Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Coming off stage the other evening, sweaty and exhausted after another great night of Strauss, I had a very interesting realisation. Here I am, finally, as I have wanted to be for so long now, a full-time professional singer. Yet the one thing, the ONE thing I didn't even begin to think about on that stage was singing.

There's one particularly tricky spot in this production combining having to count like crazy, falling full-length after slipping in a pool of blood, and belting out the highest note of the role. I realised I'd thought about the counting (always part of my pre-performance preparation, looking over the potential trouble spots carefully, so that in an emergency I can hopefully rely on my visual memory coming up trumps and showing me where to get back on track!); I'd thought very carefully indeed about the fall (some physio somewhere is going to be very cross with me once I fess up about repeatedly using this injured shoulder as a shock absorber - but I have no intention of going anywhere near one, if I can help it, until this run is over) - the assistant director had kindly pointed out that the guest tenor had bled less than usual, so I had a smaller bloody puddle to aim for, and I was busy telling my legs to slither left while my upper body went forwards and right, thus neatly landing on my good side and still facing towards the audience (this worked, thank goodness); but I gave not a single thought to how that top note was going to come out (and this on a day when I certainly would have panicked previously; wrong time of the month, not enough sleep, and the air full of demon plane-tree seeds waiting to attack one's innocent gullet at the worst possible moment).

Some of this, of course, is due to the nature of the role. Some roles are simply more "sung" than others, and Herodias is pretty much at the extreme end of NOT being lyrical and linear and beautiful. And of course she suits my voice to a T. However when talking to other members of the cast, they report variations on the same phenomenon, and there is some absolutely stunning singing going on in this opera, so when I say I'm not thinking about the singing, it's not that I am not singing properly, it's just that I've got to a point where I simply trust my voice to do what's right for the character in that moment, throw myself into the situation and go with the flow.

A fascinating paradox!

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