Sunday, July 16, 2006

a breakthrough!

The most common comment I get at auditions, particularly since I've been studying with my new teacher, is "Wow, you have such an easy top!" While I would agree that my top is now blended with the rest of my voice, and very consistent, it has never felt what I would consider to be "easy." Particularly in the range of A-flat, A, and B-flat, the notes before my very top notes (which are easy, though people rarely get to hear them), things have always felt somewhat tenuous. I'm glad that they haven't been sounding that way, but I've always known that they could be better.

I had my first lesson in about 5 weeks on Tuesday. J has been out of town singing some fabulous concerts. The timing was good, as I'm getting ready to do some recording next week, and some of the slightly heavier rep we've been playing with still wasn't feeling great. I've recently pulled out Komponist for the first time in about a year. I had put it away, thinking it was just too heavy, but J thought it should go back on my list, so I've been working on it again. It's a short role -- only about half an hour or so at the beginning of the opera, but he's pretty chatty in that half hour, and the aria comes right at the end of his part. The last page and a half sits right in those notes I've been worried about, with a few B-flats (including a big one at the end), and a huge, sustained A-flat and A which come in rapid succession. I've tried lots of different tricks on those notes, and somehow I always felt tired at the end, and they weren't all I hoped they would be. On Tuesday, as we were working through the last section, J said, "drop your jaw a little there." Not earth-shattering advice, I know, and certainly, dropping my jaw was something I had tried before. But somehow, in combination with the other things we’ve been working on, something clicked. I sang the final B-flat and burst out laughing. It was clear, full, had lots of vibrato, and EASY!!! Once I sang through the whole aria with these new pointers in mind, I found that it was no problem to get all the way through, even though I had been singing for over an hour straight and my voice was starting to get a little tired. J was laughing too. “So, you mean, something like that?” I asked. Since then, none of those notes have been a problem, and now I feel like they’ve been sufficiently ingrained in my muscle memory to be consistently there. How exciting!

In other news, I’ve gotten my Baroque Opera assignments, which include Dido in a couple scenes from Dido and Aeneas. I can’t wait to dig in, but it will probably wait until after my recording sessions this week.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

coming home to something new...

I got a call yesterday for a great gig. I’ll be singing in a 16-voice, professional chamber choir at the Annas Bay Music Festival, which takes place in Union, Washington. It’s new this year, and I’m not sure where the funding is coming from, but it must be coming from somewhere, because the pay is fantastic, and we, along with the chamber orchestra, will be staying and eating here. It seems as though we will be extremely well pampered! I haven’t done any choral singing for about 3 years now, and I feel like I’m coming home, in a way. Singing in small groups like this one was where I first fell in love with singing, and where I first knew that this was what I wanted to do. While everyone involved has worked extensively as a soloist, there’s something about working together in a small group that’s extremely appealing. Blending together, becoming in tune with one another in terms of dynamics and breathing, and making music as a unified body is extremely satisfying and challenging, in a different way than singing in front of a group or in a costume onstage. I have several friends and colleagues who will be involved, so it should be a great experience personally and musically!