Sunday, March 8, 2009

boys in dresses

Last night I had a lovely experience singing a program of all Mozart music with the Ridgefield Symphony in Connecticut. The newly appointed music director Jerry Steichen is a friend of mine from City Opera, and he asked me and a soprano to come perform with the orchestra, and I was free so I agreed. Knowing I would get to work with Jerry and sing Mozart (my faaaaavorite) was enough to lure me in.

The concert went very well, despite a few wardrobe malfunctions. The program for me consisted of three arias and three duets, and of the six pieces, I was playing a boy in four of them. I debated on whether to just wear pants, but I couldn't really find anything that felt fancy enough to wear with the soprano's formal gown, so I decided to just wear a dress. Of course, wearing a dress while you're singing Cherubino and Sesto is a little funky, especially for me, who has a very specific physicalization of those particular pants roles. However, flowing gown and all, I went for it with gusto during Non So Piu, and I was so boyish that one of my earrings went sailing out of my ear and off the stage. Some nice gentleman in the front row picked it up and handed it to me when I was finished singing, and I made a comment to Jerry during the applause that I guess maybe I shouldn't have dressed so girly for these pants parts - my girly clothes were revolting and literally leaping off my body. During the second half of the concert, just before I was about to go onstage and sing Parto Parto, my big showstoppah, the stage manager said, "can I see your dress?" I had gone to the bathroom in between my last aria and that moment, and had inadvertently tucked my dress up into my nylons so that my butt was completely exposed, and hadn't noticed. Were it not for that alert stage manager, it would have been REALLY obvious to the audience that I was a girl.

After the concert there was a reception held at the bank which was the main sponsor of that particular concert, and the people were incredibly nice and genuinely so happy to have us there singing for them. Sometimes as singers, we get so caught up in wanting to sing with only the BEST orchestras in the MOST IMPORTANT places, and we forget how special and rewarding it is to bring a certain type of music to a community that wouldn't otherwise have it. These lovely people were so grateful and thrilled that we had "graced them with our presence" and frankly, that was probably a more rewarding feeling than singing with the Vienna Philharmonic in some ways. It wasn't the same musical experience I would have had with the Vienna Philharmonic, but it was special and important and rewarding to me in its own way. The players were generous and musical, and they genuinely wanted to collaborate. The audience was enthusiastic and happy and warm. And they didn't even mind that I spent most of the concert acting like there was something between my legs while wearing a formal gown. Who could ask for more acceptance and appreciation than that, really?

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