lessons from Amahl

Wrapped up a warm, fuzzy weekend of Amahl and the Night Visitors. This experience was loads of fun and it has me counting blessings this week. Here’s a short list of life-lessons learned.

1. Singing is more fun when you are surrounded by friends.

me&girls
My mezzo role models.
shepherds
Shepherds

Have you ever noticed there’s no singing 4-part harmony by yourself?

2. Talent is God-given. However, it demands an incredible amount of dedication and perseverance to develop to full potential.

3kings
Our 3 kings from far away.

Enjoyed talking to these pros about their experiences.

me&kings1
A humble shepherdess with the kings.

These guys were amazing and left me speechless at every performance! Bravi, bravo, (or is it hur-ray?) for honing your craft and reminding me of what greatness can be achieved with hard work and focus.

You guys were nice, too. Thank you.

3. Memorization is just plain difficult. I thought the music in Amahl was easy to sing. Yes, the notes were pretty easy....but yikes.…the laundry list of names and items we sang about were daunting.

Tav&brandonAssumed the lists were more difficult for me because of my old, moldy brain. It was like singing tongue twisters.

julioIn retrospect, the task seemed difficult for most everyone.

For me, memorizing requires repetition, re-pe-ti-tion and more REPETITION. I got tripped up a couple of times, but by the last show, I finally got it!

Memorizing is hard. There are no shortcuts.

4. I have a touch of claustrophobia.

The backstage area was cramped. I sensed the walls closing in on me. Tried hard not to have body odor, but they instructed us not to wear anything with fragrance because it can set off people’s allergies. So….I can’t be sure. Singers are a sensitive bunch. Thank you cast, for your understanding. The same can be said for unexpected flatulence.

5. Amarillo has an abundance of home-grown talent.

mom&amahl
Amahl and his mom.

Who would have thought Jackalope Flats could be an artsy oasis? Better believe it, because it’s true.

6. Watch the conductor. Want to have success in navigating the music? It’s nice to glance his way once in a while.

7. Having kids in the audience makes for a more energetic and fun audience.

This show was perfect for the 5-and-up crowd. The Kings’ entrance made for some wide eyes and dropped jaws.

8. I find meaning in being part of ‘something bigger’ than myself. (See #1)

nathalie&kings

I enjoy being around people. There’s always something new to learn and ways to have the imagination stretched.

3a

Thank you Amahl cast-mates. Thank you, Amarillo Opera for the opportunity to sing and for allowing me to be a small cog (or shepherd) in creating this art for our community.

Promise to continue working on the body odor issues.

Mignonette-love to all.

drama

What a busy week this has been! Wanted to share one of my most fun moments with you. I was asked to sing and do a little program for the NUFFS (no one under fifty-five) over at First Presbyterian Church. The Texan and I attended that fine church for many years, so it was kinda old home week for me.

Got to visit with Amarillo Man of theYear….Eddie M!

Eddie told me of BIG plans for his upcoming 100th this July! I’ll be there, Eddie.

The show for the NUFFS was a kind of  Broadway revue…complete with quick costume changes and very bad wigs. I definitely play for the ‘fun factor’.

I told the NUFFS absolutely NO NUDITY, so I left my clothes on for All That Jazz.





 My stage was in their gorgeous parlor.

Always keepin’ it classy with my redition of Memories from CATS. The flea-bitten old feline was remembering when she was a beautiful, young, and less-lumpy cat.
Channeling my inner Ethel Merman in Everything’s Comin’ Up Roses. The song is from Gypsy…about a stripper, but I STILL kept my clothes on. You’re welcome.

This bleached blonde floozy was trying to figure out how to love Him, from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Yup, you guessed it smarty pants! Everyone’s favorite Cockney, Eliza Doolittle.

The old Fantine dreaming a dream. Is there an owl or something makin’ a home in that wig??
Just when life KILLS Fantine’s dream, she yanks off the shawl/bad wig and underneath it all she’s really ANNIE belting out how everything will be great Tomorrow!

The above photo shows the fantastic accompianist who helped me…Miss Sara. She was my rock! Brava, Sara!

After my part of the program was done, I got to learn about fire safety.

Why, oh why did I not take a picture of the hot firefighter? My bad.

I learned basically that old folks are screwed if there’s a fire, cuz we’re all too feeble to get up out of our wheelchairs and run out of the house. We’re deaf and can’t hear the smoke alarm. Hell, we can’t even stop, drop, and roll! Most of us are tethered to an oxygen machine anyway, so we’re gonna die or explode. Lesson learned, Mr. Hot Firefighter.

Really….he was very nice and said we could call him for anything. Anything?. ..hmmmmmmm

Thank-you NUFFS for being an appreciative audience. I had a great time being with all of you.

NUFF-y love to all!

Ready, Set, GOpera!

I’m not an opera aficionado. Don’t know a libretto from a library card. I think a cadenza is something my grandmother stored her Sunday china in. No idea what toi, toi, toi means….is it the number three spoken in Latin or the sound of spitting to keep evil spirits at bay?

The gorgeous set of Amarillo Opera’s La Perichole

Even though I don’t know much about opera, I’m positive there are lots of reasons to like Amarillo Opera’s production of La Perichole.

You see, I attended a picnic on the stage and was treated to some sneak peeks of the upcoming performance.

I enjoy the fact this opera will be sung in my native tongue Oklahoma Hillbilly English. Therefore, I can understand perfectly what this gentleman is singing about.

He is singing about women being goddesses. Who am I to disagree??

I enjoy the fact this show is clever and it makes me laugh. I like to laugh.

Our heroine…Perichole

Isn’t she beautiful? She’s singing a song about how men are generally dull and thick-skulled. Who am I to disagree??

I enjoy hearing gorgeous voices and supporting the arts in our humble town. We are fantastically blessed to have outstanding talent grace the stage in our glorious Globe News Center. The acoustics are sublime, so please silence your cellphone.

The director described this opera as a fluffy, tasty bit of meringue. Now pies….that’s something I understand. Remember these?

Ever seen such gorgeous meringue?

I understand meringue and I LOVE it! Not sure I’ve ever had it at an opera before, but I’m ready.

Another thing about this show that excites me….some lucky locals are in the production. Gives me some hometown faces to bravo about.


This is Michael and he is over the moon about being in the opera, even though he plays the role of a prisoner.  I’m happy for him and can’t wait to spot him onstage.

Although I don’t count myself among the opera ‘educated’, I’m still attending La Perichole next weekend. It looks too fun to miss.

If you feel like coming….don’t be shy! Call AMARILLO OPERA for tickets to the show Saturday, March 31 or Sunday, April 1. There won’t be a quiz about opera terms or etiquette or anything like that.

Wait, wait…..seems I spoke too soon about the quiz.

What on earth are you doing, Roxy-Doxy?!

**Doxy breathless in a run-on sentence**I auditioned for the part of Perichole, but David O’Dell says I might be better cast as Madame Butterfly next season…do you realize it’s pronounced pear-uh-kole NOT pear-uh-CHOLE?…do you know the term opera buffa refers to all the hot, buffed-up men in the cast?…do you understand the term contralto refers to……

No opera quizzes. Just fun. Promise.

Buffed-up opera love to all.

this our joyful hymn

Not a traditional Thanksgiving pic….sorry, no turkeys in my files

Getting into the Thanksgiving spirit.  Thought I’d share this heavenly tune with you.  The words are from the traditional hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth.  The old lyrics were set to a new tune composed by famed English composer, John Rutter.  This is a perfect fusion of lyric and melody, in my humble opinion.  I’ve sung this many times in various choirs.  It never fails to make my spirit soar.  I’ve yet to get through it without tearing up.

Simple aural loveliness.  Hope it inspires your thankful spirit.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iRxZMudrAY&feature=related

Remember to thaw the turkey in the fridge.  It may take a couple of days.
Giblet gravy love to all.

spring songbirds

You’ve seen my African Gray parrot-Waka.

We raised him from an egg. This is what he looked like.  Feedings of white mush with eyedroppers and lots of mess. The youngest sprout is posing with the baby Waka.  The birds on the wallpaper in the background look just like the baby bird!  A foreshadowing, perhaps?

He grew up and got feathers.  The sprouts put him in all kinds of strange positions.  No self-respecting parrot should have to pose like this!  For shame….would someone please cover this bird?

Waka has an amusing variety of phrases. As I sleepily shuffle to the kitchen for coffee, he greets me daily with a cheerful, “What are you doing?”.  The clever Texan (not a parrot lover) thought it would be cute to teach a bird to say quack quack.  Now Waka smartly remarks “Quack, Quack Wak-eee!” in the Texan’s voice. The bird fastidiously answers the phone and alerts us to visitors by exclaiming “Hello...hel-lo!“.  He calls my sprouts and my deceased, beloved schnauzer by name.  He can say, “Mom, mom” in the exact inflection and intonation of my oldest sprout.  When hungry, he implores “Come here, come here!”….and his favorite food is pancakes with maple syrup.

Waka is an intriguing animal…he can whistle most of the Andy Griffith theme song, but he is not much of a singer.  He doesn’t sing in the way one thinks of a canary singing.  I suppose he might sing if I worked with him, but he is more enamored of whistles, clicks, and the inflection of speech.  He enjoys music, but wouldn’t be classified as a songbird.

Not me…I love to sing!   This was my thought today while sitting in my church choir.  Church choir and I go WAY back, and I’ve sung in a choir since elementary school, I guess.  I’m privileged to sing at local weddings and funerals and am continually astounded people ask me to share in momentous life events.  I’ve even sung a little in the local theatre, but my most outstanding audience is my Mom’s retirement home (OK, maybe the local maximum security prison was the BEST audience, but I digress). They are loving, appreciative fans and we share lots of laughs, hugs and kisses.  Here is one of my favorite friends…oh, what a dear!  We sang a duet a few years back.  Love the heck out of him.

I tried to share my singing enthusiasm with my sprouts. Here’s the middle sprout singing at a recital

The floral garb was surely louder than our singing…am I hearing ’80’s?!!

The word grateful isn’t large or broad enough to describe how joyous singing makes me feel.  I feel my most REAL self.  Even blessed, maybe?  I’m thankful to have something to sing ABOUT in this tumultuous world.  Can’t describe myself as a good singer-what I lack in skill I make up for in enthusiasm.  Randy might describe me as ‘pitchy’, dawg, but I’d like to continue singing a long time.  I’ll sing in choir as long as I can limp into the choir loft.  When too decrepit for that,  I will annoyingly sing at church, at home, in the car and blare in the shower.  I’ll be the flamboyant relative who loudly leads the group in bellowing Happy Birthday or the children in renditions of Frosty the Snowman.  Maybe the bird will join in a verse or two! My sprouts and the Texan will have to shush me and flush red hot at my musical antics.  Who could blame them?  Some may suggest I ‘stuff a sock in it’ or ‘shut my pie-hole’.  That’s fine….they are entitled.  But these lyrics (of a folk tune) keep piercing the gray matter…..since love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing? 

Sprouts…Texan…Waka…friends…..get exceedingly familiar with humiliation and embarrassment.  This songbird will warble as long as she’s able.