So, you might have figured out by now that I love opera. I know, just more evidence of my nerdiness. But boy, there is nothing like being immersed in Mozart or Offenbach or Handel for three hours...the music, the drama, the artistry, the costumes and sets.
When I was pregnant with Saskia I listened exclusively to classical music CDs -- instrumental music and opera -- at home and in the car, and I listened A LOT. (These days I listen mostly to NPR in the car -- I don't know why the change.) Then when she was born, the same -- lots of opera, and lots of Mendelssohn and and Bruch, as I recall. So she got an earful of it.
Two of my favorite Saskia stories are these:
1) When Saskia was three or so she used to DEMAND Mozart's (amazing) Don Giovanni EVERY TIME we got into the car. I happily obliged, because listening to Mozart is like reading Shakespeare or Dickens: you can do it over and over and notice something new each time. You keep being surprised and amazed, and somehow it always seems fresh. So, OK -- I indulged her.
One day, though, I had this rogue thought. Maybe, because I'm just a tad tired of Don Giovanni, I will sneak in The Marriage of Figaro. She is three, and she will never know the difference.
So I popped in Figaro, making sure NOT to start with the overture, because I figured she would recognize THAT as non-Don Giovanni. I think I started with "Porgi Amor" at the beginning of Act II.
And you know what? within two or three measures, an indignant Saskia cried, "THAT IS NOT DON GIOVANNI!"
Well. The funny thing is, there is nothing remotely like "Porgi Amor," the Countess's melancholy aria, in Don Giovanni. Because Figaro and DG are quite different, as it turns out. That kid was spot on, and I hastily ejected Figaro and popped in Don Giovanni.
2) Around the same time my parents took us to visit friends, accomplished musicians, in Saratoga Springs. They are the owners of a music performance venue, Alsop Hall, and they are the parents of the distinguished conductor Marin Alsop. Mr. Alsop invited me to take Saskia around the very cool house. On one wall was an enormous picture of Marin, conducting. Saskia stopped and stared at the picture, and I said, "That's Mr. Alsop's daughter. Her name is Marin."
Saskia looked a while longer, and then turned to me and said coolly, "That's a nice name. But I like Figaro better."
Obviously, this kid was born to be an opera singer. When she was in second grade and could carry a tune about 60% of the time, I convinced her it would be awesomely cool to join Boston Children's Opera (no longer operating, unfortunately). She agreed, and for the next three or so years performed in operas written for and performed by children. The directors of the program were singers, and wrote the operas.
Saskia was pretty darn good.
But then something happened. She became a tween. And she decided opera and all classical music was for the birds. She practically DIED of embarrassment if a friend of hers was in the car and I put on the classical station.
Fast forward to thirteen point five. She was singing ALL THE TIME, with this amazing coloratura soprano voice, vibrato and all, and I when I asked her if she'd like voice lessons she screamed "YES!!!"
And now, after a year of voice lessons she sounds almost like a professional classical singer. More amazingly -- hold onto your hats! -- she wants to be an opera singer. She's singing Italian and German arias, and she BLOWS ME AWAY.
A couple of weeks ago, she auditioned for the Pre-College Academy run for serious high school musicians by one the the conservatories in Boston, and she wowed them.
They accepted her and she will start in September. Every Saturday for four or five hours she will go into Boston and study theory and voice. And she, and Lars, and I, are so damn excited.
We're hoping hoping hoping financial aid comes through (if not us, then who??). If not she will have to use her remaining bat mitzvah money to pay for a chunk of it. And as for the next three years, we'll have to cross our fingers and wait and see.
Cool beans, Saskia. We're proud of you!