A weeklong electronic journal.
Oct. 26 2001 7:37 PM


Awoke early this morning in order to get up and be somewhat awake to do a live radio interview at noon. A few cups of coffee and a piece of toast more or less did the trick, and I could just about put two words together when the car came to take me to the studio. I have a recording contract with Sony Classical, and they arrange promotional appearances around my performances, which hopefully takes the world of opera out to some new people (which I hope this Diary may also do).


The interview was for WNYC with Leonard Lopate on a show called New York & Company. Their studio is downtown in one of the government buildings, and the trip there was long and difficult. I had not been anywhere close to the area of the Sept. 11 disaster, and it was very sobering to see the cranes and shattered buildings in the distance. I was surprised at how big an area is still closed off to traffic, and it took many stops to ask police officers and detours before we could even get close to where we needed to be. In the end we walked a couple of blocks, and as soon as I stepped out of the car I was immediately taken aback by the very strong smell and taste of masonry dust in the air. I saw a few people still wearing masks, but I imagine many people who are regularly in that area hardly notice it anymore. Two pieces of ID and two metal detectors later, we were allowed in the building and made our way to the studio. The interview was very interesting, and it’s nice to be able to talk about different things sometimes. Mr. Lopate has interviewed me before, so he knew something about me, and it was an enjoyable 45 minutes.

The drive back to the Upper West Side took almost an hour and a half, though I relaxed and watched the world go by, wishing I could stop and look in some of the more interesting shops. I enjoy shopping but get bored with it very easily, so half an hour in a store is usually plenty and enough time to do a little damage to the credit cards. I freely admit to being a budding Imelda Marcos when it comes to shoes. I also buy a lot of my clothes in New York, mostly at a wonderful store called Daphne. I am what is called a “big girl,” though I have never been able to see what someone’s dress size really has to do with anything, and it has never been an issue for me. I get most of my concert dresses at Daphne too, and as you can never wear the same dress in the same place twice, I seem to have acquired quite a few. Audiences do like to see ladies in nice concert dresses, and I remember once when I was younger and didn’t have so many dresses to choose from that someone came up to me after a concert and said, “We liked that dress last time you wore it here too”; so since then, I always try and remember what dress I wear in what city.

The rest of the day was spent doing errands, grocery shopping, and catching up on e-mails. We ate in tonight and watched the new Friends and ER. I do think sometime someone should do a sit-com about life backstage at an opera house, or maybe they should just make a documentary, which would probably be much funnier.

An early night is definitely in order tonight, especially as my husband is not well, and I think sleep is the best medicine for most things. Hopefully I will not catch his cold, but I don’t believe in putting a bag over my head to try and avoid germs, so sleep, water, and “zicam” it is. My next Norma is on Saturday evening, then only two more performances before this run is over. People often wonder why opera singers can’t sing every night of the week. As we have no microphones and use our bodies to such an extent, to sing every night would be very dangerous to the voice. In rehearsals, singers alternate between singing out and “marking,” which is singing either very quietly, or just missing out high notes so the voice is not put under so much pressure. Usually there are at least two days off between performances, though when I sing Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” there is only one day off between each of the three different operas I am in. Somehow it seems to work well, though, and although it’s tiring, I usually feel pretty good. I am very lucky to have a lot of stamina and be very strong, which makes a huge difference when singing big roles.


I hope this taste of an operatic life on the move has encouraged some of you to investigate opera a little more and hopefully even go and see one. It’s a wonderful experience, and without exception my family and friends, who only came to opera through me, now love it. One of my greatest thrills is to hear of people going to their first opera and having such a good time they can’t wait for their second. I thank you for taking your time to share a little of my life, and I look forward to seeing you at the opera.