I had a singer here working with me in NB recently who is just on  the cusp of a professional career. She was heading off to an audition in the US immediately afterward and I happened to casually ask her if she was keeping track of her career details in a diary. She said that while she did journal from time to time to help with personal growth she didn’t keep a performance diary.

I went to my shelves and took down the four books that hold the details of my career. I have certainly kept programs, photos, reviews (or should I say rev -ewwws!), and the like.This is something different. It all began with a little flower covered book that was a gift to me from the wonderful American soprano Patricia Wells in 1991 . It was an opening night gift in Banff on the occasion of my debut in the role of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte. I don’t recall if Pat was the one who encouraged the performance diary or not, I certainly learned lots from her that summer! At any rate, from that point onward I kept a performance diary. The entries are factual and concise. They name the work performed, who performed with me, where, fee, the gown I wore if it was a concert, where I stayed etc. For example:                                                                          

September 27, 2000
Bratislava Music Festival in Slovakia
Concert Hall of the Slovak Philharmonic
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Ivan Fischer conductor
Ravel “Sheherezade”
They played Dvorak 7th Symphony and Dohnanyi “Symphonic Miniatures”
best orchestra I have ever heard!
I rehearsed with them in Budapest.
Rust gown

Concert part of a package with Prague Autumn Festival. Ground transport and hotel provided. Total fee xxxx .

This is a typical entry in my diary and the quote in italics is unusual… they were amazing.I had never heard an orchestra play with such passion and abandon. The gypsy violin playing was clearly in their blood and the brass sound was astonishing. After speaking to the conductor, Ivan Fisher, about my reaction to the playing of his orchestra he said ‘oh, I will take you to hear real gypsy music’. And off we went to an amazing restaurant where we heard the most incredible live music. But I digress!

From my first volume :

April 14, 1993
Audition for Eve Queler ( her NYC apartment)
for the Opera Orchestra of New York
sang “Per pieta” and “Come in quest’ora bruna”
Khaki silk dress

She didn’t hire me.

I also kept track of lessons, their cost, interesting people that I might have met at a reception, a particularly nice or bad place that I stayed etc. It was a very handy reference tool and kept me from breaking that cardinal diva rule:

Thou shalt not show up in the same gown twice!

In all seriousness, the little volumes have been extremely helpful especially this year when I needed to submit a comprehensive performance diary as part of my application to teach at the University of Toronto. I can’t imagine how I would have been able to accomplish this task without my little books…and none of them are black by the way!


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