Monday, December 22, 2008


We had Pelks and Christian over for latkes and apple sauce tonight because we wanted to try a cool recipe for latkes. They had artichoke hearts and leeks and were very tasty!

We also broke out the Hannukah activity box that Ted sent me last year. In addition to coloring in stickers we also wrote two poems which I will take the liberty of sharing with you:

Cats are pretty
Happy cats make me happy
Are cats real?
No, they're not
Unfortunately cats are not real in Uruguay
Kats? Cats!
Are we satisfied with this poem?
ow could we not be?!?

On a similar theme:

Long, long ago
And ever so far away
The lad had consumption
Kristin came to the rescue
Everybody celebrated Hannukah!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent Adventures!

So I wish read a sign outside of the Sem Co-op today. Sadly it read Advent Alternative.

But just think about it! Advent Adventures! Is this the time of waiting? Are you joyfully anticipating your Lord's arrival? Prepare yourself for the coming of the Lord by pushing yourself to the limit! Climb the cliffs of Sinai! Swim across the red sea! Follow the star across the desert! Personal actualization guaranteed!

That would be awesome.

Friday, December 12, 2008

staying accountable

just in case you were all curious:
I am officially done applying to grad school. Now it's hurry up and wait to see if I get any auditions.
Also happy birthday, to alex, mia, and my grandma!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

watch quandry

So, I had to get my watch cut off by a jeweler down town. I have no idea how it got so stuck that it had to be cut off. But now I'm with out a watch. My everyday watch is with my mom, it needed a new battery and a new wrist band. The watch that got cut off was my "dress watch". The question now is whether I liked it enough to get the clasp fixed, or if I should just get a new watch that I like more, and fits me better.
However there is no question that I need to fix my watch situation quickly. I really like knowing what time it is.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

this is a disaster

In a brilliant show of incompetence I'm stuck in my watch. It's not a huge deal, but it is mildly irritating. It's poking me. I have one of those watches with a clasp that goes "in-out" and it got stuck on the "in".

Now I'm going to have to sleep with my watch on. Halp! please somebody! really wants watch off!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Opera as Hyperbole

Applications!!!! Here enjoy one of the essays I wrote!

We are drawn to the opera by the reflection of society that fills the mind as it fills the stage. We go for the music, we go for the glamour, but most of all we go for the stories. Everything about life is amplified at the opera, the stories are grander than our lives, yet we can see pieces of our lives on stage; and it is this, that draws us back again and again. Opera fills our lives with the drama that we secretly wish was our banality. When one thinks about it carefully, no one would really want to be any character on the stage. Too frequently they lead heart-wrenching lives ending in tragedy, and even the happiest ending is earned only by slogging through, deception and temporary heartbreak – no sane person would ever go through all that, no matter how enticingly romantic the scenario. But we do not think about it, at least not at first, because we are far too caught up in our envy of characters that lead such romantic lives.

It all started as an academic experiment in Italy, but it quickly became a national pastime. An evening at the opera house was a regular excursion. People went to see their favorite stars, listen to their favorite arias, gamble, eat dinner, watch the ballet, rub shoulders with the who’s who of society – not to mention enjoy a heated building. Going to the opera was not just about seeing an opera, since you frequently saw the same opera several times a season. The music provided a backdrop to the social scene that was unique to the opera. This changed in the Romantic era as the composer gained greater importance and the composer’s music was considered an extension of their genius. Going to the opera became what we are familiar with today: dark theaters, a performance of one piece, the attentively silent audience devoted to the piece. Opera’s role has certainly evolved, but it has never lost that luster and prestige, and it continues to be a place to look for the important figures in society.

In many ways this movement away from social atmosphere to a polite adulation of genius explains opera’s fall from the social heart to the demesne of the socialite. Fewer patrons mean more expensive tickets, forcing – or allowing – opera to become more and more exclusive, and leading to fewer patrons. There have been efforts again in the last 20 years to change this: opera singers are expected to have an excellent grasp of realistic stage acting, and directors’ artistic visions are gaining importance over those of musical directors’. Perhaps the best move that has been taken to remove the exclusive image of opera, reduce the cost, and entice new patrons to the art has been the Met’s live broadcast of its performances to movie theaters. Once past the barricades of social exclusivity, opera goers can once again be privy to the grand stories of opera.

Opera like all art-work is a chance for the artist to hold a mirror to society and reflect us all – the good, the bad, the tragic, but most importantly, the truth – for those who will look. The image is not a realistic one, but one seen through the lens of hyperbole. Political turmoil in Italy transforms into the struggles of the Hebrews exiled from their land; lover’s quarrels are amplified as the heroine’s last whispered breath passes like a kiss over her lover’s lips. Even now, we see the cool post-minimalist interpretation of the creation of the atomic bomb and the decisions of an American president. In short, the real becomes more than real; it becomes hyperbole.

What causes this hyperbolic representation of the world and life to resonate with the audience is the music. We have all experienced the transformative power of music, and opera uses that power to bend the audience to the composer’s will. We don’t mind that it takes Manon ten minutes of crawling across the Louisiana plains to die, because we are entranced by the music that binds it into a single, all-too-short moment. Her anguish is our anguish, and it is the music that makes it true. We experience the story in the character’s moment, not the audience’s. And this, I believe is the most magnificent power of music.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


There is all sorts of excitement in the city about Obama. The New York Times points out some of this feeling.

(will make link prettier when I get home)

I've pointed out to some of my friends that it's a bit like after the Sox won the championships; everyone has something to talk about. Strangers are willing to strike up conversations on the CTA. There is palpable excitement and comradery.

I mean there are a few minor inconveniences though. Two of the bus routes that I regularly take have been re-routed because of the blockade around Obama's house.

Also two days ago I was stuck On Michigan ave as all traffic was stopped for what seemed like no apparent reason. five minutes go by nothing. A police car goes by, we wait another 3 minutes. Then about seven police cars scream by, and I say to no one in particular with a bit of a's Obama. My speculation in confirmed as three black suburbans fly by followed by three more police cars followed by three more suburbans, followed by five more polices cars.
Wait for it.
We're still not allowed to move. But that's ok, because rush hour traffic on Michigan Ave. is pretty light ;). The thing is that everyone who was grumbling before stopped after they saw that it was Obama. Everyone was pretty happy to wait for his entourage.

I wonder how long it took that traffic to clear up...

I have to say though, all of that will pale in comparison to what will happen to airplane travelers when he flies in and out of O'Hare. That airport is notorious for delayed departures as it is. I was told that when Air Force One goes in and out, all other planes will have to remain grounded. I already avoid O'Hare.

still cool though.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

sigh of relief

I have a pianist.

for those of you who don't know I've been loosing some sleep over this.

To top it off we have a new kitty. He is asleep in my lap as we speak! or rather, as I type

I will give you kitty pictures later.

Monday, November 17, 2008

what sort of person?

So I haven't been falling asleep very well for the past week, last night was no different. So after going to bed at 10:30 I was puttering around at midnight. So I decided to give a crack at one of my grad school essay questions that I've sort of been looking at with raised eyebrow "how would you describe yourself as a human being?" I didn't really get to the second part of the question about what you like best and worst about yourself and it definitely is ramblely and off topic, but you take what you can get in the middle of the night.


I frequently find myself wishing that I could help fix other people's inter-personal problems. Just help them by going to the person who does not understand and shake them and say "what's your problem!". Barring that I feel that if I could only sit down and talk with them everything would get sorted out. Not that I could necessarily change their minds, but they would at least see the reason in my, and by extension, the person I'm helping's position. Inversely this would also help me understand their position which had preciously seemed so unreasonable to me.

This sums up a great part of who I am as a person: I seek understanding. I seek understanding for myself of others and understanding of myself for others. I am not particularly interested in agreement, this sometimes happens along the way, but it more frequently does not. I'm not in the business of changing minds, and I'm not interested in arguing, just interested in understanding the world.

I think that the most frequent mistake that is made with perception and understanding, is that we think that we are no longer affected by the forces we understand. That is simply not true. Just because we see the forces at work on ourselves, does not mean that the force in no longer acting upon us, it just means that we're aware of it.


so yes. brief rambleings of a not sleeping Embly.

I think I'm going to talk about Opera as hyperbole for one of my essays, I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


listening to Bach makes me incredibly happy, though it unfortunately wakes me up. I say unfortunately because I was completely ready to go to sleep an hour ago before I started listening to Bach.

I wanted to point out to my friend the piece that I thought would be excellent to walk down the aisle at a wedding to: Cantata 150 the terzetto, sung in trio with just one cello and bassoon. The words are about the Cedars in the tempest.

Then I had to make the point that Bach wrote the most heartbreaking music. I've heard people criticize Bach for being mechanical, but try to listen to Erbarme dich from the St. Matthew Passion without your heart breaking.

And then I needed to listen to his Missa in B minor.

I'm freaking out a very little bit about getting my recording for grad school done. My favorite pianist has not returned my e-mails. Time to move on to another person!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

the progress

Grad school update:
I have all of my recommendation materials together. All I have to do is buy stamps and put stamps on all my envelopes.
I have the list of where I'm applying. I'm not going to write going to write in on the blog but there are seven schools.

I also made pumpkin pie.

Also I went to a battle of the jug bands. It was amazing.

Friday, November 07, 2008


last night I had a dream where I was arguing about the meaning of the word "Gallino". Someone was arguing that it meant Eagle, they almost convinced me.
It is of course Rooster. Well Gallo is Rooster, Gallino is like saying little rooster I guess.

Which of course brings my to my point: Rooster is a strange word.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Ate pie for breakfast
saw the Newberry Consort
Listed information about three of the schools that I'm pretty certain I'm applying to
Pretty figured out the list of songs that I'll be auditioning with (all of these places are asking for 6, so much for "my five")
There are two versions of the list however, depending upon how many art songs they specify.
with 4 art songs:
1. Scarlatti piece (to be disclosed when I figure out what it is)
2. D'un Prison
3. Einerlei
4. Purcell or Barber (that's a little undecided due to potential period overlap/neglect)
5. Oh Quante Volte
6. Mozart Oratorio, probably Laudamus Te but I might switch it up with something from Exultate Jubilate

With out specifying number of art songs:
1. Willow
2. Vilja or Einerlei
3. D'un prison
4. Scarlatti
5. Oh Quante Volte
6. Mozart oratorio

So it's not quite ironed out, but it's getting there.

I've also started to answer one of the essay questions, one of those "Describe yourself as a human being" numbers, though I won't put it up here today, since it's really a draft of a draft.


I keep on telling people that I have designed my schedule so that I have very few singing commitments this month so that I can apply to grad school.
However I have done little to actually achieve this goal. (to be fair this is a bit of an exaggeration, I have done some things)
So. I am keeping myself accountable on this blog.
I'm going to try to post everyday (or at least everyday that is pertinent) about my application process this month. Most applications are due December 1 so I have exactly a month....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Pro-America

I don't tend to delve into politics unless I know that I can have a thoughtful discussion with a person because I don't like arguing ideological differences to no avail. It's surely through having friends with such strong and varied opinions that I've gotten this way. I just don't like butting heads with no purpose, but as the title may suggest something has gotten under my skin.

I'm sure you've all seen more than your fair share of "pro-America" and "the real Virginia" clips.

It's really offensive to me that the concept of being a "real" American is being cast along party lines. Certainly we're in the final part of what has been devilishly long and ugly campaign, but I don't really find defense in that. One of the things that makes the United States great is that we are all entitled to our different opinions and the ability to voice them. What makes us Americans is how different we all are. The great melting pot. A place where brave men and women struck out to create something that they could call their own.

I am incredibly proud to be an American, a place where with hard work and marginal luck anyone can make something of themselves. I am proud that there is still farm land and we still grow food. I am proud that we have some of the most impressive cities filled with some of the most diverse people in the world. I am proud that we still have a culture that is connected to our roots when you travel to different regions. I think it's tremendous that you feel the difference in culture in New England verses the South verses the South-West verses the Mid-West verses the Plains verses the West coast and that we are still one country.

That is not to say that I am unequivocally proud of all actions that we have and will take as a country. It's like a mother saying to their child, I don't always like you, but I'll always love you. But I am grateful I live in a country where I can say whether or not I agree with something. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and the ability to share them.

Entitled. And I hate entitlement. There is nothing that upsets me in a person's actions more than a sense of entitlement. But I think that we're all entitled to free speech, I think every child is entitled a fair chance to grow and have options. While I'm defending the first amendment so vehemently I also support the second amendment. (obviously there are public safety concerns that come into concern with both the first and second amendments, and my opinions are in fact nuanced)

Here's the thing though, with this entitlement comes civic duty. This is not socialism it is living in a community, and we live in a community that is bigger than those who we know. It is bigger than the people in our church, the people in our town, and the people in our state. We should do good for people on a individual level, but as a country we are responsible as well. We are responsible to ourselves and responsible to the world, because like it or not we are part of a global community. So yes, it is my civic duty to pay my taxes, and I might even agree with the scoffed at line that it is patriotic to pay taxes. And even though I feel the nearly 25% of my pay check that gets taken each month between taxes, medicare and social security(only to be taxed again when I buy stuff) it is literally the price to pay to live in a safe and secure country. This is not new, in the Bible it commands that when a farmer harvests his wheat that he not reap to the edges of the field and not glean the fallen seeds. That which we have is not only our own.

I want to live in a country where we have programs to help the needy. I want streets to be paved, for there to be policemen and firemen. I want the government to be able to help in disasters here at home and abroad. I want to live in a country that has the ability to help in Darfur, and Myanmar and works with other countries to do so.

I am proud of our troops. I don't always agree with the missions that they've been sent on, or even in the way that they're conducted, but I am grateful that there are men and women who go. It is hard to separate the players from the game, but we must. And the players are for the most part good men and women. Just as this nation is for the most part good men and women.

Good men and women who disagree.

So just because I'm a liberal Jew who lives in a big city who absolutely loves brie and red wine does not mean I don't love this country. It also doesn't mean that I don't love beer and BBQ.

I really just wish that politics were not so incredibly divisive right now and didn't pander to people's fear.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


So, it's official! My friends are positively the coolest! Last night was the second Friday in the run of the show, which is traditionally a difficult show. However we had the best audience imaginable! They were really engaged laughing even at the really wordy jokes!

A huge number of my friends came to see us last night, enough that the director asked at intermission if I had a big group of friends on the right side of the theater, the answer was of course yes! It was so lovely. I love performing no matter what, but performing for an audience that already loves you was just so fun.

Then as I was heading toward the door to meet people afterwards, everyone was there waiting to talk to me. It's not that my friends came and liked it, but rather that they were so incredibly exuberant!

We afterwards all went out for late foods and drinks. It was great to able to chat with everyone and come down from the show with all of my favorite people!

Sadly I don't have a picture of everyone together, however I do have a picture of our silliness!

The pirate king and me! They wanted me to wear the crown all night, but it was meant for a six year old, so it didn't stay on very well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

rainy day

It's a rainy fall day. I love these sort of days, the colors are all just so interesting. It's also a strangely warm day. So I'm sitting in my office listening to the rain and drinking a cup of tea. I'm happy for the rain, even if it has possibly destroyed my practiceing and running plans, it's rather comforting.

Things are finally back to normal, which is rather nice. I have had a productive week so far, and that makes me a happy girl.

I got to see a bunch of my friends on Monday, they had perhaps been wondering if I had fallen off the face of the earth, since I had barely spoken to them in a month and a half. It was a relief to spend time with my friends. Having comradery is wonderful, and appropriate for doing a show, but it's not the same as spending time with your friends (especially if one of those friends is your brother).

I was surprised at the number of times that people asked me if I was happy, it was not acutally easy to answer the question. I remember about a month or maybe more ago thinking to myself how I had been rather happy for quite some time and how great that was, but on Monday my answer was, well I think so.

Honestly I've been so busy that it is difficult to determine. Am I happy? Well I'm not unhappy, I'm busy, I don't know what I am, I'm really enjoying all the singing that I'm doing, and I'm not necessarily looking forward to it all ending. Monday itself had been a rather lonely day, but I would say that over all I am very contented. I'm not particularily plagued by any early 20's angst right now, which is lovely.

I do have grad school decisions coming up, whether to apply, where to apply if I do, what else to look to do if I don't, life decisions never really make for happiness in their midst. Afterwards they tend to, but during the process there is usually some decision making anguish. Luckily I'm only beginning to have to deal with all of that.

So there you have it, musings appropriate for the weather!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Great weekend!

I had quite the grand weekend!

I'm tempted to just list everything that I did, I mean I biked up to foster beach and back, made lots and lots of pancakes with Noel, and I sang my first night of Pirates! (which went quite well! You should all come and see...if you're in Chicago)

I also got to watch the Marathon (those Kenyans run fast!) nap in the sun, and hang out all afternoon with a bunch of my roommate's friends. We were all over the city! Ukrainian Village, Pilsen, it was great.

Now for some more of that sleeping that I've been doing so much of this weekend!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

High Holidays

So. I got through it.
I sang two services last night, and today I was back at Sinai at 9:30 and I didn't leave until 6:30.
It was really exhausting, but I really liked being part of the service. Sometimes it took away from the experience, needing to be engaged on a different level to make everything go smoothly, and sometimes it really added to be part of the service.

I didn't fast today, which I was a little conflicted about, but ultimately I don't think I could have made it through the 25 hours when I was singing for almost half of those hours.

I got to listen to three very good sermons in the last 24 hours. The one that's sticking at the moment is about how prayer is meaningless unless it leads to action. I think that is a very important thing to remember, especially on a day that you are praying for forgiveness.

Good Night

Friday, October 03, 2008


vocal technique is a strange beast.

You start out singing naturally, you don't think about how you sing, you just do it, and you sound like yourself.

Then you start messing with it, you get louder, or richer, things feel really different, you think about singing again. You wonder why singing is so much harder than it used to be, and how it is that you could be better if it's so much more work.

Then somehow that goes away, and you're just singing again, and you just sound like yourself again. But you actually sound different than you  sounded before, you're just now used to the new way you sound.

rinse and repeat.

Ideally technique should be making everything easier. With the correct technique singing the high c is really nothing at all, especially if you have the d and e above it. But you know it's high, and frequently you make it hard for yourself to prove that it is high.

I'm in a period of vocal ease again. It's very strange because once you stop thinking about these new things that you've developed, you sometimes start to worry if you're accomplishing them when you're not thinking about them. That's where I am. I'm singing and it just sounds like me, and I'm not sure if I've carried all my developments with me in a period of taxing vocal work. I think I've done moderately well at least, but it is very hard to tell from this end of things. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

maybe too busy

proof that I may in fact be too busy:
(photo forthcoming)

I baked challah for Rosh was a debacle.

Now Challah is one of those things that I happen to make extremely well consistently. But I was in a rush today.

I started it this afternoon, but had to leave it mid second rise to sing at Sinai.

I came home to a "saccharomice" monster. Oh! it had taken over the cookie sheet, and then when I egged the outside it totally deflated. So now it's baking, and I'm willing to bet that it will be all sorts of stuck to the cookie sheet. Sigh.

I should have put it in the fridge to slow the rise. It's so obvious from this side of the situation.

Anyhow, I have to be back at sinai in nine hours so as soon as this is done baking, this kid's going to bed.

I totally have to make another one to redeem myself :(

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The bail out

*sorry if this is a little difficult to understand or non linear, I'm really thinking "outloud" here.*

So like many (I think most) Americans, I'm reading and listening about the bailout, and this good or bad?

so I'm on a quest to understand what's happening, why it happened and what will happen. I have a friend who is a financial analyst who I'm sure understands this all so hopefully I'll get to ask him, in the meantime, the most illuminating explanation I've seen so far was Bill Clinton's on the Daily Show.

This is what I understand at this point, forgive any egregious errors and please feel free to correct them, I in no way stake any claim to any great understanding, and this is actually mostly gleaned from conversations that I've had and then my own logical pinning of things together, not research as such.

At the end of the economic boom of the 90's there was a surplus of cash in the economy and in order to create places to invest it the residential sector was expanded. To sell these homes more "unqualified buyers" were given loans at very high rates. These are high risk loans: the loanee's are less likely to pay them back (as per their history) but if they do pay them back the loaner stands to make a lot of money.

What happens next is that the banks sell their loans in bulk to other banks and investment companies. They sell the debt because it is better for them to have money in their pocket now, than to have potentially more money later, but the risk of having no money. Why would someone else buy high risk debt? This sounds really confusing but really we should look at it like any other investment: they pay x for the debt/investment and stand to make a great deal of interest if the loanee repays. The "if" has been turning out to be a bit of a problem. So what happens next is where things break down.

In mortgages there is a foreclosure clause, the collateral. This way the bank does not end up high and dry if their loan is not paid back, they repossess the house and the sell it themselves thus ideally making back the money that they have loaned. This is not ideal as they stand to make more money from the interest of being paid back, then from selling the house, but it's their security.

but now many people are not paying their loans back, does it pay to foreclose on all of these people? Well it seems like no, who's really in the market to buy a house these days? The cost of foreclosing on all of these people and then trying to sell all of these houses is too great for this I think. So what? all of these folks are defaulting on their loans, do we hit them up with higher interest rates thus making it harder for them to ever get out of debt, but increasing the investors chance of making their money back?

That's the whole thing with high risk investments, they're high risk for a reason, and these big investment companies stand to loose everything. A free market attitude would say, well they should lose everything. But looking at the bigger picture gets confusing.

The folks who bought up these loans are not necessarily the folks who own the debt. People who buy diversified funds (I think) own some of this debt, they trusted their investors/brokers to do this for them. They did not necessarily decide to buy these particular funds...I don't know.
It effects more people than made the decisions to buy up these loans.

The bailout:

We, the people of the United States of America lend the companies, and ultimately ourselves 700 billion dollars. LEND. I think that's the part that's evading some people. Ideally the treasury is not just giving banks et al 700 billion dollars, but making an investment. Hopefully an investment that will be paid back and ultimately cost the tax payers far less than 700 billion dollars. It sounds like if it's done wisely it will cost the tax payers about 100 billion dollars. That's still a lot of money. While I can conceive of a million dollars and what that means, it is difficult for me to conceive of a billion dollars and what that means, let alone 100 billion dollars.

(but it's a vicious circle yes? an investment on an investment, and a bad one at that)

So what happens if we do bail out? Foreclosures don't have to happen, eventually things are paid back, the government is re payed and there is greater oversight as to who is loaned what? It's not just a loan though, the government will take a greater interest in how the banks that they now "own" a part of operate.

If we don't bail out? There are lots of foreclosures, our money in the banks (over $100,000 the insuring policy changes but it can be more or less apparently? I actually have no idea) is not particularly safe. commodity prices continue to rise, salaries do not, (this can still happen with a bail out yes?)

Anyhow, there is clearly a place where I just stop understanding.

there are nagging questions though. Do the folks defaulting on their mortgages "deserve" to have their houses repossessed? Do the folks with their high risk investments "deserve" to loose all their money? All of this money that was invested...where is it now?

finally just a quick thought (Noel and I were talking about this) there is all this talk of the stock holder vs. the tax payer. Presumable all stock holders are tax payers, and some tax payers are stock holders, so these categories are not quite as mutually exclusive as debate makes them to be.

More hopefully when I get this explained to me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

answers to questions

I have a bunch of questions that I needed to answer for a program that I'm applying for this summer. Here's where I've gotten thus far:

1. What technical developments have you made in the last year and what do you hope to improve on in the next two years?
The last year has been for me one of great growth vocally. I have always had no trouble producing a bright forward wound vocally, but I was not using my full voice. I've really made great strides this year integrating my head voice into my middle register, singing pure resonant vowels that incorporate my entire voice, and singing with my larynx down. Discovering how to sing with my larynx down without feeling like I'm swallowing a tennis ball or creating an artificial hootie sound has made singing go from being work, to being natural again. In the next two years I hope to be more consistent with my ability to produce this quality, workout the kinks with my singing of F natural, which is my larynx's Achilles heel, and really master the nuance of singing a true pianissimo with the full color of my voice.

2.What pieces in your current repertoire showcase your voice its best? Explain.
Historically my favorite and more representative piece to perform has been the LAudamus Te from Mozart's c minor Mass. It shows a breadth of range and the vocal agility that has always come so easily to me. It still shows all this, but I now have developed a depth of sound, or fullness of color that is better represented by some newer repertoire. Oh Quante Volte from Bellini's I Montechi e Capuleti combines passages requiring vocal agility with a beautiful vocal line. Chi il Bel Sogno di Doretta really highlights my improvement in singing line, ans the richer color of sound that I have developed.

3. What are your study/career goals over the next 5 years? (I feel like the question will get quite similar answers from all applicants)
I am interested in pursuing my master's degree in Vocal Performance. Since my undergraduate degree was strictly in Musicology and Music Theory, I think that there is much to be gained by attending a masters program. I am very invested in studying French, since I did not have the change to study it in college. I hope to start learning and performing roles for smaller local companies so that I can continue my growth as a performer. I hope to be able to participate in a few Young Artist Programs across the country. In five years I will be 28, and I hope to be in a position to be considered to participate in some of the country's most prestigious Young Artist Programs.

4.In what areas do you feel you need additional support or training in order to achieve said goals?
I need the most support and training in my stagecraft. Pursuing a rigorous academic degree I simply did not have the time nor opportunity to portray roles on stage. My timing, use of the stage, and embodiment of character have all been improving, but I certainly need more experience and steady guidance in the matter. I would also love to have the ability to study in Germany and France to really immerse myself in the languages since I find my overall interpretation of a piece is vastly improved with my comfort in the language.

5. Please tell us about an instance in which you struggled in a lesson or performance and the end result.
I can not think of a time when I truly struggled in a lesson, worked very hard or gotten frustrated, but not struggled. A performance where I struggled was my last year of college. I had a solo singing one of Shostakovich's Hebrew folk song, the problems were several fold.
The piece was devilishly difficult and I hadn't adequately learned it, I could not get the Russian in my mouth, and I was exhausted from several other performances. In the end I did not sing out of time or key with the organist, and the piece did not fall apart. Additionally the acoustics were such that the audience could barely understand well enunciated English. My disappointment was that I felt like I was singing with half of my voice the whole way through to make way for my brain to keep track of everything else. I have since made a point to never be as unprepared or uncomfortable with a piece when performing. I have also improved my ability to pace myself through periods of many vocal commitments.

6. Is there any other information you'd like us to have?
I'm out of answers for now, will consider this one.

onions and bagels

two things:
firstly I found good Bagels in Chicago. It's not like I've been searching for them so there may be places with better, but the Potash Brother's Super Market has bagels that taste and feel like bagels. At least the one on State and Delaware does, I can't speak for the one on the 44th floor of the Hancock building or any of the others (if there are others).

Secondly I had a disastrous encounter with the onion that I was bent on turning into risotto. Oh man, I'm always sensitive to onions, but this was particularly bad. Even when I stepped outside it felt like my eyes were burning out of my head. I had to run my eye balls under the faucet. Bad news.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the news

you know, there are some mornings when you really regret reading the news.
Oil back up $10
banks doing Really poorly
stock market down the fed. reserve bailing out market compromised? the reserve still has money? what about government bonds?
Hurricane destroyed (that freaks me out less because it's a natural disaster, there was nothing we could have done about that)
international news is not too much better. between Yemen and Georgia, Thailand is maybe getting better? ::sigh::
Honestly all of this makes me wish I lived in a smaller apartment, and that I didn't have to go places this year.
At least it's incredibly beautiful outside!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I got busy

I somehow got really busy, suddenly all sneaky like. I really should change the title of this post ::sigh::

What the! so busy. I was just going along and suddenly I realized that I have a ton of stuff on my plate. yikes yikes yikes!


Singing a publicity recital for Pirates tomorrow. The other Mabel was supposed to do it, but she has strep. Rehearsals for show and recital of composed work on Monday. Rehearsal for high holidays on Tuesday. Babysit Wednesday. I need to prepare a recording for summer program applications which start being due in about two weeks. I need to get recs for grad school. I need to decide where precisely I'm applying to grad school. Choose "my five" (I'm actually super excited about what I'm working on right now!)

I have the high holidays, the show, and a recital all in the same two weeks. Any bets on what illness I come down with after all that? I'll start a pot.

Also, need to stay on toes about competitions. Must. Not. Let. Any. Deadlines. Go. Unnoticed.

actually that's not so bad. Well if you take out the grad school part. The rest isn't so bad. Except I was just handed five pounds of music to learn for the high holidays. (you know things are bad when you're measuring things in pounds).

freak out done. Going to bed so can be fabulous for publicity thing tomorrow.

Friday, September 12, 2008


As some of you may be (painfully) aware, I have rather fantastic(in the traditional sense of the word) dreams. I have frequently been tempted to start a dream journal, but it would just be too complicated. What really makes my dreams are the image, for instance what really made my dream the other night was that while following someone though a garden in front of the library in my home town I saw these fantastic piture plants. They were giant and bright green like lily pads with a diameter of almost a foot, they looked like up-side-down bells but half full of water. Really I'd want to paint that to explain it. Or another part of that dream was the sensation of walking across a muddy shore (I find the closer to waking up I am, the harder it is to move in dreams, it's like my body realizes that it can't move in real life and translates that into my dream)

Last night, or this morning, I had a swashbuckling dream. Maiden falls in love with hero, but hero is a bit of an anti-hero. She loves him, and even has some ill advised moments with him behind a dresser, but is taken away from him by her fiercely ethnic family (Greek? Italian? Jewish? who knows!) Some shenanigans later she is going up an elevator, that is slightly reminiscent of the rickety elevator in National Treasure, so read a period elevator for the setting of the dream, which is....swashbuckling times. Her beloved rigs the elevator such that instead of dropping her off at the party she's going to it takes her to the top floor of the building, which is built around a court yard type open place in the middle (sort of like the open places in the Marshall Fields). The hero leaps and swings across knocking her in. She grabs at the edge and I pull her out (thought I was her didn't you!) she tries to make up with the hero but he is taken away, by pirates? (my brain was convinced that this was the plot of the Pirates of Penzance, so he was Frederic and she was Mabel)

cut to bread being spread with a thick goo, a bit like really soft lard, and one small part on top being covered in rhubarb jam. Camera zooms out. The "bread" is giant and our hero lies down on it like a bed. It is in a green house. Maiden, who I am now perceiving in first person, comes to the outside of the green house. She is equally confused as the reader is with the situation, until she realizes that this is the hero's punishment, he is being poisoned to death with this substance, which she now realizes is lye. She goes to the glass and begs him why! why did he put her in such peril. He confesses that he thought that she did not love him, which is now seen to be a great misunderstanding. They kiss through the glass, he lies down on his bed of lye, and she leaves weeping.

my thought waking up, sometimes the Pirates of Penzance can't end happily.

What I can't give you here, and why I usually don't write down my dreams, are the images. I have very visually complex dreams. There are dreamscapes that I never forget, and there are dream scapes that I sometimes return to in other dreams. That is always weird because I usually realize it at some point in the dream.

So I wish I was a painter, because I have no lack of places to paint. Or perhaps just a better story teller. That would do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


has the amazing ability to make you feel nostalgic. We were listening to it as we drove up Halsted and there I was:

Oh Cake building, why isn't your cake lit up tonight? Is it because Sears Tower is shrouded by clouds? Ah Chicago, how magnificent you are! I live in such a great place, even in cloudy humidity you are a glorious city. Look at that architecture!

My! to be nostalgic for the place you are. I guess that's not terrible.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

some musings

I ride the CTA a lot, especially now that I have rehearsals in Evanston several times a week. This means I spend quite a bit of time sitting in uncomfortable chairs, with too much sound in my ears reading. Today however I did quite a bit of writing rather than reading. So I figured that I would share some of my musings with you, in no particular order, an incomplete in certain instances, for better or worse.

~Love: as I stated in rehearsal the other night turns you into a goon. There's really nothing to do about it. Love defies all reason and consequently renders those inhabited by it unreasonable.

~Sometimes I'm amazed that people can ever successfully fall in love with each other. There needs to be an awful lot of aligning of circumstances, both parties seem to need to be interested in the other at the same time. The chances of this happening seem obscenely low. Yet virtually everyone falls in love; were programmed for it. And things aren't as neat as I have outlined above. Frequently one falls in love with the other long before the other has any idea. People fall in and out of love, their paths cross, diverge, and intersect again. Love is a "many splendid thing" but it causes just as much strife as it causes pleasure. Though it is apparently all worth it.

~Love of God: another thing entirely, something that ought not even have the same name. Love is multifaceted. Love of family, friend, lover, child and God can not in anyway be claimed to be the same thing. The Greeks even had different words to delineate them all.

~We are taught that if we love God first and foremost, that our love for each other will be enriched, better than than we could possibly imagine it otherwise. I strikes me that loving God
is an ultimate act of faith, for it is most difficult to love something of which you have no proof and no necessary guarantee of reciprocation that you will be able to comprehend. Perhaps this is why loving God makes your love for others grater, because if you can love God, you can certainly love that which you can see and those to whom you can speak.

~The only direction we should face is forwards. That's where tomorrow is. That's where all the good things are. Nothing good lies behind us, not if we turn that way at least. If you face forwards supported by what's behind you, you'll go. You'll see from the top of that pile of yesterdays. But facing backwards you can't see anything. You'll just be blinded. Blinded as you fall into tomorrow not even realizing that you're there. And if you don't realize that you're there, no one else will either.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band

After making a resolution about a week ago to try to hang out with my girlfriends more often, Meg, Abby and I went to the House of Blues last night to see Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band. Meg had suggested it, she had seen them down in Santa Fe this summer and was super excited about it. I love bluegrass and certainly can't say no to Meg's enthusiasm, so it was on!

I was not prepared for the level of awesome that I was about to experience. Everything was about as I expected as we came in. The House of Blues is a pretty neat place, it somehow has more than one venue in the same building, which does make for some aural confusion, but not enough to make the experience any less that it should have been. The opening act was fairly typical to what you'd expect, perhaps not the most inspired, but a fun bluegrass band. Then after what I would call a pregnant pause between acts Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band came on stage.

The band itself comprises of the Rev. Peyton playing guitar, his wife playing the washboard and his brother on the drums. I would not be able to conceive of the washboard being played with such vigor and be such an amazing instrument or the guitar played so fast and emphatically that you could have in fact sworn that there was an other melodic instrument on stage.

But enough analysis, it was so fun! The music was great, the crowd was fun, it was loud and you wanted it to be. The only concern of the night was when the loud dance party upstairs got out of hand a few times; we could not only hear the floor above us creaking, but see it move up and down, significantly. But we're not on the news so all is well!

Friday, September 05, 2008


analysis of teh intarwebs as we know it.

a little frustrated

I'm sort of a ball of anxiety these past few days. Not in the productive way, no, no! The complete opposite. I've found it utterly impossible to get things done (though I did mail some claims to my insurance, and I'm basically memorized for the show, and I've started my list of places to apply this summer) but otherwise I've been knocking around, completely unproductively, and worrying about it.

For instance; I've spent quite a great deal of time fretting about the fact that I have not practiced in over a week, though I certainly could have used that time to practice. I am the queen of procrastination, that is for sure. I did make some delicious raw sauce this week, and last week I made hot and sour soup, hunan beef and a variety of vegetables; but that is the entire summation of the cooking I've done in the last few weeks. Don't ask me what I've been eating the other nights, I'm sure I don't know.

Today I couldn't find my camera before going to work, which is concerning as there are only a few places I put it, and the last time I saw it was last Friday at work, but it's not at work, I know because I'm here. But I'm not overly concerned because my living space is an utter disaster, so it's likely that it is there.

So there blawgity blawg blawg. I've been meaning to post about the way that I conceptualize music when I listen to it verses when I sing it with music, verses when I sing it memorized. So maybe I'll get around to that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ah! a bit of Vacation!

I was off for a little over a week with my family and friends in the eastern upper peninsula of MI. We had fabulous weather, we all had a great time, and ate great food. So. I took some pictures, and they turned out pretty nicely. I will share some with you now:

rocks the glaciers left

fire and the lake at dusk

sailboat on a blustery afternoon

"just like the Caribbean except 30 degrees colder and the coral reef is several million years older" -Dad

I can't believe how well this shot came out

over the bounty main!

yes this is in front of our house!
so yeah. jealous? I'm pretty pleased to have had such a fabulous week. I'm also pleased to be starting Pirate's rehearsals, the folks seem like they're going to be great!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Year Twenty-three

It is my intention to be productive, goal driven, and not distracted by romantic relationships this year.

1. Be at least one production. I'm off to a good start, I'm Singing Mabel in the Pirates of Penzance in get another Embly.
2. Apply and get into a summer program for 2009. Applications due late Sept. --> Oct.
3. Win a competition. Hefty goal.
4. Apply to Grad school. Get in. Then decide if I want to go.
5. Blog at least once weekly to be accountable for these goals.,
6. Give a recital, other than the one of Michael Thorn's music in October.
7. Stay in touch with all my friends who are far away on an individual level. Write letters?
8. Learn how to knit or crochet, I need busy hands.
9. Run three times a week ALL YEAR LONG.
10. Mail Christmas cards BEFORE Christmas.
11. Make myself as useful and productive as possible at work - Tricia is a great boss and deserves my A-game.
12. Collaborate with someone in a musical capacity.

How to Achieve these goals:
1. Audition for productions. work on being still, giving polished auditions and expressive presentations.
2. Firstly, apply, many of the above apply here. Chose "my five" for auditions, coach them, know them
3. Practice. Confidence. Practice.
4. see 1,2 &3, get brilliant recommendations.
5. I don't know how I'll accomplish this. Will withhold treats from self? No. We all know I can't withhold treats from myself.
6. Research music, pick venue, ask Roger to play. Set a date so I have to do it.
7. These people are important to me, hopefully this will be easy.
8. Buy yarn and needles, then if I don't learn I'll feel guilty.
9. I might need to get new sneakers, other than that I don't do a terrible job of this now, just keep on with personal accountability.
10. be prepared.
11. Set small goals for each week.
12. I have some things in the works for this.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


So I'm being a complete baby, and I've been whining about this all morning, but I dropped a pile of really heavy books on my finger. My dictionary, my Music Theory text book, a book on Beethoven by Lewis Lockwood and a few others. They were all very big, heavy, hard back books.
my finger really hurts, and is misshapen, and could possibly be broken.
There now I've whined to the intarwebs.
It really hurts.
luckily for most people I've been whimpering mostly quietly to myself, pouts aren't something you should wear outside.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Intergovernmental Panel on Human Nature?

So I just got through reading an article which at one point poses the question "Should there be an Intergovernmental Panel on Human Nature?" The aspect of human nature that they happen to be discussing is the tendency to procrastinate until the breaking point of a problem before we fix it. But that's not what I want to discuss; I want to discuss what an Intergovernmental Panel on Human Nature would be, because...what?

Now human nature is one of those nebulous concepts that can be called upon on whim to "bolster" an argument. This is one of my least favorite writing tricks, since human nature can be called in for almost any argument. "It is Human Nature that one might assume that ramifications of an action are only the concern of Others and never of the Self." (capitals added for necessary pretension) So fine, that particular sentence was designed to illustrate my point, and is therefore meaningless, but my argument still stands.

What is human nature anyway? It has this ability to be whatever the author conveniently needs it to be. An intergovernmental panel therefore would study ways in which to create a human nature that a government desires? or would it work to try to create tricks to get around human nature?

In connection with the article it would somehow try to find ways to motivate people to be concerned immediately and locally about slow moving global issues, specifically, for this article, climate change.

What do you all think about the concept of an Intergovernmental Panel on Human Nature?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Twelve tone infomercial

Dr. Horrible

for the one person reading that doesn't already watch Dr. Horrible: do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I've been teaching a little boy how to play recorder for what is edging up upon a year now, as many of you know, he is an ornery little guy, a regular pain in the buttinski as my mom would say. Nonetheless he's a sweet kid. We came upon a break through just yesterday that sort of blew my mind.

I've always known about different sorts of learning, I am for the most part an aural learner....I think (?) . If I'm paying attention I'll remember most everything that I'm told, of course the trick there is the "if I'm paying attention" but still, I remember things like conversations. But it's still hard to wrap your head around the fact that people learn in different ways.

My student is going into the first grade next year, he's young for his grade so I don't think that he turns six until later in the year. I have been teaching him mostly things by wrote and imitation. I play something, he copies me, I finger things while he plays etc. He really struggles though, so I have all year been slowly acclimating him to the idea of written music, how it works how to write it and other complicated things that I wanted to introduce him to but don't expect him to fully get for another few years.

Yesterday I decided to have a little experiment. We took some written music and we sang through it on letter names, then with finger numbers and then I asked him to play it. BAM! did it. so I did it again today, except just singing letter names no finger numbers, the kid totally got it! He's a visual learner of sorts! It was really exciting and gratifying.

We'll still do somethings by ear because it's good to stretch the part of your mind that you're less comfortable with, but wow! It was incredible. I'm really glad because now when we work hard it is with results.

We still have to seriously work on his memory and his sense of pitch....

Monday, July 28, 2008

summer in chicago

Chicago is really the greatest sort of town to be in come summer time. That is of course if you overlook humidity and stifling heat come late July-August. You will never never be at a loss of things to do, really it's a matter of choosing what cool free thing to do.
I went to venetian night on Saturday, this is an event where boats parade through Monroe Harbor all decorated with lights and other props like floats in a land parade, there is then a big firework show that's coordinated with music. It's pretty cool, one of those things that if you live here you should do at least once. Here are some that I got good pictures of.

a venetian inspired boat

swing dancing on a boat

what you can't see clearly here is that this boat says it's blooming Daley and there is a picture of Daley shooting water out of his mouth...the picture is of Daley, the water's real!
Also the Buckingham fountain is all lit up and fabulous:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pink Floyd

How have I not listened to Pink Floyd knowingly until today? How did I not know I liked them? crazy.

Anyhow I have good news! And resultant bad news:

if you can't tell that's a giant blister on my left pinky. It happens when you play a stringed instrument for the first time in a while

Monday, July 07, 2008


My first spring in Chicago I was pleasantly surprised by how few mosquitoes there were. Far fewer than in Connecticut, especially near the river.

However this year we have many more than usual because, we've had a ton of rain that has simply not had anywhere to drain off to. Pictures are from this morning

I could not fall asleep last night, firstly I was warm, secondly I was itchy, and thirdly there was a mosquito in my room. I did the whole lie very still wait for it to land and then strike, but was entirely unsuccessful. I finally decided forget it! I'll just fall asleep and deal with the mosquito bites tomorrow.

Poo. This is one of those times when today Embly really resents yesterday Embly. My left forearm alone there are 11 bites, and that is not including three on my pinky knuckle or any other hand bites. Ms. Mosquito, surely you could have just bitten once and gotten sated with my blood in one go.

I'll get back to posting about music and singing one of these days. It has been going quite well actually, but apparently I don't write about deep things anymore.

Friday, July 04, 2008


The Mid-west truly is different than the North East, where I grew up, in a lot of ways. I'm not sure that Ryan's complaints of general rudeness ring true with me, but then I was an insider in that culture rather than a new-comer. And any comments about terrible directions are true, there is a definite sense of, well, if they don't know how to get there, then surely they don't deserve to get there. However the difference that I want to talk about and was really struck with actually for the first time last year on the fourth of July, was the fireworks.

We had gone to Indiana to spend the day with Mia's folks last year, and drove back at dark. I had been sad that I hadn't seen any fireworks shows, but I shouldn't have been, the sky was literally illuminated in all directions by fireworks flying over the roof tops. I have never seen so many everywhere at once. I guess in Connecticut they are just a little more illegal.

This year I decided to go see the fireworks downtown in Chicago, last year we watched them from the point, and it was absolutely disappointing, because they were about 7 miles away, rendering them puny and silent. So this year, since I knew that I could walk home (eventually) if the crowds were terrible, I decided to do it.

I had read that they were expecting over a million folks to show up last night, and boy were they ever right. I got off the blue line, and entered a sea of people. Alex and I made our way slowly through Grant Park, wrestled through the Taste, which had added an extra layer of impossible to everything, and get to the lake, where we sat on a hill and waited.

And waited. Why does everything always start late? Finally they started after teasing us a few times with some "test shots" at 9:50, only 20 minutes behind schedule. It was so worth it though! Standing right there at the water's edge at Monroe Harbor, the fireworks were huge, and shook you when they exploded. It was really a great show, lots of really pretty explody things that I wish I knew how they got them to work, like how'd they get a heart shape in a circle?

Then of course it was over and it was a game of trodding out with the masses. I made Alex guess how long it would take us to get from the lake shore to Michigan Ave. he guessed 45 minutes, it took us 20! It was needless to say absolutely nuts, it was finally walkable past Dearborn, and then Alex estimated that about a third of the people dropped off after every intersection after that, and finally past Union Station everything was all cleared up. Alex caught the bus at Halsted, and I hurried on home the rest of the way. I did try to catch the bus, but everything was all full up.

All in all it took me an hour and twenty minutes to get home from the moment the fireworks stopped to walking in the front door, a time that I'm not convinced that could have been decreased by the use of public transportation.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I usually leave the food pictures for the other blog, but this was art, so there!

We had Yotam and Alex over for dinner last weekend for pizza, Mia made some fantastic dough and Yotam mastered the art of throwing pizza.

Then as Yotam was staring at a piece of pizza he was struck by genius, there it was, Israel. With only a slight change it was Israel replete with West bank and Gaza strip.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

organized pluralism

I have now sung at a Unitarian Universalist church on a number of occasions, and I have to admit that I have become less and less clear as to what exactly Unitarianism is. I brought this up to my father, his response was "I was raised going to a Unitarian Church and I'm still unclear as to what it's all about". My dad also jokes "What does the Unitarian KKK burn on people's front lawns? A question mark."

On a more serious note however, this is what I've ascertained: the UU's are trying to create a pluralistic community that wished to be faithful/spiritual together. The closest that I can come to liturgy is Humanism.

This embrace of pluralism and humanism leads to some great things; respect, tolerance, and most important social action. I mean the former two in the broadest sense, as there is a tremendous emphasis on respecting the earth as well as fellow human beings. They have actually, Incorporated many Native American ideals into their worship, flowing waters, trees etc.

Anyhow I am a true proponent of pluralism in its purest form. Not relativism, not absolutism, pluralism; it appears to be the only way that we can live not only in a global community but in our more local communities as well.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I don't think I really need to say anything.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To Whom it May Concern;

I am applying for the position of Research Assistant as advertised on the University's website. I am well qualified for for this job because, as you can see by my resume, I already have this job.

I understand that maybe I'll get benefits by re-applying for my job, as this is the case I am more than happy to jump through all sorts of hoops for the promise of benefits and, as I see by the description, a pay raise.

I have a years experience creating on-line catalogues, proof editing music, and doing assundry scanning and copying. I am especially good at mailing things over seas. I am entirely up-to-date with all the drama concerning our old publisher and our new publisher. I work well both alone and with co-workers, I would not complain if you need me to work in Italy with Daniella for a period of time.

As you can see my references are my bosses, you should ask them any questions regarding my work, writing ability, or interpersonal skills.

I hope to speak with you soon!
Miss, Emblies

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tick update

I found another tick today as I got in the shower, it was on my belly, I tweezered that sucker out.

I'm pretty sure that the low fever that I have (99.1) this evening is completely unrelated to the tick, for the following reasons.

1. It takes usually closer to 7 days for any effects to take place with Lyme disease.

2. I had a busy long day that started with an early flight back to Chicago and included work, a run, and the acquisition of some excellent chairs from Goodwill.

The only question I have right now is, do they mean the expiration date on Amoxicillin? I know that some drug expiration dates are for real and some are for play. I have an 8 day course of Amoxicillin in my cabinet, but the prescription date was October 2005....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

five ticks

I had five deer ticks on me after tromping through fields looking for wild strawberries, rather fruitlessly (ha!)

That is positively the record for number of ticks I've had on me at once, they looked like perhaps they were baby ticks so maybe I tromped through a nest? Hey and five may not be all there are, that was on my ankles and legs, I haven't even checked more unmentionable regions for ticks yet!

Happy Father's day!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Belated Don Giovanni review

Mia and I have been to two of the three operas that Chicago Opera Theater is producing this spring. We'll go see Orlando next week but for now I'll give a long over due review of their production of Mozart's Don Giovanni (Diana Paulus, Jane Glover); the only Mozart opera produced in Chicago this season.

I'm sure that most of you have read Mia's reactions to the production, my reactions were not as violent, but I still think that they made some serious mistakes. The production was set in what appears to be a strip club that Don Giovanni owns, this means that the stage was full of hot writhing girl bodies essentially constantly. One of the problems here was that the chorus played the strippers -- let me tell you -- aspiring opera singers: not great pole dancers. Not that I have a basis of comparison really.

The first mistake in my mind was the portrayal of Donna Anna's rape. She was masked and in the club, and the way it was staged (sparkly golden curtain, lots of laughter) made it seem complicit. The only place that you see something is going wrong is that Don Giovanni removes her mask (and therefore her honor?) but not his own. We're also not clear as it happens that the man who defends her is her father. You really think that he's another lover, or her pimp or something. Honestly, what is a father doing in a club with is daughter anyway? Either way it leaves the audience with out the pity and heart break that they are supposed to feel for Donna Anna. The woman was raped and then her father was killed by the man who raped her. Of course she's messed up! Here however she just comes across as whiny because we don't get the magnitude of what happened.

The second mistake I think they made is related to my comment about the dancing girls: they were alway on stage. There was just too much going on at all times, I needed fewer things happening so I could focus. During Leporello's aria listing the Don's conquests, they had girls holding numbers. Really this sort of gimmick added nothing and just cluttered the stage.

The third mistake I thought they made was in the casting of Masetto. He was just too good looking, you don't really get why Zerlina goes off with this creepy older fellow. Masetto should be cast as sort of bumbling and foolish. Here he was certainly hot headed, but handsome enough to forgive.

Finally I want to have a discussion of the ending. I don't count the ending as a mistake. Normally after the Don descends to hell all of the characters sing about how those who are evil get what's coming to them and are joyous because they are rid of a terrible influence in their lives. In this production all of the characters are singing and the police are investigating and they come and handcuff all who were trying to prove that the Don was an evil guy. He certainly was, but as they're arrested you have to pause remind yourself that none of the characters have been particularly "good" in their actions. I liked this. Then the curtain to the upper part of the stage is lifted and you see Don Giovanni hanging, covered in blood with a ball gag in his mouth. So you're left wondering, what was the falling to hell scene? Did they all band together and murder him in a sick and twisted way and the commodore taking him to hell was what? At that point it was just too much visual stimulus. There had been too many negative sexual tropes and too much violence for the audience to be shocked out of their seats. It was almost insult to injury at that point.

So the ending was well thought out but poorly executed. In fact I would say that this is my analysis for the entire show, except for the Donna Anna thing, that was poorly thought out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dear Work Computer;

It is my sad duty to inform you that we are no longer friends. Our relationship started out as a hopeful one, full of promise, these hopes were, however, swiftly dashed.

Our relationship has been tenuous, to say the least, for quite some time, but today really signaled the end of all favorable efforts on your part.

Normally I deem it unnecessarily cruel to list the short coming of whose who I am, or have been close to, however it seems best -- so you know just where we went awry -- for me to mention them in no uncertain terms.

I have two chief complaints: The first being your persistent refusal to find local wireless internet to which to connect. This would be understandable if I brought you to remote locations, however not finding wireless in my own home is simply offending. The second and greater complaint is of your frequent and inexplicable need to go blank in the midst of doing something. Today alone this occurred three times, and you never give any explanation. I have noticed that this happens after the system hibernates, but that is what you were designed to do.

All this to say that I will no longer defend your actions. They are unprovoked and unnecessary. I hope that we are able to continue working together in a productive fashion and that we both can work on our professional attitudes towards the other.

Miss Emblies

Friday, May 23, 2008

some kind of sample

I was reading an interesting article in the NYTimes yesterday about the six different tribes of bacteria that live on the insides of your elbows. It was all information that didn't surprise me, but was interesting to read about. According to the article the type of bacteria that lives there is fairly consistent from person to person. Again interesting but not shocking. I then read that this person's sample size was five people. (If I misunderstood the article the rest of this post is completely worthless).

Five people? Your sample size was only five people. Surely you know more than five people who wouldn't mind having a swab of their inner elbow taken. Wouldn't you want more samples before stating something about the consistency of the type of bacteria tribes from person to person?

wouldn't you want to know if someone half way around the globe has the same bacteria growing on them? I think that would be interesting to find out. All of this isn't that hard.

Anyhow this discovery is part of a larger project to find out what bacteria live in the human ecosystem, which is very cool.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Monkey Journey to the West

This seems really cool.

yes it's an opera.

yes the site is beautiful.

yes, the composer's one of the guy's behind the Gorillaz.

I'm pretty excited by the entire concept! Now to get to the Spoleto festival to see it...

doesn't it seem awesome?

I think it's kind of ridiculously awesome

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


There was a time in history that, if the audience demanded it, a diva or divo would sing a stellar aria again, even if it were in the middle of an opera. In fact there are cases where they would repeat the piece three or possibly four times if desired.

This has fallen out of favor in most opera houses as they have been trying to be more conscientious about performance practice, and try to give an upper hand to stage craft and telling a story. Many opera houses have gone so far as to ban the practice, and it has gotten to the point that the audience would not even think to demand/expect an encore. In fact I rarely even hear "encore!" or "bis!" yelled after an aria. Some times a "bravo!" or "brava!" but never the former two.

However it is still done! Monday at the Met it was in fact planned for (which is necessary if you're going to pull it off). Again Juan Diego Florez has taken opera stardom and stepped it up to where it once was! I love it! (I'm also still bummed about not seeing him this year at the Lyric, so I can see what the fuss is about)

I'm excited to see a small return to the feeling that opera should be thrilling, because it should be! Scholarship is great, and makes us better musicians, and creates better performances, and respect of the work of a whole is noble. But we mustn't get too stuffy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The rules...

This week is Passover, which is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I find it to be the most meaningful, and has the best present day traditions as well. I won't go into more that that now, but I'm sure I could.

I was in the grocery store yesterday, picking up some things for dinner and there at the little kosher for Passover table I picked up and looked at a box of Kosher for Passover brownie mix. I was looking at the ingredients, the normal things that you would expect, matzah meal instead of flour, potato starch, chocolate....sodium bicarbonate....wait.

Sodium Bicarbonate? That's leavening. That is leavening. Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda, who's purpose is to make your brownies fluffy. So clearly (in my mind at least) it is strictly off limits for anything that is Kosher for Passover.

When did the rules become, no grain products rather than no leaven foods. To me eating brownies with sodium bicarbonate in them ever if they are made with matzah meal made under the strictest rabbinical direction just doesn't make any sense! It's some giant loop hole that just doesn't add up.

So you have to sit down and think about why we don't eat leaven food during Passover. The Jews left Egypt in haste, and had not the time to let their bread rise and to commemorate this we don't eat bread with leavening. "For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread." (Exodus 12:19-20)

OK looking at this it strictly says nothing with yeast. But is also says unleavened. To be fair baking soda was not a prevalent factor in Biblical times, but its purpose is solely leavening (and cleaning?), so in my mind it's definitely out. It is very interesting to me that the rules have sort have been distorted to nothing with grain in it unless the grain was matzah first.

Are we really trying to re-create the experience of wandering in the desert? if so I can think of a lot of food we would not eat: Brisket, Matzah ball soup, etc...Also in the desert if they found (at an oasis) wild rice, they clearly would have eaten it. We don't stop eating leaven food to punish ourselves, but to be conscious for an entire week of the Passover story, and what God did for the Jewish people. I guess that perhaps eating mediocre brownies from a box made with matzah meal might make someone conscious of this as well. But really. It's just a week. Eat ice cream for dessert, though they certainly did not have that in the desert.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

what!? I can't hear you!

check out this article from today's NYtimes.

It's strange to think about musician's in an orchestra having to worry about their hearing. It makes sense. I've stood behind the horn section in concerts and even that's loud, but as many of the musicians point out, ear plugs or screens make playing incredibly hard.

I guess this article brings up the same confusion in me that the idea that the delicious chocolate smells in Chicago are pollution. I mean it's delicious smelling, but I guess that if it were another less delicious smell as strong in the neighborhood, people would be up in arms about pollution.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I must conclude that earthquakes only happen in the small hours of the morning. I have somehow experienced two earthquakes in the last 6 or 7 years while living in Connecticut and Illinois, both woke me up in the early hours of the morning.

Now according to the New York Times it's not actually surprising that Illinois would get an earthquake...we're apparently on a fault. I had no idea.

The first one was in high school. I distinctly remember thinking that my brother was making a ruckus and he thought that I was doing the same. So when the room shook I yelled"Evan!" and he yelled "Emily!". So that was good. I also remember Sarah telling me that she had been dreaming about a raccoon in her room and therefore assumed the shaking was "just the raccoon under my bed". Yup I'm usually pretty calm when it's "just the raccoon under my bed" too.

This time I knew immediately what was going on. I think it was slightly more violent than the one in CT. There were people in the street trying to figure out what was going on. Well I can only assume that's why they were in the street. I just looked at my clock to find out that it was 4:35 and went back to sleep where I promptly had very strange dreams.

But the dreams aren't news really.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I've decided that if my goal is to be famous (I'm trying to sing opera, so this is not really a priority) I want to be able to go on Sesame Street. I think that's a good use of someone's famous.

Speaking of famous opera singers, my boss is attending Juan Diego Florez's high profile wedding down in cool!

In less cool news because my boss is going to be in Chicago for only a day after this, I've been scanning microfilm for a replacement aria in Il Barbieri (Manca un Foglio). (Ironically Barbieri was the show that JDF just pulled out of at the Lyric Opera of Chicago due to a throat infection. Too bad it would have been cool to see him)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I can sing high...and low

so yesterday in my lesson I sang a C3, and a F6, with in minutes of each other.
ummm so an F6 is the one the queen of the night sings above the staff.
and a C3 is the one that's the second space in the bass clef.
I've definitely always known that I can sing low, and my teachers have always told me that I'll "get" the F soon. But sheesh.
My teacher said that something must be wrong with me (haha) because most singers have a three octave range, and I just sang three octaves and a fourth.
She also commented how awsome it would be if someone with my size voice sang the queen of the night. It would actually be scary. Usually the women who sing the queen of the night are teeny teeny women, so you're all like "oh no the queen of the night is coming scary...oh wait hello wee one, are you trying to frighten me?
Anyhow it'll be a long time before I feel ok performing either of those extremes

Friday, March 21, 2008

winter has not left

I woke up this morning and noticed that it was very gray, not surprising nor particularly concerning. I then looked out the window and exclaimed out loud "oh man!" (in the less than thrilled fashion). After pretending that it was spring briefly it is winter and snowing. I'm not surprised, but I had stopped wearing a hat, something I was really sad about yesterday.

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday, a day that I did not know existed before I was asked to sing for the service. In the Passion story, I think that what happens on Maundy Thursday is the most intriguing to me. I think it is because Christ is begging God the Father to not let this happen. He is fearful. I'm not going to write a ton more on this except for that I find that really fascinating and far more powerful than what happens on Good Friday. On Good Friday all that he predicts goes down. I'm far more interested in the prediction I think.

I've seen two operas at the Lyric recently. The first was Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. The production was really lovely, leaves all over the stage. They really focus the story on Onegin and his struggles rather than on the melodrama of Tatyana the girl who falls for him. Beautiful overall, the choral work was good, and the orchestra was great!

After as I was hopelessly waiting for the bus to arrive (it seems to always take forever after the opera) I saw Dimitri Hvorostovsky walk swiftly by, silver coat, red scarf, collar up. Following him were two girls about my age "Mr. Hvorostovsky!" He stopped and autographed a number of people's programs. I was tempted but couldn't bring my self to do that. It was cool though.

I also recently saw Il Barbieri di Siviglia this week. Again I really enjoyed the production, the sets and costumes were based on Magritte paintings which was really cool. There was a nice mention on our critical edition in the program (it was of course written by my big boss, he wrote the notes for the La Traviata program as well). I thought the ornaments were both tasteful and really exciting, a combination that is difficult to achieve!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I'm sick :(

Not really sick just the beginning of a head cold, but sick none-the-less.

Now this is the same cold, presumably, that my brother had all last week and skied through. So it's not a super bad cold (though I hear he has it back this week). But I have a fairly important audition on Monday. So it's been not very exciting here for me!

I've been feeling this come one for a few days now, I've been feeling like I've been bludgeoned, I've just been slow hurting and tired. And my voice has been feeling like I've been pushing it to the edge more frequently. Last time I sang in a lesson and it hurt, I got sick very shortly after that, so I've sort of been expecting this.

Of course that doesn't make it suck any less. So lots and lots of liquids for me, and vitamin C. As long as the cold stays in my head I really don't care. I can sing through a head cold all day long...well not really it still is unfortunate, it's that I really don't want it to settle into my throat. I don't have any singer tricks to share with you about how I do that, because I don't know any.

Anyhow it'll be a movie with lots to drink and bed for me, and then tomorrow I'll be up early to sing at church (I have a semi-permanent gig out in Hinsdale filling in for an ailing section leader/soloist!) and then I'll come back and take it easy all day. I'll probably warm up some and perhaps run through my songs to reinforce my Thursday coaching, but I'll just really really hope that my voice will take care of itself by not being used and be there for me on Monday!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Skiing and Flying

I think that someone once described skiing to me as the closest someone can come to flying. I certainly can understand the sentiment, the speed and the rushing through the air gives it a flying sensation. However I think that I am more aware of the ground when I am skiing than I ever am. Your success or failure as a skier is entirely based upon your ability to read and react to the mountain.

There are two basic types of skiing: times when you are owning the mountain, and times when the mountain is owning you. The trick to skiing well is to make the mountain do the work for you. there is no question when you're skiing well, the bumps pop you knees up and turn your legs for you. When you're skiing poorly you hit the troughs hard and you can't keep your edges on the mountain.

Either way you are acutely aware of your feet and their interaction with the ground. My first run of the season cruising down Redtail at Beaver Creek (map), I remembered just how fast skiing is and consequently how scary it can be. Of course after the first run that's why you ski to go fast and do exciting things!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


How can you charge me $29 to file Illinois? Why should it cost me money to file taxes? I don't know how to make a grumpy emoticon, but I would. harrumph!

I've had quite a busy week! I had two auditions that were the near miss type that all singers try to avoid. It wasn't the singing that was a problem but communication and transportation.

Tuesday I was in the midst of A: doing my taxes, and B: trying to figure out how to politely word an e-mail to a group that I had applied to audition for. This e-mail was going to somehow say, you should give me an audition, and if you don't I'm going to come and sing for you anyway.

However I then received a phone call asking me where I was because I was supposed to be auditioning for this very group at that moment...did you receive our e-mail? Why no I didn't but I will come as soon as, well I take a shower! So went down town and sang Una Donna and If I Loved you (in a really stupid key). It went quite well! He complimented my Italian and then told me that I gave the smartest performance of If I Loved you that he had ever seen. So that was fabulous. He then chatted with me for quite a while about the research that I'm doing for CIAO.

I haven't heard back from them. Which isn't really concerning considering that it hasn't been that long, but I'm worried that they have my e-mail wrong some how and the same problem that arose with the audition will again surface.

The second audition was down at the University. The first anxious thing about it is that I had to completely learn and memorize the andante movement of Mozart's Exultate Jubilate for this audition in a week. The second problem was the traffic. I left with plenty of extra time to get down there, but I did not remember that the car show was this weekend. So. It took me a half an hour to get from Balbo to the McCormic center. Needless to say I arrived late for my audition. That's really not something that I want to do, ever. Even though this wasn't an audition that was something that I was banking on. They should give it to a student, which I am no longer. The audition was fine, except for that pianist made the cut we had agreed on a phrase early cutting out my cadenza.

No big deal really. I just was really confused for a brief moment, because I thought for sure that I had somehow blithely missed a whole phrase of music. No matter I continued on to the Alleluia which I sing with gusto!

Now a week of vacation before I return to more auditions!