Photography Friday

I was inspired by Robert over at Travel, Eat, Repeat to post a Photography Friday series. Though my photos will be nothing like his beautiful travel photos, I hope they’ll be able to give you some insight into different aspects of my life. And what better place to start than with some photos from T’s and my wedding? We got married on July 1, 2011 in the Bay Area, where we live.

Obviously there are tons, so in effort to keep this post from becoming excruciatingly long, I’ll stick to some of my absolute favorites. Many thanks and major props to our wedding photographer, Abel Soria!


My mom’s best friend fixing my dad during our pre-wedding family pictures… and my brother being a dork in the background.


My mom and I making “our face” at each other.

Abel Soria Photography

There is so much happiness in this picture! T, both of his brothers, and my brother.

Me and my brother.

Dad and brother.

One of my absolute favorites of me.

T’s family.

One of the worst pictures of me of all time, but you can see why it makes me so happy.

Enjoying hors d’oeuvres before making our appearance at the reception, and being ourselves.

At our reception… you can see how beautiful the colors were.

I love this one of my parents and their best friends.

Visiting one of my college roommates.

T with another of my roommates.

Me, my maid of honor, and her boyfriend (now fiancé!) in the background.

Enjoying my maid of honor and my new husband!

All of my cousins!

Our first dance was to “Everything” by Michael Bublé.

Dancing with my dad to “The Way You Look Tonight.”

I was definitely making a high-pitched squealing noise in this picture.

Our ring bearer dancing with his mom.

And finally, our best man and maid of honor getting their (incredibly dorky) groove on, which is obviously why we love them.

What’s My Voice Type Again?

My identity as a singer has a lot (i.e. almost everything) to do with my voice type.

That means that all of my repertoire choices and the roles I’m able to sing, and thus my chances of getting hired, are based on what my voice sounds like: how high or low I can sing, as well as the “color” or “timbre” of my voice. Does it sound bright and shimmery? Is it dark and rich? Are my high notes stronger than my low notes, or vice versa? Can I move my voice very quickly to fit a lot of notes into a short amount of time, or am I better at singing long, drawn-out phrases?

In case you forgot what you learned in elementary school music (and who can blame you), there are four basic voice types out there: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, in order from highest to lowest. Within each of those very broad categories, there are many, many subcategories. For example, a woman who fits into the “soprano” category could be a lyric soprano, a dramatic soprano, a spinto soprano, a coloratura soprano, a lyric coloratura soprano, a dramatic coloratura soprano, a “lyric soprano with an extension,” a soubrette… the list goes on and on, and there are similar subcategories for the other large types as well. Each just means that a singer can do something slightly different with his or her voice, and the system (invented in Germany and called the fach system) is an attempt to simplify life for singers and casting directors.

What’s my voice type, you ask? Right now I consider myself a soubrette soprano. This means that I have a light, agile voice and can sing quite high, but I haven’t quite grown into a full-blown coloratura soprano yet. After all, 26 is just a baby in the world of opera.

Being a soubrette, the roles available to me are fairly limited and are all of a similar ilk. I sing a lot of Mozart, whose music I absolutely adore, and many of the roles I can do are maids and young ladies. Sadly, even once my voice has reached its full size, I will probably never sing some of the great heroines of opera, like Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème or Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata. And because of my teeny tiny physical size, I will never be formidable enough to sing a role like the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. These things matter in casting.

Luckily for me, some of the best roles out there, such as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro (which I’ve already had the pleasure of performing twice), were written for someone with exactly my voice. Until my voice is ready for bigger repertoire, I’m happy to be singing what I can.

Me as Susanna in "The Marriage of Figaro" in grad school.

Me as Susanna in “The Marriage of Figaro” in grad school.

(More) Brazilian Candy Acquired!

While we were in Rio, we asked our friends what kinds of food and goodies we should bring home. Instead of simply giving us a list, they handed us a bag full of candy that they had personally picked out. Naturally, all of them were ridiculously yummy and addicting, and some of them disappeared before we even landed back in San Francisco.

One of my favorites was the Bis, a wafer covered in chocolate similar to a Kit-Kat bar, but not being from the US, it was of course better. We brought back four of them, and three were gone within about two days of us coming home (I’m not ashamed). So T, tired of me hoarding all the chocolate, found these Bis bars on Amazon and ordered them. And look what already arrived this morning:


Yummmmmmmmmmm. It’s going to be hard to save some for T, but I’ll do my best.

Interested in what else we loved about Rio? Check out two of our favorite spots: Pão de Açúcar and Cristo Redentor.

Rio de Janeiro: Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) and Final Thoughts

On our final day in Rio, we ventured up to Pão de Açúcar, the mountain formation in the bay that is almost as iconic a sight as Cristo Redentor. This was a somewhat frightening adventure for me, since I’m terrified of cable cars, but I managed to survive FOUR different ones and make it all the way to the top of the upper mountain! There’s not a lot to say about it, other than the views are fantastic and it’s an absolute must if you’re ever in Rio.


View from the lower mountain.


Looking up towards the upper mountain.


Corcovado, where Cristo Redentor resides (you can just barely see him).


Can you say “terrifying” in Portuguese?


Looking back down the cables at the end of the upward journey.






On the backside of the upper mountain are several hiking trails. They looked tough, so we didn’t go far, but it was beautiful.



Incredible, no?

There were tons of other little things we enjoyed about Rio that didn’t warrant their own posts.* I could tell you about the sucos (juices) that you can buy on every street corner, the fresh pão de queijo (cheese bread) that makes my mouth water just thinking about it, the dinner we had in a Brazilian steakhouse where a German tourist group kept bursting into spontaneous song, the hippie fair in Ipanema that was the best arts and crafts fair ever… the list goes on and on.

*For more details about what to do in Rio, check out Julie’s blog, Alone With My Tea. She lives there, after all.

All in all, T and I both felt like we got as much out of our time in Rio as we possibly could. To be honest, if we had been choosing anywhere in the world to go on vacation, we probably would have chosen somewhere like Germany, or maybe Hawaii. I don’t think we would have ventured to Brazil if we hadn’t had friends living there who probably won’t be living there in another six months or so. But in the end, we’re so glad we did!

Can’t get enough of Rio? Read about how we managed to get ourselves there and coped with the language barrier, and the various sights we saw: Christ the Redeemer, downtown Rio, and the glorious beaches.

Rio de Janeiro: Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)

All you have to do is type the words “Rio de Janeiro” into a Google image search, and the first many photos will be Cristo Redentor. It makes sense, being that it’s a massive statue of Jesus overlooking a gorgeous bay. There was no way we weren’t going to head up to Corcovado to check it out.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure how we got there exactly. The four of us got in a taxi and got out on a random street corner, where we bought train tickets at a little unsuspecting kiosk. We hopped on for a half-hour ride up the rainforest mountainside, which provided us with some beautiful views… but nothing like what we would get at the top.

Views from the train ride up.

Views from the train ride up.





At the top of the mountain, we got off the train below the base of the statue and climbed another couple of flights of stairs to get to the base. There was a lower platform with a gift shop at the back of the statue, one more flight of stairs, and then… there he was.


So much bigger than I expected.





There were also some incredible views from the front of the statue.




It was hard not to feel the presence of Jesus in that place, and not just because of his size. The way he looks over the city with his arms outspread makes it seem as though he is constantly watching and protecting the world. As a Christian, I know that’s the truth, and as silly as it may sound, seeing a representation of Jesus larger than life brought it a little closer to home for me.


As Julie said, “Husband, friends, and Jesus. What else do you need?”

Check out another one of Rio’s major landmarks, Sugarloaf, and the important words we needed to know to get to all these cool places.

Rio de Janeiro: Exploring Downtown Rio

By the middle of our trip, T and I were off on our own and feeling confident that we could navigate around the city a little bit. We took the metro from Copacabana into Centro, the downtown area of Rio, and checked out some of the sights recommended by Peter and Julie.


Me in front of the Municipal Theatre, because duh.


The Lapa aqueduct.


The beautiful Lapa mosaic steps.

Me and T on the Lapa steps.

Me and T on the Lapa steps.



Loved the little shout-out to Will Smith in the middle of Centro.


Confeitaria Colombo, an unsuspecting-from-the-street but huge and beautiful café.

After several hours of walking, it was time to head back to the beach… but not before stopping to buy T a nice, squishy pair of Havianas.

Wondering what else to do in Rio? I recommend Cristo Redentor, Pão de Açúcar, or simply chilling on the beach.

Rio de Janeiro: Beach Time

If you read my first post about Rio, you know that everything leading up to us actually touching ground in Brazil was a total nightmare. Once we landed, though, everything turned around (literally, since we were suddenly in the southern hemisphere and experiencing the exact opposite weather from what we had just escaped). From the minute we saw the faces of our friends Peter and Julie waiting for us outside customs, our time in Rio was fantastic.

One of the biggest draws of Rio is, of course, the beach (or praia). Peter and Julie live near Praia Barra da Tijuca, which we walked to several times during our visit. It’s much less crowded than the other, more popular, touristy beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana, where we spent the latter half of our trip.


Praia Barra da Tijuca.


Happily reunited with the lovely Julie of Alone With My Tea!


T and me on Praia Barra da Tijuca, on our first day there. The perfect cure for jet lag, especially when you land at 3 AM local time.


A pre-storm sunset on Praia Barra da Tijuca.


Bubbles in the surf.


Copacabana, where we spent a few days in the latter part of our trip.

Relaxing on the beach was just one of the highlights of our time in Rio. Some of my other favorite spots in the city were centro, or downtown, Christ the Redeemer, and Sugarloaf. Also, here are the language basics that will help you get to all those places.