Thursday, February 04, 2010

First meeting- carmen VS Audience

Curtain's up. Conductor begins, Carmen overture starts. You are sitting in your dressing room. The speakers are up so you can here what's going on. From now you have got about 19 minutes until it's your entrance.
You warm up your voice a bit more. Scale up to high C down to lowest C, make sure all the notes are solid; For Act 1 "Habanera" and "Seguidilla", you have a high B and a low B, and an ocean of public expectations... Better stretch everything well beforehand. A little breathing control, a little jumping jack- just to move your muscles around.. get in the mood.
Minute 15- "Ms. Shaham to Stage left" you hear on the speakers. Your dresser takes a good careful final look at you, to make sure your costume is right. Your makeup lady also inspects you and secures the flower in your hair one last time.
You walk to "stage left". Chorus sings, you get the green light, you make your entrance.


I always find this first aria to be somewhat of an awkward moment in the life of Carmen. "we don't see Carmen" they all sing and then she appears. there's a little orchestral intro, a little "here she is" sung excitedly by the people on stage, during which Carmen, who is supposed to be nonchalant and a bit blaze' about it, (what's the big fuss?), usually finds herself in a bit of a static moment here. even if you are given specific instructions from the director (like washing your face/ legs/body/eating an orange/pushing/ fondling a chorus member... I am mentioning these actions because for some reason they seem to appear in many different productions), but even if you include these little fillers, you are still left at the top of a staircase, or the middle of a stage, stared by a big chorus and an entire amphitheater full with thousands of people. All awaiting your word.
You must command the stage at this point. If you fail to do so, you would have to work hard to redeem yourself for the rest of the night (or your career, really). This is the big moment.
The recit begins. You must be secure, poised, charismatic, in control, sure, sexy, alluring, desired, commending, and at the same time- without seeming to *try* to be any of it.
When the aria starts, the light strings down in the pit begin with a faint bass line which to your ears sounds like a quiet solo pizzicato- Lucky if you can hear it at all.
Here you start your famous aria, which is not only a big dramatic challenge, but a vocal one as well ,as it is composed of tricky passages; Like the dramatic nature of this aria- {*seem* like it is nothing, but in fact make an impact}, so is the musical challenge: Chromatically descending notes you must sing extremely accurately and stylistically , without the ability to hear much else but your own voice.
If you are not warmed up enough, or slightly too warmed up, if you are not really 'tuned' yet, or you are simply not feeling your best, it is here that you would be fully exposed, nowhere to hide, nowhere at all.
You are telling a story, you are telling your belief, you are being charming, you might be flirtatious, but you should never ever cross the very fine line between that and being vulgar, *too* eager, too much. You need to be simple, but hint of complexity.
You need to ACT like you don't care, but not really. Come to think about it- this is some good advice for any first date. :)


Blogger bebobeck said...

Love it. thanks for the dating advice as well. (;~)

8:37 PM  
Blogger VOMDAssist said...

Love reading your perspective on performing and life as an opera singer. Keep up the great work!

All the best,

Ling Chan, Social Media Manager
Vancouver Opera

2:52 PM  
Blogger Verunka Vlkova said...

Yeah, I have seen a lot of Carmen productions where Carmen pretty much ruins it with "trying" to be sexy and instead becomes vulgar and makes people uncomfortable or it looks super fake. I have seen you perform before and you have amazing stage presence and are genuine, which is rare! I bet you make a killer Carmen!

8:32 PM  
Anonymous AlikGhibek said...

Wow...that's one a DETAILED description. It's written so well that it's almost like imagining yourself on THAT'S how it feels to be an opera singer))) really intriguing)))

9:06 AM  

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