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Thread: How do they keep singing?

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Default How do they keep singing?

    Much is required of opera singers these days. Off the top of my head, I have seen them required to perform while:

    • rolling and unrolling themselves in a piece of cloth (Admeto)
    • suspended upside down by their ankles from a crane (Gotterdamerung)
    • under a car, wielding a spanner (different Admeto)
    • Leaping from shoulder to shoulder (Armida)
    • Ironing and folding clothes (la Fille du regiment)
    • Bollywood dancing (Giulio Cesare)
    • Having their privates fondled (Tosca)
    • Abseiling (though not actually singing at the time) (Don Giovanni, Carmen)

    How do they do it and keep singing?
    Natalie

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    -Lying face down in a bed (makropolous case)
    - while appearing to hang by their neck from a noose (fanciulla Della west)

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    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Much is required of opera singers these days. Off the top of my head, I have seen them required to perform while:

    • rolling and unrolling themselves in a piece of cloth (Admeto)
    • suspended upside down by their ankles from a crane (Gotterdamerung)
    • under a car, wielding a spanner (different Admeto)
    • Leaping from shoulder to shoulder (Armida)
    • Ironing and folding clothes (la Fille du regiment)
    • Bollywood dancing (Giulio Cesare)
    • Having their privates fondled (Tosca)
    • Abseiling (though not actually singing at the time) (Don Giovanni, Carmen)

    How do they do it and keep singing?
    Indeed. Much of the nonsense we sometimes see these days, especially of the Baroque and Classical examples you listed, are the result of the ego and poor taste of the stage directors. Bollywood dancing and wielding a spanner under a motor car have nothing to do with Baroque aesthetics and worst of all, may even interfere by way of distracting the emotional flow of the music; staging is subervient to the music, not the other way around. Thank goodness we can at least listen to many of these masterpieces under HIP, while the staging is certainly not the case. Economics have a lot to do with it - the more controversial the staging, the more likely a wide ranging audience and tickets can be sold.

    A Giulio Cesare in Egitto production I saw several years ago here in Sydney had Yvonne Kenny (Cleopatra) undressing completely behind a large bathrobe held by Graham Pushee (Cesare) and bathe in a spa bath on stage! It was amusingly conveyed, and the audience giggled. But is this the correct mood for a Baroque opera seria, of which Giulio Cesare in Egitto clearly is?

    How do they do it and keep singing? I'm afraid it's often under the ill taste of the stage directors.

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    I've seen a male opera singer sing his heart out while (intentionally) showing off his erection. A little too much for me.
    ****Karen Patricia****
    http://www.karen-patricia.com

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    How do they do it? These singers are real pros !

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Much is required of opera singers these days. Off the top of my head, I have seen them required to perform while:

    • rolling and unrolling themselves in a piece of cloth (Admeto)
    • suspended upside down by their ankles from a crane (Gotterdamerung)
    • under a car, wielding a spanner (different Admeto)
    • Leaping from shoulder to shoulder (Armida)
    • Ironing and folding clothes (la Fille du regiment)
    • Bollywood dancing (Giulio Cesare)
    • Having their privates fondled (Tosca)
    • Abseiling (though not actually singing at the time) (Don Giovanni, Carmen)

    How do they do it and keep singing?
    Look at Netrebko at 2:16 point of this youtube from Puritani
    she lays down and lets her head hang backwards over edge of the stage.......while still singing!

    Try to sing with your head tilted all the way back, extremely hard

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7VDaVEyG3M

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    Indeed. Much of the nonsense we sometimes see these days, especially of the Baroque and Classical examples you listed, are the result of the ego and poor taste of the stage directors. Bollywood dancing and wielding a spanner under a motor car have nothing to do with Baroque aesthetics and worst of all, may even interfere by way of distracting the emotional flow of the music; staging is subervient to the music, not the other way around. Thank goodness we can at least listen to many of these masterpieces under HIP, while the staging is certainly not the case. Economics have a lot to do with it - the more controversial the staging, the more likely a wide ranging audience and tickets can be sold.
    I was not actually condemning it all wholesale. In many of the cases I mentioned - all except one of the Admetos and the Tosca, I enjoyed the stagings immensely, and such HIP luminaries as William Christie were often in the pit.

    The Admeto I'm currently watching is set in 18th Japan, and the stylised movements and samurai ethos actually fit in well with the story, possibly better than some ego-led castrato bringing his own befeathered costume and insisting on interpolating his own aria di bravura just because he could.

    The bass dancing on his minions' shoulders was the Armida's demon King, and his athletic prowess was entirely in character, while Keenlyside's Don Giovanni scaled up a wall on the end of a rope in order to escape from his accusers.

    Of course in some cases it gets beyond a joke, as when Achim Freyer put his Ring singers in such cumbersome costumes they could hardly walk and certainly couldn't act, and then claimed "The psychological dimension is outsourced to other forms of expression".

    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    A Giulio Cesare in Egitto production I saw several years ago here in Sydney had Yvonne Kenny (Cleopatra) undressing completely behind a large bathrobe held by Graham Pushee (Cesare) and bathe in a spa bath on stage! It was amusingly conveyed, and the audience giggled. But is this the correct mood for a Baroque opera seria, of which Giulio Cesare in Egitto clearly is?
    From what I recall from lectures at university by Leslie Mitchell, a historian of the 18th century, the audience might have been indulging in a fair amount of licentiousness amongst themselves. And during the opera seria there would have been plenty of eating, drinking, gambling, gossiping and flirting.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post


    From what I recall from lectures at university by Leslie Mitchell, a historian of the 18th century, the audience might have been indulging in a fair amount of licentiousness amongst themselves. And during the opera seria there would have been plenty of eating, drinking, gambling, gossiping and flirting.
    Yes, that's true. These were social evenings for high society back then. But that's got nothing to do with stage director these days to come up with half silly stuff on stage. Also, HIP luminaries in the orchestral pit have little to no say about what happens on the stage.

    Many modern productions (with HIP in the orcestral pits) are beautifully done, but you do get the wild cowboy productions every now and then.

    An excellent Xerxes
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lNr_HGe5gg

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post

    Many modern productions (with HIP in the orcestral pits) are beautifully done, but you do get the wild cowboy productions every now and then.
    Yes, I don't know why some stage directors these days are so obsessed with setting operas in any period you can think of, except for the one the composer intended. If it works I don't have a problem with it, but often it doesn't make any sense and it's like watching the movie Spartacus with everyone wearing a tophat and tails. Alan once posted something about a production of Mozart's "Die Entfuhrung" where believe it or not Superman and Wonderwoman made an appearance.....I mean, really. How silly can you get?

    I love the Glyndebourne "Giulio Cesare" and Andrei Serban's production of Rameau's "Les Indes Galantes" with Christie conducting though.
    Martha doesn't signal when the orchestra comes in, she's just pursing her lips..

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    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    Yes, I don't know why some stage directors these days are so obsessed with setting operas in any period you can think of, except for the one the composer intended. If it works I don't have a problem with it, but often it doesn't make any sense and it's like watching the movie Spartacus with everyone wearing a tophat and tails. Alan once posted something about a production of Mozart's "Die Entfuhrung" where believe it or not Superman and Wonderwoman made an appearance.....I mean, really. How silly can you get?

    I love the Glyndebourne "Giulio Cesare" and Andrei Serban's production of Rameau's "Les Indes Galantes" with Christie conducting though.
    Agree. I have a copy of the Glyndebourne on DVD. It works very well there. It's all a matter of artistic taste on the part of the stage director. I don't want to sound overtly harsh but the Superman/Wonderwoman example was clearly rubbish; it served no useful purpose other than be a complete distraction.

    Historic Baroque opera also relied on spectacular staging. We read of real animals on stage, singers flying and lifted by heavenly forces on chariots etc., with fountains/water features, fire, snow effects etc. But these were all part of the mythical story line for example, when needed. Baroque staging back then almost certainly did not have a pharoah of Egypt dressed up as an 18th century stylised warrior; the actors looked the part and the staging complemented it.

    The distinction between a modern staging that conveys the emotions of the characters must indeed be a fine one, otherwise what we end up experiencing is an adaptation of the original opera, at least on stage.

    Here's one that I think is rubbish. What does a woman's high heel shoe have to do with it and all the entrance & exits of other characters have to do with it? Absolutely nothing. (Luckily though, sang and played very well by HIP with David Daniels).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWrhalTlpSg

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    Here's one that I think is rubbish. What does a woman's high heel shoe have to do with it and all the entrance & exits of other characters have to do with it? Absolutely nothing. (Luckily though, sang and played very well by HIP with David Daniels).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWrhalTlpSg
    That Rinaldo is definitely the pits. It's set in the lounge of a seedy Tel Aviv hotel and there is all that mysterious religious imagery. Everyone is dressed like a second hand car salesman or crackpot preacher and the production is all about the director thumbing his nose at the audience. I also seem to remember someone having to sing while "crucified" to the wall.

    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    I’ve got that in my “to watch” queue. Looks great.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    They didn't know how lucky they were in the old p&b days. They did sometimes wear heavy costumes though which must have been uncomfortable.
    Ann

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    They didn't know how lucky they were in the old p&b days.
    I've just watched an interview with the singer required to roll around in a piece of cloth while singing her aria and she said it was "great fun, an opportunity to go a bit mad".

    Unfortunately plenty of p&b still goes on, you just have to watch Johan Botha in practically anything.
    Natalie

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    Look at Netrebko at 2:16 point of this youtube from Puritani
    she lays down and lets her head hang backwards over edge of the stage.......while still singing!

    Try to sing with your head tilted all the way back, extremely hard
    Just seen that - she must have some serious abs under that pretty dress!
    Natalie

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Just seen that - she must have some serious abs under that pretty dress!
    On the DVD between acts Renee Fleming goes into Anna Netrebko's dressing room and they talk shop, she speaks pretty good English but a bit broken, seems she pretty much does things almost intuitively on stage during Puritani mad scence......so that hanging over the edge might not have been planned ahead (although camera seemed to be ready, he he)

    She does admit to listening to great past performances for inspiration (almost certainly Callas) and borrowing bits here and there......which is the smart thing to do. I laugh at some artists who claim they do not watch past performances since they want a fresh take on things, okkkkkk

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