The Running Rhinemaiden

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By Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde and Rossweisse)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lauren McNeese keeps in shape, whether she’s in rehearsal or not. As both a Rhinemaiden and a Valkyrie in the Ring cycle, she is swimming, jumping, parachuting —and of course singing—up and down the stage. And in her time off, Lauren is doing yoga and training for San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers 12K race! A busy mezzo-soprano travelling the country, Lauren sang Wellgunde with us in 2008 and has also performed it in Los Angeles and Chicago.


I love Ring Cycles!  Besides the incredible music, I love the people.  I love the camaraderie and innate ensemble nature of the piece. It is a piece that unifies the performers as we all strive together to tell an intricate story full of love, greed, loss, courage, betrayal and redemption. 

One of the aspects I appreciate most about this particular production is the physicality demanded of its performers.  As a runner and a yoga practitioner I am in heaven!  Just the simple fact of going to rehearsals in my running/yoga clothes puts a huge smile on my face.  As Rhinemaidens our rehearsals are filled with running, jumping, lunging, kneeling and of course…singing.  It is all very physical and quite wonderful.  We are allowed to fully embody the characters and push our physical limits as singers and actors.  I find myself opening up and finding new aspects of Wellgunde and her sisters that had previously been hidden to me in other productions.  Another perk of being a Rhinemaiden is the sisterly bond you develop with your two other colleagues.  We hit it off from the first rehearsal. We often go to dinner or lunch between rehearsals and we are even running the Bay to Breakers 12K on May 15th together! [Right: McNeese and the Rhinemaidens in 2008's Das Rheingold. Photo by Terrence McCarthy]
Being in San Francisco performing the Ring Cycle could not have happened at a more perfect moment in my life.  I have started an epic journey of my own and being surrounded by these amazing people is a huge inspiration to me. My life as a traveling performer has sparked a desire in me to uncover the secrets of health and wellness.  As an opera singer how do we find balance in our lives both onstage and off?  How do we stay healthy on the road?  How do we learn to manage the emotional food cravings brought on by constant environmental changes and loneliness? How do we minimize nutritional stress so that our bodies are more able to cope with the stressors of performance?  These are the questions I am looking to answer and the reason why I have recently become a Holistic Health Coach. I am excited to combine my passions for music and wellness into a practice that can offer people encouragement and solutions in their own personal journey towards optimal health. [On May 15, when McNeese runs San Francisco's famous12K race, Bay to Breakers, with her fellow Rhinemaidens, Stacey Tappan and Renee Tatum, they will be sporting sporting their custom Rhinemaidens Track Team shirts!]
In the spirit of this new endeavor, I have decided to do a 21 one day cleanse (beginning Monday, May 9!) and blog about it on my website: It promises to be loads of fun as I blog about exploring new foods, new ideas, rehearsing three of the four Ring Operas and surviving three weeks without my beloved skinny vanilla latte! Let the adventure begin…
Namaste and Hojotoho!!