear some wonderful voices in any selection process? The world is heaving with suberb voices. Some reverberating through the grand gilded opera houses, employed; some lost and under the carpet of alternate career paths. So what is it about my voice, that makes me even consider I am worthy to apply for a position in a leading German Staatstheater?

Waiting my turn
Waiting my turn- in rehearsal for L’incoronazione di Poppea

Nothing about my voice per say is worthy. But there are many things in my mind that possibly are. My voice is like any other singer’s voice. It has its strengths and beauty matched by areas to improve. It’s human. It originates in my larynx and if acoustics permit, projects through a confined space. I’ve spent many hours working on it. I’ve even fixated on it.

What constitutes my voice in my development has been much more than the acoustic output that the listener hears. In my Master of Speech Pathology studies, that followed a Bachelor of Music, I sought to unlock the code for perfect phonation. Sure, I learnt the most I could about the bio-mechanics of the voice and how to maintain its integrity. My voice developed as is expected in the natural trajectory of any singer. My larynx has integrated more fully in singing and my command of breathing may have enhanced. But this is not what has really made my voice. It is what I add to my voice that is of note.

For the last two years in Bulgaria, I have sought to refine my ability to express. I have learnt that my voice is the full sum of me as a person. I have read reams of literature, I have devoured art over morning coffee, I have pondered libretti and taken notes from my conductors and played around with interpretation. I have spent hours in the rehearsal room developing my Gretel, only to learn that she really is not mine at all, but rather the sum of what the director asks that I truthfully infuse her with. I have become flexible, not just from regular ballet class, but in my mind and perception as an artist and individual.

RehearSING in Sofia
RehearSING in Sofia

In the joyous event that I were considered as the recipient for a contract, I feel confident to say that I would present as an enthused and vivacious singer with a fastidious work ethic and unquenchable desire to learn, develop and evolve to the highest standard capable. I would express and question and conceptualise each role that I have the honour to prepare and be true to the composer and librettist to the best of my knowledge and capacity.

In the course of my artistic development I have followed the same regimen of any good, well behaved singer- regular scales, fixation on attaining bel canto technique, healthy respiratory behaviour, and vocal well-being, musical fastidiousness. But none of this makes me worthy. This is my job as singer. I have learned in the hours alone studying scores and in the studio of my teachers, coaches, repetiteurs and conductors, and on the stage that it is what I can say, that makes me worthy of applying for any theatre I choose to apply for. I have something to say and the only way I can really get it out is by singing.

I have intentionally and also inadvertently developed into the specific artist that I am. I’m proud of my achievements but I also know full well that to continue to enjoy the luxury of expressing my art, I need a position that allows me to make the characters I have aspired to portray on stage. I hold a copy of the Deutsches Bühnen Jahrbuch. I love its red cover, a good rich red, as red as the opportunities it may hold. I’m prepared to work cover to cover to sing everywhere until that elusive contract is under my messy signature. And if nothing arises, I’ll still forge on to other continents, other borders. God give me strength and lead my path.

As Giuletta (Bellini) in recording, June 2013 with Pianist Ermila Schweizer
As Giuletta (Bellini) in recording, June 2013 with Pianist Ermila Schweizer
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Aflutter with Nuptials

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I’m a flutter  with much planning for my wedding in 3 weeks so this post is to beg your pardon. As much as I crave writing like piping hot milk longs for espresso shots poured in it, I’ve been devoting my time to looking for the perfect peep toe, choosing my veil, toying with earrings and jewels and a skincare regime! As the day rapidly approaches I’m not sure with what frequency my daily epistles shall occur.

It has been a beautiful period for me, preparing for the nuptial service, choosing flowers and surrounding myself with ideas to reflect something so intangible and miraculous- the love between the darling boy who got me at hello and I. He’s my silly rib, my joy at sunrise and my calm at slumber.

 

 

Cup of Truth

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Gaping counter this morning at Cup of Truth
Gaping counter this morning at Cup of Truth

PARDON. DO YOU LOOK FOR THE TRUTH? That is what greets you if you enter their website. In capitals. Can it get more superlative than that? Obviously.

Cup of Truth is an edgy booth in the underground Degraves St subway of Campbell Arcade. I had planned to blog about this daily stop in my early morning route but had not expected to talk about ethics so much as the best mocha in town.

This morning as I strolled to the gaping counter, I noticed its absence immediately.

The Cup of Truth had gone.

Photo of the missing cup. It's simply not there.
Photo of the missing cup. It’s simply not there.

Instead of clunking their coins themselves as usual in the wide lipped red coffee cup in the style of honesty is the best policy, patrons were neatly placing their exact change on the counter. Some in little piles, others in a domino like assemblage. Regardless, it simply was not there.

I fumbled in my coin purse for my $4.50.
– Mocha please
– No worries

I feel unsettled. How can the barista say no worries? The cup of truth is gone.

As I stand with the sprawl of commuters that flock to this little subterranean caffeine utopia, I overhear the barista explain that he caught regular customers short changing their orders.

The cup of truth is now supervised for now and no one can plonk coins in it until a third employee is taken on to man it.

And fair enough.

I feel righteously indignant. These guys are geniuses (let me mention the 2013 Barista of the Year, according to the Age Good Food Guide, did go to Cup of Truth partner and frontman barista, Courtney Patterson) who provide me with a cup of truth that I carry to warm my hands and refresh my soul. Each day I sip the best blend, warm and robust in milk frothed to creamy and languid perfection. There is a split second between frothing milk to perfection and burning the bejesus out of it. There is time required to tamp the grind for each shot, there is a fastidiousness needed to wipe down the steam head post frothing, every time. The baristas’ honesty in the small things allows me walk away each day with a cup of truth of my own.

They are true to their beans at Cup of Truth. Are you? What’s in your cup of truth? Does it too need supervising?

My cup of truth today.
My cup of truth today.

The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway and little 8 year old me…

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Hemingway
Hemingway

Hemingway’s prose puts little anchors in my soul that gently tug and coax at it and sometimes thrust at it so strongly that tears quell up in my eyes and my throat crackles.

I’m re-reading The Old Man and the Sea for the first time since I first turned the brittle leaves of my Dad’s paperback copy as an eight year old outgrowing the bookshelf contents faster than my school shoes.

I first read The Old Man and the Sea in a cottage surrounded by more books than money and it did not take long to reach the top shelves where mum placed the heavier literature. One afternoon my Mum’s book suggestions were exhausted so instead I tugged on my dad’s shoulder and asked him for an offering.

“Hemingway”, he mumbled when my prompting urged him to name his favorite author as he sat in his chair wearing his navy woolen rib jumper.

And so it was that my mum took the wooden ebony stained chair into the lounge room to begin the arduous ritual of uncovering this time a slim dark blue coloured paperback with pages that smelt of dust and memories and even a few scattered pencil markings and annotations. She found the book, even though she and Dad thought it would perhaps be too advanced for my ken. And so I read Hemingway at 8. This is not a statement I make to be lauded but rather something that now places me in a unique vantage point for I seldom have ever re-read books (except for the Scarlet Pimpernel, I evade returning to even my beloved favorites for isn’t life too brief for that with its endless sea of unread prose waiting to break at the shore?) Now I am reading my father’s favourite once more I find myself catching ripples of memory of reading it as a kid and it feels like I’m 8 all over again except there is an undercurrent of appreciation for the author that my 8 year old mind never noticed. The imagination was strong in those days and unhampered by the necessities of survival such that I saw no line between the writer’s bait and hook and my imagination, the “great strong fish” caught by Hemingway.

“Fish,” he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I’m dead”

The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway.

An Aēsop Fable

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Aēsop and Sagan join forces in sweet harmony. Shopping bag.
Aēsop and Sagan join forces in sweet harmony. Shopping bag.

Two dehydrated love birds burst into the peaceful Aēsop QV Centre store one Sunday afternoon.
“We want beautiful skin for our nuptials”, they declared.
The ever attentive and fastidious Aēsop man smiled, his eyes glowing as much as his well hydrated brow.

The two love birds exclaimed and ooh-ed and aah-ed over the plethora and bouquet of bottles and receptacles, each encasing little elixirs for skin, coiffure or even ambience. Don’t we all dream of an elixir for ambience? They even chuckled over the naughty potty humor behind the Post-Poo Drops with their swift aroma, the key to turning your smelly bathroom to a refreshing chamber as zesty as tarte au citrôn.

Aēsop Post-Drops for feisty stench quelling.
Aēsop Post-Drops for feisty stench quelling.

One little lovebird, whose skin was ever so dry after daily early morning bird baths was recommended product so supple. With its pannacotta texture, Primose Facial Hydrating cream sorted her our pretty quickly. The other little lovebird was mended of his flakes and frazzle with Purifying Facial and Exfoliant Paste (a supple scented paste with fine pieces of shiny quartz) and the decadent Camellia Nut Hydrating cream.

The two little lovebirds were so enthused and heartened by the aromas and the beauty of life in general, especially given pending nuptials and their now suitably glowing skin.
The wise Aēsop man declared they were so cute and silly that he would like to give them a wedding present. Which they bashfully received before fluttering off to their next rendezvous albeit fragrant and impeccably hydrated.

Nuptial gift from Aēsop
Nuptial gift from Aēsop

Since its inception in Melbourne in 1987, Aēsop has risen to become a much lauded and adored worldwide skincare firm. On each entry Ms Divageiger is overwhelmed by the courtesy, intelligence and good humor of all it’s employees to date and wishes in particular to thank Mr Aēsop man, who shall remain as arguably anonymous as the famed writer Aesop but as memorable as his fables.

http://www.aesop.com/au/

Russian all day

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Borsch, Vodka & Tears. Prahran.
Borsch, Vodka & Tears. Prahran.

They come cocooned and steamy, smoking away in their little porcelain bowl. Plump and endearing, rustic Russian beans served with white cheese, a chunk of lemon and avocado can not be spooned to my ravenous mouth faster. The day’s hunt for an new apartment has been both taxing and vexing so we eat rapidly. Spoon in one hand, crisp rye toast in the other. Borsch Vodka and Tears, with it’s interior worthy of an Art Nouveau absinthe drinker, has long been a favoured haunt of mine although I’m hardly the one to play with the diabolical Artemesia Absinthium even if I am grateful for the productivity it inspired in beloved artists and thinkers (Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud and Hemingway were all known consumers of the so called Green Fairy).

That being said, after perusing apartments in the South Side of Melbourne, I’d not have been suprised if the urge to knock back a shot of absinthe had hit me. We spent our day trawling coffin like apartments. I shuddered at entrance ways reminiscent of a Konzentrationslager , walkways that would cripple my soul and kitchens that would definitely cripple my appetite.

But then we find her. A charming fronted Art Deco apartment, resplendent with bay window and window seat, aged but gleaming wooden floors and a small room perfect for my singing studio. The apartment is resonant, the acoustic good. This is an abode for music, art and gastronomy. We cross our fingers…

An unexpected tip off on the classical radio network, the car radio default, sets us off to the Art Centre spontaneously instead of driving home. After all we’ve been Russian all day, it seems fitting to attend.There we immerse ourselves in director Anna Melville’s production Stravinsky in Music, Words and Dance.

John Stanton as Igor Stravinsky. Hamer Hall.
John Stanton as Igor Stravinsky. Hamer Hall.

Actor John Stanton personifies Stravinsky well, with a convivial Russian accent, despite his antipodean origins. He weaves dialogue direct from Stravinsky between the poignant bow of violinist Ji Won Kim, the dexterous touch of pianist Hoang Pham and the pulsing steps of dancers Natalie Abbott and Matthew Day. Opening with The Firebird: Berceuse and concluding with Petrushka: Danse Russe set for violin and piano, Ji Won Kim and Hoang Pham make a formidable ensemble with tight intonation from Ji Won balanced by clear musical phrasing and intention.

Natalie Abbot and Matthew Day- Elegy. Stravinsky.
Natalie Abbot and Matthew Day- Elegy. Stravinsky.

Melbourne has been all abuzz this week with The Russian Festival- Celebrating 100 Years of the Rite of Spring. The festival will culminate in the once contentious Rite of Spring, this Tuesday evening at Hamer Hall, 8pm featuring the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Diego Martheuz.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's Concert Series Propaganda.
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Concert Series Propaganda.

Pretty Riding: Spinning out

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I have been doing it again. Drooling over wheels. Perhaps it has met pathological proportions but I can’t stop despite all manner of logic. To be precise, the weather is ghastly and something you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in on 2 wheels. It’s hardly the time or place to be cycling, however I’m still valiant in my yearning for a bike to sate that liberating flying feeling. So this means I really need a bike, yes?

Hustle and Bustle Rain Jacket by Georgia in Dublin.
Hustle and Bustle Rain Jacket by Georgia in Dublin.

The bike I settle on, must be special. After all it will be for city-based purposes- cycling to the Botanic Gardens with picnic basket strapped to the front, spinning out alongside the murky Yarra River on a hearty spring day, or a fast pace buzz to Lygon for some vivid espresso.

Pashley wicker cycle basket
Pashley wicker cycle basket

The onus is on me to make a thorough decision informed by practicality (my Yorky terrier Seppe will after all need a basket on this locomotive) and aesthetics (it better match my ensembles, I don’t intend to falter on elegance and don lycra, this baby will ride with heels and frocks. Ding ding.

Paul and Joe Jersey dress. 2013.
Paul and Joe Jersey dress. 2013.

Today I was perusing bicycles by ROYAL DUTCH GAZELLE. Between the Dutch and the Danes, the final word on old worldly cycles lies.

There is the Basic model, aka the trendy Dutch Granny Bike, that coaxes me with it’s euro charm. But I’m hardly the picture of a Dutch Granny, or am I? The birthday is soon approaching. Maybe this one would be an apt purchase. In a range of 6 colours, the black tugs me more than ever.

Gazelle. Basic.
Gazelle. Basic.

But then I always authentic nostalgia so maybe the Toer Populair is the bike for me, which dates back to an exact model from 120 years ago. That little dinky light is tempting…

Toer Populaire. Gazelle.
Toer Populaire. Gazelle.

But then there is sky blue…

Gazelle. Miss Grace
Gazelle. Miss Grace

Choosing a bike is rather like choosing a dog. You have to go with the one that tugs your strings the most.

When I see it, I’ll get it. But it won’t be coddled and cuddled in bed like any puppy. Come spring, that baby is going to work, damn!