Saturday, April 23, 2005

Killing voices

I said in my article on Ben Heppner that it was the big roles that killed voices. I am going to take that back. The main thing that kills voices is over-singing.

The support for the voice must all be applied in a downward direction. That’s why voice teachers talk about supporting from various parts of the lower abdomen, some even into the legs. The important part of the concept is the downward, not upward, thrust.

I’m going to tell some more truth now. We have before us any day we care to listen a perfect example of how to kill a voice, and she never came anywhere close to singing Isolda. Beverly Sills was a great artist, a person who wanted, and succeeded in being more than her gifts actually allowed.

When you listen to the great recordings album, it’s all there. The pieces on the album that are closest to her true talents are Pamina and “Miene Lippen, die kuessen so heiss.” (Don’t you just love this title: My lips, they kiss so hot?), but she over-sings even these. She wants it so much that she’s pushing it out there all the time.

In Ben’s case he would get into the habit of pushing his voice simply because the condition of his body is not strong enough to maintain the proper constant downward pressure for the length of the role he is performing.

It’s hard to know what to say about Beverly Sills. We none of us live forever. Sills went the extra mile and then some. Would we have wanted to miss this for the sake of caution?

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