I didn't see much of Barcelona or Zaragoza at first because I was getting ready for the Concurso Caballe, but once the competition was over, I got to see and enjoy more of both cities. Not only were the people incredibly kind, but I was also deeply inspired by the cities. I am often captivated by art, and being in the beautiful country that brought Goya, Gaudí, Dalí, Picasso, Miró, and so many other great artists was wonderful.
Of course, Spain is also the country of the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona! I managed to get a ticket at the last minute to their production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The ticket I got happened to be for a balcony seat from which I could see the orchestra very well, as well as the stage. Watching this opera again reminded me just how exuberant it is--I believe I saw a few of the orchestra members slightly shaking their heads along with the beat of the overture! :). I must also add that I've been hearing for a while now about the great Carlos Chausson's performances as Bartolo (this is a role he has sung over 200 times!), and I finally got to hear him for the first time. It was an absolute joy, and I can't wait to hear him again!
One of the high points of my visit to Spain was visiting the Museo Picasso in Barcelona. His body of work is incredible, and inspiring. Two things in particular impressed me. The first was seeing his vast, and yet wildly varied, body of work over the course of his career. There were several times in which I couldn't believe that all the artworks came from the same artist, who created dramatic portraits, works inspired by Toulouse Lautrec, and cubist masterpieces (such as his Portrait of Aunt Pepa, L'Attente, and Guernica, respectively), not to mention many others. Sometimes, as a singer, it can be easy to feel that you have to fit into a certain niche and not diverge from it. However, seeing the variety in Picasso's work relieved a lot of the pressure to do that; it reminded me simply to focus on knowing my strengths and weaknesses, and to keep doing the best work I can.
The second thing that struck me was one of the stories of Picasso's life. He felt he found his artistic voice after leaving the school he attended in Madrid, the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts. He then moved to Horta d'Ebre on the invitation of his friend, Manuel Pallarès. He would eventually go on to credit his time there as being the one which would help him form his voice, saying that "Everything I know I learnt it in the town of Pallarès."
I certainly cannot relate to being an artist of Picasso's caliber! What did strike a chord with me, however, was the fulfillment he gained when he found his artistic voice. I believe that one of the most important parts in the life of anyone wanting to work professionally in the arts is the journey to figure out what one's artistic voice is. I believe this is a process that lasts through one's entire career. Still, simply beginning that process is an important milestone in our lives. In order to even start that journey, we have to have had serious training from our teachers, coaches, and mentors along the way--for many artists, this training takes years. And then, crucially, we figure out how to express ourselves authentically.