onsdag den 25. november 2015

How a mosquito taught me about succes

How a mosquito taught me about succes:
One evening I was chasing mosquitos in my bedroom, and I was rather lousy at getting them with my hand. Even though they were right there on the wall! Every time I tried, it was as if my hand was too late… as if it was hesitating a bit. It made me think:
What am I doing wrong?
My answer was: Actually, I don’t really want to hit them and smear them onto the wall. Maybe that is what’s stopping me from actually getting them? Maybe my brain is telling my arm to hesitate, because part of me doesn’t want to smear the poor thing onto the wall!

So I tried to prove my theory by deciding to really want to hit this next mosquito. And it worked!
I had encountered my own psychic barrier – and overcome it, just by deciding to hit the damn insect.

Since that evening I’ve begun to notice that effect in many other situations, in my personal life and in the world in general. So, for instance; it’s impossible to score without having a goal - but then it’s equally impossible to score/achieve a goal without really wanting to!

If you do not really want to (or fear what you want to do), your brain is going to stop you from carrying out the action. Your muscles are going to hesitate un-noticeably last second. 
I have noticed that about singing high notes in particular: If I’m afraid that the note will not come out, then my throat will tighten up and only strangled sounds are going to escape, and not the beautiful, rich tones I was hoping for. 
As my teacher Abbie Furmansky once said: “There are no high notes in fear”. And the better I got at trusting myself, the better it sounded.

When really wanting to do something, some things are important:

Believe in your own capability in doing so
This may sound trivial, but self-confidence is a must. Even if there’s only a 40% chance that you will achieve/score your goal, and a 60% chance that you’ll miss it, go “all in” on the 40%!
So the cute girl at the party might turn you down if you ask her… but it’s also possible that she won’t. And if you don’t give it a shot, you have made the 60% become a 100% all by yourself for not daring.
In Denmark there’s a saying: “Those, who don’t dare, don’t win”. And that gets me to the next sentence:

Let go of fear
Fear of failure, but also fear of success: I didn’t want to hit the mosquito with my hand, remember? I’ve noticed the same effect in big moments of (my) life: Maybe you don’t really want the new job (or new relationship), because getting it will affect your whole life? Lots of things will change and not knowing the outcome is provoking anxiety.

Let go of that fear, NOW. Go and do what it is, that you want!

søndag den 1. november 2015

Buy art and events - not material stuff!

What would happen if everyone cut down on the money they spend on stuff like new clothes/shoes/sofas/coffee machines etc. by 20% or even 50% - and then went spending the money saved on culture; art, concerts, events?

Economists and environmentalists agree that the world is running short on resourses, so we have to avoid over consuming and start thinking more about recycling, like for instance the new law in France, that says that super markets are not allowed to throw away edible food, but has to donate it to charity or the like. Awesome!

But what will happen to the economy if there’s less trade of material goods?

I think the economy will find a market for trade of immaterial things like knowledge, art and events. Sharing or streaming things like cars and movies instead of owning them is already a trend. This is the future, and it’s already happening.

Do we really need to buy all this stuff? 
Do I need 20 pairs of shoes? No, I don’t think so. 

Some say that shopping fills an empty space in us, but only temporarily so. Philosopher Alain de Botton made a wonderful documentary about this issue. Apparently, it was already answered by Epicurus in ancient Greece!
Video about the wisdom of Epicurus

Why we buy new things is, according to Alain de Botton, because its makes us happy for a while by filling the empty gap, the longing inside us, for a while. 
But: the nice feeling of happiness or attachment to the new pair of shoes/lamp/bicycle wears off ever so quickly – it cannot satisfy the longing for real happiness.

True happiness, it seems, comes from:

*Being with your friends/loved ones/family
*Being free of worries (even just for an hour)
*Being free of physical pain

A perfect reason for spending your money on an evening in the theatre with your girlfriend, isn’t it?

søndag den 4. oktober 2015

The healing powers of singing

Webster's Dictionary uses a musical term as synonymous with healing; becoming SOUND, well or healthy again. 
Personally I feel at deep down that singing has healing powers. 
If I feel sad or angry, anxious or happy I want to “sing it out of my body”. No matter what feeling I have to begin with I always feel better in both body and soul after singing.  

I am convinced that illness or physical pain very often derrive from emotional trouble or trying to suppress ones feelings. I’ve experienced this on my own body, ranging from neck tension because of worries to emotional stress (rejection) causing tinnitus and instant, unprovoked pain in my left shoulder lasting weeks after the incident.

That's why I did a bit of research and found something about healing and singing on the net. I cut out the best bits for you, but feel free to read the full entry here: http://singspirationsingers.com/home.cfm?id=709&sid=0 

Billedresultat for lungs

Quote: "The link between deep breathing and good health is more than just theoretical. A thirteen-year-long study in Australia showed that respiratory capacity was a more significant factor than tobacco use, cholesterol levels, and insulin metabolism for determining people's longevity.
Nobel prize winner Otto Warburg published landmark studies in the 1960s that proved that cancer cells thrive in an environment starved of oxygen. When we sing we use deep abdominal breathing with the diaphragm moving forcefully downward which allows room for the lungs to fill up with oxygen. The physical signs of stress - cardiovascular, hormonal, immune, and muscular - are quieted and begin to normalize. 

"In a series of studies that examined how music affects blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, and other aspects of the autonomic nervous system, participants' heart rates were found to respond to both volume and rhythm of music", writes Mitchell L. Gaynor,
M.D A 1993 report by scientists at Michigan State University showed that people who listened to or participated in music that they liked showed a drop of 25% in their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can depress the immune system when produced in excess.
Another study shows the same significant drop in cortisol levels in babies of 6 months when their mothers sing to them.

Music can activate the flow of stored memory across the corpus colossus helping the left and right hemispheres of the brain work in harmony. This stimulates the immune system.
Music can also excite peptides in the brain and stimulate the production of endorphins, which are natural opiates secreted by the hypothalamus which produces a feeling of natural euphoria.
Recent study shows that when cats are purring, the sound helps them to recover from injuries. More about healing with sound: https://experiencelife.com/article/the-healing-power-of-sound
Paul Newham in his book Using Voice and Song in Therapy says, 
"When we give voice to parts of the self which have remained mute then we reclaim, refind and rediscover something that has been lost." 

I see that when people have permission to express their sorrow and their pain, they can also express all of their joy!
On the other hand, if they suppress emotions of anger or pain in order to not let it show - “be a man” or be strong - they also tend to suppress their natural impulse to show happiness and tenderness as well. Because it’s the same mechanism, and the mechanism doesn’t know the difference between feelings we want, and feelings we don’t want! And that’s really bad, isn’t it?
That’s why if I was a doctor, I’d proscribe to everyone at least 30 minutes of singing every day, alone or in a group!

onsdag den 23. september 2015

What does it take to reach for the stars?

What does it take to reach for the stars, or to fulfill ones potential?
This is a true tale about how my “ugly duckling” voice became a swan, and what the transformation really demanded from me.

I have always been working hard in order to become the best possible version of me – as a singer and as a person. To raise to the level of being a respected artist requires quite a bit of strength, courage and determination, I must say. So many auditions and competitions. So many times rejection and “No, you are not what we are looking for”. And I’m not even where I want to be yet.
I expected this, of course. My pianist father told me when I was 16 years old and considered a career as a singer: “Its 10% talent and 90 % hard work to become a musician”. 
That was when I thought “Great: Then I have a chance, after all!” - Because actually, I never considered myself an obvious natural talent. No, my voice was way too locked and tense back then. But I knew that I possessed the willpower to work hard for what I so eagerly wanted and secretly dreamed of. My biggest concern was if my psyche would be able to stand all the rejection?

There are 3 rules in showbizz:
-Keep going
-Keep going
-and keep going!
That’s what my actress/director stepmom tells me… And I suppose she is right. It is for sure right that those who give up are not the ones who get the jobs!

The fact that I have inherited plenty of musicality from my dad is more clear to me now than it was at age 16. Luckily for me, my dad never doubted it, though. He has always been my greatest support in this respect. In my times of doubt and frustration, he has always been there, supporting. 
Basicly, Dad told me: “Follow your heart. - That’s what I always did”. And he’s been living as a professional musician since the age of 21.

So I followed his advice.
I knew that if I didn’t at least try to follow my dream, I would be very sad and perhaps bitter at the age of 35!

On the other hand, if I had a go at it and did my best, but still not succeeding, it would be easier for me to let the dream go forever and concentrate on something else.
So I got into the academy of music, and that was a big milestone, a blueprint. But this was only the beginning. Many, many musicians graduate, but few can make a living from it in the end. My former teacher Lars Waage said: “1 out of every 12 graduated opera singers can make a living from singing on stage”. He also said he thought I’d be one of those who could, with my talent and determination. At least that was a comfort in the face of those bad odds.

But hey? Somebody has to be the “one out of the 12”, right? So why not me? Please let it be me! This is how one has to think. Believe in yourself.

The tenseness of my voice made it shrill in the high register. Only a perfect technique could help me unlock it. Many teachers have said unkind things about the lack of “velvet” or “golden roundness”, my “funky sound” or simply told me my voice wasn’t “pretty enough for opera”.
I knew it was true to some degree, but I also knew the only way to really judge my voice, would be when the tension was gone and a good technique could show my true potential. That's why I searched everywhere for the right teacher. I found her in Berlin: Abbie Furmansky. Later Ken Querns' Bel Canto Vocal Studio, London.

Knowing how much I’ve struggled during the years, try to imagine how good it now feels for me to be among the 11 singers to be in the final of Fulham Verdi Prize in London this month!
This, along with my first full scale opera production at the National Opera in Århus, is proof that my father was right. That I was right, too, in believing in myself. 

Right now I am really looking so much forward to going to London to sing. It’s living my dream.
Just to be among the selected singers feels like winning, to me. In the jury will also be Mr. Syrus from Covent Garden Royal Opera, and getting a chance to sing for him is not only a big chance, it’s a scoop! I hope my nerves will not freak me out, haha ;-)
I’ll try to focus on how happy I am, being there in that spot in London.

Here is one of the recordings of my voice that got me selected for the Fulham final:

Verdi: Nanetta's aria. Photos by Karolina Zapolska 
Take care out there, and pursue your goals with lots of energy and determination!

mandag den 14. september 2015

Musicians and the “bubble of joy”

I know many musicians, artists and other creative people. Most of them feel that this is true:

Inside their art there is a sanctuary. It’s a place where everything is good. Sheer joy lives there. It’s the best place to be. It’s a kind of sphere or bubble, that can wrap a person entirely. No harm can enter. It’s a safe and interesting and amazing place to be in.
Billedresultat for bubble of joy

When being in that bubble with other people (musicians in a band or singers in a choir for instance) there’s also the feeling of being connected and not being alone. This feels particularly good since it can be pretty lonely to be a human being, not least being an artist.

When is this bubble best? When is it most important to have? 
When there’s pain in the real world, when things are crazy or people are hurting us. How good to have this bubble to retreat into!!

For some people listening to their favorite music or watching a movie is enough, but a musician wants more: Performing the music yourself demands a greater level of concentration as well as a physical output. This helps shutting out everything else and reinforces the bubble. The state of mind, I feel, resembles meditation in a way. When combined with the muscle activity of, say, singing – it might be close to yoga or tai-chi.
This is so powerful and healthy: Like a self-healing through art.

I honestly don’t know where I’d be today without music. This possibility to slip away, and at the same time have a channel to direct my feelings out of me, has enabled me to deal with tough and heavy emotions through my life. To write text, to compose and to SING for hours every day has helped me get rid of heavy burdens of “old shit”. For this I am very thankful.

Schubert composed a wonderful song to a poem by Schober that describes the same gratitude towards the power of music, as I feel. 

Schubert: An die Musik

At this point in my life, being in my “bubble of joy” is not my only reason to sing and perform music: 
When I go on stage I want to bring this feeling to other human beings. I want to share with them my bubble of joy. 

Hopefully the music will make the world a better place for them, too.

søndag den 6. september 2015

Post Happiness Melancholy – and the art of letting go

Working on a dream project is always temporary. The “project” might be a relationship, a work project, an opera etc. When it ends, it leaves a gap of empty space in you. The people/person you got really close to as a colleague, friend or lover are now FORMER friends etc.  - Shit, that feels empty.

When that happens its good to ask yourself these questions:
1)      Did you enjoy the moment and the happiness of what you were doing all along?
2)      Did you withdraw inside a little (or a lot) in order to save yourself from the sudden        transition to emptiness that would eventually follow?
3)      Which of the above is the best option?

Perhaps it’s a good thing to know that all good things have an end, because then we appreciate them more… That is, if we don’t get so overwhelmed with panic and fear of losing that we can’t actually enjoy what’s there! 
This is where the fine art of “Letting Go” comes into play. There is by the way a very good handbook on that written by Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now.

When all comes down, everything is temporary: We all die someday, every person you know is yours “on loan”, even the Earth will not exist in the universe forever – but hopefully we shall not be here to witness the earth crumble!

So what is there to do, other than to make the most of the time we get and the things we experience? I do my very best to live to the maximum every day, embracing and accepting whatever situation I’m in right now, sharing the joy or sadness with those around. During a crisis and great heartache I realized this:

I’d rather have a heart that hurts than a heart that is numb and not feeling anything at all.
This way, at least, I know that I’m alive.

"Maria Magdalena" Art photo by Rolando Diaz

Happiness isn’t the absence of pain. Sometimes joy and pain are strangely entwined, and sometimes this actually makes the feeling of joy much stronger! No human life comes totally without suffering to some degree, emotional or physical. The feeling of pain or sadness from a loss is somehow also good, because it proves that it meant something: Whatever just ended had an impact on you.

So, when the end of a “project” is up, it’s time to embrace the emptiness/sadness/hurt and accept it… THEN go looking for the next work project/ love/ friendship!

I feel, therefore I know that I’m alive. – and that’s pretty awesome, right?

Here's a little music by Verdi with a great deal of pain in it. 
Strange how that can relieve a troubled heart ;-) 

mandag den 17. august 2015

Sidste uge inden premieren!

Sitzprobe, altså en musikalsk prøve med symfoniorkestret hvor man ”sidder ned” gik rigtigt godt. Dog var jeg lidt overvældet over hvor kraftigt de spillede det meste af tiden. Det virkede faktisk lidt vildt og jeg tænkte ”hold da op - Hovedrollerne har da ellers deres sag for!” Selv tog jeg ørepropper på det meste af tiden. 
De andre solister var enige i det med lydniveauet. Derfor sang jeg så kraftigt jeg kunne til prøven. Jeg ville ønske at jeg kunne have hørt hvordan det lød det ude i salen.

Den første prøve med både orkester og scenografi i den rigtige sal var lidt forvirrende fordi afstande og akustik er så forskellige fra prøvesalen med klaverledsagelse. Nu hvor vi er rykket ind på scenen er akustikken helt, helt anerledes. 
Orkestret høres ikke så højt på grund af at de sidder nede i orkestergraven nu. Det gør det lidt sværere at føle sig synkroniseret med dem, så der er ikke andet at gøre end at følge dirigenten med øjnene og så synge det bedste man kan!

I teatersalen får man mindre af sin egen lyd tilbage end i prøvesalen fordi sidetæpper og bagscene sluger en del. Scenografien gør en stor forskel for det akustiske: I 1. akt kaster den lyden væk fra scenen – i 2. og 3. akt vender kulissen sådan at lyden koncentreres mere på scenen. Det er meget mere tilfredsstillende at synge i. Dog skal man i begge tilfælde producere mest muligt lyd indenfor balancen med orkestret og indenfor den noterede dynamik. Det er simpelthen nødvendigt for at blive hørt ordentligt i salen. 
Jeg kan dog forstå på min feedback efter prøven at jeg går ret godt igennem det meste af tiden. Når jeg husker at fokusere min klang til en form for mental laserstråle, så projicerer min stemme altså godt. Pyh.
Jyske Opera officiel video-teaser

Kostumerne er flotte – men hold da ferie, hvor er de varme at have på!! Selv har jeg både vest og frakke af uld, bukser, hat og knæstrømper ligeledes af mørkeblå og grøn uld. Uld! 
Parykken gør kun ondt værre. Gid man havde sit eget hår på scenen i det mindste. Når man så løber rundt og synger badet i projektørlys, ja så… 
En af herrerne fra koret var faktisk ved at blive dårlig på grund af varmen i sit tøj, hørte jeg ham sige til en påklæder. Men det er vel okay lide lidt for kunsten? ;-) 

Alt i alt går det godt og jeg føler mig overordentligt godt tilpas på Jyske Operas store scene.
I morgen har vi generalprøve – og jeg glæder mig!

onsdag den 12. august 2015

Denne branche er for de tålmodige, og dem med god hukommelse...

Jeg kan mærke hvor vigtigt det er at være omstillingsparat: 
Til de sceniske prøver bliver det man skal gøre mens man er på scenen – altså regi – hele tiden ændret på. Og man får altid noter med feedback bagefter prøven. Derfor er det vigtigt at skrive det ned med det samme, helst i sin node så bevægelser, intention og timing i musikken er til at huske. Så kan man lige læse ændringerne og alt det man skal huske igennem inden næste prøve starter. Eller inden man lægger sig til at sove om aftenen, så det kan lagres. Dårlig hukommelse er simpelthen et no-go i denne branche.

Der har forekommet en del ventetid for mig fordi der er mange scener jeg slet ikke er med i.  Derfor er en god bog eller noget sytøj en rar ting at have med. Man venter, men man ved ikke altid hvornår man skal være på igen. Det kommer jo an på hvor hurtigt de andre bliver færdige. Hvis ikke det fremgår af prøveplanen hvad tid man kan tænkes at skulle bruges igen, så er man bare stand-by…

Men det er nu heller ikke værst at sidde med 1. parket til dramaet og de fantastiske hovedrolleindehavere! De både synger eminent og spiller overraskende godt teater. Hatten af for dem. 
Jeg må indrømme at jeg har grædt snot hver gang jeg har set 2. akt og slutningen på 3. Denne opera er virkelig en af de mest gribende jeg er stødt på. At få så meget opera hver dag er for mig et lækkert frynsegode. Jeg elsker bare opera. Jo mere rørende, des bedre.

Så er der det med tempo. Eller rettere tempi. For det er ikke altid dirigenten sætter samme tempo an i samme scene. Først pressede Jaroslav tempoet op, særligt i 3. akt. Det var en udfordring at spytte så meget tjekkisk tekst ud i et så halsbrækkende hektisk tempo! Men nu er han gået over i et noget langsommere tempo, efter at orkestret er kommet på. Nu er udfordringen så at omstille sig mentalt til det nye, også i forhold til timing af bevægelser.

Generalprøven er allerede om en uge, så vi må hellere se at få styr på de små usikkerheder.

søndag den 9. august 2015

Østeuropas alt for ukendte mester-komponist

Han blev først sent anerkendt som et af det 20. århundredes betydelige musikdramatikere. I hans musik forenedes samtidens vesteuropæiske musiksprog og den tjekkiske og mähriske folketone og sprogmelodi. Her i Danmark er han endnu ret ukendt.
Hans musik kan være ligeså medrivende, melodisk og senromantisk storslået som en af verdens mest elskede operaskabere; italienske Puccini. Men med brugen af det tjekkiske sprog og hans hjemmehørende folkemusik fik hans værker en særlig farve.

Komponisten jeg hentyder til er naturligvis Leoš Janáček født 1854 – død 1928.

Leoš Janáček blev født i Mähren som søn af en skolelærer. Han sang som dreng i kor i Brno og studerede som ung mand musik i både Prag, Leipzig og Wien. Senere vendte han tilbage til Brno, hvor han grundlagde og drev en orgelskole, der senere blev til et konservatorium.

I Prag blev Janáček ven med den få år ældre komponist Antonín Dvořák og inspireret af ham komponerede han i en ret traditionel romantisk stil. Men i Brno skiftede hans musikalske stil, og begyndte at inddrage elementer af tjekkisk og slovakisk folkemusik i sine værker. Elementer fra folkemusikken som rytmen og sprogets tone findes blandt andet i de meget specielle melodistemmer i hans opera Jenůfa fra 1904. (Se den med os på Jyske Opera d. 20. 22. og 24. august!)

Foto fra Jyske Opera's nye opsætning af Jenůfa . Gitta-Maria Sjöberg som Kostelnicka

Operaen Jenůfa - hendes steddatter blev med nogen forsinkelse stor succes i hjemlandet, da Janacek var fyldt tres. Anerkendelsen skaffede ham en professorstilling ved konservatoriet i Prag. 
Jenůfa blev Janáček’s populæreste opera og er siden ofte blevet opført. I komponistens egen levetid nåede den at blive iscenesat mere end 70 gange!

Hele operaen 
Jenůfa - Teatro de Liceu, Barcelona

Det er musikken Janáček skrev fra midten af 1910'erne der er mest berømt, men stilen i disse sene værker anes mange år tidligere. Janáček tilhører den bølge af veristiske komponister fra det 20. århundrede, der søgte at opnå en højere grad af realisme og forbindelse til hverdagslivet.

Janáček’s liv var præget af tragedier. Han mistede både en lille søn (1890) og sin 21-årige datter Olga (1903). Ægteskabet med Zdenka Schulzová var fyldt med kriser, og han hentede inspiration til sin kunst i kærlighedsforhold til kvinder fra kunstner og musikerkredse (Kamila Urválkova, Kamila Stösslová, Gabriela Horvátová). 
Hans forelskelse som moden mand i den smukke 27-årige Kamila Stösslová opleves klart i en af hans sidste operaer ”Den Fiffige lille Ræv”. Han selv er gengivet i den aldrende skovrider og dennes kærlighed til den lille ræv – billedet på Kamila. Man fornemmer i operaen en kunstner fuld af smerte, længsel, livsvisdom og resignation.
                          Billedresultat for leos janacek     

Leos Janacek som ung med sin kone Zdenka, og ved siden portræt som gammel. 
På ungdomsbilledet er han da egentlig en ret flot fyr skulle man mene ;)

lørdag den 1. august 2015

Klæder skaber folk – og identitet?

Det er nu engang utroligt hvordan tøj og hår kan ændre ens udtryk!

Jeg har prøvet mit Jano-drenge-kostume, og det er som alt andet tøj i denne opera holdt i ret neutrale, mørke nuancer. Jeg er klædt som dreng med korte bukser og knæsokker, skjorte, vest, jakke og blød kasket. På hovedet får jeg også en kommunefarvet korthårsparyk. Det var sjovt at se mig selv klædt på som 14-årig dreng anno 1914.

Parykprøvning på Jyske Opera www.jyske-opera.dk 

Jeg vil gerne have at rollen føles integreret i kroppen, så bevægelserne og udtrykket kommer indefra og ikke bliver ”udvendigt spil”. Method acting, kan man kalde det. Eller Stanislavskij-teknik, om man vil. Derfor forsøger jeg efter bedste evne at omfavne min egen maskuline side og ligesom tillade den at træde frem.

Jeg tænker at hvis jeg skal spille en af det modsatte køn, oven i købet halv min alder, så er jeg nødt til at gøre noget ekstra for at det kommer til at se naturligt ud. Derfor har jeg som research blandt andet prøvet at udforske hvordan jeg selv ville tage mig ud i moderne drengetøj. Her kan I se et foto af mig som hipster-fyr. 

Tak til Jack & Jones, Strøget, Århus for styling og lån af tøj.

For at forberede mig fysisk har jeg iagttaget hvordan mænd og drenge bevæger sig, hvordan deres tyngdepunkt synes at være mere i brystet, de lidt stivere hofter og håndled, energien i bevægelserne, måden at sidde med spredte ben på osv. 
Det er ikke så svært, når bare man formår at acceptere sig selv i den nye ”identitet”. 
Metoden fungerer godt, føler jeg.

Det fik mig til at overveje: Hvor meget af vores daglige identitet er egentlig en rolle, som vi klæder os på til?

Jeg tror det er ret meget. Det er lidt som om, at alt efter hvilket tøj (sko eller hatte) man tager på - fx balkjole, slidte jeans eller aerobic-tøj – så tillader det en bestemt del af ens personlighed at komme i spil.

Det er det jeg selv har følt, når jeg i tidens løb har haft klædt mig ud som alt muligt underligt og spillet diverse roller i amatørteater og opera, til Live Rollespil og improviseret totalteater.
Jeg har spillet alt fra kriger til elver-skjald, fra tigger til snobbet adelsdame, præstinde, ond dronning, snigmorder, senil gammel kælling, naiv ung pige, goblin-trold mm. 

Det har jeg haft lyst til, for det føles sindsygt godt at bryde ud af min egen lille identitets-bås engang imellem!
Jeg kan anbefale at prøve det. Derhjemme eller måske til en fest, hvis man er mere modig.

 Fotos fra et modeljob for www.ironfortress.com der sælger rollespilstøj og accessories.

At være kvinde kan faktisk også sommetider føles som en lille, irriterende bås.
Der er altså bare nogle normer for hvordan kvinder bør tale og gebærde sig, samt en masse forventninger om hvad man som kvinde nok kan – eller navnlig IKKE kan…
Netop at spille dreng eller mand synes jeg derfor kan føles ekstra befriende.  

At se filmen ”Boys don’t cry” har også været en inspiration. Her spiller Hillary Swank mesterligt en transseksuel; en teenagedreng som uheldigvis er født som pige, og derfor er i vanskeligheder. Ikke mindst da hans nye venner opdager, at han (hun) har løjet om sit fysiske køn. En meget flot film og ikke mindst flot præstation af Hillary Swank, som også hentede en Oscar hjem for den rolle.

Boys don’t Cry - trailer

Den måde vi klæder os på afspejler hvordan vi ser os selv. Gad vidst om vores identitet og selv-billede så også kan ændre sig ved at vi en dag begynder at klæde os anderledes? 
Det tror jeg på en måde godt. 
Men hvis nogen kender et link til en videnskabelig undersøgelse om netop det, så vil jeg gerne læse den. 

Nina Clausen, sopran og komponist 

søndag den 26. juli 2015

De første sceniske prøver

Jeg løber meget i mine scener! Det er både sjovt og udfordrende. Det at der er knald på i mine scener er ret fedt. Jeg elsker bare at arbejde scenisk!
Jeg løber ikke mindst i 1. akt hvor jeg starter med at synge fra bagscenen og derfra spæner ind over scenen og halvvejs tilbage igen mens jeg synger lange, kraftige toner. Den hyrdedreng jeg spiller, Jano, er så fuld af energi og intention – og det er musikken og orkestret også på dette sted. Jeg ”råber” på Jénufa for at fortælle hende at hendes undervisning har båret frugt og ”jeg” NU netop har knækket læsekoden. Hvilken triumf! Senere hen i 3. akt er det anerledes fatale nyheder jeg skal komme løbende med.

At denne rolle ikke varetages af en egentlig drengesopran på 11-12 år er, at den kræver en voksen stemmes power for at trænge igennem det heftige orkester både på dette sted og i 3. akt. Hold da op hvor er det flot musik!
Scene med Jano i 1. akt er, fortalte instruktørassistent P.J. mig, det eneste lyspunkt af ren glæde i en ellers dramatisk og følelsesmæssigt ret tynget historie.

Her kan man se scenen i en anden version.

Lidt om scenografien: Kulisserne er meget livagtige – også helt tæt på. 
Det skal forestille et bestemt bondehus fra Irland anno 1914. Alt er super detaljeret. Det er næsten som at være i ”Den Gamle By”. Den eneste abstraktion er en stor cirkel på gulvet, som omkranser huset.

Pointen i opsætningen er at konflikter og mennesker ikke er sort/hvide. Der er ikke gode og onde, som sådan. Det er i opsætningen ligesom i virkeligheden:
*Nogle kommer som Laca til at såre andre mere eller mindre med vilje, fordi de selv er blevet såret af dem. 

*Kostelnicka dræber Jénufa’s baby og gør derved det forkerte, men egentlig af de rigtige grunde: Hun vil beskytte Jénufa mod et dårligt liv med en fordrukken mand, sådan en som hun selv har haft. 

*Steva er ikke ond mod Jénufa. Han fatter bare ikke sit ansvar som kommende far og ægtemand, eller formår ikke at leve op til det. 
Det er slet ikke svært at sætte sig ind i disse karakterer for os sangere. 
Jeg tror publikum vil opleve det samme.

Foto af scene i Jyske Opera's opsætning. Bemærk detaljerne.

På 3. dagen ankom den rigtige instruktør Annilese Miskimmon så endelig og skulle se hvad vi havde nået. Vi lavede derfor en gennemspilning af så langt af 1. akt som vi var nået med assistenten. Det gav pludseligt nogle nerver, kunne jeg mærke! Det føltes lidt ”audition” –agtigt at hun skulle sidde der og kigge på noget lidt som om det var færdigt, hvilket det jo slet ikke var!

Heldigvis gik det trods nerver godt med den gennemspilning, og da vi fik noter bagefter roste hun mig og sagde ”Brilliant. Very well done!” - Det var lidt en lettelse ;)

Hun spurgte mig hvor gammel jeg selv forestiller mig at Jano er, hvilket jeg netop havde tænkt at spørge hende om! Selv tænker jeg måske sådan 11-12 år, men Annilese havde lyst til at gøre ham til teenager bl.a. pga. min kropsbygning, så altså lidt ældre.

Instruktøren har valgt at tage udgangspunkt i de enkelte sangeres naturlige fortolkning og fysik, for at få så ægte et udtryk som muligt. Som hun udtrykte det ”This is not a concept show”. 
Det er jo virkelig en gave til os sangere, som jeg ser det: At få lov at være lidt kreative og komme med et bud, og ikke blot være et stykke ”værktøj”. Det er jeg taknemmelig for.

onsdag den 22. juli 2015

De første dage på Jenufa – musikalsk prøve og et værelse på kvisten

Jeg har virkelig glædet mig! Det er første gang jeg skal synge en rolle på Jyske Opera, så naturligvis har jeg opbygget noget spændthed – på den gode måde. Forud har jeg haft en session med studienleiter Peter Pade for at lære at udtale det tjekkiske sprog, vi skal synge på. 
Det var… en udfordring!

Første rigtige dag på arbejdet starter med en musikalsk prøve på 1. og 2. akt med dirigenten, en pianist og så de andre solister. Det der slår mig er hvor sympatiske og imødekommende alle virker! Sådan er det bestemt ikke altid indenfor denne showbizz-verden, hvor store egoer sommetider kan gøre arbejdet til en hård omgang. Det ved jeg fra min korte karriere allerede.

Det er med slet skjult stolthed at jeg vil røbe, at jeg fik rosende ord fra dirigenten Jaroslav Kyzlink. 
Naturligvis fik jeg også nogle rettelser, som jeg heldigvis ikke fandt svære at efterleve. Det føltes som en god start, må jeg sige.

3 andre solister, som jeg talte med i pausen, kom også med rosende ord om min vokale præstation, ikke mindst for de lange, høje toner og mit crescendo deri. En af dem der roste var Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, som spiller en hovedrolle: Kostelnicka – stedmoderen. Hun har sunget mange år som solist på Det Kongelige i København, så derfor betød det meget for mig at få netop hendes anerkendelse.

Det er virkelig dejligt at de sidste par års intense stemme-arbejde har båret frugt, så jeg nu behersker hvad jeg før havde store udfordringer med, nemlig at sætte stemmen fri i det høje register. Det kan godt være at jeg sammenlignet med nogle kan siges at være en ”Late Bloomer”. Men sent er heldigvis ikke det samme som ”for sent”.

Mennesker modner vel som regel til det bedre (ligesom oste, haha). Livserfaring giver helt klart dybde til fortolkning af både musik og rolle. Men med mine 33 somre er jeg nu stadig solistholdets ”benjamin”.
Værelset (og lidt sang) på kvisten

Mens jeg arbejder her i Århus tilbringer jeg nætterne og aftnerne i et lille lyst lejet kvistværelse i centrum, hvor jeg som en anden Mimí kan skue ud over tagene, mens jeg syr og længes efter ”Rodolfo”...

søndag den 19. juli 2015

Cabaret In Rehearsal: How we create a show from scratch!

First of all, I love my colleagues! They are immensely creative, fun to be with, musical, and not the least all around sympathetic people to be around.
We work well together, even when we don't agree:
A critical factor in the success of any project, when working together so closely in a group.

Chemistry between colleagues is important...no, it's crucial!

We had a meeting out in the garden

To create a show from scratch, we use rehearsals to develop our ideas. Finding rehearsal time together means stealing time every now and then.

Just now we've carved out three days in a row for playing, trying out ideas, and strategizing for the future (see picture above). And it is all taking place in 
We are fortunate to have a room donated by the local school of music.
Thank you 
Odsherreds Musikskole!
At night, we convene at my home, taking turns making dinner, and even sometimes sharing a nice bottle of white wine.

The best part of our meet-up, and perhaps the funniest aspect, is the development of our musical and dramatic ideas. On our last meeting, one of the ideas that emerged was to sing a particular unknown and rather difficult Mozart coloratura aria...while in the shower.

We all like to sing in the shower, don't we?

So why not sing an aria in a bikini while being washed by a male butler?

Rehearsing in this costume is fun!

Crazy? Sure! Burlesque? Very! Spectacular? You bet!

"What is the champagne bottle for?," you may ask.
That my friends must remain a secret...for now ;)

We plan to try out a few sketches for a live audience in Copenhagen in November.
Email me if you'd like to be invited for the sneak-peak. ninasveistrup@gmail.com

Trying out new costumes...

Rehearsing the Tchaikowsky

søndag den 12. juli 2015

How to perform classical music in a crazy, sexy and funny - but still touching way

In the weekend coming, I’m going to meet up again with my 3 friends and colleagues from Cabaret Fantastique. We are going to try our ideas on the floor, rehearse previous ideas, brainstorm, and have meetings about the practical stuff – like how to fundraise the money we need to make our coming theatre performance really happen.

I can’t tell in details what the show will be about, because that’s still kind of secret… But I can say, that we are using the form, the satire, the erotic atmosphere and the visual output from the old genre known as “cabaret”, and we fill it in with classical, instrumental music and songs, that has a high level of virtuosity.

We feel that the contrasts between these two styles are intriguing and add to each other.

The combination feels fresh and it suits us well: We are highly skilled in each of our crafts (actor, classical violinist, pianist and singer), but we feel that the conformity and stiffness about classical music and acting is bothering us, sometimes.

We like to do something that’s both SERIOUS and FUN - and quite CRAZY too!

The quartet consists of 4 young Danish artists: 
An actor named Frederik Ømann, educated in Århus and now working in various theatres across Denmark. 
A pianist named Janus Araghipour, educated in Poland and Danmark, now studying for a soloist diploma at Syddansk Musikkonservatorium. 
A violinist named Herbert Boersma, educated in the U.S. and in Denmark, soon to finish his soloist diploma at Jyske Musikkonservatorium. 
And of course myself, educated as opera singer in Berlin and DK, soloist diploma in 2012, now singing opera and concerts as a freelancer.

We met during my time in academy of music, and our common passion for the burlesque underground in Copenhagen brought us further more together. We simply couldn’t resist performing small shows and pieces of music at the artistic and sexy parties known as Grotesque Burlesque. Doing that, we had great fun!

This passion for burlesque inspired us to make a whole cabaret of our own.

Here we are at the burlesque party in 2012

Since we decided to make a cabaret, we have been meeting up from time to time, brainstorming and trying ideas out, searching for suited repertoire and so on. 2 times earlier we have met up for 4 days in a row in a place up North where we could explore things deeply without interruptions. Now the 3rd session is approaching. 
Our concept has changed a lot during these rehearsals and discussions - of course.

So far, we use music as different as Satie, Piazzolla and Mozart combined with absurd humor, dance, French clown mimics, glamour that is falling apart, champagne and more.

I can’t wait to do more of this! I’m sure our show will be full of surprises, be sometimes touching or even magical.
The good news are that Odense Teater’s small stage – U-Teater – is showing interest in making a co-production. That would be truly awesome! 
We hope that this could be the beginning of an adventure, where touring Europe is one of the goals.

We aim to get a young audience to experience the magic of sheer, classical music in an informal and crazy wrapping. Like this we keep a tradition alive, but also renew it.

Stay tuned for more about this project!
Here are some links to related burlesque on Youtube

Copenhagen Grotesque Burlesque party sneak peak (yes, we were there!) 

Excellent Burlesque show making satire on Americans 

 Burlesque stage makeup tutorial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZRKNjDCYqg