Tuesday January 9


I caught a bad cold during the Christmas holidays in my hometown of Seattle. I was actually going to stay there for three weeks, but then the Reisopera asked me to play the leading role Powder Her Face wanted to sing. A no brainer! But in rehearsals I struggle with that cold. Less vocal explosions, more focus on technique. I have to sing through everything that happens to trickle down my throat.

Wednesday January 10

Kaleidoscope of sound

Today we had the ‘Sitzprobe’, the sitting rehearsal, for the first time with the entire orchestra. What a kaleidoscope of sound this opera has. Adés stretches every instrument and every voice to the absolute extremes. It’s difficult, but it gives you an infinite spectrum of emotions and colors. Gosh, that cold is frustrating. Contact with my sister in the evening. Our mother is in the hospital. My nerves can’t rest.

Thursday January 11

Different stages of life

Today another piano rehearsal, but for the first time in costumes. That feels like the ultimate dress-up party, in which you try out which movements you can still make. And so I have to find out how I am going to physically shape the different phases of my role, the Duchess. I can give my voice a break for a day. That’s a good thing, because tomorrow we have another important orchestra rehearsal. Then all vocal brakes have to be released. Step by step!

Photo Eric Brinkhorst

Friday January 12

Infamous aria

Spectacularly demanding, I have no other words for today. We had to rehearse the entire opera, repeating parts endlessly to find the right balance between the singers and the orchestra pit. Conductor Otto Tausk is fabulously good at this. He brushes away disturbances in no time. I couldn’t keep up with his tempo during the infamous pipe aria. If I wasn’t looking at him – you can’t do that all the time in opera – we would lose track of each other. So it was a tough nuts and bolts day, in which we nailed the drama together from moment to moment.

In the evening all I want to do is go to Lupin watching that French series on Netflix, I’m in the last season. That world is just as intense and funny as the world I live in during the day.

Saturday January 13

Being a mother

This morning I did Kundalini yoga: intense, breath-focused repetitive movements, to release energetic baggage that had settled in the nooks and crannies of my body and mind. My husband and four-year-old son were in the audience today for the detailed rehearsal of the first act. It’s special to share this world with them. I was afraid that my voice would not be good enough, but my son seems to have said to my husband (he is German): “Mom doesn’t have to to assure. She is very loud. volume up and I thought.” I found that very reassuring! Two worlds collide now. I feel like I haven’t had time to be a mother in ages.

I video called my mother today, who is still in the hospital. She was shocked when she saw her own face and tried to put on lipstick. “Now I’m one of those old ladies who puts on her lipstick crookedly,” she shouted. It’s exactly like at the end of the opera, when the Duchess maniacally smears circles of lipstick around her mouth in a harrowing, desperate attempt to regain her self-image. I told my mother to embrace the old woman within. My mother, aunt and great-aunt are those classic beautiful women. In them you can still see remnants of a previous era. I have studied them all my life, and I can now use them well to portray the Duchess.

Sunday January 14th

Yin yoga

Finally a day off! The sounds of my son woke me up early, but that was wonderful. “Mommy, hug me as hard as I hug you, okay?”

We had brunch outside, and then I took my son to his Großmama and Großpapa in Germany. I’m starting to calm down and get better. Feel like going to bed on time, after some yin yoga to get back into my bones, joints, tendons and heart.

Monday January 15

A lighter armor

12 o’clock! I slept for 12 hours. That’s a personal record. I feel wonderful!

I attended an online therapy session. We figured out which parts of me have been working overtime lately trying to learn this complicated music at the last minute while battling that cold. We called that part of me ‘the knight’, and today it has been given lighter, more flexible armor.

My therapist tells me to listen to my voice more carefully. I experience my voice as an entity. She (my voice) says, ‘I am not limited by your body. I’m also there if you’re sick.’ My heart and throat have become exponentially calmer. It’s time to let go of the armor of ‘getting through it’ and ‘doing everything right’, and let my voice sing again.

Photo Eric Brinkhorst

Tuesday January 16th

Emotional tension

Another marathon day. Today I had to put into practice what I realized over the past few days, and I did it!

In the morning we did the heavy second act, and then scene 4, the fantastic room service scene. The whole opera in the afternoon. I suddenly understand how the Duchess’s vocal development fits in with her emotional tension – and also with myself. We actually have quite a lot in common. When I started learning the role, I saw the Duchess as a slave to her desires, who only thinks about herself. But now that I dig deeper, I also recognize those elements, that vulnerability, her loneliness and desperation in myself. This means that I can rely on my own intuition when singing and acting, which makes it all a lot more honest, real and therefore more fun. I now feel where I need to press the accelerator (after the condemnation scene) and where I can sing lighter and more sparkling (in the interview scene). It’s like Olympic slalom skiing. Two more costume rehearsals, and then the premiere!

Powder Her Face by Thomas Adès by the Reisopera can be seen in various theaters between 20/1 and 18/2. Info: reisopera.nl


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