I love learning a new piece of music. It feels it's like getting a present, it's an adventure! The first thing I always do is scan the whole piece (I won't admit it's looking for high notes), and it feels as if I'm opening the present without reading the card. The Auction is a brand new opera, John Burge is still composing some of the parts as I am writing this. Yes, the premiere at Westben is June 29 and we'll all be ready! John and librettist Eugene Benson have composed an aria for me in the second act that is beautiful, challenging, funny, entertaining, sad and for sure, moving. After reading the text, I always try and play through the aria first on the piano to hear the harmonies and how the accompaniment and vocal line fit together. It makes it easier on my voice if I learn the notes with my inner ear before actually singing them. After working the song into my voice, the massaging of the text and the music is very interesting to me and every day ideas on the interpretation can change. I have to say when I sang this particular aria through for the first time, I was moved by the honesty of the mother character as she tells her son Todd, about her hopes and dreams and how over the years they have changed.