5 Minutes of Vocal Track Yoga

What does a singer practice when she can’t practice singing at that moment? How about Yoga? There are many different style of Yoga out there, and I prefer the Hatha style: emphasis on the breath and meditation, and a focus on creating balance between strength and flexibility through maintaining asanas (postures).

The practice of bringing awareness to your body is important to your vocal practice as well. The purpose of the following five minute session is to bring your awareness to the structure of your instrument and to ground your technique in the strength of your breath and the calmness of your mind. I must credit the master teacher Jean Ronald LaFond for inspiring these applications of body/energy awareness.

BELLY BREATHING

Before beginning, set an intention for the next five minutes.

1.) Kindle the fire. Sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor with your chin slightly down and neck straight. Lightly close your eyes and create space between your teeth. Place your hands just below your belly button. Inhale and exhale with very long breaths, imagining that each inhale feeds a little fire in your belly, where your hands are resting. Remind yourself of your intention. Continue for 5 breaths, and continue to breathe into your hands for the duration of the practice.

2.)Skylight. As you inhale, imagine that the top of your scalp has a retractable roof and slowly open the roof to the sky above you, like a convertible car’s roof retracting. Imagine the exhale sweeping out or “brightening” the inner lining of your skull. Continue for 5 long breaths.

3.) Inhale a smile. As you inhale, gently and subtly lift the cheeks with the zygomatic muscles – those that wrap around the sides of the mouth and lift the corners of the mouth during smiling. Exhale and imagine a “brightening” on the front of your face. Continue for 5 long breaths.

4.) Release the jaw. As you inhale through your nose, release your jaw ever so slightly forward and down until you have reached the top of your inhalation and the most open jaw position possible without any tension or force. As you exhale let the jaw naturally close to start. Continue for 5 breaths.

5.) Shush and lean. Inhale deeply, feeding the little fire in your belly. Exhale on the sound shhhh and continue until you have used every molecule of air. Lean into the shhh…never let the shhh sound be flabby or unenergized, it should not sound like you are conserving air. Go as long as you possibly can on the shhh sound, working toward 20, 30 seconds or more. Continue for 5 breaths.

6.) Breathe easy. Release all control of the breath, the mind, and the body and be grateful for your instrument. Flex your fingers and toes and reach your arms above your head. Breathe easy.

You’re done! This is also a nice way to incorporate body awareness before a practice session, audition, performance, or in the midst of a long rehearsal day. Enjoy!

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Confidence is a Choice I Can Make

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I was raised to be insecure by default. I was taught that all men are evil, that I am only as precious as a man thinks I am, that I will be loved as long as I am dutiful and beautiful, and that I have nothing important to say or do outside “the home” or “the church”. Years of work on myself later, I still carry around with me a part that is quiet and reserved, ever-doubting, ever-searching for validation.

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My insecurity blanket is the thing -the only thing- that can keep me from success in my relationships and my career. This insidious insecurity can and will destroy all the good things in my life. You could say that fear is my enemy. (Well yes, that is a Frozen reference.)

But confidence is a choice I can make.

A popular diet book advises taking daily cold baths as a way to rev up your metabolism. The instructions say that when you sit down in the chilly bath water sit down quickly, like a child playing musical chairs. I’ve tried this whole cold baths thing, and whether it works on your metabolism, it certainly works on your resolve. The first several moments in the tub feel like true torture, then suddenly your body kicks into this completely exhilarating feeling. You’re supposed to sit or lay in the cold water for about eight minutes, and in spite of the energy rush I am experiencing, I am often tempted to abandon my mission and scramble out of the water. But when I finish all eight minutes and bounce out of the bath I have a real sense of happiness and accomplishment, eager to take on my infant, toddler, and seemingly endless career to-do list.

I may not be confident by nature now, but I can certainly plunge head-long into confident thoughts and actions. Confident thoughts and actions can be very uncomfortable to me, like the miserable shock of bathing in cold water, and all I want to do is escape to the comfort of being just an object, a pawn. Being confident simply feels to me like stubbornly refusing to give in to my fears. The more you train yourself to choose confidence over fear, the more successful and credible you will be in your relationships, both on and off the stage.

It’s very easy to look for confidence outside ourselves: in a relationship status, in a teacher’s praise, or in social media approval. When we chase validation, we’re simply looking for confidence in all the wrong places. The outside search is based on false presumptions about the people around us, and those presumptions will ultimately build up a wall between us and our partners, teachers and audiences. Confidence is about deeply connecting to your true self, your story, your mission.

Here’s what I like to do when my insecurity blanket starts smothering me:

1.) Close my eyes and center my mind on breathing into my lower dantien, that energy center below the navel (about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel), which is also called “the golden stove”. Discover a sense of grounding and balance.

 

2.) Envision myself working through my situation completely strong and confident in whatever I do.

 

3.) Feel what it would feel like to be super strong and purposeful every day.

 

4.) Generate the confident feeling by remembering a time when I felt that way. If I can’t remember feeling confident to that degree, then I think of a character in an opera or the movies (or a certain R&B artist) that embodies that quality. Then I imagine playing that role, feeling how confidence feels at the same time.

 

5.) Envision myself hunting down my insecure thoughts and fears like they are disgusting parasites, bravely wrapping them up in soap bubbles, and watching them float away.

Confidence is a choice I can make. I can make that choice as many times a day as it takes to live my dream, to serve my purpose, to tell my story.

 

Open heart, open throat, open mind

English: Rosa 'Peace' - hybrid tea rose; Peace...
English: Rosa ‘Peace’ – hybrid tea rose; Peace rose in full bloom, showing off the delicate shading from yellow to pink.

Many of the vocal issues I’ve dealt with are the result of a lack of flow in the instrument (body) and lack of congruence between body and mind. Shout out to Karen Hoyos for the inspiration here.

If I felt fear, it showed up in an incredibly tense vocal tract and an unfocused mind.

Here’s how I’ve dealt with it: I practiced opening up my heart as widely as possible, and then I sang what came out…without judgment the entire time.

If I felt mad, I sang out the anger. If I felt afraid, I sang that. If I felt sexy and beautiful I sang that, and if I was feeling silly…well, you get the picture. Tears and laughter are an inevitable part of this process too, so go with it.

I started giving my heart her voice back.

Now, seriously, don’t do this with your arias or art music, don’t even try this “therapy” with rep you may sing one day. Do this with scales and arpeggios and material that is out of your fach.

Every day you have to practice opening up your heart, I don’t think anyone can honestly say that they don’t. If you are a singer with flow and congruence issues (raise your hand if you’re not-I want to take you to dinner) you can benefit from a few minutes a day in an open heart meditation.

When I prepare to sing these days, I am reminding myself: “Open heart, open throat, open mind”.

More on the open mind journey next time…

Xo,
J

I’m feeling you, Sonic

collinsInstead of cereal boxes, I enjoy reading non-fiction with my morning coffee.  That’s only because carbs make me fat and books don’t. And well, because I’m a self-employed entrepreneur of the starving-artist sort, I am particularly fascinated by business innovations/management literature these days. This morning it was this book on the table: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins.  Just mentioning the title would be a great conversation starter among a group of emerging artists, and I have enjoyed applying the perspective of a CEO to myself this morning as I glance over at the pile of new audition rep recently suggested to me by my voice teacher.

In flipping through the chapter summaries, I notice this question:

“Are you a hedgehog or a fox?” fox

Isaiah Berlin, social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas, wrote his now-famous essay called “The Hedgehog and the Fox” based on the ancient Greek parable: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

Ok, I like this already. My teacher’s and my goal is to learn to dominate an extremely simple technique, and this could be a great way to reinforce that idea.

The fox is a cunning creature, able to devise a myriad of complex strategies for sneak attacks upon the hedgehog. Day in and day out, the fox circles around the hedgehog’s den, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Fast, sleek, beautiful, fleet of foot, and crafty–the fox looks like the sure winner. The hedgehog, on the other hand, is a dowdier creature, looking like a genetic mix-up between a porcupine and a small armadillo. He waddles along, going about his day, searching for lunch and taking care of his home.

The fox waits in cunning silence at the juncture in the trail. The hedgehog, minding his own business, wanders right into the path of the fox. “Aha, I’ve got you now!” thinks the fox. He leaps out, bounding across the ground, lightning fast. The little hedgehog, sensing danger, looks up and thinks, “Here we go again. Will he ever learn?” Rolling up into a perfect little ball, the hedgehog becomes a sphere of sharp spikes. The fox, bounding toward his prey, sees the hedgehog in defense and calls off the attack. Retreating back into the forest, the fox begins to calculate a new line of attack. Each day, some version of this battle between the hedgehog and the fox takes place, and despite the greater cunning of the fox, the hedgehog always wins.

200px-Hedgehogandfox

Berlin extrapolated from this little parable to divide people into two basic groups: foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes pursue many ends at the same time and see the world in all its complexity. They are “scattered or diffused, moving on many levels,” says Berlin, never integrating their thinking into one overall concept or unifying vision. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything. It doesn’t matter how complex the world, a hedgehog reduces all challenges and dilemmas to simple—indeed almost simplistic—hedgehog ideas. For a hedgehog, anything that does not somehow relate to the hedgehog idea holds no relevance.

In Good to Great, Collins defines a Hedgehog Concept as a “simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding” about the intersection of the following three circles. I have directly applied these circles to the understanding necessary for a young vocal artist to succeed:

  1. What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at). This standard goes far beyond fach. Just because you posses the competence and acoustics of a certain fact doesn’t necessarily mean you can be the best in the world at it, or that all the skills of that fach will come easily to you. Conversely, what you can be the best at might not even be some technical aspect that opera professionals would immediately listen for in your repertoire.
  2. What you are marketable as. Today’s working world-class singers have somehow attained piercing insight into how to most effectively generate sustained interest in their package and profitability of their choices of roles. In particular, they have discovered the single denominator that has the greatest impact on their hire-ability.
  3. What you are deeply passionate about. The great singers focused on those roles and arias that ignited their passion. The idea here is not to stimulate passion, but to discover what makes you passionate. As a personal soap-box-side-note, tell me how you can discover what makes you passionate without exposing yourself to the great singers of past generations and being adventurous and brave in your vocal work.

hedgehog

Some things to think about:

  • The Hedgehog Concept is not a goal, strategy, or intention; it is passive; it is an understanding.
  • If you cannot be the best in the world at some aspect of your package, you should take a closer look at what is happening in the practice room, or if you really even want to compete in this career path.
  • The “best in the world” understanding is a much more severe standard than technical competence. Conversely, perhaps there are  aspects at which you could become the best in the world, but at which you have no current competence. How is your diction? your dynamic sensitivity? your acting? your endurance? your trill? your ability to collaborate in another language?
  • To get insight on your marketability, listen for feedback on the one aspect of your total package that has the single greatest impact.
  • Great singers have a skill set based on understanding. Good singers have a package based on competency and/or bravado.
  • Getting the circles of the Hedgehog Concept is an iterative process. Use your “team” (your teacher, coaches, studio mates, and significant others).

My Cringeworthy Secret

Last night I had one of the best coachings I’ve had in a long time. There are some technical issues that I’ve been working on for the past couple of months while my teacher has been away in Berlin, and last night’s coach gave me some really useful strategies for approaching these bugs.

But the most meaningful moment was when he proposed that these physical quirks could just be manifestations of some mental hangups. I think he was right. I have a dark secret that I have worked zealously to keep under wraps.

I’m scared.

I’m intimidated of this career, I’m afraid I’m not good enough, I’m scared to sing, I’m scared not to sing…sometimes I feel stuck.

Maybe you have the same secret. Maybe you already know you need to let go and go for it. As my insightful coach put it, “Let go, and surrender.” These are some of the most unsettling words you can hear as a singer. And some of the most powerful.

It’s so interesting…as I’m sitting here listening to the recording of my coaching session, I hear that what I need to tweak with my breath and my sostenuto are actually about embracing uncertainty; I don’t need to make any huge change to my technique, I have to acknowledge that release can bring me peace or panic…serenity or turbulence…sweetness or sadness.

One element of bel canto is the “appoggia” or lean. That’s the muscular antagonism between the inspiratory and expiratory breathing muscles while singing. It’s also a reference to the role of the larynx in providing resistance to the upward pressure of the breath. So in its fullest sense, “appoggia” is the complex balancing act between two sets of muscles at the respiratory and laryngeal levels. The image of leaning on the voice is a great metaphor for breath support. I like to think of the breath as water and the body as earth, combining to make a divine blend of mud, silky and delicate like a mud mask, and sometimes a little thicker, like a mineral mud bath where you can immerse your entire body.

But water and earth also combine to form mud that is too thick, dried out, and solid as adobe brick…which is also an ideal metaphor for being stuck. That’s where I am.

When we overfill our emotional body with unused elements of artistry and technique, we become stuck. We become procrastinators, we become attached to things that no longer serve us. Ultimately, we can get pretty clingy. And needy. Hanging on to something that no longer serves us.

You know what would happen if you were to take one of those great breaths at the beginning of a beautifully composed phrase, then you clench down and hold it. At that point you’ve already absorbed all the oxygen you need from this breath, but you’re still holding on. Just try spinning out a beautiful phrase now.

This is what it’s like to hold on to something that no longer serves you. What do other things in your life feel like when you hold onto them past their value point? Is there a fach, a teacher, a relationship, a point of view that you are still holding onto that no longer serves you?

Is there a box that you’ve meant to open that is still taped shut?

This could be a real box from a move or another metaphor that speaks to some congested aspect of your singing life; something you want to open, but for some reason it has remained closed. Acknowledge that there is another world other than the world you are locked into.

The reason we have fear and trepidation about taking the plunge is that we think that taking the plunge is diving off a thousand-foot cliff into the water below. There are so many factors to concern ourselves with: the depth of the water…the splash from the crash…the timing of your breath…our form as we dive…will my parents be watching? Will there be any sharks in the water to nibble on me? How far from shore is it? Do I need a life vest to hold onto?

Taking that plunge is horrifying and humiliating.

Instead, imagine that taking the plunge is like so gently sliding into a warm, lavender-scented bathtub: bubbles and salts caressing your body. The water temperature is soothing…the aroma is nourishing…and calming. The depth of the water is just perfect, cradling your neck, supporting your back. This plunge feels pretty good. Expansive. Nurturing.  Awakening. Supportive. Generous. Loving. In line with what you want.

It doesn’t need to be challenging or painful, taking the plunge can be exhilarating! It’s finally getting yourself off the space you’ve been occupying: the chair, the couch, the bed, the practice room, the hedge fund day job, the young artist programs, the chewed consonant, the disconnected breath…wherever you’ve been stuck out of fear or overwhelm, at some point you have to break free from the past and the reinforcement that has kept you in check.

“I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on Fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed. My father taught me that, along with a few other things that have kept my life interesting.”
― Hunter S. ThompsonKingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

Think of the unknown as a gift, so that you can grow in any direction. Think of uncertainty as the driver of possibility and potential.

I’ve been stuck long enough. I’m ready to step outside my comfort zone of “this is what my voice does and this is what my voice doesn’t do” to a place where new things, GREAT things, unexpected things, unplanned things can occur. I want to actually have the life I dream of. As my delightfully unmusical Mann says, I now need to add some “swagger” to my audition package.

I think singers in this city and in this economy have conditioned ourselves to think that we have a looooong way to go before we quit our day job.  Can it be that I am so embarrassed that I am not yet singing in A houses that I hang on to my vocal bugs as a way of saying “see, this is why I’m not at La Scala, because I’ll never be good enough!”? Is there such a thing as fear of success?

I think I’m entitled to the same when-I grow-up-I-want-to-be-a-singer dream I had as a high-schooler. I desperately want to connect with that un-constricted, unbounded self. That self is a conduit for real art to flow through. I know I need to give myself permission to feel powerful when I sing. I need to lean into the present moment and give up “then”.

I invite you to jump in with me.

xo,

Juliana

P.S. Thank you sooo much, Dear Coach. I look forward to our next session!

Leap, and the net will appear. -John Burroughs

What Tony Taught Me – Acting for Real Part 3

I developed my own personal Method-acting-hybrid style from two people: Michael Gelb (random, I know, but I’ll explain later) and Anthony Hopkins.

In my experience as an acting student and audience member, nothing has moved me more than performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theater roster members.  When I was an undergrad theater major, I spent more hours in the library watching RSC and John Barton‘s “Playing Shakespeare” video series than I did in my actual acting classes. This is also when I fell head-over-heels in love with Judi Dench. Watch her video in the Geek Out! section at the end of this post.

Today I still feel that there is no better way to learn how to study a singing/acting role than by preparing a Shakespearean role.

It’s the method of preparing Shakespeare that is unlike any other American acting experience and applies so beautifully to operatic preparation; I have been directly inspired by Anthony Hopkins in this regard.  Sir Anthony is renowned for his preparation for roles. He has indicated in his interview, “Lecter and Me: A Behind-the-Scenes looks at Red Dragon“, that once he has committed to a project, he will go over his lines 250 times until the lines sound natural to him, so that he can do it without thinking. Listen for glimpses into his role preparation here:

This leads to an almost casual style of delivery that belies the amount of groundwork done beforehand.

Watch and learn from Hopkins’ in Shakespeare’s “Othello”, Act III, scene 3, lines 337 to end…….Othello enters “Ha!, False to me! to me!” and Iago plants stories of Cassio and the handkerchief.

This leads to an almost casual style of delivery that belies the amount of groundwork done beforehand.

While it can allow for the spontaneity of a fresh performance, this kind of preparation also allows the singer to keep repetitive rehearsals to a minimum, and in the course of a practice day, allows a young singer to spend more vocal energy on vocalises. Director Richard Attenborough praised Hopkins for “this extraordinary ability to make you believe when you hear him that it is the very first time he has ever said that line. It’s an incredible gift.”

It’s from Sir Anthony that I am inspired to give to the audience something of a clean canvas on which to paint their own reactions to a REAL situation. Hopkins uses the image of a submarine to describe the stealthy machine at work under the surface of the lines and the actor’s face. Hopkins has said acting “like a submarine”has helped him to deliver credible performances in his thriller movies. He said, “It’s very difficult for an actor to avoid, you want to show a bit. But I think the less one shows the better.”
Here’s how that translates to me:
First, you study your pants off. (This is where Michael Gelb helped me.)

Next, imagine this, Method Skeptics: instead of immersing yourself in the character and stopping there, create a REAL person (character) and immerse that character in the music and vocalism.  Let your character be the submarine and let the music be the water all around you.

GEEK OUT! To more John Barton and RSC in this superior lesson on Naturalistic vs Heightened Speech. Opera singers, you are foolish to ignore this lesson…

And, as promised, Judi Dench preparing Twelfth Night

The Character No One Hears – Acting for Real Part 2.1

Simon Keenlyside, Hamlet

Know Who Your Character is When No One is Listening

To my Beloved Tenor who is working on expression, this is for you.

During an aria or even an entire opera, we won’t see every aspect of a character. In life, no one sees every aspect of you; have you ever thought about how much time we spend sitting in silence? I think over-achieving opera singers forget about these quiet moments when all they can hear is the music. Know who your character is when no one is listening- when not even your character is listening to herself/himself. Understand that REAL people are constantly using filters, and in acting for REAL, you have to get to know even the filters that your character would use.

Even in your stillness when sitting on the A train and staring off into space, there is no doubt that you are a REAL person.

A REAL character has so much more UNSAID than SAID.

UNSPOKEN STORY + FILTER + SPOKEN STORY = REALITY

It is your own reality that informs how you introduce yourself -or not- or how you tell a story, how you react to bad news…indeed, it is your own reality that informs how you sit in a silent moment. Yes, as our acting teachers have all told us, “this is the most important day of your life!” during any given scene, but as an opera singer we actually have to show very little because of all the layers available to us that contribute to the unspoken story.

The little that we do show is informed by this REAL character that has come to life in our table preparation. Further, the little that you show allows the voice to radiate out of your character in a very specific way, and you will perform the role unlike anything else your audience has ever seen.

Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens

In It

Don’t settle for acting “as if”. Have a purpose for every detail in the music.

  • Prefer an internal “gesture” to vocal “gesture”.
  • Prefer a vocal “gesture” to physical gesture.
  • Use cadenza and other stylistic devices to illustrate intention.
  • Play a game of hide-and-seek between context and subtext.
  • Obsess over  the culture and language of the work.
  • Use your own body, your own voice.

TIP!!! After you have done all your table work (who, what, when, where, why), discipline yourself to sit in the long silent moment that proceeds your character’s speech, as if you were sitting on the subway train. I do this for 30 minutes at a time several times over the course of preparing a role or art song. Sit alone and still as the character, then jump right into the piece from that stillness. Alternate between jumping into a spoken monologue and into the sung version.

Joyce DiDonato in Don Giovanni

None of the major Method teachers of the 20th century was completely correct or incorrect, and not all acting styles will work on an operatic or musical theater stage. I sincerely believe that every actor – singing or not – must make sense of his material through an honesty about the world around us.

Mandy Patinkin, Sunday in the Park with George

I developed my own personal acting method primarily from two people: Michael Gelb and Anthony Hopkins. More on this next! 😉

The Madness to Your Method- Acting for Real Part 2

photo of Lee Strasberg teaching

Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, to develop lifelike performances. It’s contrasted with more classical forms of acting as well as traditional opera performance, in which actors and singing actors simulate the thoughts and emotions of their characters through external means, such as vocal intonation or facial expression.

Strasberg acting with Al Pacino in Godfather II

Though not all Method actors use the same approach, the “method” in Method acting usually refers to the practice, pioneered by Constantin Stanislavski and advocated by Lee Strasberg, by which actors draw upon their own emotions and memories in their portrayals, aided by a set of exercises and practices including sense memory and affective memory.

Method Misconceptions

Method actors are often characterized as immersing themselves in their characters to the extent that they continue to portray them even offstage or off-camera during a project. However, this is a popular misconception. While some actors have employed this approach, it is generally not taught as part of the Method.

More Than Script and Character

Opera and Musical Theater singers, we have at least two more major layers added to our portrayal beyond character and “lines”.

We have music and we have vocalism.

This doesn’t mean we can’t develop lifelike performances, it means we have to build REAL musicality and REAL vocalism, which will eventually become your clean canvas for creating a character…no one said it was easy.

As for the music, obey and honor the composer. Be a musician of integrity and be faithful to the score and to tradition. Unless you have proven yourself a worthy challenger, always yield to the conductor.

As for the voice, build the instrument relentlessly as athletes study, build, and nourish their bodies. Trust that all your technique is there when it’s performance time. When the curtain goes up, it’s too late to think about technique. If your technique isn’t ready to trust, your performance will seem especially contrived and uncomfortable for the audience.

Next up…Know Who Your Character is When No One is Listening

I Don’t Believe You! – Acting for Real Part 1

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” 


In attempting to make singing actors out of classical singers, I’ve observed frustrated teachers and students trying to marry the sound of the voice with the sense of the scene.

Almost every “Acting for Opera” workshop I’ve attended includes reciting the text followed by reciting a character’s “facts” and concluding with a Frankenstein performance mashing all those things together.

It goes like this:

  • Teacher has Student recite the text of the aria.
  • If Teacher wants to really torture Student, she will have Student recite the translated text word-for-word in English.
  • Teacher, with a lengthy oration on how to flesh out a character, asks Student to rattle off the “who, what, when, where, why” of the character’s circumstance during the character’s aria.
  • Singer gives the facts.
  • Student proceeds to perform the aria again, this time singing the happy bits with a smile and the intention “to inspire joy” and the sad bits with a faraway look and the intent “to recall a happier time.”
  • Teacher looks at the rest of the class with pride and leads the ovation.

Ta-Da!! In a brief 25-minutes the aria has magically transformed from the standard park-and-bark to a performance complete with gestures, facial expressions, and dynamics.

English: Spanish opera singer Jose Mardones (1...

And I’m sitting in my seat unmoved, thinking “I still don’t believe you!  I don’t believe that this is what it feels like to be on top of the world, in a fight with your lover, betrayed by your best friend, dying of consumption…” Here’s the truth. You don’t have to shove those details in my face, Singer. You only need to give me permission to have two things: the clean canvas of your own honesty and an infinite palate of pure colors provided by an honest performance of the music and the text with which to paint my own human experience in this very REAL moment.

“I still don’t believe you!  I don’t believe that this is what it feels like to be on top of the world, in a fight with your lover, betrayed by your best friend, dying of consumption…”

Just as the acting teacher struggles to pull something deeper out of an opera singer’s performance, there is a struggle among opera coaches as to which acting style is the most appropriate to facilitate the athletic demands of the singer’s instrument. A popular argument at this time is that opera singers can never take advantage of a true Method acting technique, as total immersion into a character will most definitely interfere with the ability to produce the correct operatic sound. Sadly, many of those who uphold this conviction don’t really know what they mean by “Method”.

Next, Part 2: The Madness to your Method

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