It's a two blog entry day...
A singer emailed me to thank me for offering dramatic coaching for opera singers, but said she was working on her technique right now and was not ready for dramatic coaching.
I had an "a-ha!" moment with this email! This is part of the problem in opera!!!
Why must things be separated so vehemently? Why wouldn't the integration of "techniques" (yes, acting has technique too) instead of separating them be encouraged?
Yes, I hear the argument: "I have too much to think about just to get my voice aligned." Okay, I get that. But that's not my point.
Technique is behavior. Of EVERY kind. Therefore, the ability to create behavior from any given direction and allow it to suggest a way into ANOTHER technique or behavior has to develop in order to find a truth and a reality in that behavior.
Yes, read that again.
Sometimes, working on the dramatic intention, the physicality of that intention, the use of breath and language, the DOING of a character's motivation can actually ENHANCE your voice and find a way to access a portion of your voice in a way "working on technique" will not allow.
Why? It gives it an organic reason for BEING there.
We all know the response to opera singers and their acting. An "acting opera singer" causes most to roll their eyes, or take a slow drink. Why? Because we do not see any integration.
However, there are many opera singers who truly understand what opera is from a theatrical standpoint and have discovered the integration of behavior.
As with any great technique - your audience should be conscious of none. We shouldn't be observing TECHNIQUE of ANY kind - or lack of it.
Just as vocal behavior needs depth and breadth, so does the dramatic information.
The voice doesn't need to be "perfect" (?!) to then say "Now I am ready to develop a character".
Character is developed THROUGH the voice, by the breath, in the body. Isn't that singing?
Why must we hang onto the notion the we need to wait to discover this?
This is precisely why so many opera singers look "put on" dramatically: because that is precisely what they've done. They have not developed a thoroughness through voice/breath/body with the character and instead have just literally tried to do something to look like acting. I have seen this too many times.
When a true acting singer/singing actor achieves the integration and organic release of a character multi-dimensionally, we EXPERIENCE that character. We don't say "doesn't she have great technique" - we are moved. We are changed.
Singers do not have to wait to begin to experience this when the language is perfect, and the phrases are completely balanced. Why? Because the dramatic intention you discover as an ACTOR may inform how you shape that phrase differently. The ACTOR self may find intention for a different colour choice or a different breath subtext, a different body stance, a different movement or gesture that articulates the CHARACTER and actually ENHANCES the vocal behavior.
Acting honestly does not take away from the vocal prowess!!!! In fact, acting honestly and truthfully can enhance the vocal prowess and put it in higher relief without boring the audience to tears.
Understanding what acting COULD BE for the opera singer is paramount in taking the art form to a higher level of execution and at the same time, making it more accessible to the listener and the watcher and the theatre goer.
If it's just about beautiful sound, then we wouldn't be on stage would we?
This sadly is not encouraged at the ground level - in the undergraduate schools. There are very few schools that offer ANY acting classes/movement classes or stagecraft classes that have an ongoing development. IT NEEDS TO BE.
But, we can't acknowledge this, and then still complain and not do anything about it!
If you are going to be a singer, and are pursuing opera, you are in the theatre. You have a responsibility to yourself and the art form, to discover the totality of this, and be aware you do not have to wait for your voice to be ready before you discover your dramatic chops!
Breath, body, voice, movement - are needed in ALL things theatrical. Begin there. Develop the aria from all angles - all behaviors - vocal, physical, mental, emotional, dramatic, character, - and don't wait!!! Know one will inform another!
Discovering a dramatic capability might, heaven forbid, allow you access to your vocal technique in a way you couldn't have discovered it before!!
So when are you ready for dramatic coaching? How about YESTERDAY??????