I'm sure this is not an uncommon thing people have said after interacting with me. It's fine. I'm me, and at the end of the day I at least can laugh at my own jokes, right? haha
All kidding aside, I DO HAVE ISSUES, as we all do. While I'm not going divulge the things that might put me in a shrink's office, I would like to focus on some problems I've had ever since my second year of grad school, but it's progressively gotten worse over time. One of my favorite people in the world happens to also be an emerging artist. Her name is Courtney Ruckman. Check her out. She's fabulous. I met her at my first real opera gig, Opera Coeur d'Alene's outreach tour of Seymour Barab's The Toy Shop. It's a wonderful show and we had a great time driving all over Northern Idaho bringing a story about a guy who makes toys who come to life. That's literal actually. My first aria is me singing to dolls and after my exit Courtney and the tenor came out of the boxes and sang.
One of the things that is wonderful and also extremely terrible about being a touring musician, especially a singer, is the show "process" in many ways is like a summer camp. You often go to a place you've never been to before, meet people from all over the place of varying backgrounds, you're only there for a short time, and then you more than likely never will see each other again or for a very long time. Inevitably through your shared experience, you bond with those at camp. Some potentially strange alliances are made, but nonetheless, you forge relationships that can potentially last a very long time. The only saving grace of being in 2016 is you can still keep in contact through social media. Courtney and I stayed in contact after the show and even though years have passed, and both of us have moved around after our stay in CDA, we regularly text each other.
Our conversations mostly revolve around singing, music, how to navigate this bitch of a career, working out, and making fun of her dogs, especially Baker. While I don't have the actual data, I would have to say (and I'm pretty sure she would agree) that the thing I most often say to her is something to the effect "Courtney, I have this amazing idea..." and then I spew about the idea du jour for me. Thankfully, she's one of my levelheaded and practical friends and gives me advice with my best interest in mind. I'm an idea guy. I think big. I really think some of my ideas could help classical music and especially opera gain the place in our culture it deserves. Maybe even convert the whole world to it. Did I just operavangelize? Yes, I did. And yes, I'm pretty sure I'm the first person to use that term. Sometimes I wonder why I'm blessed with this brain. ;)
This is not meant to be an egotistical statement, because as Courtney can attest, it's an issue. I have so many ideas, not all good but most are fairly decent or better, that I can't sit down and do just one. This is why I do so many recitals, aside from making a little money on the side. It's an outlet for me to use that creative intuition and have it come to fruition. It allows me to check some of the boxes off on the to-do list. I have other ideas in there/on the table that take more than myself to make happen, and thankfully I have some friends who see my vision and want to help me bring it to the world. Hopefully those ideas will work. If not, there are definitely worse things.
Another issue I have is a common one for singers at some point. When does one finally say, "enough. I'm just going to be me and let the chips fall where they fall." Throughout our training we learn what is right and wrong. Then we go to a different source (teacher, coach, director, conductor, etc...) and they give their thoughts which may contradict what you had previously learned. Some days I ask the question, "who am I actually performing this for?" Depending on your performance and interpretation, that can vary dramatically.
For example, if you take a more academic approach, often the result is a stale performance, but it was technically what was on the page and in theory what the composer wanted (if the markings are the actual composer's markings). If you go off of the conductor and/or director's vision, that may not speak/make sense to you, be what the composer wanted, or what is traditionally done. If you do it solely to sell tickets, you can find yourself way off base from the tradition/composer's ideas if you're not careful, and the production can take away from the power of a piece. If you do it strictly based on yourself and your interpretation it will be satisfying to you, but possibly only you. On top of all of this, I really wonder how much the composer's really care are about how it's done or rather that there music is still performed and appreciated well after their death and compositional trademarks have faded.
So I wrestle with all of these things any time I am in a show, whether or not it's a solo or group performance. While there's a lot to be said about all of that, one thing I've learned is that Bill Shakespeare guy got it right - "To thine own self, be true". If you can't feel truth speaking from you in your performance, it will only be satisfying to you and the audience to a certain degree. Did I mess with a rhythm there? Yes. Did I affect the text a certain way you weren't expecting? Yes. Was I a little flat/slurpy with some of the pitches? Yes. Were my gestures clear "artistic choices"? Yes. Were you moved by the performance and/or felt what my character was trying to portray? ......
If you answered yes to all of the above, then I've done my job.
So yes, I have issues and that's ok. There are always worse things, but these issues lead to a life full of wonderful adventures, introspection, and giving people a gift that only art can provide.