Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Five-Six-Seven-Eight....

Let’s compare and contrast breathing and support, shall we? I’ve sung opera and I’ve performed musical theater. Let me tell you something, opera singers have an enormous advantage when it comes to breath support. Not to say opera singers have it easier. Opera singers must research and learn a role, same as musical theater, sure. But the opera role it typically sung in a FOREIGN LANGUAGE, with a much heftier and vocally taxing score, over a 60 piece orchestra and in front of a 40+ member chorus into a house of 3,000 seats with no amplification. Am I saying opera singers have it easy? Absolutely not.

But let’s take a typical staging for any opera. Stand here. Sing. Ok, move over there. Stand. Sing. Wander back over there. Stand. Sing. Oh, you’re a lyric coloratura? Ok, lie down there on the stage and sing all your high notes. You’re a tenor? Ok, plant your feet, grow roots to the stage and emote with your hands palms up with elbows bent at a 45 degree angle. Typical tenor staging since their mind doesn't wander much past a concentration level of, "look everybody! I'm singing a high B-flat!!!"

This kind of opera staging fundamentally allows a singer to consciously align and support the vocal production, even from a prone position. A singer can make minor adjustments as necessary to enhance resonance, concentrate on phrasing, and literally bust a gut if necessary.

Recently I’ve observed a definite contrast in support techniques while rehearsing for COLE. This musical review is jam packed with Cole Porter’s famous, funny and cleverest songs. Each number is choreographed by local former Broadway dance captain, Amy Palomino, who tests the coordinational limits of all six cast members through elaborate footwork and Fosse-hands, all while singing in tune and in harmony.

What goes through a singer’s mind while singing and dancing an ensemble number of “Anything Goes”? It ain’t breath support, and clear vocal production. In my mind, at least, it goes something like this….

(A five six seven eight)
“In olden days…"(step left turn)
(hands in the air, now do the Charleston)
(Step kick, step-ball-change, now we’re trucking)
"…looked on as something shocking" (DON’T FORGET TO SMILE!)
(box step left and don’t poke your neighbor do a little time step)
“Anything Goes!”
Whew! Ever see A Chorus Line? Compare what I just wrote to a few lines of the first song of that soundtrack:

Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch...Got it?
Going on, turn, turn, touch down,
Back step, pivot step, walk, walk, walk!

Sound familiar? After wiggling through a full number with my pearly whites gleaming and ending full blast on a high “E” I’m proud to say my operatic vocal training and a worthless music degree comes in handy for something. Next stop…Broadway?

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Comments on "A Five-Six-Seven-Eight...."


Blogger LilKnitter said ... (July 12, 2007 6:10 AM) : 

Ah, but then you have G&S, which can be as vocally taxing as typical opera, but is just as physically lively as musical theatre! (Of course, I'm really looking forward to doing G&S someday soon with our local performing company. Iolanthe was fabulous last season.) Never am I more glad for my 20 years of dancing than when I'm blocking numbers!


Blogger AuntieB said ... (July 18, 2007 11:14 AM) : 


Were you in my head a few years back and I didn't notice?

BTDT, even got the t-shirt. Then I put on a few pounds and the dancing eased up a bit.

Thanks for the reminder.


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