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Opportunity is knocking … go on, let it in!

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day.”
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy New Year to my wonderful, faithful and supportive Yankeediva Readers!! I hope that this finds you blissfully exhausted from ringing in the New Year with loved ones or perhaps deeply restored from a contemplative look back on the year past.  But either way, I do hope it finds you looking forward to the challenges and opportunities of the coming year.

How in the world do I sum up the past year? Professionally it took me around the globe and through centuries of music.  Personally, it was a year of accident and recovery, challenge and reward, adventure and discovery ~ with a dash of unexpected glamour thrown in for good measure.

I’m remembering and reflecting:

*Flashback to the month of January (which now feels like 3 decades ago!) and the challenges of recording the astonishing, daunting role of Ariodante ~ I’m quite sure when I hear the final edited version (due out in a few months!!) I’ll be brought right back into the midst of his agony and despair, and ultimate triumph, but for the moment, considering how much musical water has passed under the bridge of 2010, I can’t seem to recall one moment of it.  However, I do remember the risk taking, and that’s a great sensation. 2010 Lesson: Take the risk.

*Amore!! How lucky I was to pass several weeks in some of the most beautiful cities of the world, traveling through several centuries of Italian Love Songs.  That was rough.  Poor, poor me! ;-) 2010 Lesson: More amore, please.

*Accidents happen, I know, but boy, did this one in Chicago hurt!  2 severely torn ligaments, 1 tough brace supporting me through 11 performances, 1 beautifully executed surgery under careful hands, and many weeks of demanding recovery couldn’t dampen the thrill of singing Cherubino again, (one last time, perhaps) for such a wonderful company and public. (The special conductor was a definite added bonus!) 2010 Lesson: Do watch your step.

*2 firsts awaited me in Geneva: singing in a walking cast, and meeting the towering new role of Elena in Christoph Loy’s challenging, but immensely rewarding production of La Donna del Lago. A very special team came together to make this undertaking a very unique and memorable experience. 2010 Lesson: Remain open to new, challenging ideas. You never know what you may learn!

*On to Paris where the challenges for the same opera were quite different, and while I can’t say that we overcame the dramatic pitfalls of the opera, certainly we reached a musical pinnacle with an exceptional cast.  That alone was reason for celebration. 2010 Lesson: Never let anyone treat you disrespectfully.  Ever.

*A whirlwind summer was capped off in the heat of Milan and Rome for a marathon stretch of Rosina’s and the recording of the now heralded Stabat Mater with Tony Pappano and an outstanding group of musicians. Great musical memories and more than a few wonderful gelatos! 2010 Lesson: Better to insist on a top-level driver that will get you to Rome before 6:30 in the morning the day of an important recording.  Definitely!

*Whoops – the summer wasn’t finished, just yet – I had to incarnate a druid priestess for my first stab at Adalgisa in 2 truly memorable concerts of Norma with the legendary Edita Gruberova. One does not pass through Salzburg without creating or experiencing incredible musical memories. 2010 Lesson: Even if intimidated, show up prepared and don’t hold anything back.

*Bliss and recuperation were found in an intoxicating stay in Big Sur, with pledges to be sure and do “that kind of thing” whenever possible in the future.  2010 Lesson: Nothing restores the spirit as completely as Nature.  More, please!

*A real commitment to physical therapy continued (and continues to continue!) as I work on my resolution to not face such “accidents” in the future if at ALL possible!  2010 Lesson: Give yourself every possibility to succeed, no matter how demanding the work load.

*An exotic trip to Turkey re-ignited my passion for photography, discovery, and adventure.  2010 Lesson: That one-on-one, the often elusive peace we seek is absolutely, without doubt, unquestionably possible. We simply have to live it in every moment.

*A heavenly period was spent in Lyon recording my next recording project, which I’m dying for you all to hear (January 25!!!).  I recognize that it was a monumentally ambitious outing (which may backfire in some ways – but I still had that 1st 2010 lesson in my mind about risk-taking!!) I felt that I rose to a huge challenge in a way that surprised me, and I enjoyed absolutely every-single-solitary note of music in the process. 2010 Lesson: Meet the challenge and never forget the JOY of music making. EVER.

*Little trips to London and Essen resulted in great emotional souvenirs in the form of “Awards”.  Both were unforgettable, but the one voted on by the public from Gramophone will FOREVER touch my heart.  2010 Lesson: Smell those lovely, beautiful roses along the way … and then simply get back to work.

*A quick (and I do mean QUICK) stop in Berlin gave birth to a riotous time with great friends, reminding me of the sense of PLAY in our work.  It was a fabulously fun debut for me, and reunited me with beloved colleagues.  2010 Lesson: Anything is possible, including learning to mime in under an hour!

*Wie du warst, indeed.  A wonderfully rich reunion with the beloved character of Octavian in a beloved theater full of the most wonderful people in the business made the final 2 months of the year fly by, challenging and rewarding me with the pleasure of singing some of the most glorious music ever written. 2010 Lesson: Um, can’t think of a lesson in this ~ I was too busy working on my German.  Ah, ok – there we go: learn those languages!

*I wrapped up the year with one intense, draining, uplifting, life-affirming, inspiring week of rehearsals on the first act of Dead Man Walking here in Houston. I’m reignited to my core by the importance of this piece and reminded of the privilege of working on a (gasp!) MODERN OPERA with such a superb team of committed artists and professionals.  I’m in artistic heaven here, and there is still a long way to go on the journey. I won’t want this one to end, I’m sure.  2010 Lesson: Art is vital to humanity ~ now more than ever.

One of the bizarre things about life as a working opera singer is that our life is incredibly compartmentalized: 6 weeks here, 2 weeks there, quick flights to and fro. If I spend too much time thinking of the to-ing and fro-ing, depression can easily take root, but when viewed from the perspective of chapters of opportunity, I somehow can embrace it in a very different way.  At the end of each chapter, I have the chance to evaluate and reflect – which hopefully brings a few lessons along the way.  But at the start of each adventure, I also have the chance to renew and start fresh.  I suppose each day should be like that as well, but I know that these various chapters tend to keep my thinking and on my toes; reflecting on a year’s worth of chapters is actually quite exhilarating.

A few final parting notes, with a little help from my new Christmas Gift: I must have been a fairly good girl this year, because I was rewarded with a little upgrade on my camera, inspiring me to get out on a BEAUTIFUL Jan 1 here in Houston and elicit the help of a few friends to reflect:

“What is past is prologue.”

~ William Shakespeare

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“Never let the future disturb you.

You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

~ Marcus Aurelius

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you to the wonderful primates at the Houston Zoo for their inspiration today, capped off by my old friend the orangutan who is always a source of wonder, reminding me to keep it real, but to keep reaching and working, for we never know where we may end up! I look forward to recapping 2011 and recounting more crazy adventures of this life, hoping to experience more joy and wonder along the way.

Here is to a blissful, magical 2011 for each and every one of you. Oh, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your amazing support during this 2010 journey!

Cheers!

23 Comments

  1. Richard Whittington said…

    Inspiring as usual. I look back on 2010, one of the highlights was seeing your Rosina in Milan. BTW Milan was not nearly as hot of Memphis,Tn, my hometown and another city known for music. I hope that one of my 2011 highlights will be seeing your Feb. 13th recital in KC. I will have to compare the BBQ.

  2. Jakob said…

    Dear Joyce,
    all the best for you in 2011 – looking foreward to musical adventures and challenges!

    All the best,
    Jakob

  3. Vanette said…

    We are defintely looking forward to 2011. We have tickets to your Carnegie Hall recital, Le Comte Ory, Ariadne, Ariodante in London and hope to get tickets to Cendrillon when they go on sale.
    Keep blogging, taking photos and WATCH YOUR STEP.

  4. Erne Hellström said…

    OK Joyce! I’ll bite. What was the upgrade to the camera? A new lens?

    Looking forward to seeing you several times in 2011.

    Erne

    • Yankeediva said…

      A new body! The lenses may come at a future date … but I have a TON to learn with this new toy for the moment!

      • Irishrover said…

        I also got myself a new camera, and my very first reflex! I can’t wait to see its full potential, and I do have a lot to learn too. Isn’t it exciting!? I can’t wait to try it! Enjoy your new camera, DMW, wine, pastries, cheese, , in a word, life, and take care :))

  5. alberto merchante said…

    trabajr cerca de ti en el teato eal de madrid ha sido uno de los mejores egalos del 2010 te deseo tosdo lo mejor y mucha felicidad

  6. Annie said…

    Just exactly the words to read on my last peaceful morning of school vacation. I took especially to heart the reminder to never let anyone treat you disrespectfully. Ever.
    Thank you as always for your precious time and beautifully crafted words to share a little of Joyce with us.

    peace,

    Annie

  7. Gi said…

    Thank you for the recap and lessons, and most of all for the joy you shared all through the year.
    Have a very happy 2011 and there’s a very good chance I’ll see you again this year.
    Hugs.

  8. Gi said…

    PS: love those lemurs!

  9. Ann said…

    Hello Joyce!

    What a great reflection post – and exciting about a new camera! Which one did you get? The Ti2?

    I just bought myself a Canon G12 to supplement my trusty XSi.

  10. Sibyl said…

    OH! Thank you for the lovely lessons! Enjoy DMW and all that comes up in 2011. I am eager to see what you have to say about your experiences this year, PLUS I have tix for the simulcast of Comte Ory, so I actually get to see/hear a performance! FTW!

  11. Emma said…

    That photograph at the end is stunning!

    Such wonderful detail and light on those lemurs!

    Reading and remembering all of those things that you’ve done, just this past year alone, has made my jaw drop.

    You rock!

    -Emma

  12. Klassikfan said…

    Thank you for your “look back in joy(ce)”, and especially for the opportunity that I was able and lucky enough to share some of your professional highlights last year in Barcelona, Geneva, Paris, Milano, Salzburg, Essen, Hamburg and Berlin. Unfortunately (for me) you will be spending the coming months in the U.S., but you have promised to turn up here in Munich sonner or later. ;-)) My very best wishes for 2011!!

  13. willowbarcelona said…

    I have asked the Hartford CT students I tutor to follow you on twitter and on your blog because you are always positive and willing to take on ever greater challenges. You share so beautifully that inspiration and success are achieved through dedication, passion and hard work. Also, thank you for the Stabat Mater. Happy 2011!

  14. Lola said…

    Lots of Amore for 2011…

  15. Chris said…

    Delighted and relieved to have found your functioning blogsite. I had (mistakenly) thought your red one was the active one. Glad to see this one instead. Nice white background. Easy on the eyes and easy to read. PS: Will you post the program for your K.C. recital online? I hope to find at least some of it on You Tube afterwards.

  16. marcillac said…

    The happiest New Year!

    (also nice to see “Yankeediva” back – the “Administrator” was a little … umm … mechanical and Olympia isn’t in your repertoire)

  17. Maude Larke said…

    ooooooo, let me get my hands on the creature that was disrespectful to you in Paris! I’ll rip its face off! Seriously, do be careful about cryptic remarks. But the whole New Year’s message is uplifting, heartening, and something to learn from. As ever, many thanks.

  18. Klaus said…

    Happy New Year. May it be as exciting (but less painful) for you as 2010. I’m looking forward to your Ariodante in Baden-Baden.

  19. Raisa said…

    Dear Joyce!
    Thank you for the terrific year sum-up and the great pictures!
    Happy New Year to you from myself and my almost-2-year old, who has recently discovered your Cenerentola and is completely mesmerized by it. (He insists on watching it over and over again and never lets go off the DVD case, not even when he eats).
    Looking forward to your Diva/Divo CD!
    All the best in 2011!

  20. Gaulimauli said…

    Smell the roses along the way..From Rosina to Silver Rose to Rosary, quite a progression! I know you worked hard on your German, evidenced by the Madrid Rosenkavalier broadcast, not to mention your elegant acceptance speech in Essen. I can’t say enough about ‘Ercole’,’Stabat Mater’and now’Diva-Divo’-just pure enjoyment. I think ‘YankeeDiva’was a little tongue-in-cheek during the early years, now it is a fitting title.

  21. Pam Frame said…

    It brought tears to my eyes reading all you accomplished, learned and shared over the past year. Can’t wait to see you.

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