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I Didn't Even Know What An Operetta Was

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

I completed my senior vocal recital earlier this semester. I sang classically in Italian, German, French, and Swedish; English operettas and musical theater and contemporary Christian music. This was a big step toward my degree in Worship Studies! It's the sort of thing you look forward to but with fear and trepidation at the thought of it. Will I be ready? What if I mess up?

I realized through the process- a year of working on the same music!- that there will never be a point where I "arrive" at the peak of musical excellence. It is something I will always work towards. There was a time in my life where this would have felt disheartening, but now I find it thrilling. There is so much to learn! I will never be bored.

I had several people remind me of the big picture. My friend Rachel sweetly encouraged me about mess-ups. "Annika, if you have a musical mess up, I know it sounds weird but celebrate it. Mess ups remind us that we are human, so when people watch you, you're a more relatable musician, singer, worship leader. Of course, enjoy the good parts- those are a victory! This recital is ultimately a celebration of how far you've come and where you are right now. Learn from your mistakes and try your best- but know that they make you relatable. Your perfect image begins to melt away, and people see you for who you truly are- a broken person who is using their gifting for the Lord. That will lead people to to the Lord more than anything."

My voice teacher was phenomenal and walked me through every step. "Once a note is out of your mouth, you can't take it back- so you might as well keep moving. Don't get discouraged and let it show on your face. There are plenty of people that are coming to support you, so honor them by keeping the energy! After it's all over, if you need to cry about it, you have my permission to cry and eat all the things, ALL the things you've been avoiding to keep in good vocal health. Go get some ice cream or something, or go to Applebees." What a lady.

My family came in the day of the recital to help me run errands and get ready. I'd saved and planned ahead and made it a priority to get my hair done. I know me, and I would most definitely panic if I had to do my own hair quickly after class, do something very wrong, not know how to fix it, and walk into my recital looking like an electrocuted cat. So my dad drove me and my mom to the cutest salon downtown after my last class.

When dad is excited, he drives a little slower.

He was very excited.

"Are you ready?" "How do you feel?" "Wanna give us a preview?" He asked all the questions. Usually questions are my favorite, but today I was in a hurry. "Dad, hurry!!" At the time, I felt so stressed- but looking back, it was so cute how excited my dad was for me. He is the SWEETEST.

Through a series of events, I only had ten minutes to do my makeup that day. When I got back to my apartment, I told my family to stay out of the bathroom for ten minutes. If they had to use it, it needed to wait. I was so stressed, LOL. Perhaps more than me, though, was my mom.

She is one of the calmest people I know in scary situations. When I was a few weeks old, I choked and had to be rushed to the hospital. On the ambulance ride there, she just held me in her arms and thanked God for the few weeks she'd gotten to be my mommy. At my high school graduation, she did not even shed a tear. "Why should I be sad when God has such good things in store for you?" she said when I asked her about it. (All the other moms were crying.)

But when I did my makeup for my recital (or when someone else is driving and they suddenly tap the breaks), my mama was a nervous woman. I was in the bathroom with false lashes breathing loudly, "oooooooh, okay. I can do this. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh." As I started with the first set, I heard my mom in the other room, "oh my gosh, oh my gosh." I thought she was teasing me about my stress-induced sound effects at first, and then I realized... nope. She is just as panicked, maybe more. "Are you doing lashes in there? Oh my gosh, ooooooo, okay..."

The whole thing was very comical. But I did it! (Or, I did the best one can do in such a short while!) And just in time- I had about 15 minutes together to both get to the chapel and have pictures taken by a friend. I laugh when I look back on these pictures, because I can just see the stress on my face at the beginning, and it slowly melting into joy and excitement as I settled in (and found my dream hippo.) I was done with the hardest things- hair and makeup, ha! All I had left was to sing and have fun. My voice teacher helped me and my friend/duet partner warm up, and then I went to the dressing room while the audience filed in.

It was a very sweet recital! I couldn't have done it without everyone. Breathing out the stressful sighs with me, helping me carry all the things, chauffeuring me around when I needed to get somewhere fast. I am so grateful for not only the help I received the day of, but the years of training prior to.

It was such a joy getting to sing to faculty, friends and family- but also to look back and remember how they've taught, blessed and ministered to me.

To think- a few years ago, I didn't even know what an operetta was.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish for us the works of our hands- yes, establish the works of our hands! Psalm 90:17



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