The last time I sang Stephano, the role I'm currently singing in New Orleans, I was a mere babeh - I'm not even sure but I think it might have been 6 years ago. I haven't had the occasion to sing the aria much since then, so when I sang it in rehearsal the other day (unwarmed-up and probably right after I ate, cause that's the way I roll) I think it was the first time the aria had come out of my mouth in a few years at least. And as I was singing it I was thinking - "hmmm - this feels.....different." I knew my voice had changed when I was singing Cenerentola in the beginning of this year because all the low stuff felt easier, but singing Stephano, which is high, wasn't more difficult, just different. It was weird - I was used to singing it with my old, lighter voice, and when this thicker voice came out, I kind of felt like "whoa - whose voice is this?" Maybe it was just the mayonnaise from my turkey sub, but probably it was also the fact that I've gotten a little thicker, both in the body and the cords, as I've gotten a little older, and so, my voice has too.
I'm also learning the Messiah right now, because I will sing my first one this December. I opened up the score the other day and was filled with nostalgia when I saw that my name and phone number from high school (which was 545-SING by the way, because I was just that awesomely dorky) were inscribed on the inside cover in my Dad's handwriting. When I was a senior in high school, I sang two of the soprano solos from the Messiah at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco because I was in the prepatory department at the San Francisco Conservatory at that time, and was allowed to audition for their big Messiah performance. That was definitely a huge deal to me, and now here I am, x number of years later finally getting around to learning the alto solos for the first time because my voice has finally settled enough that I feel confident with the ultra low tessitura of the alto part.
I still marvel at the fact that I started taking voice lessons at 9 years old. I got REALLY lucky in that the teacher my parents found for me was committed to teaching real, classical technique to every one of her students regardless of their age. She built me a foundation that allowed my voice to change during all these years, and she taught me this phrase, which always holds true no matter how your voice matures (which my dad had to remind me of because my memory is terrible): "It's neither wrong nor right - it's only free or tight." Thanks Thelma!!!