Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Testing the Waters: Summer Language Programs in Europe

Hello to my sexy ladies! Hope you’re all staying nice and toasty warm during the holidays! Here at the Sexi Soprano headquarters we know that many of you are busy with auditions….tis the season! A lot of you gals may be wanting to audition for summer programs but what better way to spend your summer than in a country learning or perfecting a foreign language!? In a new country you can soak up the culture, food, sights, people, and most importantly the language! It’s a wonderful experience worth having, so save up your pennies ladies! Here is a list of suggested programs!

In the Mood for Some Deutsch:
Sprechen Sie Deutsch?! Die Neue Schule is a wonderful program in the heart of Berlin! The German language is one of the loves of my life! I was able to experience this program summer of 2011 and had the most amazing summer! The application process is easy, you take a little placement test, AND as an American you don’t have to apply for a visa (always check to be sure)! The costs differ depending on how long a student would like to do the program. It might be daunting, being in a foreign country, but if you go in with an open mind you’ll be fine! Here are some awesome aspects about the program:

*there are daily/weekend trips hosted by the school to local areas or different German cities/towns!

*classes are small which provides you with more one on one time!

*you have the option to stay with a host family! DO IT! It is so much fun and your German will improve so much more!!

*classes are Monday-Friday mornings or afternoons so you have lots of time to explore Berlin and other cities!
In my free time I explored Berlin, the coastal city of Weimar, and traveled to Prague! 

*the teachers are absolutely wonderful and are really there to help you, even in your times of struggle!

*there are different sessions in the summer you can go so don’t feel like you have to sacrifice other events to go to only one session!  

Don’t be afraid to EXPLORE even if you are by yourself! It’s invigorating just stepping out and walking around without a destination! Something worth mentioning, if you have time go to Curry 36! It’s a restaurant/stand that has wonderful Currywurst! 

INTERESTED? Go to to learn more! 

In the Mood for Some Français:
Parlez vous français? Well you can speak a lot more in the city of Rennes, France! University of Rochester in Rochester, New York has a fabulous summer French program and you don’t even have to be a University of Rochester student to do it! The city is the capital of Brittany and has a lot of universities, interesting architecture, beautiful sights, and lots of shops and exquisite food! You’re just a two hour train ride from Paris and near the landing beaches of Normandy! The program cost varies each year. Here is what to expect from the program: 

*Monday-Friday classes on language, conversation, and culture

*Weekday and Weekend excursions including the public market, City Hall, the Fine Arts Museum, the Fête de la Musique festival, and much more!

*Stay with a host family!

*Excursion to Paris!!!

*You could receive college credit!

to find out more! 

In the Mood for Some Italiano:

Hey mambo, mambo Italiano! So you want to perfect your Italian? Well have no fear because Si Parla, Si Canta!’s director Benton Hess and his fabulous team will be there to the rescue! Si Parla, Si Canta is a language program for singers and accompanists set in the beautiful Urbania, Italy! I have not experienced this program first hand but many of my colleagues have and wonderful things to say! There are two programs, a four week and a six week so the costs depend on which program you decide to do. You would study your Italian at the Centro Studi Italiani in Urbania, Italy. Here are the aspects of the program:

*Monday-Friday Italian Language class 8:50am-12:20pm

*Italian Conversation classes Tuesday and Thursday

*Exploring the city in free time!

*Live with a host family or single bed/multiple bed apartment
*Participate in at least 3 concerts! 

*Two private coachings per week in addition to rehearsals for ensembles

*Master Classes (if staying for the six week program)

*Trip to Verona and Venice (if staying for the six week program)

INTERESTED? Go to to find out more! 

Hope you found this helpful!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Red Fruit Skewers With Spicy Chocolate Sauce

Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is in the air! If you’ve gone to the store recently, you’ve probably noticed aisle after aisle of cards, flowers, stuffed animals, and other trinkets ready to be snatched up and handed out as little tokens of affection. Along with those, you have boxes upon boxes of chocolates, romantically decadent prix fixe dinner reservations, the luxurious glass, or three, of fine wine, and other indulgences that may leave your waistline feeling, well, not so Sexi. Never fear, because for this recipe, we’re playing love doctor! These fruit skewers with spicy chocolate sauce are the perfect way to heat things up and keep you slimmed down. It gives you just the right amount of sweet without leaving you in a sugar frenzy. It’s the addition of two special ingredients gives the spicy, sassy kick to this sauce. This recipe will keep you out of the kitchen, into your special someone’s arms; yet still have a romantic homemade dessert to share with the one you love! For those of you flying solo this V-day, never forget that you are always your own perfect date! Pop these together and treat yourself! Enjoy!

For Skewers:
Bamboo skewers
1 cup red grapes
1 red apple, cored and cut into 1”- 2” cubes
1 cup strawberries, halved
1 cup raspberries

For Sauce:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup orange juice, room temperature
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp chili powder

Wash all fruit thoroughly in a colander. Set aside. Push fruit onto skewers, alternating fruits as you go along. Continue until you have made your desired number of skewers, or until fruit is used up. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, or until chocolate begins to melt. Stir until smooth. If you need additional time, microwave for 10-second increments, stirring after each time until smooth. Add orange juice, cinnamon, and chili powder. Stir until combined. Drizzle over fruit skewers. Serve extra sauce on the side for dipping, if desired. Enjoy!
-If these fruits are not your favorite, substitute whatever you like! Pineapple and banana make delicious additions!

-If your orange juice is not room temperature, microwave it for a few seconds until it is not cold and then add it to the chocolate. If you pour cold orange juice into your melted chocolate it could seize. If this happens, just place chocolate and juice mixture back in the microwave for a couple of seconds and stir again until smooth!

-Want to really heat things up? Add a dash of cayenne pepper to your chocolate sauce for some sweet heat!

Photo Credit: Fruit kebabs by Matito via Material is available under Public License -creativecommons license

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Singer's Reflection on Being a Soprano

This past December I was sitting in NOLA studios amongst a group of twenty five talented and aspiring artists (BTW twenty one of which were sopranos) who made the finals for this particular company. There was lots of small talk happening; some girls were bragging about their last season at Merola, some getting to know with whom each other studied, while others shied away in the corner not even making eye contact.

As I was taking in the scene, I saw so many different personalities, body types, hair colors, skin colors. I was reminded in that moment that there is absolutely no way to know what this panel is thinking!! We all have different personalities and different voices, with fachs ranging from soubrette to dramatic. All of us have good technique, (or else we wouldn't be in the finals) and competing for ONE job. Do they want a big voice? A small voice? Do they have a body type in mind? Do they prefer red heads? Do they want to work with someone bubbly and talkative or with someone more timid and sweet? Do they already know who they want to hire? These thoughts are racing through my mind as I walk into my audition. I announce myself and take a deep breath. I realize that I need to just do what I do best....Final Answer! If that so happens to coincide directly with the company's season...great! If not, it wasn't meant to be. As soon as I realize this, I relax and sing a great audition and am confidant I made a good impression.

Because of sheer numbers, being a soprano is hard (this is not to say that other voice types do not have their own challenges). Most are great singers, great actors/actresses, good looking, fit, intelligent, speak 5 languages, have 15 years of dance training, can juggle 6 oranges while doing the splits and singing 'caro nome', and have worked their way through every YAP in the US (connecting them with numerous conductors and directors) all while raising 2 kids, obtaining their DMA, and working a temp job on side (wow, when I think about it, sopranos are pretty incredible). There are 1000's of us and only a small pool of jobs to employ us. A wise teacher once told me that one day she began writing down every audition she took. She recorded over seven hundred auditions in her career and only TWENTY-FIVE led to a gig. So what to do?

Words of wisdom have been ringing through my ears: Sopranos are "a dime a dozen", BUT each of us is unique in that no one else has our same voice, or our same set of special skills.  Find out what makes you unique and use that to show them what you are all about! 

Relax, calm yourself and....have fun! You are in a new city, traveling and seeing new sites.  Enjoy it. Stay true to yourself and trust your technique! Be as prepared as possible with what each companies season entails and know what is appropriate for you! Nine times out of ten someone has some extended knowledge of a particular singer and that person may stand out as a result of it. Create your own opportunities. Start your own YAP program, plan a recital, record an album of music that has yet to be recorded! At the end of the day we still get to do what we love.  

Be Classy, Sheik, Outgoing, Funny, Diva and don't forget Sexi!

Keep your chin up opera stars in training,  we can get through this together!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

6 Tips for a Successful College Audition

Applying for college is an exciting time for all college students, but it can be especially daunting for potential music majors. Unlike most students, who come into school without a major and explore for several semesters, music majors decide before they even enter what their major will be. In fact, usually their admittance is based upon what they will study. Needless to say, the college audition is of paramount importance to anyone wishing to study voice at the college level.

1. Check the requirements before you go, then check them again. It goes without saying that you should know what repertoire to prepare before you go to your audition. But this can get complicated when you audition for multiple schools and their requirements differ. Unlike more advanced auditions, where you can offer the same five arias to every company, colleges are often very specific about what they require. Make a rubric of all of your schools and what you need to offer for each. Print out the list or keep it on your phone so you can double and triple check it on the morning of your audition.

2. Act like a professional, even if you aren’t one yet. College panels are looking for a lot more than your singing, and you’re making an impression before you even walk in the room. Be courteous to the hall monitor and to the pianist. You can bet they have the ear of the panel, and you don’t want to be the one they report as being a nuisance. Have all of your music clearly organized in a three ring binder. Don’t use plastic sheets (they can cause glare), don’t have loose papers, and don’t use single sided sheets if you can possibly avoid it. You want to make your music as clear to read as humanly possible; double and triple check that all of the piano part is clearly visible on every page.

3. Take charge of your audition, but be flexible. When you walk in to the room to audition, remember that it is your time. Pick a starting piece that you love and that shows your voice well. Professors are not expecting you to be perfect, but they are expecting you to connect with the music you’ve brought and to commit to the choices you make as a performer. Give the pianist your tempo before you begin, but remember that even after that it might not go quite as planned. If the pianist starts too fast or too slow, make your entrance at your preferred tempo and stick to it with confidence. The pianist will follow you.

4. Be prepared for questions. Unlike most professional auditions, the vast majority of college auditions will include some sort of interview with the panel. If they accept you, they’re committing to four years of collaboration—they want to know if they’ll enjoy working with you and if you’re a good fit for the program. Again, don’t worry about being perfect. If you’ve never studied piano, don’t lie and say that you have. Be concise, be friendly, and look the panel in the eyes. If you’re nervous, have a mock interview with your voice teacher or choir director. Typical questions include whether you’ve studied any languages or instruments, how long you’ve been singing, and why you want to study music at the collegiate level.

5. Prepare for placement tests but don’t panic. Many colleges and conservatories put auditioning students through placement tests as part of the audition day. These are typically in written music theory, though occasionally you might encounter tests in piano and sight singing. It’s a good idea to review what you know for these exams, but don’t worry about learning a bunch of new material. Very few schools actually take these into account for admission; by giving them at the audition they simplify paperwork down the road. So do your best, but know that your audition is the most important factor in your admission.

6. Get to know the school—and have fun! More than any other audition you’ll ever take, the college audition is as much about you choosing the school as the school choosing you. This is not just a professional decision but a personal one—where do you want to live for the next four years? Take a campus tour—do you like the vibe of the place? Explore the neighborhood as well. Could you see yourself at home off campus in two years? Sometimes colleges are very different in person than they seemed in the brochure or online. The most important factor is not how prestigious a school is, but how at home you feel. Majoring in music is very difficult, and you need to be comfortable in order to thrive. Make sure you allow some time on your audition day to assess each school and determine if it’s right for you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Aftermath of Auditions

Immediately after an audition, you may begin to lose the hope you held just one month prior.  There’s been build up and excitement for traveling, seeing old friends in New York, and making new friends in the rehearsal hallways of NOLA.  Everything was planned perfectly.  You followed everyone’s advice on shoes, dresses, hair, make-up, rep lists, resumes and headshots.  You researched who and what you were auditioning for and nailed every note, but now what?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Need Operatic Training this Summer? Opera Works!

Featured listing: OperaWorks' deadline extended to January 20!
OperaWorks is a completely different brand of training that takes singers beyond a summer program and lasts a lifetime. Work with an international faculty of extraordinary teachers in OperaWorks’ holistic curriculum including acting, coachings, performance techniques, improvisation, conducting, Alexander Technique, yoga, physical theatre, marketing, social networking, and career planning. The deadline to apply is December 31, but don't delay - apply today!
Emerging Artist Program – June 8-23, 2014
Advanced Artist Program – June 28–July 28, 2014

There is a track in each program for voice teachers and coaches who want to incorporate OperaWorks’ cutting-edge methods into their own studios.

Complete information at or 818.831.9597

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pumpkin Sage Brown Rice Risotto

    The holidays are winding down…the everyday hustle and bustle of life is returning to normal…but naturally, we couldn’t let you go through the entire winter season without a good pumpkin recipe! By this time, we’re sure you’ve had your fill of pumpkin pies, cookies, and breads, so let us shed a new light on this wonderful winter ingredient! Now, we know you’ve all made the New Year’s resolution to become a healthier you (right?), and this recipe is the perfect way to kick start your goals! Do not be deterred by the title “risotto”…this dish, given a bit of time, is easy, healthy, and delicious. It is great for serving friends, and keeps wonderfully in the refrigerator as a make-ahead meal!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Keep Your New Year's Resolutions with these Easy Solutions

New Year, new you, right? I bet almost everyone is including some version of “get healthy” in their resolutions for 2014. But who will actually stick with their plan and make it happen? Your SS Fitness Guru is here to help you with some easy suggestions for tools to stay motivated.
    A few years ago (when I decided to stick with my New Year’s resolution and finally get healthy) I knew I would need a cheap and convenient solution I could squeeze into my packed schedule. The solution?