Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Lisette Oropesa's recent Traviata recording

As Violetta at Opera di Roma
Photo:  Fabrizio Sansoni/TOR
I have never made any secret about my immense fondness and admiration for the artistry of Lisette Oropesa. I have written about her many times in these pages, including one lovely interview she graciously granted me.  

I first heard dear Lisette when she was a member of the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera. At the Met, she became known for singing high, light roles like Nanetta in Falstaff and Sophie in Werther. Not surprising considering the size of the Met's performance space. At the same time she was learning and coaching the Violettas and Lucias for which she is now known for her amazing performances in more realistically sized theatres in Europe. I was privileged to be in attendance in Philadelphia at what I believe was her first production of La Traviata. I was amazed.

I was provided with the recent recording of La Traviata with Lisette as Violetta, René Barbera as Alfredo, and Lester Lynch as the elder Germont. The orchestra was the Dresdner Philharmonie under conductor Daniel Oren. I must beg the forgiveness of one and all for how long it has taken me to write this report.

Wearing a gift made by me
Pattern:  Dana Macleod/
Creatively Created Crochet

As usual, one is amazed and the seemingly flawless vocal technique of Ms. Oropesa, her beautiful sound throughout her wide range, and her artistry. She knows these roles inside anf out, because she knows the language. I have no idea with how many languages Lisette is fluent, but we know that Italian is one of them,  This is much more than beautiful singing--this is beautiful vocal acting.

With the other principals I am quite pleased as well. "Lunge da lei per me no va diletto (away from her for me there is no pleasure) really means something to Alfredo. 

Would I recommend this recording? Absolutely and without reservation. Well worth a listen and any purchase price.

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Liberated Voice

Today I take up pen (OK, fingers, but that somehow sounds inappropriate) to write about the lovely and talented Claudia Friedlander and her web site, The Liberated Voice.

Photo blatantly ganked from web site
No attribution given there
First, I must confess that I studied with Claudia for several years. Her knowledge and her approach to teaching were a perfect fit for my over-thinking head, but I know she teaches people with all different kinds of learning styles. There has been only one other teacher in my long experience of teacher-hopping (possibly a totally different article) who was such a good match, and that dear lady is, I hear, no longer in this world. The reasons I am no longer studying are simple: Claudia charges a reasonable fee for an accomplished and experienced voice teacher in NYC, and I could no longer afford it, and I never ask anyone to work for free; and then I left NYC. (She now also teaches online.) 

We have kept in touch over the years, and I appreciate that very much. Recently Claudia provided me with a review copy of the online course based on her book, Complete Vocal Fitness. (I do not have an Amazon affiliate link, but if you know someone who does and want to look at this book, please support your friend with an affiliate link.) This online course contains instruction videos, downloadable PDFs, and audio files. It also contains Q&A videos which I find particularly useful, because they are personal interactions with the people who submit questions. One often hears a difference in that student's singing between the beginning and the end of the video. One thing I especially like is that Claudia asks the student to verbalize his/her understanding of how a change was achieved.

As I said, Claudia's teaching style with me personally always worked with my over-thinking brain. In consideration of that, I can see that some might not want to hear or be able to absorb in just one hearing all of the technical knowledge that is presented here: respiration, phonation, resonance, articulation, etc. However, as I have heard said, patience and perseverance made a bishop of His Reverence. (Say it as if you're British, and it rhymes.)

All teaching is about eliminating barriers and increasing efficiency. There is no getting around it. To some this comes more easily than to others. That is also a fact of life. I myself find that a combination of scientific knowledge and imagery work best in my own singing. That might not be true for every singer. I believe Claudia has a sense of how to approach every singer who applies to her for guidance.

In summary, I must say that I highly recommend this online course for those who are able to access it. Because I was provided a review copy, I do not know the retail price. However, access to her web site is free, and there you will find a blog and lots of other information. Please take a look.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Lessons Learned

For some reason I have been watching a lot of Joyce Didonato master classes on YouTube lately. They are wonderful. At one point, I think I approached her people with the idea of watching them all and distilling her teaching into one article, but that never happened. 

Well, it's happening now.

Everything comes down to these principles:

  1. I used this photo a number of years ago
    for another article. 
    Photo:  Paul Dukovic
    Make sure your technique is rock solid. Do what it takes, even if it means making a painful change in your life. Your vocal technique must be so automatic that you no longer think about, while still thinking about it all the time.
  2. Do the work, do the work, do the work. Know what you are singing so thoroughly that you can sing it backwards hopping on whatever foot a director asks you to, on alternate Tuesdays and Thursday upon presentation of visiting card. (A quarter for anyone who gets that reference.) Practice 40 different ways to interpret each phrase, and then practice 40 more.
  3. Use the language. Know which words deserve special emphasis. Make yourself uncomfortable with how much you emphasize the language. Use the consonants while keeping phrasing and legato and a sense of arc for the entire aria or role--it's not a contradiction if your breath is moving in a healthy way. People will rarely advise you to do less. 
  4. Take the right actions and let go of the results.  True for all of life, really.

There. Feel free to pay me $200/hr now, like many teachers and coaches charge.

Many great artists give similar advice, but few do it so eloquently and with a such a sense of understanding for the process of a young singer that we hear from dear Joyce. 

I am, and have always been, Pro-Joyce!

Here is an amazing example: