Friday, July 30, 2004

A singer who dances

In last year's opera, you may recall, I was dancing more than singing. This year, too, while my singing part is substanial, I am dancing quite a bit. The concept behind my costume (and together with Oberon) was Fred & Ginger. When they learned that Jose (Oberon) and I could both dance, they blocked a lot of beautiful ballroom style dancing. I'm having a ball (ha ha), but my coach said something to me yesterday that has stuck in my mind.

"I want you to be a singer who dances, not a dancer who sings."

She has known me for three years now, and she can tell when I go on autopilot with my singing. As this is essentially my first full opera role, I am having trouble concentrating on the singing part. The acting and dancing (the roles in which I have spent most of my stage time) seem to occupy more of my attention on stage, and, to her eyes, it shows. So my new focus for the week is how to let the music - the heart of opera - tell the story. To trust the composer, trust the orchestra, trust my voice alone to move the audience. I have enough training in acting and dance that I will never leave those skills offstage, but singing needs to be first.

I was drawn to opera precisely because it is a synthesis of all the arts - dance, music, drama, visual art, poetry. But I am not an actor, poet, or dancer. I am an opera singer.

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