I’m not at all sure how to put into words the experience I had tonight at the M6 concert at Symphony Space.
First of all, I remembered Sid’s post about memorizing Boatman, and I realized that my little charts for the Barber ensembles are child’s play. The nuance in the performances tonight was exceptional. And it was all memorized! And had a feeling of improvisation and freedom and joy that can only come from knowing something inside and out. I was humbled!
I was also proud to be witnessing the beginning of something new, something “next.” A legacy in progress. Congratulations to all involved.
But mostly I left with an incredible excitement to sink my teeth into... The Barber of Seville!! When I said this to TM, he replied, “That’s like me going to an Eliot Carter concert and saying I can’t wait to get to work on a Mozart Flute concerto!” I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out.
There were two specific elements that inspired me, things that I needed an infusion of passion for before I could be the Rosina that I want to be. This role is iconic. Everyone knows her, there have been so many incredible interpreters of the role, and I feel like I need six more months to fully understand her character and the musical world Rossini created for her. But, obviously, I don’t have six months! I’ve been learning and studying and singing, but I think I’ve been really scared.
Tonight the things I learned from the M6 performers have given me courage - and excitement! - to sink my teeth into this role in a new way.
One was virtuosity. Nothing says “virtuosity” like Rossini, or is it the other way around? And I’ve been approaching all of these melismas (runs of fast notes) with serious trepidation, knowing I could sing them but unsure how to “sell” them. What was the point? Isn’t it just about showing what cool things you can do with your voice? What’s exciting about that?
Nothing, really, if your only goal is show off the cool things you can do with your voice. Virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake is gross. But tonight I saw virtuosity with intent - musical, dramatic, emotional, intellectual. And it was moving! Exciting! Beautiful! This seems like a no-brainer, but I’d become blinded by all the little black dots and flags. All I could see was the music. I’d completely forgotten what the music is there for.
Which leads me to the next thing I saw on that stage tonight: communication. These performers were TALKING to each other. Sharing ideas, having arguments, loving and consoling and laughing with each other. And yet not a single “word” was sung or spoken. It was all gibberish, “nonsense” syllables. But I saw more true communication between people tonight than I’ve seen on many an opera/theater stage, where there are actual words in actual languages.
This incredible openness and communication paired with virtuosity created, as you can imagine, an unparalleled performance. Truly inspiring. I was sorry it was so late when I got home, because I wanted to do nothing more than launch into “Una voce poco fa” at full volume! Tomorrow...
Oh, and another thing I took away from the concert tonight? I now have a new requirement for my future boyfriend: he must be willing to learn Monk’s Facing North with me and sing it as we walk down the street.