Monday, March 15, 2010

Opera Workshop Performance and Italian Recitative

I just finished my second big performance of the semester. This performance was an opera scenes program which consisted of different scenes from various operas. This semester there were only five scenes from four great operas: Don Pasquale, Le Nozze di Figaro, Dialogues of the Carmelites and Idomeneo. I got a chance to play Cherubino in a scene from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. The scene came from Act II and included the arias, "Voi Che Sapete" which I performed, and "Venite, inginocchiatevi!" sung by the soprano playing Susanna. The music between the two arias, on the other hand, consisted of recitative, or talk-singing.

The recitative in this scene was, by far, the most difficult to learn and perform. The first thing that we needed to master was the Italian. Italian recitative is especially difficult because words and phrases that end on a vowel need to be cut off right away, to avoid the 'American diphthong' and sound more Italian. I found that once I was aware of my holding out of phrase-ending notes I did the Italian cutoffs fine. The other difficult thing about learning the recitative was making it sound 'conversational'. This involved singing fast enough as natural spoken dialogue, which was bit difficult to get used to but simple once practiced. It also required the singer to be very aware of what is being said in Italian so interruptions and entrances implied by the dialogue are correct. Once my scene partners and I became aware of the correct way to sing Italian recitative we had the scene down in no time and were extremely prepared for the day of performance.

To wrap things up, it was an overall great performance by not only myself and my scene partners, but all the other performers as well. Bravi!

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