Wednesday, December 20, 2006


All the talk at our final performance Monday night was of the horrible review we got in the local paper. Ouch!!

There was much laughing and assuring each other that what the reviewer said was untrue. I have it on good authority that I don’t generally have pitch problems, so I’m taking MP’s tack and assuming it was the strangeness of the Baroque pitch and period instruments that gave the reviewer that impression. The recitatives (talky parts) before “Glory to God” were accompanied by harp, which was cool, but I definitely had to concentrate a bit more to hear my pitch center. It’s not insignificant, the change in the aural atmosphere from strings to harp or piano to strings. So while I recognize that I might have had a moment of pitch uncenteredness in the early rehearsals, that hardly qualifies as having trouble staying on pitch.

As for “too operatic” an approach, I have no idea what he means. Vocally? Dramatically? We couldn’t figure it out. But we all had a blast at Monday’s touch-up rehearsal and warm-up, deliberately playing up the things he said were bad! DW, the countertenor, made me laugh loudly and inappropriately with his “blank face!” And there were plenty of fake yawns in the rehearsal; hopefully no real ones in the performance…

I was upset about the review for about an hour, and despite the fun and games during the rehearsal, I needed some reassurance from my colleagues that I was, indeed, on pitch. It’s hard not to let a negative review get under your skin! But, art is subjective. This was one man’s opinion based on one evening’s work. If we believe the good reviews, to some extent we have to believe the bad ones, too.

My friend BMB summed it up well. When she adjudicates young singers, she indicates that her opinions are just that, based on one hearing. If her comments are in line with what other people have been saying to the singer, they should maybe take them into consideration. But if they seem to be out in left field, she tells them to feel free to ignore them! So, following this logic, I’ll choose to ignore the review.

But I’ll also choose to sing on pitch.


Gregory said...

The two-edged sword of performing. When it's good, it's soooo good.

You got paid, and I promise you your career is not ruined. This is just something that doesn't go in the press pack, right?

alex said...

Hi, it's me, Ellipses :)

I'm sorry that the review took you aback. As a performer, it can be so easy to take such things a little too close to heart (though not paying any mind, I suppose, is a separate danger) and in the process, forget that as humans, critics are only too fallible themselves.

I remember reading some posts to usenet by Piotr Kaminski, a very lovely, articulate, and opinionated French critic. He very amusing recounted an incident where, on broadcast radio, he savaged a brief "blind listen" to a clip of the opening of some such piece, only to discover that it was a performance he adored! His retelling of learning to love Callas (hehe! - "Dr. Kaminksi, or How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love Maria Meneghini Callas") was also priceless.

I once read that wisdom could be partially summed up as: "hearing that which is worth hearing" and discarding the rest. I think you and all of your colleagues are going about it very wisely.

Happy Holidays! (oooo! bach quiz!!! and pictorz!!!)

Jmahlon said...

I mean comon he's complaining that the conductor didnt dance enough for dance wave your hair around!!!

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