There are singers who can make a pretty reliable noise and are happy to go to market with that product. Combined with great presence and musicality, and a dash of good looks, often more is not necessary to have a pretty decent career in Opera. When asked why not develop the voice to be more beautiful, better balanced, the answer is often: “I have a good voice! A reliable voice! But not a beautiful voice. One must be practical and accept that!”
How do you know how beautiful it can be? How do you know how far you can stretch a voice that seemed common in the beginning?
We don’t know! Therefore we must persevere and push ourselves beyond what we are now in the hopes of finding a better us. The artistic goal is not to get on stage! It is rather, what happens once you get onstage? Can you open your mouth and make an audience absolutely still and listen?
Such did Nadine Weissmann at Bayreuth in 2015 when she brought a rather noisy audience to absolute attention and silence when she sang the first phrase of “Weiche Wotan..” at the end of Das Rheingold. She is a singer dedicated to becoming better every day. A true artist in the best sense! In her own words:
“On the worst day, this is still the coolest job in the world!”
That sentiment means a search for constant improvement. A desire to be true to the art and challenge oneself to go further than our predecessors did if we cant. I am inspired personally by such artists and what they signify in a world of easy achievements and immediate gratifications. The “sweat and tears” required to become exceptional in any discipline is the badge of honor, for the results ultimately transform not only the artist but the audience as well–As I have been transformed by the great Italian baritone, Lucio Gallo. He becomes greater with each passing performance. I have been watching this singer for years. It is remarkable that he has quietly made his way to become one of the greatest singers around, musically, dramatically and vocally. Totally inspiring!
I celebrate today in feeling myself fully transitioned to a “real” tenor! It has taken every ounce of courage and determination I could muster to accomplish the journey. But it was all worth it! What I’ve learned makes me a far better teacher than I was before, and more interestingly it has made me a far better and happier singer.
Practicing for one of my Academy concerts to take place 8-20 August in Northern Sweden, I felt overjoyed. I am about to share the stage in the Riddle Scene from Turandot with Meta Powell, one of the greatest sopranos I’ve ever heard and I am looking forward to it. A year ago, I was a bit skeptical of my ability to sing with such a singer, but now I can’t wait.
Progress is “progressive!” Not sudden! The turbulent 8 years that have brought me to this level have been a gift of the most humbling and noble kind. Singers, especially do not like to make ugly sounds. It somehow psychologically reflects on the person and not merely the instrument that needs balancing. So many singers fear the uncomfortable transition periods when nothing sounds good. Those periods are important because they are periods of building dynamic muscular strength. They are necessary, like a baby must fall when learning to walk the first time. Avoid the falls and the baby’s growth is stunted. Many singers never achieve strength beyond what they had when they began to sing consciously. This is because traditional vocal pedagogy is about coordinating what one has even when proper coordination is impossible–Impossible when proper muscular development has not been address. In such cases, the technical approach is about all kinds of muscular compensation in order to create a false sense of stability.
To get to this point is a joy! I had to go “through Hell and back” in order to achieve my true vocal possibilities. I will be always saying it’s not finished yet. At least now I can say, this is a good balance by any measure. Yet I will continue to get better!
Riddle Scene phrases
The prospects of how much better I can become is even more enticing!
© July 14, 2016