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.
Shortly after the famous "Letter Scene," where she re-reads correspondence between her and Werther, Charlotte sings "Va! laisse couler mes larmes" to Sophie, her younger, more optimistic sister, telling her that it is sometimes a good thing to grieve, and not be consoled.
It's the first time we meet Manon, and she has just stepped out of the carriage that took her on her very first journey. Despite her being *en route* to a convent, Manon still finds excitement in all the new things surrounding her. Along with your trusted teachers and coaches, we can offer up some tips and tricks to get you started with Manon, one of Massenet's many complicated ladies.
Rather than recap, we decided to use our photoshoot to create a "lookbook" to serve as inspiration to empower the operatic community to make choices that serve your artistry.
One of the most common pitfalls of singers in the memorizing process is to combine the words and music too soon. It's rare for a singer to have a memory lapse with the music itself (weird rhythmic entries excepted); in most cases, a singer's mind goes blank when they can't remember the upcoming words - even more so, when the text is in a non-native language.
This aria is so often sung that we can become immune to its effect in the context of the entire opera. It's incredibly difficult to play all the musical and dramatic layers when singing the aria alone in an audition or concert. But it can be tons of fun to pretend (to pretend to pretend, really) that Susanna is imagining herself a Real Lady, and finally gets the chance to try it out. It's very Eliza Doolittle, when you think about it.
"Il mio tesoro", from Mozart's Don Giovanni, marks the first time we see Don Ottavio go from fawning, sensitive support system, to a real man with a plan. It's no easy task for a tenor; Mozart writes long phrases, big leaps, coloratura, and those trademark delicate phrase endings that can make any singer sweat. Tenors, while you consult your best teachers and coaches, we can offer you a few quick tips to help make some music out of this tough aria.
Belcore's aria from L'elisir d'amore is all about laying it on thick. He's after Adina, just like the opera's underdog/hero, Nemorino; he pulls out all the stops, like referencing literature, giving her flowers, and generally bragging about how awesome he is at life. It's a relatively rare moment of comedy for a baritone, although the aria doesn't come without its challenges.
Part of the job of the music staff working on an opera is to deliver notes to the singers. Notes, in this context, are basically "things the singer is doing wrong". If you're a music staff member with compassion, this process can leave you feeling at best like Toby from The Office, or at worst, Estelle Costanza from Seinfeld.
Next up in our series of Aria Guides: Mimì's first aria from Puccini's infamous La bohème. The aria is Mimì's response to Rodolfo's "Che gelida manina", and together, they form one of opera's most amazing moments of "getting to know you". Puccini's scores are rich in detail, and he doesn't leave much to the imagination. But along with your teachers and coaches, we can offer a few starting points as you get to work on this delicious bit of music.