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.
In a case like this, sometimes a slower tremolo yields better results on the piano. If you try for speed, it'll likely sound a bit drier, a bit more percussive; a slow tremolo lets you just sit in the sound that already exists, and your muscles will be relaxed enough to sustain it.
For our latest Aria Guide, we've picked an aria that has it all: it's beautiful, it's in English, and mezzos get to play Dido, an actual woman. In Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, "Dido's Lament" happens at the end of a simple and sad story: Aeneas, whom Dido loves and has agreed to marry, believes he has to leave her and go to Italy. As he goes, Dido dies from her grief.
Amid captured loved ones and Turkish harems, there's a tenor in love. Belmonte is off to resuce his abducted fiancée, Konstanze, but not without telling us how she makes his heart beat faster. For any tenor, this aria is a mountain of work; there's tricky coloratura, lines which hover through the passaggio, and making it to the end takes planning and stamina.
It's a deceptively simple aria, and the empty accompaniment, a singer can easily feel as though they're walking on eggshells. Along with help from your teachers and coaches, we can offer a few tips for keeping things simple, and creating the illusion of superhuman breath control.
It's hard to describe why (acoustic physicists, please feel free to chime in here), but sometimes a singular note, played on the piano, can be hard to understand. It's not that the singer can't hear it, but the note lacks context.
There are idioms in every language, and that's what we hear when someone speaks with a foreign accent. It's handy for singers to identify some of these habits and idioms that keep them from sounding comfortable in a non-native language. So, we've identified three big linguistic tells for North American English speakers, and how to keep them from foreign language mastery.