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There Are Two Sides to Everything....Reflections on German and American Culture

So, since I am back in Germany some things have come to my attention that I would like to share with you, Dear Readers, about differences in the cultures of Americans and Germans.  Some things are positive, some are not so positive, and some are merely observations.  Here goes!

Things I really love about German Culture:

1. They separate their recycling meticulously.  They make a distinction between bottles which are given back for monetary reimbursement, green and white glass containers and bottles, cardboard and paper, plastic packaging materials, things which can be composted, and simply "all other things which don't fall into the categories mentioned before this one".  What a great system- and helpful too.  (Though, I do have to say, things can get a little stressful sometimes when you are, let's say, opening something which has all of these materials included, or perhaps, three or more of the materials in the categories included, then....it's no picnic to open…

Berlin: Day 2

We got a late start considering our late night the evening before, and by the time we got out of bed, showered and out of the hotel it was close to 11:00am. The plan for the day was to see Berlin historical/tourist sites that we both hadn't seen before. Therefore, the two things on the list were the man-made waterfalls in Kreuzberg in Victoria Park, or the Oberbaumbruecke which is located near the Warschauerstrasse S-Bahn stop heading east from Alexanderplatz.
Because it was such a damp and windy winter day out, and also because our sneakers were still soaked from the adventurous romp through puddle-filled streets the night before, we opted for the bridge instead of the park.
The bridge is a really interesting piece of Berlin architecture that is something which is very unlike the majority of architecture in the rest of Berlin (that I have seen thus far, anyway). I am not very sure about the history, so I am providing this link to the wikipedia article HERE. Our trip to the b…

Berlin Not A Total Bust

I had an audition in Berlin on the 28th of September for the ZAV there and I will now dutifully report to you, Dear Readers, on what occurred during my time there, and the results of my audition.  (Possibly, not in that order.)

DAY 1:
I arrived in Berlin on Sunday around 12:15pm and did not have my audition scheduled until Tuesday at 1pm, therefore, I was able to fit some other touristy things into my trip, prior to my audition.  So after leaving Dortmund that morning at 8am and arriving in Berlin that Sunday afternoon with my boyfriend aboard the ICE, we decided to stash our luggage in the lockers at the 'Zoologischer Garten' S-Bahn stop, (an S-Bahn is a regional train system that interconnects with the subway station system in Berlin- much like the New Jersey Transit system connects with the Subway at New York Penn Station, for those Readers from New York, or at least familiar with its transit systems) and then we hastily made our way to the Berlin Zoo, which happens to be n…

Leipzig: A Two-Fold Journey to Discovery

(This post was written on October 13th, 2010) I am on the train this morning heading to Leipzig. Thus far I've woken up at 7:30am after getting to sleep around midnight (packing and getting organized takes a lot longer than one might think) and I'm on the train somehow fully awake now (even after less sleep than I would normally prefer). Thankfully the train is only an “IC” (Intercity) and not an “ICE” (Intercity Express) though this train goes no less fast. The problem it seems normally with ICE's is that there are a TON of passengers on it who are noisy and loud (people on vacation or school kids on class trips) and therefore they're not the most restful traveling experience for multiple-hour trips. However, this “IC”, the first one I've been on actually, seems to be very sparsely populated, and filled with business travelers (thank God!) of the very quiet sort. So, I might actually get some rest on the 5 hour trip after all.
Regarding today's game plan…

Saarbruecken!

(Note: This post was supposed to appear on the 27th of July, so please do excuse my tardiness in posting it now, I just have been swamped lately with getting things up on the blog.)


I had an audition on Monday of this week, the 26th, in Saarbruecken, which is located approximately 4 hours southwest of Dortmund by car and is the capital of the state of Saarland. The audition was for an Opera studio in the region of Saarland and Luxembourg (the country--Saarbruecken is right near the border of Germany and Luxembourg) and in particular for the opera by Jacques Offenbach called 'Ba-Ta-Clan'.

I actually received the invitation to this audition from my successful audition in Stuttgart with the ZAV (office for unemployed opera singers, basically) and he then recommended me to the conductor who was looking for singers for this program. The caveat of my being able to audition was being able to speak French in the audition (as the productions would be taking place in both French and …

What do Opera Singers DO all day long?

That question has been asked of me by many a person, and many a non-opera singer (of course). I'd like to use this post to debunk any and all myths associated with being an Opera singer and rid the minds of the masses of the perception that this career is easy, or that there is enough to do to maintain it in only 3-4 hours per day. 
If you have Opera singer friends, or family members, then you already know that Opera singing is really a very time-consuming and demanding profession. Just ask my boyfriend- I've got plenty of work; he nearly has to pry me off the computer at night just to get me to sleep. So, what is it that takes up all of this time, you might ask? Well, let's hack away at this answer categorically, shall we?
First, there is the necessary musical preparation that takes at least 3-4 hours per day (and I am talking here just about sitting at the piano and going through your music note-by-note). Normally for me, I practice singing full-voice for approxi…

On The Death of Dame Joan Sutherland: Ode to Joan

On October 10th, a very superb singer, and I'm told just as excellent a human being, was lost to the world and the Opera community. Joan Sutherland, a Soprano, of the Dramatic Coloratura variety, died at her home in Switzerland at the age of 83.
Instead of exploring the tragedy of this death, I would like to take this time to explain to many of you who might not have known her work quite so well, why she was amazing at what she did, and why this particular loss, is quite a meaningful loss to myself.
Joan Sutherland was a legend even in her own time (and let's face it, that's an accomplishment when such luminaries as Mozart had a difficult time doing that while still alive). She was married to the famous conductor, Richard Bonynge and she grew up in Austrailia before gaining her first big success at the Royal Opera House in London and then subsequently moving to Brooklyn with her husband where she lived for quite a long time during her many numerous collaborations with t…

Further Rotterdam Photo Introspection

A good friend of mine, Dan, whose informative and interesting music journalism blog can be found at: http://postpostrock.wordpress.com/ , was very kind to provide me with information about those cool things that I took a photo of in Rotterdam that looked like bubbles sitting on the water in the harbor.  His addition is as follows:

...those odd "floating," semi-transparent structures are geodesic domes, which were patented by the visionary American architect and inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller.  Interestingly enough, one of SU's architecture profs gave the arts journalism folks a seminar all about  B. Fuller and and his designs--really futuristic stuff worth checking out.  Even more intriguing is the indirect music connection.  Fuller once taught at the short-lived Black Mountain College, an arts-centric liberal arts school considered very progressive for its time.  Other guest teachers included John Cage, Lou Harrison, and Merce Cunningham.  It was kind of …

Ford's Snazzy German Advertising Adding Spunk to Autobahn Experience!

On the back of a large tractor-trailer recently, I saw a very interesting and fun ad from Ford Motors, the owner of the tractor-trailer, presumably.
It was a picture of a red Ford Mustang with racing stripes and over the picture it said, “Klar, den haetten sie lieber vor sich”. And what is funny about that to those of you who don't speak German, is that the following things could be implied by this sentence: 1- Perhaps Ford was suggesting that if that Mustang was driving in front of you, it wouldn't be as slow as this truck is right now. 2- They might also be imagining that it would be nicer to look at then a truck. 3- Or, they could always be conjecturing that if the Mustang was in front of you on the Autobahn you'd be safer then if it was behind you (driving at high speeds and running you down since you'd be driving at the normal rate of only 120km/hr).
At any rate, great advertising on Ford's part, and thanks to them for the Autobahn Amusement!

ACK!!! The pianos are 'geschlossen'!!! Um Gottes willen......!

So, lately I have been encountering what seem to be roadbumps along the path of success.  And the most recent is actually the lack of practice rooms with pianos available to me in Dortmund.  I have asked everyone that I know, and I am now desperately begging churches and public spaces in Dortmund with pianos if I may somehow have access to those pianos when they are not otherwise employed, because the pianos that I was happily using, without bothering anyone else of course, have now all been securely locked to those who are not music students at the Technische Universitaet Dortmund.  To which, I say a firm and resolute "DRAT!"

Therefore, plan B, which has yet to come into existence of course, must be quickly enacted, otherwise, as they say in America and NOT in Germany, "I am f*cked!" for my upcoming auditions.  Because of the urgent nature of such a situation, and possibly the knowledge of you, dear Readers, I am asking anyone who knows anything about possible pia…

Rotterdam Road Trip!

So, normally on any given Sunday  in America I wouldn't have the chance to visit another country within a day's drive of where I live in Pennsylvania.  Yesterday, I found out that this was not the case if I live in Germany.  Or, I guess, for that matter, many locations in Central Europe.

Yes, yesterday I was able to drive two hours (or, rather, ride as a passenger) to the lovely city of Rotterdam where I visited my lovely friend Ashley and her beautiful family and then when almost compelled to begin the drive back to Germany was instead persuaded by my adventurous boyfriend to explore the city further for a few more hours as the daylight dwindled.

Luckily, he had the right idea with that instinct.  We were able to see a lot of things, even though it was a Sunday in the later part of the afternoon, which I automatically consider the most un-tourist-friendly time of day in European cities.  And, who can blame them?   I understand that at least once a week it is nice to get a br…

Back in Germany and Ready for Audition Season!

Hello Dear Friends/Family and those of you who belong in none of the above categories, but still simply subscribe to read about my zany operatic life and adventures:

I am lucky enough to have arrived in Germany safely on Thursday morning (9/9/10) in Duesseldorf International Airport and survived my relatively quiet and stress-free flight from JFK on Wednesday night (and there were no screaming babies or people kicking me in the back of my seat- and it was AIR-BERLIN- can you believe it?!).  At any rate, I am slated for a few important auditions coming up here in Germany and I am excited and prepared for some wonderful experiences.  I will be posting entries on this blog as often as possible (I will try to go back to my 1 post per every 3 days rule from earlier this year), but if I haven't posted anything in a few days, I might be traveling to or from an audition and have no mobile internet access.  If that is the case, please be patient, and something fun/informative, or both, wil…

Julia's New Posts Will Be Back Soon!

This is just a quick message to all of you, Dear Readers, that I will be back to posting at this website in the middle of September, since I am currently working very diligently on completing many applications for the fall audition season in Germany and America.  Wish me luck! (No really, good luck wishes are very much appreciated!!) And I hope, of course, that you all are enjoying a wonderful summer and are excited for the next post when I am finished these applications.  So, I'll be in touch soon, or as they say in German, Bis bald!

Still Leben Ruhr 2010

Last Sunday, July 18th, I was not expecting anything extraordinary to happen. I woke up, ate breakfast and got dressed. My boyfriend wanted to visit some 'world's longest picnic on the Autobahn' or whatever it was he was talking about excitedly a few weeks ago, so that was on the agenda, as well as getting some more practical work finished for my upcoming auditions and voice program in August. Naturally, my curiousity was peaked when he had mentioned something like this a while ago, but normally highways and picnic tables don't provide my imagination with a feeding frenzy of zany imagines, so, I simply thought, okay, let's see.
Honestly, the idea of this whole project didn't sound all that exciting: the Ruhr area decides to close a major highway on a Sunday in July to open it for pedestrians and picnic tables on the one side and bicyclists and skaters on the other side. Doesn't really bring to mind the next Woodstock or Lallapalooza, does it? Especiall…

Lotte Lehmann Akademie in Perleberg coming up!

Hope you all are doing wonderfully and just wanted to update you that I will be unavailable to be on the internet and updating the blog from August 1st through August 8th but that I will be back online once I get back to the USA on August 10th. Don't worry- just because I won't be in Germany at that point, you can still check on the blog here for all of your Julia's-singing-life-and-life-in-general updates. I will be posting whatever strikes my fancy in terms of musical interest or otherwise. ;)

But, be aware- this isn't the last post until that time- I just wanted to be kind and alert you all ahead of time! So, the posts will keep coming until August 1st, 2010 and then after August 10th!

Just in case you are wondering what this program actually is, and why I will be taking part in it from August 1-8th, have no fear, the explanation is here! (What can I say? I like rhyming!)

The Lotte Lehmann Akademie is a program that is held in Perleberg, Germany this year (and I a…

Success in Stuttgart!

So, I have been notoriously bad at keeping abreast of the wave of things that have been happening here lately, however, I am making it up to you all right now by filling you in!

This post will be dedicated to my positive experience in Stuttgart at an audition for their Bundesagentur fuer Kuenstlervermittlung (which covers the German States of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz, and that's it--I think!) and which is basically a different branch of the same government agency that I visited in Cologne in June, but only covers the regions listed above in the parentheses.

This particular experience was much MUCH easier and enjoyable than the one in Cologne from the very beginning. It was a four-hour drive to Stuttgart (closer to 4.5 more likely) and it was a gorgeous day! The sun was shining, it was hot and the sky was blue- so far, so good. Then, miraculously, we did not encounter a single traffic jam on the way there (which is a miracle considering that summer is the…