Monday, September 8, 2008

nerves vs sickness

Now we've done three performances of La Boheme - Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday, the opening, I was just feeling the beginning of being sick, but nothing really, but I was a little nervous because it was the opening performance. Saturday, I was much more relaxed, but feeling sicker, and yesterday I was the sickest. However, the performances on Saturday and Sunday went MUCH better for me than the opening, even though I really didn't feel well physically. Which leads me to an important conclusion; For me, nerves hinder my performance more than any defects like illness going on with my body or voice. This is big! On the opening performance, my whole energy was just up high - I was breathing high, I was running out of breath, I wasn't in the moment at all, and my singing suffered. The second performance, I commanded myself to calm down and slow down. To take longer for any intake of air, to move more slowly around the stage, to take away any extraneous movements that might get me breathing harder, and I forced myself to take a good low breath before the high note at the end of Quando m'en vo, and boom! It came out clear and easy and free. This was an important lesson on just how much I allow nerves to affect my performance. And I say "I allow" because I believe that if I force myself to slow my highly impulsive and fast personality down, I think I can perhaps get a handle on some of the performance problems I've been complaining about recently. It may all be a matter of focus.

Yesterday before the performance, I almost had a real problem. I was feeling so congested and awful, but I forgot to pack sudafed in my suitcase like I usually do just in case (if I had packed it I surely wouldn't have gotten sick). Luckily Georgia planned better than I did and brought my favorite non-drowsy non-drying sudafed, and she brought some to the theater for me to take pre-performance. I took it from her about an hour before the performance and was very distracted while I was trying to get those aqua colored horse pills out of their silver wrapper. I kept talking to people and getting distracted and not being able to free them from their cage. I finally turned over the package and started picking at the back of the silver foil. That's when I noticed what was printed on the foil; "Nyquil cold and sinus". They were identical looking to the sudafed I always take when I'm stuffed up - except they were nighty night pills that would have put me right to sleep had I taken them. I mean, Nyquil really knocks me out when I take it - and I was seconds away from popping those suckers in my mouth and swallowing them. "THESE ARE NYQUIL!!!" I accusingly shrieked at Georgia. "Oops." Luckily, the director went to the drug store and picked me up some Pax Dia, which is the Colombian equivalent of sudafed and it seemed to do the trick. But can you imagine trying to sing a performance while you were stoned on Nyquil? I would have been hallucinating high b's instead of singing them. Yikes.

One more amusing thing about the performances. On the opening night, they gave us all a copy of the program for the show, which looks quite lovely and professional. Georgia and I were in our dressing room flipping through the pages of bios when we came upon the side by side pages that contained our pictures and bios. Now, Georgia and I are absolutely best friends, and we are very connected to each other. We somehow managed to wriggle our way into coming to do this job together, and some people tease us that we should walk around holding hands because we're so close. Also, we've both seen each other's headshots dozens of times, and both helped the other one to pick from the proofs the shots that were chosen for programs. Only somehow we'd never noticed the similarities between our shots until we were literally back to back in the program. This is just too much. We're both wearing strapless dresses, facing slightly away from the camera, but looking into the camera with almost the identical pouty sexy look. We both have our shoulders back and our chests out and have smoky eye make-up. How we never noticed this before it beyond me, but seeing it in the program like this made us both burst out laughing. The two of us together are just too much, and we freely admit it.

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