As you may have noticed by reading my last few blog entries (... I’ll give you a few minutes to go back and review ... Ready? ... No, seriously, take your time. ... Okay)...
As you may have noticed after having read my last few blog entries, I seem to be pondering my place in the operatic world.
In this clique -- or any clique, for that matter -- I’ve always felt like I belonged on a peripheral level, but I’ve never been part of the inner circle. And as I ponder, I come to realize that this seems to be some sort of unconscious choice that I’ve made consistently throughout my life. It should come as no surprise, then, that I somehow chose to live in a foreign country, where only a small percentage can fully understand the articles in this blog or even begin to get my jokes, much less understand my need to put ice in my drinks.
Of all countries, I had to choose Germany - the place where everything is (supposedly) so organized and has its proper place. And to do what? To sing opera, a genre which is structured around a system (invented by the Germans, by the way) called Fach. In addition to the 17 other translations for this word, in the opera business it’s usually interpreted as ‘category,’ but for all intents and purposes it just means ‘drawer.’ Take a chest of drawers, for example. A Kommode. Well, for someone who doesn’t seem to fit into any category, a Kommode is not very accommodating.
Nobody puts Baby in a drawer!
Many have tried, however. I had a singer colleague say to me once, “You know what your problem is?” No, but I bet you’re about to tell me. “Your voice is too pretty to be a soubrette and not ugly enough to be a dramatic coloratura.” Thanks... I think.
Then, at an audition when I was done singing Konstanze’s first aria from Die Entführung aus dem Serail, one of the other sopranos said, “Like, wow, you’re like a full dramatic, eh? That’s cool.”
Yet another former colleague told me, “Your strengths lie in show tunes. You’re American, after all.” A-ha. Then, when I went to audition for Sally Bowles in Cabaret, I just had to laugh when they looked at me as if I’d just missed the last train to La Scala.
So, whenever anybody asks me what voice category I fall into, it’s all I can do not to scream, “How the FACH should I know?!?”
I have sung soubrette roles and coloratura roles (lyric, not yet dramatic). I have done musicals and operettas. I’ve sung modern music, I’ve sung early music, I’ve sung jazz. I’ve sung in chamber choirs and opera chorusses, done recitals and oratorios. I’ve even sung in a country band where my nickname was Miss Cellaneous. Go figure.
What with all this chaos in my life, is it any wonder that I feel compelled to at least get my apartment in order? That’s what I’ve been working on this week between learning a new role and preparing for auditions. Now I have all my German paperwork neatly sorted in four ring binders, eight hanging folders and a three-tiered letter tray, and my American documents in one envelope. Still, there are a few objects (not just paperwork) that need sorting and have no place to “live.”
Luckily, I’ve always made sure to have a junk drawer in my home. Never have I attempted to organize the junk drawer. That would be a little too better-homes-and-gardens for me. In fact, the last time I moved, I boxed up the contents of the junk drawer and emptied them in its successor.
The junk drawer accommodates everything. It’s a beautiful mecca of organized chaos for valuable objects that defy definition.
Eureka! I seem to have I discovered the Fach where I belong.