Monday, July 24, 2006

More of an Interesting Question ...

As an onlooker, certainly no expert or practitioner, I tend to agree with these sentiments. But it's so hard to strike a balance, isn't it? Sometimes it's a mistake to try heavier repertory; sometimes it's exactly the right move. There has to be room for a certain amount of (carefully considered and monitored) calculated risk in the development of a career.And Mozart isn't automatically safe or right (never was). It's some of the most demanding and unforgiving music ever written, and a voice can be wrecked in that repertory just as well as any other; it's a matter of knowing what one is doing (which is never easy).There is indeed, I think, a certain caution in our music schools and conservatories "be safe, don't push, keep it contained" which is well intentioned, and valid up to a point, but inimical to the discovery and development of voices of real dramatic size and qualities. One would think, listening to senior recitals and opera workshop productions, that the only voices of which humankind is capable are: light sopranos; sopranos without the high notes (who have to sing the mezzo parts because there's nobody else to do them); cautious light tenors; and lyric baritones. No real mezzos, no basses, no dramatic anything. There used to be such voices (and many of them were ready for the big roles in their 20s); I don't think there has been a mass mutation in the human vocal mechanism in the last generation or two. But something isn't working right.And I'm not even certain it's all that safe. Some of these just- graduated lyric baritones (very even scale, very musical) seem unable to sing for more than half an hour at a time, and always seem to be "on vocal rest" for a day or two every week.Well, singing is hard -- learning how to do it, and then doing it well in public. I salute anyone who knows how to do it, which I certainly don't.Jon

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