Thursday, 28 May 2015

I know, it's really been a while; sorry!  I've been busy with a few things relating to the current season, and have been scrabbling to put together a decent publicity package to stun theatres across Europe (well, hey, the world, if it's listening; anyone who is interested, please get in touch!) into letting me loose upon their stages.  

One of the aspects with which I had most trouble was the simple video shooting of me singing an aria or two.  You'd think it wasn't a difficult thing to arrange, but bringing together a great accompanist, a good piano, a venue that's not too acoustically dry yet not too resonant, a sound engineer, a videographer and myself in decent voice and looking elegant was like HERDING CATS!

I managed it in the end, and you can see one of the videos above (it's an excerpt from Kostelnička's Aria "Co chvila...", from the opera Jenůfa, by Janáček.  I always think of the late, great Philip Langridge when I sing this, as I first worked on it with him, and when he asked if I were singing it in the original language or in translation and I said the former, he grinned and said, "Oh great, you get to spit all over the audience in Czech!")

It's the details that you remember, isn't it?  Like wondering where to warm up the voice beforehand, and upon discovering that an ancient and venerable chapel was empty of tourists, asking the man at the front desk if it would be possible to sing a few scales.  He looked me up and down and said, dryly, "Just don't break any windows, then." (I'm pleased to report that I didn't.)

Or arriving early at the venue and not being able to get in, so that my lovely accompanist found me sitting in the car park in the sunshine, musing on how gravel is formed.  We had a good discussion about that; possibly not the usual prelude to a recording session, but I enjoyed it!

Or realising halfway through that it's all very well spending ages worrying about an outfit and whether it shows off one's waist, if one plonks oneself in front of a black grand piano in a black suit!

My favourite bit though was probably in the pub afterwards, where I definitely owed those who'd helped me a drink.  I felt like a red wine and asked what they recommended.  The barman, having asked about my preferences, offered a choice between a Shiraz and a Merlot, and gave me small samples to try.  The Shiraz tasted absolutely appalling, so, barely refraining from spitting it out, I pushed it back in disgust and picked up the glass of Merlot instead.  It was only when that one also tasted foul that a light came on in my head; I had to apologise profusely to the barman and explain that I'd just spent an hour and a half crunching bits of eucalyptus sweeties (I happen to like the way they clear my voice) and therefore my palate was shot to hell!  Embarrassing...

Anyway, with the idea being that I wanted very basic video, showing simply that this is what I look like and proving that I had recorded the aria in one take should people need proof (it's so easy to edit audio these days that this can be useful), I was not displeased with the results. 

The next step is to send out my publicity materials including the new recordings; much less daunting now that I have the video and audio under my belt, but still one of the tasks which generally strikes terror into an artist's heart...

(The audio of Fricka's aria was better vocally, but I was a bit overwhelming in the flesh, so whose whom I asked for an opinion reckoned it was better as audio!  If you're curious, it's here.)

As always, thanks for reading my irregular ramblings!

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