Monday, July 21, 2008

Singer vs. Technique

I don't go to the opera for a voice lesson ( and I am a voice teacher). I go to have an experience. Sometimes a voice is so beautifully produced that the beauty is the experience. Other times it's the artistry that gives me thrills, and there are other times when a voice has such a unique sound that it produces yet another kind of thrill (that's always a "tasters choice issue"). Once in a great while a voice has two of the three above qualities................... well, when that happens it creates something that is so exciting it's difficult to even describe. I might also add that there have been a few singers who have given thrills AND a voice lesson (so great is their gift). In the studio all good teachers work to combine these qualities. You can't have a very long career without some kind of technique: Opera is too demanding to just "ride the train" and see what happens. I know that when I go to the opera or theater to see any singer (even my own students) what I want is to NOT have my "teacher's ears" take over. I want to have an honest experience. I know something's wrong when all I do is sit there and think, "why is she doing that?" or "if only she would just....." That is almost impossible with my own students because I know what we've been working on, etc. But I can say that I have seen quite a few less than perfect performances that were amazing. This is a difficult topic because it's also subjective. A good technique should allow a voice to sing beautifully. Callas could sing beautifully, but many would argue that her voice was in no way beautiful. I love the sound of her voice, but I also love the voices of Tebaldi, Price, Norman, Arroyo, Battle, Bonney, Fassbaender, Popp, Sass, vonStade, Crespin, Nilsson, TeKanawa, Sutherland, and Behrens. It's a very eclectic grouping of ladies and there are tons I have left off (including the tenors and baritones). From this mix you can find some that were technically excellent, some who were interesting artists, and others that were just plain unique (or had voices that had "glory spots"). One could talk about this forever.

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