Friday, February 14, 2014

If You Can't Stand The Heat....

...then get out of the kitchen.

We had our final rehearsal auditions today. This time they picked a song a week ahead of time from my repertoire list and then chose one on the spot.

My first aria was Per Pieta from Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart. In other words, an extremely difficult aria, but one that I’m working on and practicing with. It is a song I would never otherwise use for an audition. At least not now. The song runs up and down between to octaves through out the entire duration of the song. 
But it’s incredibly fun to sing. 

After this song they picked Berta’s Aria  by Rossini (in Swedish) because they wanted to see a different character. 

Then we talked…

The first thing they did was throw themselves at me with criticism.

 “You do this thing with your eyebrows, you become completely stiff in your face, I was bored after the first couple of phrases”. 

“Do you know you're doing this with you hands” then they mimicked my gestures.

“I don’t think this repertoire is right for you.”

“Your high notes are better than your low notes, it sounds to me that you feel more comfortable there.”

These were among the things they said to me.

I’m never one to fish for compliments, but I just felt completely dumbstruck, but I did my best to explain myself.

My eyebrow thing is hard to explain, but you see it my videos. It is a form of insecurity.
I know I don’t do it when i practice so it becomes hard for me to know exactly how to get rid of it for an audition or concert. I was told from my first audition to not show my insecurities. I don’t necessarily feel insecure when i sing. 
I really don’t.
But something in my mind or body sort of stiffens.
 It’s sort of a way of focusing. 
I, of course, want to get rid of it, it’s not something that I like that I do, but it just happens. I think about it every time I sing, and it’s just so incredibly hard to say why I do it. Usually if I’m on stage acting as well it goes away. They asked me if i enjoyed being on stage. 
Yes, I really do. I like moving around and doing things while i perform and i want to find away to feel that way  when i have to sing a concert or do an audition where I am forced to stand straight up and down. 
I was very aware of my hand gestures. That song is so hard, I had to some how keep myself going. I had to keep my energy up, keep my support going. I was so sweaty afterwards. 

They felt my high notes were better than my low notes which is the first time I’ve ever heard that. I love singing low notes and only recently have I managed to find enjoyment in high notes. So it’s very new for me to enjoy doing that. 

But of course, this was just a list of songs that are sort of in the same voice range and that I know well. I am slowly working my way upwards. I told them I think i’m a lyrical soprano with a fuller voice. The nodded.

At one point I found myself explaining my entire singing history. I sang with one teacher in Norway for 6 years, then another for one year, then another for a couple months and sporadically when I was home in Norway. I moved to Sweden where I had one teacher my first year, was forced to have another teacher the second and finally now I have been able to choose my own teacher and I’ve had him from a year and a half and I’m finally learning to sing. 

Then my phrasing a musicality. They felt i just sing through each note and it becomes choppy. This I know and is something I’m working on learning to to as we speak, but of course it hasn’t settled in my body yet. I feel it's hard to sing that way when your just trying to get through the music. Once I feel stable with a song then I can start to play and phrase and create music and show my emotions as I sing. That is after all the best part about singing, but it's hard to do when you're just learning how to sing. They felt it should be something I always should do even when learning music. I’ve started and will defiantly be doing more of that from now on.

Their final words were. “Just keep working on it.” 


Oh, and that I was dressed nicely. That was their only compliment. 

It isn’t always fun and games. 
It’s also just a matter of opinion.
It wasn’t that bad now that I think about it... because... I sort of wanted to cry afterwards.... 

I think I’m just going to go out an do some shopping, I have some discount coupons in my wallet…

xx Erika Grace

Photo: Åke Cappelin

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Orchestra Concert

Yesterday my classmates and I from Stockholm Operastudio performed in Tumba Church with a lovely amateur orchestra. We sang pieces by Mozart, Handel, Gluck, Puccini, Bellini and Donizetti.
I sang Susanna’s Aria “Deh vieni non tardar” from Le nozze di Fagaro by Mozart.

I felt it went really well, I took the opportunity to just focus on my technique and test some new things I’ve been working on this past week.

I finally got to wear my beautiful Ted Baker dress that my father and I bought in London. I love it! I love the color mint and it’s so classic and timeless. It’s available online here if you are curious.

The church was great to sing in, great acoustics and the audience was fabulous, they made us sing our encore twice! 
                                                                                            Hung up, trying to get all the creases out.
                                                                            The boys wore suits and the girls wore gowns.....
                                                                                    Silly P always leaves his things lying around....
                                          My classmates beautiful custom made gown.

Unfortunately three of our classmates were missing due to illness. But they were with us in spirit!

My mother came to see my performance, it was great to see her. She just walked out my door, but will be back in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait!

I will post a video from the rehearsals soon!

xx Erika Grace

Photo: By Me

Friday, February 7, 2014

Russian Kiss // My hopes

My dear friend Annie has written a new song called “Russian Kiss” produced my Richard X. It is aimed at the Russian president Putin and his government for the laws that forbid LGBT(Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals) the freedom to be publicly open about their sexuality.

“Russian Kiss” is available for purchase on iTunes from today and is also accompanied by THIS music video:

The song will eventually be re-recorded and released by other artists around the world.

My question is why do we make something that is so simple as humanity into something so incredibly difficult?
Why are lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals so different from "straight" people?
How can there possibly be an actual difference?
Love is freedom, love just happens.
No one can control who they fall in love with. We have a right to love who we love.
Why is a public display of affection only okay for heterosexuals in a relationship?
I don’t know.
I don’t understand.
More importantly, I do not accept it.

Putin argues that it is for the protection of children so that they are not exposed to LGBT. What could happen to those children really? What they see are two people that are in love, they might feel a little confused at first, but if they are taught that they are just in love, a child will most likely feel okay with that. If you tell them that these people love each other like their mommy and daddy love each other won't that be an acceptable explanation?
I think it will and I intend to teach my future children this. I don't care if any of my children turn out to be gay, I want them to feel free to be who they are, to find love and be happy in life.

I hope for a future where all the people of the world will realize the importance and the responsibly we as human beings have to protect each other and stand up for what is ethically and morally right.
I hope the simple fact that we are all human no matter what sexual orientation, religion or skin color we might have becomes a fact of life for the rest of the world.
I hope people will treat each other with kindness and respect no matter what God one worships or the fact that some people don’t worship gods at all.
Paying taxes is not a punishment. It is not taking from the rich and giving all your hard earned or inherited money to all the poor slackers. It's lending a helping hand to those who have become less fortunate in life, those that got lost on the way or never had a way to follow because society hadn't given them one.
Giving and sharing should be seen as a gift. It is a gift to be able to have something to share with others whether it be money, knowledge, a musical talent, writing or any kind of creativity or ability.
I feel fortunate that I can sing.
I feel good when I get to perform for others and they tell me they were touched by my performance.
I live for those moments.
I might not have a lot of money, but when and if I do I plan to share as much of it as I can spare.

Feel the right to be loved and to love others.
Feel the right to be free and free others.
Be happy and make others happy.
Always wear a smile on your face, you never know when some stranger happens to be having a bad day and then that smile that you always carry, even when your day isn't that great, might have turned that other persons day into an okay day after all.

It could be such a wonderful world...

xx Erika Grace

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Today I went for a little practicing at school as we have rehearsal auditions tomorrow. We are going to practice in front of an unknown panel that will later advise us on how we carry ourselves during an audition. For the first round we will sing two songs each: I’m singing Susanna’s Aria by W.A. Mozart and All that gold! by G.C. Menotti. 
Next week we will watch a video recording of how we performed and get some feed back as well as the panel will have picked another song for us to prepare from our lists of 9 arias and one art song. Then on the final audition we will sing the chosen song and then they will randomly pick one song from our list on the spot. 

So naturally today I felt it was smart to go practice a bit. My practicing stared okay, but i could feel something was a bit off. It’s a natural reaction to all the things I’m being taught. One of the things i’m working on is that I need to relax my face and place my energy in my body and so, stupid as the mind and body is, I begin to relax my body instead or as well. But i’m very aware of this, so I kept trucking on. 

What really was the problem is that my voice was a little “above” itself, as If I was not singing with my entire voice. So i decided to speak the lyrics first in a proper speaking/theater voice (rich and full) then in a more poetic shouting voice and then sing and taaaah daaaaah, I found my voice. It was a little late, and my chords were a bit tired from all the wrong singing I had done, but it stopped feeling so strenuous. I feel great that I could adjust that all by myself, just a couple weeks ago I would have probably cried and gone home.

                                      Grab your boobs and HOLLAH!

xx Erika Grace


Today we have been given our roles for the spring productions. Our school puts together four different shortened versions of operas which then are divided between four different directors and pianist.

I have been given the role of Poppea in "L'incoronazione di Poppea" by Claudio Monteverdi. The music was first performed in 1643!!! One of the first operas to use historical events and people, meaning it's old music about ancient people!!!!
It is extremely beautiful music.
And we will be performing it in combination with Claude Debussy’s Pelleas & Melisande, meaning they will be intertwined somehow. Extremely beautiful modern music intertwined with extremely beautiful ancient music. 
Claudio and Claude...<3
I am reading about it already. There is in fact no actual original copy of  Monteverdi’s composition which is regarded as his finest work and final work as he died the same year it was first performed.There are a lot of different version and rewrites, the only surviving copies are two versions from 1650 that are largely different from each other (according to wikipedia). Imagine, it was written 360 years ago…the possibilities!

We don’t know much yet other than this. 
I have no idea what time or setting our director will place them in. Only thing I know is that our director is crazy fun to work with, I worked with her last year in Il Barbiere de Siviglia by Rossini, so anything can happen. 

Of course I’m fantasizing about corsets and big beautiful gowns, but also some sort of reality in our music and story, it’s a lot of music for very small phrases, and a lot of beauty and passion in both operas.

I can’t waaaaaaaaaait!!!!!

                      Here is a 16th century painting of Poppea.                 And here, me. 


                                  Because my blog doesn't contain enough pictures of me...

xx Poppea aka Erika Grace ;-)

P.S! The other three productions are:
"Xerxes" by Handel, "Orfeo ed Euridice" by Gluck and "L'elisir  D'amore" by Donizetti.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mario Diaz

Last week we had two whole days of Master Classes with Mario Diaz. 
What a talented man!
He has an impeccable ear for voices, he was spot on on everything and everyone. I found him kind, funny and he doesn’t take himself too seriously and yet he’s VERY serious.

Mario pointed out mostly things about my voice that I was already aware of. My vibrato, a bit breathy middle register and my voice “fach” since people often can confuse me for being a mezzo soprano, but he agreed with what my teacher says and what I feel that I am, a soprano. He said very kind things about my voice, which is a great motivation.

I feel I can’t speak for all of my classmates when it comes to how he worked with each and everyone. He really knows how to adjust and individualize his teaching and I feel more inspired to keep working and learning to better my technique.

xx Erika Grace
Photo: Emelie Joenniemi