Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Opera + Wine

Pair your favorite operas … with wine. You’re welcome!

L’Elisir d’amore + Bordeaux.
This is a bit of a no-brainer, as Dulcamara cons our comedic hero into believing the bottle is actually the Elixir of Love, but this ultra-drinkable blend of grapes makes for a perfectly romantic evening. In the end, the guy gets the girl, you get the perfect glass of wine, and everyone lives happily ever after. Try Chateau de Camarsac for only $13.99 a bottle!

La Traviata + Champagne.
Given the countless parties we see in Acts One and Two, champagne is a perfect fit! A nice Spanish Cava such as Berberana would pair well with Don Giovanni's flamboyance and is only $9.99 a bottle.

Le Nozze di Figaro + Cabernet Franc.
A bit lighter in color than the more popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, is an easy to drink red, while keeping the same intensity and richness your used to. This light-hearted, passionate wine pairs well with the equally light-hearted story of Figaro and his bride Susanna. Enjoy a bottle of Chinon Cuvée Signée, or two, with Mozart’s comedic classic at only $12.99 a bottle.

La Cenerentola + Rosé.
The story of Cinderella, complete with step sisters and flowery Rossini coloratura, pairs well with this fruity pink blend. We suggest trying Chateau La Tour Sainte Anne at only $12.99 a bottle. Sounds like the perfect girly combination!

Don Carlo + Super Tuscan.
Love. Death. Betrayal. Human Sacrifice. This opera isn’t for the faint of heart and neither is this rule-breaking red wine blend from Tuscany. You’ll need something dark, rich and a little tart to go along with the Grand Inquisitor scene, one of the most perfectly composed and dramatically fraught scenes in the operatic repertoire. To satisfy, try Renieri Inverto at $15.99 a bottle! 

Image courtesy of CPinoB at

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sexi Soprano’s Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles

By Tina Boosahda

The ins and outs of frequent flyer programs can thrust you into some confusing, murky waters. It is easy to feel like you’re drowning in offers from different airlines and credit card reward programs. Which airline’s credit card offers you the most bang for your buck? Which cards will rack up the most miles for you in the fastest way possible? After doing research, making phone calls to different airlines, and polling colleagues, I offer my humble opinion on rewards programs that are worth your time.

1. Capitol One: Venture One Rewards
 This card is a good introduction to frequent flyer miles awards cards. No annual fee, and 0% APR introductory rate until May 2016. Truly a great deal when first choosing a frequent flyer credit card; especially if you want to try one out to see what they are like or for those who fly a moderate amount. There is no cost and a low commitment.

Perks Include:
  • One time only bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • 1.25 miles/$1 spent on purchases anywhere.
  • Fly ANY airline, stay at ANY hotel, and rent ANY car from ANY company.
  • No blackout dates and no foreign transaction fees.
  • Miles never expire and there is no cap to how many you can earn.
2. Southwest Airlines
Their basic frequent flyer awards program, Rapid Rewards (RR), is very easy to sign up for. Go to their site, click on join Rapid Rewards, provide an email address, and a phone number. Next, you will receive an email with your rapid rewards account number. The next time you buy a flight, log in with your RR account number and start earning points for purchased flights. I participate in this program and I have been able to acquire points quickly, in turn redeeming them for a handful of free flights!

This FFAP is a point-based system, and free:
  • If you purchase a one-way ticket for $139, that equals 697 points.
  • When you take the flight, your RR account will accumulate the 697 points.
  • Cheap flights are usually around 400 to 600 points.
  • More expensive or round-trip flights can vary from 1,000 to 3,000+ points. This depends on what the airline's points to dollars ratio is for that particular travel day and time of purchase.
  • Points do not expire as long as you have an active account open.
Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Points Visa 
This card offers you 2 points per $1 spent directly via Southwest Airlines. These 2 points/$1 purchases include flights, in-flight services, and Southwest gift cards. They also offer 2 points/$1 spent on their car rental and hotel partners. All other purchases, amount to 1 point/$1 spent, which is standard.

Perks Include:
  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
  • 6,000 bonus points on your card member anniversary.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No bag fees for your 1st and 2nd checked bag(s).
  • No change or cancellation fees.
  • If you have to cancel, the airline will give you a voucher to use at a later date.
  • Need to change your flight? No problem! You are only responsible for paying the difference in the two fares.
  • Points don’t expire as long as you make purchases and keep the card active for 24 months.
  • $99 annual fee associated with this card, which you typically make up in anniversary points.
  • No blackout dates.
  • The more you spend using their card, the faster you level up with Tier Qualifying Points. Refer to their website for specifics.
3. Spirit Airlines World MasterCard 
You literally get what you pay for with Spirit. I recently flew Spirit round-trip and I had two pleasant, on time flights with them. If you did not know, they are an airline “without frills,” and pride themselves on that. They advertise that they can offer customers low fares because the customer pays for exactly what they want. If you want to choose your own seat there is an additional fee. They allow each passenger one personal item for free For example: a backpack or purse- something that can fit under the seat in front of you. Additional fees apply for checked or carry one baggage. While aboard nothing is free, but they do have drinks and snacks for purchase.

Perks Include:
  • Three round-trip off peak award tickets = 15,000 bonus miles after you make your first purchase. This purchase can be anything from a pack of gum, to a new Steinway.
  • Round-trip airfares are usually only 5,000 points, thus racking up free trips faster then other airlines.
  • No blackout dates and priority boarding.
  • Cardholders get double miles on things purchased everyday; 2 miles/ $1 spent on anything, anywhere.
  • $59 annual fee is waived for the first year .
  • Want a free flight? Sign up for the card during a Spirit flight and they will give you 5,000 bonus miles. 
4. United Mileage Plus Explorer Visa
 And lastly, for a ritzier card with more the frills:
  • 2 miles/$1 spent on tickets purchased through United. 1 mile/$1 spent on purchases elsewhere.
  • Check your first bag for free.
  • $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
  • Priority boarding for all flights.
  • Two club passes per year, allowing you and a guest access to their VIP lounges.
  • Exclusive, time sensitive offer; 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Miles do not expire as long as you are a card member.
  • No cap on how many miles you can earn.
  • No blackout dates.
Use the above information as a jumping off point into the world of Frequent Flyer Awards Programs. If the airline offers you a free, basic points program like Southwest; DO IT! When selecting a credit card pick one that suits your flying needs. Remember to ALWAYS read the fine print. Don’t let the miles from the flights you are taking for auditions, gigs, and concerts go to waste. Now, start racking up those free flights!

Happy, Safe, and Sexi travels!

Image used with permission from Microsoft.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sexi Soprano in a Small Space: How to keep it fabulous everywhere this summer!

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How exactly does one keep it Sexi in a Small Space? We are all notorious for being over-packers, but there are ways to do it that will have you staying fabulous all summer!

1. Assess your living situation. Make sure that you know what type of living situation you will have. If you're lucky, Dorms will have shared cooking spaces, microwaves and fridges. Be sure to ask if these things are available. Host Families can be wonderful, but make sure to reach out to them ahead of time so you know what will be available. Whatever the situation, always be grateful for their hospitality. If these two are not an option, reach out to another singer in the program to suggest spitting the cost of an Extended Stay Hotel. These hotels have kitchens equipped with a stove top, fridge, microwave, plates and utensils.

2. Pack Food. Nutritional shakes are quick and inexpensive after rehearsal, for breakfast, or just a quick snack. Single serve blenders are cheap and easy to travel with. Having options keeps you from making pizza or ordering takeout. Items such as meal replacement bars, granola, nuts, trail mix and other dry goods will in handy.

3. Transportation. Driving your own car always gives you the freedom to go where you need, but if you don’t have that option, check bus and rail schedules. Make friends with someone who has a car and won’t mind giving you a ride to the grocery store. Just make sure to offer gas money or PDFs of Nico Castel libretto translations...a girl needs to barter sometimes.

Most importantly, remember to work hard and always stay Sexi!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

FUNdraising Dos & Don’ts

By Christi Amonson

Emerging professionals often find themselves with an amazing opportunity for a training program or other professional musical opportunity. Recitals are a great way to fundraise and build your community of support as you follow your dreams. The following “Dos and Don’ts” are general tips for success from a soprano who has been on and off stage for many of these events myself, with friends and students. It is easy to feel self-conscious asking for money, so I hope this will help you get started on a plan to raise the money you need for your exotic destination of study!


  • Plan enough time to find a venue, send invitations; plan a program your audience will love.
  • Invite people with at least two weeks notice.

  • Your community wants you to succeed. By presenting a professional recital for a select group of family, friends, churchgoers, work colleagues, etc. you can finance your study abroad or pay-to-sing opportunity.
  • Create a Facebook event and send at least one follow-up reminder to your guest list.

  • Collaborate with the finest pianist you can afford—you want to present the best performance possible!
  • Hand out beautiful programs. Some friends and family might not be familiar with foreign language styles, so a simple program with translations on one sheet of nicely printed paper is cost-efficient, classy and appreciated!

  • At the end of your recital, thank your guests with a clear, concise statement, and then sing a short encore that suits the theme of your opportunity.
  • Add credibility to your need for funds by asking a trusted teacher or colleague to welcome your guests and briefly speak about what an extraordinary opportunity you have been offered.
  • Make sure there is a place for donations—ask a friend or colleague to hold a decorative box or basket for checks near the exit!  

Do Not:

  • You needn’t apologize for your need to fundraise or brush your event off as unimportant. You are an artist in the making—we get it!
  • Don’t let money cause any problems in friendships. Be clear about paying your pianist and giving any friends who collaborate a small gift card to Starbucks or something similar. Offering to “split the pot” gets tricky if someone’s father writes a large check. You can avoid awkward monetary problems by establishing up front that this is your fundraising recital and you will pay the associated fees (pianist, venue, etc.).

Program poorly
  • Avoid the tired, lengthy, “boring” program. If you are inviting work friends and church friends, program something you know they will like—if you want and need to sing thirty minutes of Schoenberg, like that one time in grad school.... then throw your audience a bone with some tunes they recognize! A little music theatre or gospel/folk arrangements go a long way with our non-classical singing friends and family!
  • This isn’t an academic recital, but you are a classical singer. Plan a program that makes you look and sound like the rising star you ARE. We don’t apologize for singing what we love—we just recognize that our office friends and Aunt Betty might not be as into Baroque opera seria as we are. So after your sensational, specialty section, the savvy fundraiser sings Aunt Betty’s wedding song and/or a crossover piece that lends a little contemporary humor to the event.

Forget your manners
  • I may sound like the Sexi Soprano thank you note police, but the gracious singer will handwrite a thank you note for checks or to anyone you know that gave cash. If you are raising money to go to Graz, send postcards. What a great way to say thank you for helping me get here: a simple postcard from a unique location!
  • Finally, don’t present a personal fundraising recital every year—your family and friends want to help you when it counts, so be cool and make sure this is a special event that will enrich your training and establish your career. That keeps the FUN in fundraising!

Image courtesy of Michael Elliot at