Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Jury and Beyond...

As you know, my jury was last week and all in all it went great! It's the best I've felt walking out of that hall in all of my years here. I remembered all of my words in French (the song I chose to begin with was Que fais tu blanche tourterelle) and the French sounded great in my voice. All of my teachers said that song showed a great improvement in my vocal and performing techniques. The faculty then asked for my Wolf selection In dem Schatten meiner locken, which went well also. Overall, the faculty said I could improve on some of my German diction, details in my phrasing and my presentation of the character in both songs.

My voice teacher said I earned a well deserved A in voice this semester. Although I struggled, I got it all together in the end and finished strong.

As for the summer, one of my goals is to learn Una voce poco fa, a Rossini aria as well as to learn some French and German diction. I also hope to play more piano, since I haven't actually sat down to play an actual piano piece in over a year.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last Lesson of the Semester

So today is my final lesson of the semester. I've learned very difficult songs this semester, learned a difficult opera chorus part and perfected an old favorite with my opera workshop performance. I really hope today's lesson is an example of all of my hard work along with my jury taking place next Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Upcoming Jury

My voice final exam, or jury, is in less than six days. I get to choose my first song out of the music I've been studying this semester. The song I plan to start with is "Que fais tu blanche tourterelle?" from the opera Romeo et Juliette by Charles Gounod. In this song I am singing the aria of Stefano, Romeo's page. It's a song that stays in the passaggio, or transitional section of the female voice usually ranging from E to G. It's a tiring song since it works all of my passaggio and also includes numerous melismas. My voice teacher has told me, to keep the melismas still sounding boyish, I need to keep the sound in my throat more and not so much my head. It's been difficult to bring my sound back down, but it's paying off. There is also a run up to a high C and back down at the very end of the piece that I've also spent a lot of time on. To make it sound the best and go the most smoothly I've found that starting with the mouth shape of a vocal, vertical e then moving my mouth into a smile shape as I go up the scale works great.

Hopefully everything goes alright with this aria as well as the songs to follow. I'll keep you updated!

Memorizing Music

It's getting to the crunch time of the semester when all of my repertoire must be memorized and perfected. Some semesters I struggle with memorization and others I can put a song to memory in no time. I think, to get a good start at memorization, you must start with a plan in mind from the beginning. Here are some helpful steps I hope to continue to follow when it comes to music memorization.

1. Look up the word for word translation (if not in your native language) for every single word. This is so you know the entire meaning of what you're saying, and meaning helps jog memory.

2. Then one should listen to the piece, only a few times, not so many times so that you learn the song from another singer's interpretation.

3. Learn the rhythm.

4. Speak out the words in the correct rhythm.

5. Then begin learning and memorizing the melody. I usually plunk out the notes on a piano and then sing that phrase.

In order to solidify the entire piece, sometimes coming at the words from the last part of the piece and working toward the beginning helps a bit better.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Next Year's Operas

Recently, the director of the University Opera has spoken to me about performing various roles in next year's productions. I was definitely excited about this opportunity and was willing to take on any roles the director was willing to give me. He did in fact give me a couple roles in two of next year's operas. In the fall, University Opera is putting on two of Puccini's one act opera's from 'Il Trittico.' The first being Gianni Schicchi and the second, Suor Angelica. I was fortunate enough to be cast in Suor Angelica, an opera about a nun, her past and her abbey. My role in this opera is The Mistress of the Novices and I do have a few solo lines, which is really great for only being in one previous opera. There will also be one opera in the spring. This opera is 'The Consul' by Gian Carlo Menotti. It's a tragic opera filled with death and struggle. I got the role of Vera Boronel a traveler in the consulate's office. I haven't had much of a chance to research this role, but I'm sure it'll be another great experience for an aspiring singer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

This Semester's Opera!

Last week my first opera came to an end. The show was overall, very successful. The floor was sold out two out of the three nights and everyone sounded great. The opera was 'Maria Stuarda' a bel canto opera by Gaetano Donizetti. It originally premiered in Milan in 1835. Maria Stuarda is an opera about Queen Elizabeth of England and her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. This opera depicts a fictional meeting between the two as well as a fictional love triangle. The first act ends with Mary being arrested and the second and final act ends with Mary's public execution. It's basically a 'diva opera' with both of the leads being soprano-y roles creating lots of opportunity for drama. I wasn't a principal character in this opera however. I was simply in the chorus but the chorus was on stage quite a bit, which was exciting as well. Another great thing about this opera was the costumes. They were full, Elizabethan era style complete with bum rolls, corsets, ruffles and giant dresses.

This show was also uniquely cast in that the role of Elizibetta was played by different singers on different days. For two nights a soprano grad student had the lead and for one matinee a mezzo-soprano doctoral student played Elizibetta. It was really interesting hearing the differences in vocal techniques and overall tone of each of the singers however, both were amazing in the role, each bringing something different to the table. Here are a couple links to articles about the show.