Happy weekend!

My dears, what do you have planned for this weekend? Is it flying home to be with your husband and your cat for an entire MONTH? No, wait, that's me!! I'm a little over-excited about it. I'm already scheduling lots of Houston things, starting with Photo Day at the Zoo.

While I'm blissfully reuniting, some links for you:

Kim is writing a series of posts about auditioning based on reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance over on the Wolf Trap blog. Thought-provoking even for those of us who (thank God) don't audition for a living.

A round-up of Elisir reviews, all from the same performance, proof of how very subjective the art of reviewing is.

90 days, 90 reasons

I'm dying to see E.T. in a movie theatre next Wednesday! Will you go (and eat Reese's Pieces)?

Our friend Isabel is featured in the latest Opera News. Isn't she lovely?

Here's a blurry picture from opening night, taken from the Grand Tier. So many pretty dresses!

Hope your weekend is filled with cappuccinos, snuggly kitties, and sweater weather. xoxo LMB

A few things I've been trying

Writing gratitude emails to CM every night
A few weeks ago we realized we were getting very grumpy and complainy, about work, about being apart, about little things that didn't matter. I've been wanting to start some kind of gratitude practice for a while, and recently I read this and was re-inspired. I've seen a lot of people sharing daily lists of what they're grateful for on their blogs, but I wanted the option to write personal or work-related things that I'm not able to share here. I knew, however, that if left to my own devices, I would never write things down on my own. So, I roped CM into joining me, and we've been emailing each other nightly with a list of 3 grateful-making things from the day. I like it. How do you remind yourself of the good things that happen each day?


Taking iPhone photos
I love my beautiful camera, and I love taking pictures, but after this summer's travels I wasn't loving lugging around my big camera bag everywhere I went. Plus, I have hundreds of photos to go through and edit (someday I'll show you the glories of Aix-en-Provence and Brussels, I promise). So I made the angst-filled decision to leave my camera at home when I went to New York this fall. In the interest of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, I've been taking lots of pictures anyway, but exclusively with my iPhone. They're not the best photos I've ever taken. Sometimes I miss my camera, like when I'm shooting in low light, or when a wide-angle lens might come in handy (like here). But mostly I'm happy to travel light, to take pictures that are good enough, and to worry less about post-processing. As a result, I'm actually sharing my photos more.


Setting a timer
In college I had a surreal one-time gig in which I drove Bobby McFerrin from his hotel to the conservatory for a concert. I agonized beforehand about what to say to him, whether there were any questions I should ask. In the end I needn't have worried, because he spent almost the entire car ride singing. Scatting nonsense syllables mainly, in a way that didn't leave a lot of room for conversation. Later he told students that he carries a kitchen timer wherever he goes. At the beginning of the day he sets it for 1 hour (I think I'm remembering that correctly), and presses ‘Start’ every time he gets a spare moment to practice. He told us we could never say we didn't have time to practice, because even if you don't have an uninterrupted hour in your day, you can always work in practice time in shorter increments. The lesson stuck with me. I'm trying something similar, although not exactly the same, to buckle down and get some real work done (this MUST be the season I overcome my procrastination habits). Whenever I sit down to work on a task like translating or studying, I've been setting a timer on my phone for 30 minutes and then switching it into airplane mode. I work straight for that time without distractions, and then I allow myself to do something else for a few minutes. It's called the Pomodoro Technique, and I'm loving it. Having a self-imposed time limit makes me work more efficiently, and I'm not tempted to check my watch (or my email) nearly as often.

What new things are you trying?

A sweet surprise

I keep a post office box in New York so I can receive mail while I'm here. (Oddly, mail carriers sometimes have a hard time finding the Met—how is that possible???) Yesterday when I checked it there was the sweetest letterpress card from CM in there. He sent it using the Apple Cards app!

There are lots of templates to choose from. CM chose the most romantic one (of course). The paper is lovely quality and oh, I'm such a sucker for anything letterpressed, aren't you?

Inside he chose a picture of us from our morning in Florence this summer, and he included a sweet note.

He was able to design and send the whole thing from his iPhone (or maybe he used his iPad)! Each card costs $2.99 (or $4.99 to send internationally) including postage. It gets created and sent automatically without you having to make any visits to a mailbox.

Now I'm thinking of all the people I could send cards to. Maybe it's the perfect way to keep our parents updated on the activities of their grandkitty?

Sundays in New York: Discovering Columbus

In one of the more bizarre (and awesome) things I have done in New York, on Sunday I went to see the Discovering Columbus art installation. Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi (one of several pseudonyms) built and furnished a living room around the statue of Christopher Columbus that stands in Columbus Circle. The living room sits atop a tall scaffolding, so you climb about 6 flights of stairs to get to it (they also have an elevator if stairs are a problem).

Once you're in the living room, you can explore the space, sitting on the furniture, reading the books and magazines, watching TV, and looking out the windows at the gorgeous views in every direction. And taking pictures, of course. The only thing you're not allowed to do is touch the statue. That seems reasonable, given that it's 120 years old.

They let only about 20 people into the living room at any time, so it's not too crowded, particularly since the living room is larger than almost every Manhattan apartment I've ever visited.

The exhibition runs through November 18. Tickets are free, but you need timed entry passes, which you can get here. I highly recommend it, if only for the view.

The artist specializes in building around iconic sculptures. Sometimes he builds hotel rooms you can actually stay overnight in! How cool would it be to go to this one in Ghent, Belgium?

All photos by LMB

It's the day of the show, y'all

Tonight is the opening of L'Elisir d'Amore, which is the opening of the Met 2012-13 season as well as the first opening night of my season. Of course, I got started a while ago—I've been in tech and/or rehearsals for the past 7 weeks—but tonight is still momentous, the official launching of another opera season.

Interested in being a part of it? If you don't have a ticket for tonight's performance, you can watch it on the big screens at Lincoln Center Plaza and Times Square, or you can stream audio live on the Met's website. You can also check out photos from the production here.

Thus kicks off the busiest season I've had so far, with (at last count) 8 more opening nights to go. I'll be celebrating tonight with champagne and a slinky cocktail dress. Won't you make a toast, wherever you are?

Happy weekend!

Well, my dears, what do you have planned for this gorgeous fall weekend? It's my last weekend in New York for a while(!), so I'm taking advantage by fitting in some much-needed girl time and checking out this rad art installation.

While I'm climbing 8 flights of stairs, some links for you:

Very excited about this book!

But even more excited about this!!

I want to go everywhere on this list. CM and I went to the Campbell Apartment last spring and loved it, and we actually randomly went to the Norwood Club once (I wish we were members), but all the rest are new to me.

New Fitbits! What are you waiting for?

My favorite eggs. (Particularly delicious fried in my favorite butter.)

I watched this video and then immediately donated. Yowza.

Have you liked LMB on Facebook yet?

CM sent me this ridiculous picture of the Bossy Cat on his lap. Apparently she was "drunk from too much brushing." She's so spoiled.

Hope your weekend is full of sweater weather, decadent meals, and girlfriends! xoxo LMB

First Anniversary Gift Guide

In the midst of our European adventures this summer, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary (all about the wedding here). We decided it might be fun to give each other gifts each year according to tradition, so this year's theme was Paper. Here's a mini gift guide of ideas for first anniversary gifts.

CM surprised me with this print I had been eyeing from our favorite little shop near Glyndebourne. Now it's hanging in our living room.

I had letterpressed notecards made for CM by the lovely people at Penelope's Press. He's already used some of them!

You can't go wrong with a photo album of your wedding, or your honeymoon, or your first year as boring married people. I love the albums at Pinhole Press—I made a wedding album for CM's birthday last year and we love paging through it.

That's not us. From here.

I love this print, and framed it would make a perfect gift for your partner in crime.

How about a giant blown up photo of your wedding day or a place that's meaningful to you both? I love what Jenny did, and it looks like a DIY project I could actually D.

Via Little Green Notebook

These paper cuts are amazing. What better way to commemorate your honeymoon in Paris, or your first date in Manhattan?

What kind of gifts do you give for anniversaries? Would you follow the yearly traditions? Or is it (just a little, in a good way) cheesy?

Seeking NYC sublet

Friends, I'm hoping you can help me out. I am in search of a place to live November 1–January 1 in New York. I've been hugely lucky in the past with finding sublets easily and quickly, but I haven't found one yet for this period, so I'm putting the word out.

My perfect sublet:

  • is within walking distance of Lincoln Center. I love being able to walk to and from work—it clears my head. However, if it's not that close it must be convenient to the 123 or ABCD subway lines.
  • is fully furnished. It's hard enough to pack a suitcase for 2 months without having to pack towels, too.
  • is a 1-bedroom or a spacious studio.
  • has on-site laundry.
  • is comfortable and cozy enough for CM and I to spend Christmas there.

I'm an excellent, reliable tenant. I (sadly) never throw parties, wild or otherwise. I'm tidy. I'm quiet. And I love cats, so a cat-sitting situation would be fine, too.

Any leads? If so, you can email me: littlemsbossyblog@gmail.com. And feel free to pass this one to friends.

Thank you!!

Bossy Essentials: Drugstore faves

Photo via

I confess, I am a girly girl, and I love me some beauty products. At the moment I'm ignoring Sephora's siren song—we are budgeting! That doesn't mean a total moratorium on shopping, however. Forthwith, my favorite (cheap!) products found at your local drugstore. Won't you share your faves in the comments?

Neutrogena Body Oil: I use this every day right after my shower, and it makes my skin soft all day long. Also great as a bath oil.

CoverGirl Liquiline Blast Eyeliner: My favorite eyeliner, especially in "Violet Voltage."

Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes: No matter how many expensive cleansers I buy, I cannot for the life of me make myself wash my face before bed. These are much faster and easier, and they don't have to be packed in a clear zip-loc bag when I'm traveling. I also like these when I want a change.

Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream: I love the way my skin feels the next morning after using this.

Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Soaking Solution: I love a good bath, but bath salts can be so expensive! This giant bag is cheap but gives you exactly what you need—lovely scents and the healing powers of epsom salts.

Frizz-Ease Secret Weapon: I swear by this finishing cream, which smoothes flyaways and makes hair shiny. And you need such a tiny amount that a bottle will last a long long time.

Music to run by

I've started running again. The NYC weather is too gorgeous, and the Hudson River running path too convenient not to. CM read somewhere that once you've built up to running about 3 miles regularly, you'll always have a base to rely on, even if you stop running for a long time. I think that must be true, because it's been months since I was running regularly and yet my body seems to remember how to do it. In the past, trying to start running after any time away has felt pretty much like death; maybe I just didn't have enough of a base.

I use the Nike+ Running app on my iPhone to track my runs. I have a running playlist filled with the usual suspects: Beyonce, Britney, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, etc. Your basic heart-pumping dance mix. It works for me. However, since last spring the Nike people have changed around the app a bunch, and it took me a few days to figure out exactly how to use it. Which is how I ended up with my music library on Shuffle by mistake during a run last week. Meaning I ran to a soundtrack of my opera season's greatest hits.

When "Che soave fanciulla" came on, I was tempted to stop running and figure out how to get back to "All the single ladies," but then I realized that listening to Bohème was actually distracting me from the fact that I was running (which, let's be honest, is the point of listening to anything at all while working out).

One of my colleagues had a professor in grad school who said that when you're working on a play, you should read it all the time, in as many different settings as possible. Read it right before you go to sleep, read it first thing in the morning, read it at the gym, read it over lunch. That way you absorb the play, and you start seeing it differently depending on the context. Surely that's a good way to go about immersing yourself in an opera, too, and it's actually easier to do with music, since when it's on you can listen as actively or as passively as you want to.

I'm learning a lot of repertoire this year, most of it for work but some of it just because I want to know more operas. It's a busy year (have to keep reminding myself that's a GOOD thing), and my usual procrastinating ways are not going to fly. So it seems a little multi-tasking on the running trail might be just what I need. I'm not ready to give up my running playlist entirely, but once a week I think I'll try forgoing it in favor of a little opera instead.

What do you listen to while running? And how do you fit in time for studying?

Happy weekend!

My dears, what are you up to this weekend? After a whirlwind couple of days in Chicago, I'm heading back to New York tomorrow on a freakishly early flight to make it to an Elisir dress rehearsal. Then I think I will sleep for a very long time, though I'll be sure to wake up in time for a Sunday adventure, of course.

For your weekend:

This makes me happy.

Also this.

Have you seen this hilarious video? I laugh every time I watch it.

A friend of mine swears that the book based on this article changed the way she thought about dating. What do you think?

I read this book in a day and loved it. As expected.

Chicago is so beautiful! I forgot how much I love this town.

Hope your weekend is full of blue skies, city walks, and plenty of sleep! xoxo LMB

Decisions, decisions

I'm in Chicago for a couple days teching Bohème. It's pretty great. Right now, though, after 11 hours of almost nonstop decision-making, I am going to bed because I'm completely exhausted. Or, according to CameraMan, DRUNK WITH POWER.

Speaking of which, my picture is on the roster among pictures of fancy people. Can you see it? Pinch me, please.

Tchin tchin

I went to a fabulous dinner party thrown by a friend on Saturday night. The food was completely amazing (all FIVE courses of it), and the conversation was stimulating. It was a lively mix of opera folks and civilians, all of us naturally chatty.

Here was my favorite part of the night. At every dinner party he hosts, my friend pours champagne before dessert, and everyone is required to give a toast. It sounds slightly terrifying, I know, but I loved it. First of all, right before dessert is late enough in the evening that everyone has gotten to know each other (and had a fair amount of wine). Plus, there's something special about going around the table and letting each person have a moment to speak. I'll remember the toasts we made that night for a long time. Also the chocolate cake with salted caramel filling.

I'm thinking about adopting a tradition for our dinner parties. What should it be? Usually I just hope the food will turn out okay. Do you do anything special at dinner parties to commemorate the evening?

Je ne parle pas français

This summer we started out our Adventures in Foreign Languages in a familiar place—Vienna—where both CM and I felt proud of how much we remembered and how easily we were able to drop back into German. Then we moved on to Italy, where we spoke serviceable Italian to waiters and post office employees. We might have gotten a little cocky. Our next stop was France, and the first French person who spoke to us got nothing but blank looks from us. It became abundantly clear: we do not speak French.

So obviously my first European gig is in Geneva, Switzerland. And it starts 6 months from now.

I'm working on it. Rosetta Stone, flash cardsthis workbook and this one. I'm planning to take a class at the Alliance Française this winter, and maybe do some private tutoring as well. I'm scared.

To put it into perspective, I'm relying on stories of those much braver than I. Like Mama Bossy, who studied as a foreign exchange student in Finnland after high school, just because she wanted a challenge (her 4 years of concurrent French and Spanish classes weren't enough for her, apparently). Or CameraMan, who moved to Vienna and worked for a year in what previously had been his weakest language. Or Legs McGee, who has just moved to Moscow for a year on a Fulbright grant and is starting work at the Bolshoi (read all about her adventures here!).

After all, French is "easy."

From here

Any hot tips on learning French? I'll take them!

Sundays in New York: Smorgasburg

For this week's Sunday adventure I headed down to Brooklyn with The Banker to go to the first day of Smorgasburg in DUMBO (for those of you unfamiliar, that stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and it's a tiny slice of Brooklyn right across from Manhattan). Smorgasburg is a large market of amazing artisanal food stands. On Saturdays it's at the Brooklyn Flea Market, but starting yesterday and running through November 18, on Sundays it's at the Tobacco Warehouse in DUMBO.

We took the A train to High St in Brooklyn and then meandered through the neighborhood, making a stop at the P.S. Bookshop, a fantastic place to peruse used books. Then we headed over to Smorgasburg. There's a lot of food there, and it all looks incredible. We made a round to decide what we wanted, and then we dove in. It started at 11, and by the time we got there around 1:30 a few things were just starting to sell out. I imagine in subsequent weeks they'll judge better how many people to expect. We ate the following:

Strawberry lemonade and grilled cheese from Milk Truck

Duck spring rolls from Lumpia Shack

Porchetta sandwich from Porchetta

Watermelon shaved ice from People's Pops

Lemon poppyseed doughnut from Dough

Everything was so delicious, and there were about 20 other things we wanted to try. I think a return trip is in order. Next time I'll wear sunscreen.

We found a shady patch of grass to eat our lunch and then wandered down to the water to look at the incredible views from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The Banker, my date for the day

This gorgeous weather makes for some mighty pleasant adventuring. I'm already plotting how to spend next Sunday. How was your weekend?

All photos by LMB

Happy weekend!

What are you planning for this weekend? One last beach trip? Picnics in the park? I'll be in a dark theatre working for much of the time, but I'm going to a fun dinner party tomorrow night and heading out for more NYC adventures on Sunday.

When you're lazing around this weekend, check out these links:

I wish Jenny & Andy were our friends.

Wishing for this.

I love everything about this.

CM made this for me when I was home. Delicious!

We saw this movie last weekend and loved it.

The Bossy Cat was VERY happy to see me last weekend.

Hoping your weekend is filled with warm nights, iced coffee, and long walks home. xoxo LMB


It is practically impossible to choose presents for my mother. She doesn't wear things like scarves or jewelry. She's only mildly excited by bath products. Her cupboards are full to bursting with dishes and kitchen gadgets. For birthdays and Christmases, I tend to fall back on the standard books, CDs, and DVDs, with the occasional tickets to something thrown in.

Last Christmas I tried a variation. I gave her one book and told her it was the first monthly installment of a Book-of-the-Month Club. There's no formal club, of course—I've just been sending her a book I like once a month through Amazon. We tend to have a lot of the same tastes in books, and I love choosing what to send each month. Sometimes we talk about what we've read and sometimes we don't, but I like knowing that we have these shared books in common.

I'm enjoying my DIY Of-the-Month Club, but I'm intrigued by these other, more organized clubs as well—perfect for gifting (or treating yoself).

Birchbox: For $10 a month, you get a box of deluxe samples of beauty products every month. Perfect for the girly girls in your life.

Bacon of the Month: Yes…just…yes. Perfect for the bacon lovers in your life. So, everyone.

Mistobox: Delivers special artisan coffee samples every month. Seems like a good way to enable the caffeine addicts in your life.

Harry & David: The original Fruit-of-the-Month Clubs. I used to ask for this every year for Christmas, and every year my mother would remind me that I am never anywhere for 12 months straight to receive crates of fruit. (This is, oddly, the same argument CM gives for not letting me get a kitten.) So practical. Sigh.

Home on the Road: Anthony Roth Costanzo

Home on the Road is a series in which I interview opera professionals about how they survive their nomadic lives. You can find previous interviews here.

Photo by Matthu Placek
I'm so very pleased to present a new Home on the Road with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. I first worked with Anthony during his Met debut last season in Rodelinda, and it's no exaggeration to say that he is delightful in every way. Besides being immensely talented, he is a supportive and engaged colleague and one of those magical people who specialize in bringing people together.

Anthony started traveling for work when he was still a child, and he's been on the road for varying portions of time ever since. This past year he's been very happy to have work in New York, where he lives, but he was on the road for about 3 months total, shipping out to destinations such as Toronto, San Francisco, North Carolina, and Beijing (where he won 1st prize at Operalia!).

LMB: Do you have any stuff that you always bring with you when you travel to make your temporary home feel more like a real one? Or any special routines to help you acclimate quickly in a new place?

ARC: I remember when I had just turned 18, I went to visit a friend of mine who was making a movie in Paris. She had been making movies since she was a little girl and had developed a strategy to make the various apartments and hotel rooms feel like home. When I walked in the door, I saw that she had draped colorful scarves over all the lamp shades. Confronted with my quizzical gaze, she explained that she brought the scarves with her all over the world and draped them over lamps, chairs, and sometimes hotel art to make any room feel more like home. I thought to myself that if I ever had a career that took me around the world, I would develop a comparable routine. Alas, no decorative scarves have entered my routine. However, for years I have been bringing portable speakers with me on the road to play music from my iPod, phone, or computer. I find that after a long day of rehearsal, or on the night before a performance, I can create a familiar atmosphere by filling a room with Ella Fitzgerald or Terri Gross. 

I have also learned that it is very important to always unpack my suitcase. This sounds extremely basic, but when we pop from place to place, it can be tempting to leave things folded inside a suitcase and shut it in the closet. Who wants to take the time to unpack after a long day of travel anyway? But when I force myself to put underwear in a drawer or shirts on hangers before I go to bed, I wake up feeling much more acclimated. Similarly, whenever I arrive home, I always put every article in the suitcase in its proper place immediately. Even (and especially) if I'm just home for a few days, I find that it is psychologically very important to feel completely settled, as if I'd been home for many months. 

LMB: You once told me you have a great system for packing for a gig. Will you share it?

ARC: I think you may be referring to my absolutely ridiculous and lazy system for packing for a gig. I sometimes lay out all the shirts, jackets, suits, and pants I want to bring on my bed, each on their respective hanger. I fold the whole stack in thirds and shove the pile into a duffle bag, hangers and all. The hangers are of course heavy and take up a lot of space. However, the advantage of this system is that there is NO ACTUAL FOLDING involved. If I had to fold all of those things individually it would take me the better part of a day (I may or may not be an OCD folder). When I arrive at my destination, I unzip the suitcase, hook my finger into the curve of the hangers and with one fell swoop, I am unpacked. I also find creases resulting from a letter-fold of the whole pile are much easier to get rid of then the creases that result from a bunch of stacked, folded-up clothing that has been compressed for hours on end. 

LMB: You are amazing at meeting people and making friends. Any tips on how you do it when you're away from home and in unfamiliar surroundings?

ARC: While I think it's always fun to find kinship with colleagues, I often try to meet new and interesting people in other fields and walks of life as well. One of the joys of traveling for work so often is discovering the soul of many cities and towns and the characters that inhabit them. Once, I was singing in Turin, Italy, and as I walked home from rehearsal one night, I was humming an ornament to myself. An old, ragged-looking man stopped me to say how much he liked what I was humming. As a New Yorker, my instinct was to keep going and pay him no heed, but he seemed respectful and had a certain authenticity that made me stop and chat. He told me singing was his job as well—in fact, he demonstrated for me how he sang full-throated Italian folk “jingles” in order to sell his wares at the local market. His songs and way of singing them made him the most popular merchant in the square. In Beijing, I encountered a PhD student on the street who studied Chinese history, and who gave me a fascinating tour of the Forbidden City which culminated in meeting the only living descendant of the last emperor. 

I'm as shy as anyone so I have to sometimes force myself to leave the hotel, find an interesting film screening, poetry slam, dessert tasting, antique store, etc. Once I arrive somewhere new I always make an effort to engage strangers about their town and their lives. It takes a good mix of intuition and perseverance to meet the interesting people (I have about a one in ten ratio), but if I stick to the task, I have been known to find some fascinating new friends who can show me the best a city has to offer. 

LMB: You started out performing and traveling for work when you were very young. Are there things you learned early on that have stuck with you and help you in your career today?

ARC: When I was 11 I went on my first Broadway National tour, and I remember that I always used to look forward to “Travel Mondays.” Traveling with a company frequently made flying seem fun, and the occasional bus trip (sometimes in a thirteen-bunk sleeper bus with Marie Osmond and her family), a blast. I have tried to maintain that boyish zeal for the often grueling process of travel. When I was on the road as a kid, it used to take us forever to get through ticketing and security because we traveled in such large groups. One upside of this, which I try to replicate even today, is walking slowly. While this sounds crazy, I find that the faster I have to run to the gate, track, bus, or taxi, the more wiped out I am when I arrive at my destination. I also try to make the process of traveling as fun as it was when I was young by thinking of it as a mini-vacation. Instead of working on a plane, I take that time to read or watch movies. If I had 8 hours to sit at home, I would spend 6 of them accomplishing things, but during travel I can just loaf, which often relaxes me enough to counteract any other negative effects travel may have. 

LMB: In order to have the career that you have, you have to be willing to be away from home a lot of the time. How have you made peace with that? What makes it worthwhile for you?

ARC: More than anything, I truly love the work I'm doing and most of the time it makes leaving home feel like a privilege rather than a chore. I remember hearing mentors at conservatory telling the students, “If you don't have to be an opera singer, don't be one because it's a lot of hassle.” I found that I have to be an opera singer, and thus any discomfort seems secondary. I love the feeling of returning home, rediscovering my house (I find my bedroom looks alternately bigger or smaller depending on how long I've been away), reconnecting with my friends, and trading the stimulation of new experience for the comfort of familiarity. Yet I've also come to enjoy the constant yo-yo between stretching myself to acclimate to new environments and challenges, and being grounded in the atmosphere where I know myself best. 

It can get lonely on the road, and so I have started encouraging friends to come visit me. Often, I save money with weeks of free housing or per diem, and I will often set a little bit of this aside as an import budget. I have been known to buy family and friends who otherwise wouldn't be able to come visit me a plane or bus ticket, and this can completely change my experience of a city. Finally, with each show I do, I find I know more and more colleagues. I have a feeling that the deeper I go into this career, the smaller the circle gets, and before too long, I will have old friends everywhere I go. 

LMB: Any other advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out? Or advice that you did get that has been helpful to you?

ARC: Perhaps this doesn't exactly pertain to the subject at hand, but there is an important piece of advice I got at a crucial juncture: “say something.” As singers, we can get so fixated on our voice, on our physical condition, on whether or not we know our cadenza, on the fact that the conductor has taken an extremely fast tempo, on the doorknob that has just fallen off the door you are supposed to open in front of 4,000 people. But the seeming importance of these things in the moment is dwarfed by the larger responsibility to communicate with the audience, to make them feel something if only for an instant. Traveling around the world diversifies our experience in a very unique way that can often translate into an enriched capacity for expression. When I arrive in a new city, I often have to find myself all over again, and sometimes this means stepping outside my comfort zone. Taking these risks in my life spurs me on to take risks on the stage and create more layered and complex portrayals of characters that frequently are unfathomable to begin with. The challenges, successes, and failures of of this career can only help give us something to say. 

Thank you so much, Anthony! You can find out more about him on his website: www.anthonyrothcostanzo.com. You can also read about him in Opera Newshe was featured on the cover last month!

Three great books about food

My interests/obsessions tend to go in phases, taking my reading habits right along with them. This interest in food and how it intersects with health seems to be lasting longer than usual. Should your interests follow suit, may I recommend the following:

This is the book that started it all for me, and I can say without an ounce of hyperbole that it was life-changing. We have completely transformed the way we eat (with the exception, of course, of a couple pastry-filled European months) due in large part to this book, and both of us feel (and look) better as a result. Read it. You'll like it.

It's no surprise that I love this cookbook, since I adore the blog of the same name and often find the best recipes there. The recipes are organized narratively, and the book is full of no-nonsense tips and tricks to get dinner on the table more often. This will be our go-to for a very long time. 

I just finished reading this book on the plane to Houston, and I found it charming and immensely inspiring. It's written almost entirely in prose (and what beautiful prose it is) with some recipes thrown in, but the book is itself one big recipe for how to cook at home easily and well. The minute I finished it I wanted to start it again.

What's inspiring you these days?


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