Have you ever been faced with an ugly truth that's hard to deny? That's the gist of the stunning "Embroidery Aria", sung by Ellen Orford in Britten's Peter Grimes. The Embroidery Aria is no easy sing, and as you work on it in the practice room and with your teachers and coaches, we can help you get off on the right track with our latest Aria Guide:
It's brisk, colourful, more than a little meta in subject matter, and it's a trouser role to boot. It's a densely packed aria that shows off your goods, and there's a fine line to tread between singing beautifully in the way that Strauss so often asks for, and pushing your voice into the realm of screaming.
Without enough nasal quality in those very particular French vowels, you'll sound like an awkward American, speaking Italian with a bad head cold; go too far with your nasality, and you can be accused of making a gross mockery of what French sounds like to non-French people.
Music that's meant to be slow can come with side effects like heaviness and stagnancy, which make the singing process unnecessarily difficult. Often the easiest way to find an aria's shape - and uncover some decent phrases - is to practice it at a metronome marking that's decidedly too fast.
There are some words that aren't actually helped by being overly literal with the pronunciation. The T's in words like "better" and "getting" have a natural tendency to sound more like D's; depending on how they're set, the sung versions of these words come out more clearly by keeping these "lazy" D sounds. An airy T sound can actually obscure the sound of the word, since it's unfamiliar to the ear.
Since we're in the business of helping you all stay passionate about it, we're pleased to share this great infographic from the folks over at TakeLessons.com. In the midst of all the things there are to learn about singing and musicianship, it can be easy to skip the bare essentials, like keeping your body healthy, limber, and prepped for great artistry.
Last year, we brought you some tips on opera-insider jargon, and how to speak the industry shorthand. Part I focused on the names of operas and their nicknames, and in part II, we're talking rehearsals and types of voices. So, if you're hoping to infiltrate opening-night opera parties, or just keep up with the opera talk with your singer friends, we can help you with the shortened lingo.
Daughters have been making pouting faces and puppy eyes at their fathers to get what they want for centuries, and Puccini encapsulates the strategy perfectly. "Babbino" is like saying "Daddy", or even "Daddykins", and to sing it on top of the lush tune is the equivalent of crocodile tears. "I'll throw myself off a bridge", Lauretta paraphrases (twice), if she doesn't get her way. Ugh.
Verismo music is decidedly gorgeous, with long, sweeping lines and a thick orchestra. The musical style is a foundation for the film scores of today, and though the impression is powerful, the harmonic structure of many verismo scores is fairly simple; it adds to the audience accessibility, and makes for some beautiful tunes to hum as you leave the theatre.
It can be extremely humbling for a trained pianist to discover just how hard it is to stay with a conductor. It may seem unfair - shouldn't a conductor be a living, breathing version of a metronome, after all? In some cases, that's true; Philip Glass' music works well when a tempo is set and maintained, but we guarantee you wouldn't want to hear your Puccini at an unwavering 108 clicks a minute.