Tuesday, February 6, 2007

floridity is the ticket?

I'm really digging the oratorio pieces that I am currently working on (See the Raging Flames Arise from Handel's Joshua, and two of Raphael's arias from Die Schoepfung). They're florid (which is not something included in the other pieces I'm preparing or have in my back pocket -- and for good reason) and due to (I think) a better understanding of my larynx and the florid passagework I've been doing with "vien diletto" exercises, my ability to hack the fioritura is now at an unprecedented level of comfort.

Upward scales, downward scales, stepwise passages, arpeggiated ascending and descending series -- they're all sung with a comfort I would *never* have thought possible, and with a line and resonance that is really satisfying. In light of this, I think I should include something florid in my audition selection, simply because florid baritones don't seem to be everywhere -- a quick sampling of baritones singing 'Dunque io son' sound pretty appalling from a florid standpoint. And frankly, if the beauty of my voice itself cannot carry the day, it would seem that I have to show that I have more to offer.

Perhaps related to this, I think I'm discovering how to texture the registration that higher tones are still hooked into the voice, but a lighter resonance handles the actual "volume" or carrying power. However, while the upper reaches of the voice (say, high G to C) are stabilizing (I have a high C more often now, heh, even if my teacher says she wouldn't pay to hear it -- hee hee! is that a challenge?!), starting on the note itself is somewhat treacherous and prone to tightening, so I still have a lot to figure out about how to sing that last "O, roi des cieux" from 'Avant de quitter.'

I think watching Hvorostovsky in concert here might be of use (then again, I might not have any idea how he does it...). At least my understanding of the instrument itself is improving -- I'm able to hear more clearly what's going on registration-wise when he goes for those high notes.

The other thing that I'm really liking about the oratorio arias (especially in Raphael's Rollend in schaumenden Wellen) is that they tap into something 'spiritual' (though that's an incredibly hokey word with all of these associations that I don't wish to dredge up).

A friend of mine who was visiting this weekend and I had this discussion (across many different conversations). Essentially -- ethics requires belief in *something* - requires faith in something that need not be religion (the organized versions thereof having their own rituals and codings). Given that, most, if not all people have faith -- it's just a question of faith in what. Faith in science? Faith in people? Faith in God? The act of believing is universal (and if you read Animals in Translation, the author also mentions this obliquely and ties it in in a more ... not scientific, but more reasoned way) -- we all can't agree on what we should be believing. So, despite my disavowal of deities, I do, in fact, have faith. What I would call it, I'm not sure -- but I have faith that humanity/life of humanity is fundamentally worthy of concern or attention. And this faith expresses itself in a way that I think people call 'spirituality' and when I sing with the voice of Raphael (as envisioned by Haydn) about a limpid brook, gliding and purling through rolling vales, there's something that taps at that faith. Tugs it gently, and something special happens to my experience of musicmaking.

Maybe it's solipsistic and self-indulgent, but in recent practices I have lingered on that top D ("Leise"), my voice finally able to float and spin that note without noticeable effort. It's a beautiful feeling.

And I think I'm finally developing a faith that I *am* suited to singing and musicmaking (which I separate from being able to make a career of it). Further, I had an epiphany about what this was all about. Practicing in a more dedicated manner has been wonderful. I love it -- the discipline, the habit, the creativity, the teaching I am giving myself. It's really pushed the point home that I will mostly likely sing and take lessons for the rest of my adult life, regardless of whether or not I'm accepted to school or can make a career of singing.

The belief in myself as a musician has also clarified and separated what I dream about and what attainable goals I set for myself.
  • Dream: to support myself/family through a career in music
  • Goal: to seek and achieve 'mastery' of my vocal technique
This rethinking has also lessened the pressure of the looming auditions, but I still have a looong way to go and a lot of work before I'm done.

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