Tuesday, 25 September 2007

I'm still here!

Hello friends! Yes, I'm still here on the blog despite the long radio silence. The website still has an annoying niggle but should be up and running soon. I really do hope to have some very exciting news to post here soon but I can't say just yet!

The last few months have been really busy and I am now paying the price with a really nasty throat infection. I got it just as I was about to record my first thing for the BBC but I sang through it anyway. The recording was with the BBC Phil last week and was of Mozart arias and Schubert songs arranged by Reger and it went really well. I have listened back and am relatively pleased with it, under the circumstances. I'm not sure when it is going out.

The week before was completely mad as I had just got back from singing on a cruise ship when I got a phone call saying Rosemary Joshua had caught a cold and could I stand in for her the next day! It was too good an opportunity to pass up but it did mean having to learn Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate in a few hours as this was at 10am and I needed to be at a rehearsal at 3! In the end the concert went very well and I have had some nice reviews (not that one should really believe them!).

This week has so far been spent in the persuit of health and the right notes in a new piece I am learning. It's very slow work I can tell you and frankly not much fun when you have tonsillitis. I'm off with the fella on holiday to New York on Friday (and to work with Catherine Malfitano on Susanna whilst I'm there, no rest for the wicked) so I really want to get it out of the way before I go.

Thanks for sticking with the blog despite the recent sporadic nature of entries and I promise to write more regularly from now on, except whilst I'm on holiday (because even divas need a break sometimes). Ta-rah!

Saturday, 18 August 2007

PS

I hope my website will be up and running in the next few weeks which will have details of concerts etc etc. Check out www.elizabethwatts.co.uk soon!

Update

Hello, and apologies for radio silence. There's not much to tell at the moment but I will keep you posted as soon as I have anything juicy to report! I'm off to Edinburgh of holiday so more anon! Liz

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Busy bee

Hello blog fans and apologies for not writing sooner! Things have been really busy since cardiff. In summary: dealing with lots of enquiries arising from my performance and some nice bookings; a camping trip with my old school buddies; standing in at the last minute for a concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Bad Kissingen, Germany; a meeting with the BBC about the New Generation Aritsts scheme; a bout of viscious tonsilitis; a trip to Buxton to see my boyfriend.

Today I did a recital in a beautiful place in Sussex: Champs Hill, and tomorrow I have a Brahms Requiem in Essex. It's nice to be back in the swing of things again, although I could really do with a proper holiday. Because even divas need a break sometimes...

Monday, 18 June 2007

Back to normality

I'm now back home after an extraordinary couple of weeks. To win the song prize and be in the final was an absolute joy. It's been really interesting to read all your comments (on the blog and the cardiff site), and thanks for all your support. Some people seem to have loved what I do and others just not get it, but that's to be expected as we are all different. All I can do is open my soul and sing with it. I can't say I'm not disappointed not to have won but I know all the exposure will have done my career loads of good. I'll keep posting on the blog to keep you up to date with any interesting career developments and inform you when my kitchen is finally done. Hurry up B&Q! Now to exlplain to my orthodontist why I haven't worn my brace for 2 weeks. Oh, and unpack! Because even divas have to come back down to earth...

Saturday, 16 June 2007

It's a triumph!

I won the song prize!!! How amazing. It still hasn't sunk in. I still have to focus for sunday though so I'm trying not to think about it too much. Can't write much now as about to have my orchestral rehearsal for tomorrow. I'm just going to go out there and have a ball - I have nothing to prove now!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Here I go again...

I'm through to the main prize final! Have to say part of me thought I wouldn't be but there we go. I can't think about the main prize today though as I have the song prize final tonight. Just at St David's Hall to wrm up before my rehearsal so I'd best do that and sign off. Thanks for all your comments by the way, they mean a lot! I'll try and post later today!

Thursday, 14 June 2007

The truth awaits

Well, blog fans, I am at St David's Hall, awaiting the result of who will be selected for the main przie final. Errrrrrrrrr. Feeling a bit nervous actually, possibly for the first time since I've been here, but I stand a good chance.

Spent a lot of today trying to find an alternative outfit for the song prize, but to no avail. Cardiff will just haave to cope. Well, it will be a fine example of how to recycle key items of one's wardrobe and make it seem new with different accessories.

Still pretty tired, but hopefully my energy levels will crescendo again for tomorrow and perhaps then on to sunday!

By the way, for those of you who are wondering where I am in the kitchen saga, B&Q have still failed to finish fitting my kitchen 7 and a half months after they started and have refused to give me my money back, saying they are able to finish it... Hmm. Currently trying not to think about it and have given them the fella's number. Bless him.

Anyway, I best take my seat. Fingers crossed. Because even divas sometimes get butterflies...

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Song prize ahoy!

I am through to the song prize final!!! Mega excited although suddenly having a panic that what I had planned to wear won't work. I'm sure it will, I just need to go through the panic stage. Rehearsals start to day and I will hear tomorrow evening about the main prize final.

Still very tired, although I got my first good night's sleep in a long time last night. Thinking about going for a kip after writing this though! Because even diva sometimes need 40 winks...

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The song prize looms...

Well, I am in St David's Hall (the only place I can blog from) warming up, so I thought I would do a quick post. Thanks so much for all your suppportive comments on the blog and the bbc website. I'm keeping my fingers crossed about the final.

I have my first round of the song prize at 2pm today, and as I am in the last round, the announcement about the finalists will be made this afternoon. I'm really looking forward to performing again. Well, it's really my natural state! I'm a bit tired at the moment as it's very hard to sleep in the hotel as it's been so hot. A lot of the competitors are having the same problem. If you open your window to ease the heat of the building you get woken up by the building site next door at 6.30am which is not really ideal. Apparently the weather is cooling so hopefully I can get a proper night's sleep soon. I'm keeping my spirits up though!

Right I had best do some work!!! Because even divas need to sing through their repertoire on the day of a performance... (!!!)

Monday, 11 June 2007

I won!!!

Well, readers I only gone and done it and won my round! What a day! We were all stood just outside the hall and the judges filed past on to the stage. The usual speeches were made, and then, blow me, my name was announced. I knew I had to go on stage if I had won, so duly did so and shook hands with all the judges. The chair, John Fisher, then presented me with a beautiful crystal bowl, which I wasn't expecting at all! The thing about going on in front of an audience in this situation is that the fine detail of what is going to happen is never explained to you as you don't know you're going to go on! So I felt not only completely dazed that I had just won but slightly bewildered about what to do! After I had got the trophy someone told me to go and stand in front of the camera, so I just did what I was told, and bowed in grateful thanks.

After I came off stage, gave my fellow singers a hug and was then whisked away for an interview on BBC2 Wales. I had met Aled Jones in make up (I had joked that I wouldn't go on until I'd met him!) which was a real thrill as his singing had inspired me as a kid. He's such a lovely chap and really relaxed in front of the camera which put me totally at ease. Also presenting was Elin Manahan Thomas who was at the Royal College of Music with me so that was lovely too! Cissian my wonderful make up artist made sure my makeup hadn't run too much, Eric from wardrobe made sure my bra wasn't showing and one of the directors, I think it was, put a radio mic on me. I then had to wait a bit before going on and was desperately trying to get word to my friends and family about where I was, as I hadn't seen any of them since I had won. They turned up in time for the interview and to cheer me royally. It turns out I wasn't the only person who had been interviewed: they'd managed to get to my dad and sister Verity too! Verity had an amazing story too: she had clapped so hard that the diamond had come out of her engagement ring. The family had sprung to the rescue and managed to find it on the next level down!

After the interview there was a little reception and I finally got a well deserved drink! I didn't party too late though as I have the song prize tomorrow. My rehearsal for that is in the theatre later today. It's all go here! I even managed to squeeze in an interview with Radio Wales in the hotel lobby this morning!

I suppose now the task is to come back down to earth and focus for the song prize, and start practising in case I definitely make it to that final as winning the round doesn't guarantee being in the final. I'll keep you posted....

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Waiting for the result...

I am now backstage in my dressing room awaiting the result. Everything went really well and I've done all I can, so we'll ahve to see what the fates decide. If I donb't win the round it doesn't mean I won't be in the final as it can be any five singers from the whole competition that go through.

After I came off I did a little tv interview and then went to the green room to watch Levente from Hungary sing. He's fab!! He's also a really lovely, funny bloke and as we have been next to each other in the line up we have shared a lift to many rehearsals.

Whoever wins, I've had the most fantastic day - one of the best of my life - and I couldn't ask for more.

From the dressing room

Just a quick post as I am sat in the dressing room eating my tea. All has gone very well in rehearsal and I'm now itching to get out there. I'm not really nervous, just excited. I shall do a bit of singing at about 6, then in to makeup at 6.30 for at least an hour, then some alexander technique, more singing and then I reckon I'll be on!

A massive big thankyou to all of you who have supported me this far, Liz x

Saturday, 9 June 2007

It's TOMORROW!!!!!

Well, blog readers the moment of truth is upon me. I sing in the first round of the competition main prize tomorrow eveing, 7.30pm and I am SOOOOO excited! I am having an easy evening to rest up for tomorrow as I have been feeling quite tired, and I really need to calm down in order to sleep. I have just been watching the 1993 final for a laugh and I am feeling really good about things. For info, the concert is being broadcast on bbc4 monday evening, but you can watch it live online I believe. Once all the singers have sung, the voting for the audience prize wil open and that's on thursday night.

I expect you're wondering what it's like being in cardiff and what I've been up to over the past few days. Well, I came down to Cardiff on wednesday evening to be greeted by the most marvellous team of people who filled me in on everything that is going to happen over the next 10 days or so. The next day the rehearsals started: I have had quite a bit of time with my song prize accompanist, the fabulous Phillip Thomas, several lonely practise room sessions and a piano rehearsal with the wonderful Carlo Rizzi, my conductor for the main prize. The latter rehearsal has been filmed and there have been a lot of cameras around! Today I had another rehearsal for the main prize, this time with the orchestra. Bravo them! They have risen to the challenge of my very difficult Szymanowski choice with aplomb.

I have also had a makeup and hair session with lovely Cyssian to make sure I am happy with what they will do to me tomorrow. She makes me look gorgeous (see what you think!) so absolutely no complaints there.

So on to tomorrow... I will rise fairly late, have breakfast and then go down to St David's Hall for a practise session on my own. I will probably do some warm up exercises and sing through some of the tricky stuff (so most of the programme!!!). I don't have to worry about my dress as Eric and his marvellous team of people will take it down to the hall, iron it and make it look flash as can be. Apparently even divas don't have to do the ironing on this occasion. I do, however, have to remember my shoes and necklace. My boyfriend arrives lunchtime so we will probably have a light lunch and then at 3pm I will head down to the hall again for my final run through with the orchestra - a television rehearsal too so there will be lots of cameras I think. After that I have a quick tv interview and then I am meeting up with the team england supporters for a quick hello. Then it will be straighforward mental and physical preparation (vocal stuff and relaxation and visualisation) before I sing at about 9pm. At least that's the plan!

So dear readers, here I go....

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Not long now...

Apologies again for lack of blogging. I have had a rather lovely distraction of late in the form of a new fella, but I shall not waver from my course! Promise!

Tonight I have a run through of most of my programme at the Royal College of Music. I have been really looking forward to singing at my alma mater but sadly I have gone down with a throat infection, the last thing I need at the moment. It's not on my vocal chords so I can still sing and will, but it's a timely reminder that perhaps I have been a bit too busy of late. In the last week I have done 3 concerts of an hour and a half of completely new repertoire and a recording (only one song though) as well as rehearsing for all that and my cardiff stuff and a concert I have at the end of this week in France. All extremely enjoyable but energy consuming.

Because of all this I have rather lapsed in the running department (although have lost half a stone, wahey!) and all the singing has meant I haven't been able to keep my brace in much, and when I do have it in, it really hurts!!! After this week things will calm down a bit though and I will have a few days in the west country to chill out a bit.

Still bits and bobs of coaching to do before the big day. I have to sort out an Italian coaching urgently and have planned a session with a fab lady Alma Sheehan, to work on the physical side of presenting my material. I have also managed to squeeze in a coaching next week with the amazing Audrey Hyland who always makes a tremendous difference to the quality of my singing, and makes sure that I always sing from the heart.

I had best sign off and get ready for the concert. I am wearing my new blue dress for the first time to see how it works out because even divas....need to make sure they can walk in their new shoes.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Long time no blog!

Hello team England supporters and apologies for the prolonged radio silence. Preparations continue apace.

Since I last wrote I have done a run through of my programme in Redditch, along with concerts in Birmingham, Sheffield, Rotherham, Whitehaven and Swindon. I also fitted in a short residency in Aldeburgh to work on my rep, mainly the French stuff, with Nicole Tibbells, ably assisted by Gary Matthewman on the Joanna. The residency was just perfect (apart from being too short which is really my fault for being so busy) and I got an awful lot done, including a bit of work learning Britten's Les Illuminations which I have coming up. I got to look at Britten's composition sketch for these too which was very exciting and interesting. I have also been flat out trying to learn some Bach solo cantatas for concerts and the Wigmore and the Newbury festival in a couple of weeks- a lot of dots!

Other Cardiff prep includes some ballet lessons with Carol Grant, former prima ballerina and now head of actors and dancers at ENO. These have really helped with my posture. I have also ordered my dress which is going to be in royal blue silk and made by a lady called Rashmi who used to work at Liberty's but now runs her own dressmaking business. She has made a dress before for me so I'm confident it wil be a hit. i have also squeezed in a coaching with the wonderful Laurence Cummings to look at the two Handel arias I have in the competition. Laurence is an early music genius (and all round genius musician too) and I have been honoured to do several Handel operas with him before. He had some really useful tips. Oh, and I've worked through some more of the rep with my singing teacher, Lillian Watson.

Fitness wise it has been really hard to keep things going with being so busy and my trainer has cancelled on me several times. I have managed a couple of runs though and have done quite a lot of walking along with the various bits of dancing so I'm not doing too bad, and I have lost a bit of weight. The brace isn't doing too badly too, although it is now in the aching stages. I had a check up yesterday and the orthodontist seemd fairly pleased. Only another 6 months or so now...

Cardiff is getting very close now (my first round is 10th June) so I am working hard to stay focused despite welcome and unwelcome distractions (including the fact that B&Q after SIX months still haven't finished fitting my kitchen). I am trying to take it easy every now and again so I'm not burned out by the time I get to the competition (currently having a little 'down time' in Somerset). I'm now also starting to be very careful about not catching any bugs floating around as it could hamper my progress if I caught something now. Pity us hyperchondraic singers and stay away if you have a sniffle. Because even divas can catch a cold... or not, let's hope!

Friday, 30 March 2007

I have a date!

Well, one for Cardiff at least. My first round of the main prize will be on 10th June, and for the song prize on 12th June. The main prize will be on BBC4 so put it in your diary!

I had my first proper session with my new personal trainer yesterday and it was ace. Jerry is just the right mix of helping you feel good about yourself and at the same time making sure you feel bad enough about your fitness level. I did well on the cardio stuff but have the muscle strength of an orange. Seeing him again next week.

The brace has caused a few problems, particularly at night as I have to breathe slightly differently it seems. Had a better night last night so I must be getting used to it. Full steam ahead today with preparations for the run through tomorrow in Redditch. I'd best get cracking!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Isch greaff!!!

Yes, I have now got my brace (or brayssshhh as I am now limited to). I have to build up to wearing it all the time, apart from when I sing and eat, over 2 weeks. I had a rather disturbed sleep last night, so I'm hoping that will improve over time. The brace currently triggers my yawn reflex, so if I yawn when I see you I'm not bored, promise! I know I will have my moments of being fed up with it, but I just need to keep bearing in mind the good it will do my singing, let alone any cosmetic benefits.

Speaking of the cosmetics, I had a consultation with a personal trainer this morning (8am, that's dedication from a singular night owl) and I'm going to have my first proper session with him tomorrow. It's been quite a busy day today actually, particularly with having to transpose by hand the szymanowski (yes, that old chestnut) as the attempt at doing it by computer failed. I had a rehearsal with Phillip Thomas for my run through on Saturday earlier today and then went on to a Russian coaching with the wonderful Ludmilla Andrew who picked me up on the more lacklustre points of my pronounciation. After that it somehow took me 2 and a half hours to get from Teddington to Hampstead for the launch of this year's Hampstead and Highgate Festival, at which I am singing the Britten piece, Les Illuminations. I wish I could blame London Transport for the length of the journey, but I was so caught up with trying to transpose the szymanowski as I went that I managed to end up at Highgate instead of Hampstead and then took a wrong turn on the way to the venue. Those of you that know me know that I can't even blame my hair colour. It was, however, worth the trip and I met some great people.

I have another rehearsal with Phillip tomorrow and soooo much practise to do before saturday. So I'd better sign off because... even divas need their beauty sleep.

Monday, 26 March 2007

The big apple and more

I have a feeling this is going to be a rather long post as so much has happened over the last week! I am rather horridly jet lagged from my trip to New York (didn't get to sleep unitl 5.30 this morning), I think partly because I spent most of yesterday in a dark theatre - the young vic. It was the ENO Young Singers' Programme's Kurt Weill concert and it went really well. We had the good fortune of working with a lovely director - Mark Rosenblatt - who really trusted our instincts and created a brilliant show with next to no rehearsal. It's great to have a director who quietly encourages you to do your stuff, and politely tells you if your stuff is rubbish! The lighting guy, Phil, was also a genius. The show was 45 minutes long and had 55 lighting cues!!! The audience seemed to enjoy it and I had a ball singing the music. Jazz is very close to my heart and it was nice to use a bit of that for once. A triumph all round I think.

The New York trip was hugely rewarding. Working with Catherine Malfitano has been one of the best things I have ever done. She has massively helped me along the path from provincial-class to world-class and been so nice about it! I am also massively grateful for her and her husband Stephen for putting me up when my accomodation fell through. My lovely pianist friend Carol Wong also stepped in at the last moment and put me up when I first arrived. I feel lucky to know such wonderfully kind people. I had 6 hours of tuition with Catherine and we got through all the opera arias for Cardiff. I know the work we did will make a massive difference. I have recorded it all on my ipod so I now will go through it all again so I don't forget anything - the devil is in the detail, as they say.

Whilst I was in the big apple I also go to catch up with some friends from the Mork Morris Dance Group, who I worked with on King Arthur at ENO and the fabulous soprano Alyson Cambridge who was Euridice in the Boston revival of the ENO Orfeo. All in all it was just the tonic I needed. Being away allowed me to really focus on the music and reminded me that despite all the constant admin that comes my way, I am still a musician and that's what it's all about.

Plans for this week include starting with my personal trainer; getting my brace tomorrow; a massage to loosen those shoulders; hopefully finalising plans for the aldeburgh residency; more work with Phillip Thomas and a run through of the programme in Redditch on Saturday. I also need to get cracking on some music for concerts I have coming up: Elijah, St Matthew Passion, Bach cantatas, Britten's Les Illuminations, and various recitals. I think that's enough to keep me busy. Oh, and my flat needs some serious tidying. Because... even divas have to unpack their luggage when they're jet lagged. I'll post again tomorrow when I get my brace!

Saturday, 24 March 2007

New York, New York!

Just a quick post to say I am back from the big apple after a fantastic few days working with Catherine Malfitano. I'm struggling a bit with the jet lag and have a concert tomorrow of Kurt Weill at the Young Vic, so I need to get my rest. More anon though...

Thursday, 15 March 2007

New tactics

Well, I did go out, but only managed a walk as I felt exhausted today. I feel the weeks are slipping by and my fitness is not improving at the rate I want, so I have decided to bite the bullet and employ a personal trainer until Cardiff. I'll only get one shot at the competition, so I might as well throw everything I have at it. Yes, it will be fairly expensive, but I do need to be fit and healthy and I think in the short run it is worth being poor!

I have now organised a massage for monday to work on my shoulders and I will fly to New York on Tuesday to work with Catherine Malfitano. I am very excited, although a little concerned as snow is forecast, so I hope my flight won't be affected. A heavy few days lie ahead with a rehearsal for the Weill concert all day tomorrow, a meeting with my accountant and a concert the next day of some tricky music. Oh, and I really need to tidy up my flat on Sunday and at some point pack for the big apple. Yes, even divas have to do the washing...

Motivation, motivation, motivation

I have now completely fallen off the running wagon once more, but I WILL go for a run this morning and update the blog accordingly. I'm feeling slightly under pressure with the amount of things I have to do hence sacrificing the running to other things, but actually I know in my heart of hearts that even if I feel tired the running will actually help.

I have had a brilliant alexander lesson this week. I SO needed it. Most people seem to think alexander technique is all about posture, but it also helps with a wider philosophy about life and the world. It fascinating how narrow your focus becomes when things get even a little bit stressful. It's great to see the world again with all my senses after my lesson. Really feeling the world in the present is essential for giving a good performance too. One of the crazy things I did was wear some pinhole glasses (the lenses are black but dotted with pin holes). You get a wonderful soft focus on the world after wearing them for a bit. I still need to get my shoulders massaged to sort out the tension there, although the alexander has helped.

The same day as my alexander lesson I went out to Haslemere to see the specialist orthodontist doing my dental work for the moulds to be taken for my brace. Helen Jones has treated singers before with some great results so I am happy to put my trust in her. I will go back in a couple of weeks to get my brace. They have some amazing colour options, although I'm not sure I would have liked to have a blue brace, for example. I went for pale pink to blend in with my mouth, but with glitter for a small amount of glamour. You can't see the brace anyway so no one will know except me - a bit like wearing sexy underwear! I can take the brace out when I sing, so no worries in that department. I'm really excited!

Various concerts have been sneaking up on me this week. I have been learning the Weill songs for the young vic concert (rehearsal all day friday) and working out some ornamentation (extra notes added to the tune) for a Vivaldi motet - Nulla in mundo - that I am singing at the Petersfield festival on Saturday. The same piece has a really tricky fast section at the end and that requires hours of dull repetitive practise. My next Cardiff run through is in Redditch on 31st so I have been also trying to rehearse for that. I had a mammoth 4 hour practise session yesterday after an hour and a half coaching in the morning and I still didn't even get close to getting everything done. Having done such a lot of practise I am now behind on my admin so the pressure's on!

Right, well that's enough blogging as a displacement activity - I must go for a run and get cracking on my pile of work!

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Steel yourself...

I have just got back from the fab city of Sheffield after a stupidly long train journey (5 hours) and a lovely weekend. I stayed with wonderful friends of mine: Clare and Ella on Friday and Pete and Rachel on Saturday - thanks guys! I have promised Pete I will get one of his "phrases" into the blog somewhere. In the nicest possible way he is one of the rudest and amusing people I know, so I expect you will spot the Pete-ism instantly. The concert itself was in Doncaster and there was pretty much a full house. It all went very well and the audience were very warm. I expect they had heard worse sopranos. Once.

Needless to say, all this catching up with friends and travel has not been condusive to running (even though Clare is inspirationally running the Sheffield half marathon this year!). I am going to have to steel myself and get those muscles working! Cardiff work planned for this week includes the orthodontist (now slightly worried after horror story from Rachel), more coaching from the inspirational Phillip Thomas and a long overdue Alexander technique lesson. One of the things that came out of my body language coaching was that my shoulders are still too high, so I really need to get that dealt with. The Alexander technique will help, but I think I might need some major chiropractic manipulation. I'll investigate that this week. Not only do open shoulders look good but they also help with singing as a good technique relies on excellent posture and physical alignment.

Other work this week will be preparing for a concert at the Petersfield Festival on Saturday and rehearsals for a Kurt Weill concert happening at the Young Vic at the end of the month. Oh, and since I fly to New York the week after, I really ought to sort out somewhere to stay!

Friday, 9 March 2007

Gosh, things have been quite busy! Last night I saw a confidence and body language expert, Sam van Rood and I now feel ├╝ber confident. Long may it continue! Had a coaching with Phillip Thomas who is the main coach on the young singers programme at ENO on Wednesday and did some really good work on the Berlioz.

I'm off to Sheffield today for a concert in Doncaster tomorrow, so no rest for the wicked. I must be very naughty. Predictably I've slightly fallen of the running wagon, but I'm determined to get rollin' rollin' rollin' with that wagon again. Managed to slot in some more caochings for next week, so I'll keep you updated!

Right, I had best fly - I'm going to the dress rehearsal of the Tempest at covent garden this morning before I head off.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Well, it has been quite a busy few days, so I thought I would give you a little update.

The concert on friday went very well overall, with a few blemishes. The worst of these was me losing my way in the unaccompanied cadenza at the end of the Berlioz. I had been so worried about the rest of it I had failed to properly memorise the end! Note to self: when singing unaccompanied know the dots even if it is to ah! The audience were very receptive and seemed to enjoy all the pieces, including the more off the beaten track items by szymanowski and maconchy. So all round I think it's a thumbs up for the programme. I had a singing lesson today and my teacher seemed happy with it too, so no going back now!

Plans are now advanced for my trip to New York to work with the legendary soprano Catherine Malfitano, and the trip to Aldeburgh looks increasingly likely. I have now found a Polish singer to contact about perfecting my accent and will be seeing a German coach tomorrow. I have also now managed to set up an appointment with the orthodontist. This may seem completely irrelevant to my singing, but the shape and proper functioning of your jaw are crucial to a long and happy career as a singer. Mine needs a few tweeks ideally, so I am hoping to make some progress on that before the competition.

I was hoping to set up an alexander lesson later this week, but will, I think perhaps be thwarted by the long running saga of my new kitchen: 4 months on from when they started it is still not finished, and they want to come this week, which means staying at home whilst they work (things seem to go wrong if I go out). Yes, even divas have problems with workmen. If it doesn't get sorted out properly soon then I will name and shame the company!

Right, I had better do some practise!

Friday, 2 March 2007

Saints and a sinner

I am so glad that the world is populated with a few saints. Take a certain pianist, Mr Paul Plummer. He has managed to transpose at sight a very difficult piece of szymanowski AND not moan about it. This concert has rather sneaked up on me and I have been rather disorganised about it, I am ashamed to admit. Enter another saint, Birte Kelly who runs the concert series and seems to have an endless supply of patience too. I am lucky to work with such great people.

I'm off for another run now, and I will then sort out some coachings for next week: alexander technique, russian, confidence training (!) and maybe a massage from a friend who is training as a masseur as a bit of a treat. I'll keep you posted on progress. My first run through of cardiff programme is tonight so keeping my fingers and toes crossed....

Thursday, 1 March 2007

I'm flagging...

Urghh.. I'm flagging a bit today because of my quite busy schedule this week. Really struggled to wake up this morning so haven't been for a run but have decided to run and walk to Paul's for our rehearsal this afternoon. It will take about an hour, which is as long as it took me on public transport the other day anyway!

The audition yesterday went quite well I think, now I just have to wait. There's always things you think you could have done better in these situations, I just have to learn from each performance and improve each time. It's been quite some time since I had an Alexander technique lesson and I think that would really help my focus and concentration (and relax me a bit!) so I'm going to aim to put a lesson in next week.

I am quite worried about tomorrow and knowing all the words. I have most of the songs on my ipod so I will listen on the way to my rehearsal and have a bit of a practise before I go and hopefully that will be enough. I'm cooking for friends tonight so that will be a nice way to relax.

Right, Szymanowski beckons...

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Run Forest run!

Well, I'm enjoying the running, although I gave myself a day off yesterday as it was a very busy day and today have spent some time on my stepper whilst watching you are what you eat as motivation! I'll go for a gentle run tomorrow morning as I have an audition later.

I had a rehearsal for my first run through of the programme today, but I was half an hour late because the train left early and then no bus turned up. It's a 30 minute journey tops and it took me an hour. The joys of London life! The rehearsal itself went quite well, although the Szymanowski is proving a problem. There is a vocal score reduction but it's a semitone higher than the orchestral one! Somehow I have to get it transposed by thursday in order to rehearse it before the concert. Hmmm tall order. It's not just something that can be written out! It might be that I can't do it on friday which would be very disappointing. I'm a bit nervous about remembering the other new songs, but I hope I'll be ok. I just need to devote a bit more time to things somehow. I think it's going to be a bit hairy!

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Done it!

Been for the run, even though it rained! The route was a bit short so I only did 20 mins but will correct that tomorrow. Right, I had best do my housework as even divas have to do the hoovering!

Keep on running...

Hello!

Well, so far I have been completely lack lustre with the running because of getting in late and having to go out fairly early. It's no excuse!! Now its Saturday and I have no reason not to go so I will trot off out this morning. To make sure I do it I will post again this afternoon! As my sister's friend Jo would say - Trot on Wattage!

I have now organised two run throughs of my programme next month. The one I mentioned before on 2nd March is in East Bergholt, Suffolk. Off the top of my head it is at Constable Hall at 7.30 or 8pm. I am also doing a run through in Redditch on 31st March - I'll post the details when I have looked them up! I had planned recitals in these places before I knew about the competition and these societies have very kindly let me change the programme. I have to submit my music by 1st March to Cardiff and there can be no changes after the 16th, so let's hope I've got it right!

I have a concert tomorrow at Brasenose College, Oxford so the last few days have been quite caught up with preparing for that. I was at my old college, the Royal College of Music, yesterday and apparently they have a Polish singer on the course there, so I may have solved my problem of the Polish coach. Fingers crossed. It also looks like the Aldeburgh Residency will happen in April as I had hoped. I just love going out there. It's so peaceful and tranquil that you can't help but focus on the music. Everyone there is so supportive too.

Right, well I think I've done enough displacement activity typing this and it's time to get jogging...

Liz

Friday, 23 February 2007

Cardiff here I come!

Dear readers,

I have decided to start a blog chaptering my preparations for being “Miss England” at Cardiff Singer of the World 2007. I hope you enjoy it!

As I write I am on the train on the way back from the launch of the 2007 competition in Cardiff. What an occasion! The 2005 winner, Nicole Cabel was there along with lots of important people. Two other competitors were also there: Miss Wales, Sarah Jane Davies and Mr Brazil, Luciano, as well as a previous Mr Wales, Gwyn Hughes Jones. It was great to meet them all (I already know Sarah Jane from ENO though) and glean bits of advice for the competition. Gwyn’s advice was to make sure I am thoroughly prepared, so I thought I would tell you about my preparation plans and the fact that I have committed them to the web will help me with my goals!

Of course, the number one thing I need to do is learn all my pieces. I’ve planned a run through very soon -2nd March at a recital in Suffolk, so I have to learn the music for the pieces I don’t yet know very soon indeed! Once I know them I want to take them to coachings with various people: language coaches for the French, German, Italian, Russian and Polish that I will have to sing in; a drama coach, Annabel Arden, to work on my performance; my singing teacher, Lillian Watson; and various musical coaches including Audrey Hyland, Roger Vignoles, Michael Pollock and the various coaches we have at English National Opera, where I am on the Young Singers’ Programme. Phew! That’s quite a lot. I am trying to organise a Residency in Aldeburgh as part of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme to do some solid work on things in April.

Many people would think that once I’ve done the musical side that’s it. Well, there’s a whole other side to things too: presentation. They say the camera adds 10 pounds and I am a bit overweight anyway, so I want to lose at least a stone and a half before the competition. One of the main things about this is to be fit and healthy as singing requires enormous stamina and I need to be in peak condition, rather like an athlete. As a singer you have to be careful how you lose the weight, as if you lost weight too quickly, you lose all your muscle which is crucial to a singer. I need to make sure I lose fat and not muscle, so I need to mainly lose my weight through exercise. A while ago I ran a half marathon and really enjoyed running, so my plan is to go for a 30 minute run in the morning 5 times a week. There, I’ve said it. I’ve made my pledge and now I have to stick with it, and hopefully having said it so publically will make me do it! I’m not going to tell you what weight I am, but I will tell you how much I lose!

I also need to sort the thorny problem of the dress. Looking good is all part of the package, so I need a fantastic frock to launch me with style into the competition and the frockwatch pages of the website! I have a few lines of enquiry to follow about this, so I will keep you posted.

I’m going to try and update the blog every few days, so keep tuning in for more updates!

Liz