“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!