Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mozart and Yeston and Strauss, oh my!

In which our Diva had a marvelously operatic weekend

Die Flederflöte... okay, "Love & Fairy Tales" had three smashingly successful performances, plus one delightful school matinee of our abridged version of The Magic Flute, all capped off with singing for a wonderful crowd at Villa Verone, most of them fresh from either our Sunday matinee or the Elgin Symphony's Bernstein concert.

Even the surprise insertion of "This Place Is Mine" into the zany midst of our standalone adaption of Act 2 of Die Fledermaus went over well. I can say now that I was a little worried about it -- what were they going to think of me randomly busting out this crazy opera-parody number from the Maury Yeston version of Phantom? Sure, it was a big hit at the Halloween benefit, but that's one thing and shoehorning it into a full-fledged stage production quite another. Luckily, Lady Diva (sort of Solange's alter ego, dating back to one of the company's early semi-dramatized concerts -- that's the persona I'm sending up with this number) knows our audience, and I got enough compliments on it that my head might have swelled to fill up my big pile o' hair if I didn't watch it! (And it was a big pile o' hair, especially Sunday. Nothing beats good old-fashioned foam rollers.) As it turned out, it fit into the craziness just fine. Which I guess makes sense, because that Phantom is a very champagne-operetta score anyway.

Soooooo tired yesterday, pretty much back to normal today. Just in time to restart voice lessons (on hold for a few weeks due to both Solange's and my rehearsal schedule) and swing right back into honing the rep I'm hoping to have ready in time for the vocal competition in June. (Not to mention switching mental gears from German and English to Italian and French. Which isn't just about diction -- there are subtle but important differences in technique too.) Musical theatre? Not a problem. Aria and art song? I have some serious work cut out for me. The art song -- I'm probably going to do a Fauré one called "Adieu" -- is way harder on Planet Val, which makes most classical singers I know look at me funny. I guess opera just makes more sense to my brain because it has a clearer acting component.

My aria will most likely be "Senza mamma" from Suor Angelica. I'm so happy that my voice has shaped up in the last couple years to be suited to Puccini, because he just makes sense to me, musically and dramatically. Sometimes I wonder if it has anything to do with growing up on Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard/read someone comparing him to Puccini (or just flat-out accusing him of ripping Puccini off), and I can hear where they're coming from. They appeal to me as a singer for a lot of the same reasons. One of those is one of my primary challenges with "Senza mamma" -- tempi and dynamics and such are constantly in flux, but you can't just randomly speed up and slow down or get louder and softer or whatever. To some extent it's marked on the score, but there's a lot of it that just has to feel right. (Try that after weeks of Mozart!) I have that sense internalized almost to the point of instinct for musical theatre, and especially for certain composers (ALW, Frank Wildhorn, Stephen Schwartz), but I'm still developing it for opera.

Also, floating that pianissimo high A at the end is kicking my ass.

Check out the queen of pianissimo, Montserrat Caballé, showing how it's done:

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