Happy New Year, everyone! As we say goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012, it's a time for celebration, reflection, and looking forward with hope and optimism. I personally am looking forward to spending the better part of February, March, April, and May in Florida, where I'll be singing first with Sarasota Opera and then with Florida Grand. This marks the longest continuous time I've been on the road in my entire career; thank goodness for all those saved-up frequent flier miles which will permit my husband to come visit several times!
I am also looking forward, with optimism, to getting myself back on track with consistent healthy eating and exercise. It's been a very rough Christmas; I've been battling an unusual amount of fatigue and distress which are simply not normal for me. At first I thought it was just holiday stress, exhaustion from all the travel, lack of sun, and other winter-blues type stressors, but thanks to Dr. FaceBook and a bunch of wonderful and wise women friends, it seems very possible that there's something physical going on. On Monday I'll be calling to make a doctor's appointment and have some bloodwork done, and then we'll see. In the meantime, I'm trying to be good to myself, with lots of rest, naps, puppy therapy, cuddling with the husband, moderate workouts (did my Kenpo yesterday!) and healthy food, as well as extra B12 and Vitamin D.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
In January 2011, I returned to Chicago for the second phase of my cover contract with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. It was a wonderful experience; I hadn't been back for any great length of time since my apprentice days there, and I LOVE working for this company. Also, I really enjoy Chicago, even in the dead of winter. Upon arriving home, I got a very painful cortisone shot which eventually helped resolve my ongoing foot/knee/hip problems so I could start running again. I also started what would be my final semester of teaching at St. Edward's University.
In February, I started my first round of P90X and quickly fell in love with the program. The Tower of Pain moved into our bedroom (a year later, I still can't do pull-ups; but my back muscles are stronger). Also, I took a very special road trip with my niece Gracie to the American Girls store in Dallas, bought her a doll named Josephina, and really really really wanted to buy some stuff for myself. But this is why we have nieces.
In March, I returned to my roots by performing some Irish folk music on a fundraiser concert for my school choir's trip to Ireland. It was fun to sing this stuff again --- it's what got me into voice lessons and, eventually, a career in opera. My in-laws came for a long visit and we toured all sorts of interesting places, including the Texas Ranger Museum, Fort Sam Houston, and a mammoth bone excavation site.
In April, I sang in a studio class for the first time in about twenty years (Studio Class is sort of a group voice lesson) and produced an evening of four one-act American operas, including The Medium, which I directed. The day after strike, I was on a plane to Boise, Idaho to make my role and house debut as The Marquise of Berkenfield in The Daughter of the Regiment. This also marked the beginning of my Wild 2011 Season.
In May, we saw the death of Osama bin Laden, and more tragically, the great baritone Giorgio Tozzi, with whom I'd had the privilege of working briefly. Eric and I enjoyed some great hiking in Idaho. When Daughter of the Regiment closed, I once again jumped on a plane and traveled all night to get back to Austin in time for juries (final exams for singers). Was home for nine days before departing for my next singing adventure.
June was spent in beautiful Princeton, NJ, rehearsing one of my favorite roles of all time (Baba the Turk, the bearded lady in The Rake's Progress), riding a borrowed bike along the canals, cooking with my friends Pablo and Nicholas, racing up to NYC for auditions here and there, and of course performing. It was a fabulous production that got rave reviews, and I got to wear a coin bra and (more or less) bare midriff! Then it was tim efor another race to the airport, fly home, jump off plane and start work moment ... because the day I landed was our first day of Spotlight.
July was consumed with Spotlight on Opera. I was so busy being the boss lady this year, sandwiched between singing gigs, that I did not get to direct an opera (boo-hoo! I love directing!) but we had a fantastic season, producing two full operas (Carmen and Falstaff), two Song Cafes, Aria Extravaganza, and four performances of two completely different opera scenes programs. We also had twice-a-week, extreme ass-kicking boot camp, and I was very happy that my assistant program director Bruce Cain and I --- the two most elderly participants ---- were the only ones who showed up for every single class. Outside. In Texas. In August.
The day after we struck, I was on a very early plane to Chicago, followed by a three hour car trip through Illinois (complete with a stop in the middle to change to a rental car and drive the rest of the way myself), arriving at the first rehearsal of my next gig just in time to sing my aria. A big, flashy aria on four hours' sleep and very little warmup.
In August, I finished performing my second Daughter of the Regiment with the Sugar Creek Festival in Watseka, IL, where I made some fabulous new friends. At last there was a non-rushed trip back to Texas, and I finally got to spend a few weeks at home.
September 2011 was the first one in six years in which I did not start back to school; in a huge leap of faith, I gave up my teaching job to pursue singing full time. September was also marked by the horrible wildfires that razed so much of Texas; good friends of ours lost their home and I was glued to FaceBook, checking hourly for updates. I also returned to San Antonio Opera for my role debut as Gertrude in Romeo & Juliette, which turned out to be more fun than it had a right to be, thanks to our creative director.
In October, my Spotlight group kicked off their fall season with one of the most fun concerts we've ever done: Aria by Request. Audience members got tickets and got to "buy" the selections they wanted to hear from a menu. I don't usually perform with Spotlight; my role is administrator/director, but this was a fundraiser, so I did, and it was a lot of fun. Then, we loaded up the van and headed off to Louisville, Kentucky, to start rehearsals for The Marriage of Figaro. I adored Kentucky and my castmates!
In November, we finished the Figaro performances and drove home just in time for Thanksgiving. Up to this point, I'd been doing a good job of sticking with my workouts. I ran along the Ohio River, did P90X in the house, and went to the hotel gym to use the elliptical. I even ran on Thanksgiving Day. But then, I was suddenly so exhausted all the time, and used this as an excuse to stop working out for a while.
And that brings us to December 2011. It started off with a really fun performance, my classical cabaret with a tenor friend, Nicholas Simpson. The next week, Spotlight had their scenes program; and in the middle of all this, I did two quickie trips to NYC for auditions, two weeks in a row. Then we were into holiday prep and now here it is, the last day of 2011.
It's been a good year in most ways. I love that I'm getting to sing so much and I pray that even with the economy and the troubles my industry is facing, it continues. As mentioned, I took a big leap of faith and my challenge for 2012 is to keep feeding that faith, and finding paying work to do when I'm not off singing. We had some challenges as a family this year --- who didn't? --- but things are looking better now. And I am beginning 2012 with what may be a frustrating health challenge. I'm not very happy about feeling so lousy going into the new year, but I am also determined to face and conqueor whatever it may be. I continue to be committed to improving my health and fitness. I still want to run a marathon. I still want to do P90X and get into the best shape I possibly can.
Who knows, maybe one day I'll even be able to do a pull-up.
Happy New Year, friends, and here's wishing you the best of luck with your own challenges and goals. Here's wishing us all a healthy dollop of hope, faith, luck, determination, and success in 2012.