Monday, September 07, 2009

Armchair Line-Judging

When I married B, I had no idea that I would be gaining a new diversion for my “armchair work:” professional tennis!*

The US Open has been on for the past week, and I’ve been using the hours to start marking up my scores. In past years, it’s been a football-watching activity, and that will pick up again starting next week (oh, my poor Broncos...), but for now, it’s me and Oudin and Federer and Marguerite and Micaela.

I haven’t had to mark a score in a while, since my last two roles were repeats**, so I thought I’d run through my prep routine here again. Maybe it’s the wannabe stage manager in me, but I love the colored pencils and whiteout tape and post-its. Here’s the method:
Put tabs into the score marking “my” scenes.
Underline my text. I have never liked highlighters, and I used to just mark the beginning of each stave of music, but I have recently started underlining the whole line. I like to choose a different color for each character I sing, something that I think represents her. So far, Genovieffa is yellow and Marguerite is sky blue.
”Erase” the (usually awful) English version with whiteout tape. TEDIOUS, but so worth it to me. I love the clean look it gives the score, and it gives me plenty of room to...
Write in a word-for-word translation. I still have to go through the French version of this process before I can write in the texts for M&M. And of course, whiteout tape and translations for my scene partners, as well.
Mark dynamics and phrasing. Not sure if I’ve gone through this here, but the general idea is to circle forte marks with red, piano with blue, de/crescendi with green, tempo markings with orange, and accents & phrasings with yellow. I also mark the dynamics of the orchestra (all of them) and of other singers (if they are different than mine) so I can be aware of balance.

As with the language/translation process, I use these multiple trips through the score to get familiar with the opera. How do the scenes unfold? Where do the most vocally intense scenes fall? When exactly does my character lose her mind? The idea being that before I do any actual singing, I’m working with a fairly detailed knowledge of the score. The OCD teacher’s pet in me loves the “busy work,” and the “in the moment” artist loves the preparation that allows for spontaneity. Win-win!

Of course these activities will be much harder when we’re up in the grandstand watching Serena and Rafa tomorrow night! Watch for us on ESPN2...

I’ve even picked up a racket a time or two, and have dreams of being able to play tennis with B into our golden years. I still haven’t bought a tennis skirt, but so far I love it! Next up, some real lessons...

** Should I do a recap of the “year of silence?” Or should we just move on from here?

1 comment:

Philip L. Copeland said...

Hi, ACB.

I'm glad you are blogging again after the year of silence.

I liked this blog and thought it had some transfers to choral music - I've got it set up to appear to a larger audience of choral directors on September 13. Watch here if you are interested:

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