A young(ish) opera singer's random thoughts and observations.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Breaking the vocal ice

Day 4 - Thursday

Morning: Having been volunteered to sing in a master class at 10.30am today, I take a relaxed approach to our pilates warm-up, in fact leaving early to warm up vocally and change into my (new!) suit. While I do appreciate pilates as a great work-out, it raises alarm bells singing-wise, as I have never had such a tense stomach in my life! The master class itself is with Joan Patenaude-Yarnell (Manhattan School of Music) and is fantastic: 'old school' bel canto with Joan letting nothing go (reminds me of some of my singing lessons, except with an audience). Once again I find myself in the unenviable position of singing for the first time in front of a group of singers whom I don't know. The only thing I can do is (try to) focus on the piece and get on with it. I sing more or less on autopilot and get through the aria reasonably well. As is always the case, the nerves ease off after the first sing through, and many of the issues raised by Joan sort themselves out on their own. Why can't it just work perfectly first time round? I guess that's one of the characteristic things about master classes. Anyway, everyone has heard me now, so that's a load off my mind.

Afternoon: Rehearsing the Norwegian scene in Lillian Alling, where I say one line. Kelly is fantastic at engaging everyone in the scene and you hardly ever feel as though you're standing around waiting for the principles to be taken through the blocking (which can often happen for what amounts to extras, as we're not even a chorus onstage), but he's also quite demanding in terms of research (and rightly so), so for homework we have to find out about the Norwegian immigrants in North Dakota. Going to sit in on Cosi rehearsals after this, I think of how lucky it is that by doing something in both productions at this early stage I get to see two different ways of working and the energy each approach brings to the process.

A cover's view of a Cosi rehearsal

Evening: Reviewing the Brooklyn Boys' scene. Apart from some minor blocking changes, this rehearsal really just lets us find more fun in what we're doing. At the end we're told that the time for free improvisation around the set blocking is coming to an end, and we have to find some continuity from session to session. 'Chaos can only be portrayed on stage through extreme precision, otherwise it ends up being stage noise.' After that rehearsal, hike back up to the main campus for more Cosi (Lillian Alling rehearsals are in a church gymnasium in town), during which we get tomorrow's schedule: no cover rehearsal! Time for a beer or two...

On a side note, there is so much more to this program than opera: Catriona and Shantelle have been asked to sing backing vocals at a pop concert tomorrow for the Banff Midsummer Ball, while myself and some of the guys have been volunteered (there's a lot of that going around) for a modelling gig (more on that tomorrow).

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