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

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Warming down

Just a short post today, as I have once again been prompted to draw a parallel between singers and athletes. It's not a particularly far-fetched idea, seeing as what we do is in essence physical, with an enormous emphasis on technique that is supposed to minimise muscular tension, but also training the muscles involved in singing to perform at exaggerated levels compared to their normal 'biological' use. We have to (or at least should) warm up to prepare our bodies for the exertion of singing; we run the risk of injury if we fail to practice good technique; we have a similar curve of our performance capabilities over age; the mental aspect of what we do can either give us wings or neuter us...

Adrian Thompson (my teacher) came into our Figaro rehearsal today, as we were staging the Act 3 sextet, to watch for a bit. I then met up with him later for a lesson in which we focused on Bach's Mass in B minor, which I'm singing in about a month's time. At the end he said that it's really good and important to have a proper sing after a day of staging rehearsals in order to 'warm the voice down', re-focus it after a hard day's work. He went on to say that rehearsals, especially staging ones, where it all gets very bitty, often singing half a phrase at a time, stopping and starting, are a dreadful strain on the voice. As you have to focus on so many things at the same time, the concentration is often not on the singing aspect of the work. 'None of us really sing properly all the time in these rehearsals, after a couple of hours you just lose the will to live, vocally...' That's why it's refreshing to find a room afterwards and sing a lied, song, or aria that puts the voice back to its proper place. A bit like warming down and light stretching after a work-out.

OK, you've indulged me this far, time for a 'treat' ;) How about some quotes from our rehearsals: (I'll leave out the more vulgar ones, so it'll pretty much just be director's lines)

'How do we feel about having some sexual teaspoon action?'
'Sorry, this recit seems to have become all about a chair... Who knew?'
'What are you doing at this point? Oh, just general tidying action? OK'
'I want you to go over to her and have another Hey baby! moment'
'I love that weird noise you're making!'
'OK, so now I want Cherubino to think of yourself as a woman, but Susanna look at him as a man, Countess becomes a man too, but sees Cherubino as a woman, just as he looks at her and goes back to being a man and wanting her as a woman...' I may not have gotten that one right ;)

March 15-18, Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff: be there or... miss it.

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