Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Upcoming Performance and The Need for Acting

I'll start with the big news first.  In September I will be singing my first leading tenor role, Ferrando, in Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" with the Metro Opera Workshop of Detroit.  This has been a long time in coming for me and I see it as the fruition of the work I have put in to make this transformation from a baritone to a tenor.  I also have a couple of additional auditions upcoming which will hopefully bring more happy results.  I will also be singing as a part of Finger Lakes Opera's inaugural production of Carmen this summer, which will star J'nai Bridges as Carmen and Gregory Kunde as Don Jose.  

While I am not singing a role in this production, this has proven to be a great opportunity for me in two ways.  First, I will be able to watch Mr. Kunde go through his process and pick his brain a little about my own career.  Mr. Kunde, or Greg, and I have known each other for a number of years and the first half of his career was spent singing the roles that I am hoping to sing as my career gets going.  He is therefore an invaluable source of information and advice.  Secondly, I was able to get feedback from an audition for the first time as a tenor.  Beginning with the good, I was told that my voice is developing nicely and that I am on the right track in regards to vocal technique.  Kudos to my teacher, Jean-Ronald LaFond, for his expert guidance in this regard!  I was also told that I need to work on being more aware of my body.  For those of you who don't know me, I am little over six feet tall and am not slight of frame.  I was told that I can be imposing, but the auditor was not sure that I knew how to be.  This has been a persistent problem for me and something I need to figure out how to address.  It was suggested that I take a physical acting class to try to get more in touch with my body and enable myself to use my body to interpret the words of the pieces that I am singing.

I was reading a set posts on a group page on Facebook that my teacher had added me too and they were discussing performance.  One of the singers mentioned that once she is on stage, it is all about the words and that she just has to trust that all of the preparation she has done vocally will suffice.  I have heard this many times, but in light of what I had recently been told in my audition this really hit home for me.  I have never trusted that my preparation and technique were going to be there in auditions or performances.  Therefore I also was focusing on my technique and not on the character.  I can point to a clear reason for this speed bump in my career.  My years in undergrad and immediately following were only spent focusing on vocal technique, and not the technique of performance.  I had teachers, whom I love very much and am forever grateful for the assistance they gave me to get to where I am today, who believed that the voice was all that was needed.  In a way this is an old philosophy, but even in the age that this was prevalent, it was still an incomplete one.  Singers must be complete performers.  The auditor of my audition summed it up the best saying that there are a lot of singers out there who are singing really well, what sets them apart is their ability to portray a character.

One small post-script:  If you are a singer and are looking for a summer program to do, please consider the Summer Opera Academy at Härnösands Folkhogskola in cooperation with Kashu-do Studios.  It looks to be a wonderful program and is run by my teacher, Jean-Ronald LaFond.