Opera Coaching: Professional Techniques and Considerations by Alan Montgomery

By Alan Montgomery

Opera training is the 1st functional consultant for pianists, singers, and opera manufacturers to this important--and usually neglected--career. The opera trainer is a instructor who is helping singers not just meet the actual and vocal calls for of a ranking, but--like the dramatic coach--shapes their complete functionality. The opera trainer should have a large wisdom, from a whole figuring out of human physiognomy and the human voice, to the various languages utilized in Western vocal tune, to the complete expanse of the opera repertoire, from its roots in seventeenth century sung drama via latest most up-to-date compositions. Opera training covers all of those issues and extra, making it the suitable source for an individual attracted to this attention-grabbing occupation.

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The assistant director(s) spends much of the early rehearsals taking down notes about the blocking, so that he or she has a visual record in the score about where each person is onstage, which props they are holding, and other important information about the staging. Later in the process it is not unusual for the AD to work individually with ­certain singers on elements of dramatic detail. indb 43 3/29/06 10:30:55 AM 44 • Opera Coaching different location from the main staging, and a coach may be assigned to work with the AD for these times.

The coach now must follow every tempo change as expertly as possible. Listening to the singing is no longer his or her job (at least in theory). The coach is now supposed to reflect to the best of his or her ability the sound that will issue from the pit. Following the tempo set by a conductor is not really such a difficult task. The coach keeps that tempo, watching the conductor peripherally until the conductor changes that tempo. Dynamics may come from the conductor but are also printed on the page.

The most common rehearsal costume items are rehearsal skirts, which allow the singer to get the feel of wearing a long skirt while traversing the stage. Singers particularly like to work with rehearsal corsets if they will be wearing them in performance, because it is important for them to become accustomed to the restraints on the ribcage. Male singers will often wear rehearsal jackets, such as tailcoats and vests, for a similar reason. Sneakers are not useful rehearsal shoes because the wearer tends to move very differently in them (normally with added bounce).

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