Friday, November 03, 2000

Episode XVI: The Singing Wonder

Hello, all you wild and zany friends of mine!

Yes, it is time for another installation of the Adventures of SuperMaren, the collection of true stories about my life.

When last we left our heroine, she was leaping tall buildings with a single bound...well, okay, mostly GAZING at tall buildings from high atop her perch on the 26th floor of the HSBC Tower. What is she doing now? Is she still singing, or has she fallen prey to the evil machinations of her nemesis, Imelda Indolence (who tries to lure superheros into a state of lethargy and sloth so that they no longer want do what they were meant to do)? Let us take a closer look...

Yes, yes, I'm fine. I have been singing here and there at gigs around town. My most recent adventure was singing for the High Holy Days at a synagogue in Deal, NJ. I thought it would be a pretty simple gig...two rehearsals and five performances, no big woop. As many of you already know, sight reading comes very easily to me, and singing in Hebrew is like singing in any other's all written out phonetically, so I just match the syllable to the note.

Unfortunately, several things went wrong with this gig. First, the soprano they hired (I was singing alto in the quartet) was not very good. When she sang, she was tentative at best, which didn't really do very well for group tuning (It's hard to sing harmony when you don't have a melody). Besides that, the guy who hired us all claimed that he did not want to lead us, but then sat in on rehearsals and constantly interrupted our tenor/conductor with redundant nitpicking. Needless to say, rehearsals were not productive at all, and by the time the first performance came around, even after two extra rehearsals, I did not feel at all prepared...especially after the soprano was fired right before the last rehearsal.

The synagogue in Deal has a conservative congregation, and they didn't want any gentiles singing at their services. I found this out after I was introduced as Maren Montebini, the Sephardic non-practicing Jew. They questioned the authenticity of our bass, Hillel Dolgenes, whose father was a rabbi, but the Chinese/English/Scots-Irish/Italian Wiccan sailed right by their scrutiny. Having my name changed actually bothered me more than I thought it would; I didn't realize how important it is that people know it is ME singing, and not some made-up person.

The first part of the service went alright, but then the rabbi (who looked and acted like Napoleon) wanted to sing along with every song...even the songs that were specially arranged for our quartet! It didn't matter that he was singing slower than us or had his face in the microphone or that it was just plain rude...he was in charge, and that's what made it okay. Then of course, there were the congregational hymns, the music to which I did not know because it had not been given to me. I figured I could just look in the book and sing along, but the book was all in Hebrew, and although I can fake pronunciation of the Romance languages, I start stumbling when I read different alphabets. The other singers assured me that it was okay, but the intense humiliation of having to mouth "peas and carrots" in front of 200 people for a professional performance was enough for me to become indignant at the audacity of the person who hired me. If he expected the singers to know the music without being
taught, then he should have hired Jewish singers who have grown up with the music!

...alright, that's enough ranting and raving. Suffice to say, if I get a call for this gig next year (and from what I can tell, they
were very pleased with me), I will charge AT LEAST double what I was paid this year. And they're not changing my name.

This week I just recorded a couple of songs for a CD which will be played at the show "Independence" by Lee Blessing. For those of you in New York, you should definitely go see it. I'm not singing live, but you will hear my voice at intermission, and the show itself is wonderful. Karma Tiffany and Sonda Staley, whom some of you know, are both in it and producing the show.

If you do want to go, here's the info:
Independence by Lee Blessing
Nov. 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 at 8 PM
Nov. 11, 18 at 2 PM
Nov. 12 at 5 PM
American Theater of Actors
314 West 54th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves.), 4th floor
Reservations: 212-946-5554
Tickets: $12; Groups of 5 or more - $8; Groups of 10 or more - $5; $10 with donation of canned goods; $5 with gently used coat for NY Cares.

In other news, my cousin Dave just got married and I sang at his beautiful wedding. It was great to see some relatives I haven't seen for years. And of course, there was an open bar...everyone loves an open bar...not that I got drunk because the bartender was watering the drinks down, but it's the IDEA of the open bar that's good. :)

Other than that, I'm keeping myself busy with work and singing and wonderful boyfriend and trying to keep my room clean. For those of you who keep track and want to send me gifts, cards, or large sums of money, my 26th birthday is on November 19, which is very soon, so don't say I didn't warn you.

I hope you don't mind my egotistical ramblings. I am more than happy to hear from you, and I hope that all is well in your life. Take care, and watch out for Imelda Indolence...she could be anywhere.


P.S. - Don't forget: November 19. My birthday. Just in case you forgot.


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