Skip to main content

The Consternation of Coloratura Cadenza Crafting

Well, hello all! Welcome to another Thursday morning, just like any other really, except for the nagging guilt of my taking time off of cadenza research and instead writing this blog post for you! Why do I write today, you ask? Does it have to do with the cacophonous collision of c's in the title of this blog post? Why yes, yes it does. My, aren't you awake this morning!

Currently I find myself in a 'Groundhog Day' of sorts. One which was created by the dreaded task that faces all singers sooner or later, and especially those of my particular voice type: Coloratura Sopranos. Ha!- as if it wasn't enough that we have to sing the dang things, someone still decided to rub it in by naming our variety of Soprano by the very thing that is currently making me look for excuses to clean the house, namely, coloratura cadenzas. Coming up with cadenzas with coloratura passages that ultimately show off your voice but also 'fit' the style of the music is something that each and every singer will either totally love or completely dread. Guess which side I'm on? That's right, the dread side.

And sadly, dread it I do. Because what's there to love? I'm not a good enough piano player to work them out on my own (like some people can do who just sit down at the piano and say, "Hmm, this is built on a dominant chord so let's see here....(and then play something totally amazing) and then be like "....yeah, that'll work." And then they don't even need to WRITE IT DOWN to remember it. Show-offs.) No, I'm certainly not one of those people. And I'm also not one of those people who just has the creativity to keep trying to make things up by ear until something sounds good (because, let's face it, what I think sounds good and what the people who know the style think sounds good, are two very different things). So, what I'm left with (Garn!) is doing research instead. In concrete terms, that means that I listen to a thousand different versions of the aria that contains the cadenza passage (which okay, there's not a thousand, but it certainly does feel like it after you've listened to every person of note singing the aria and then rewound each cadenza at least three times to listen to what they're doing, and then transcribe it (!!!) and then compare all of them side-by-side to determine which ones you like the best, or if any of them happen to lend themselves to being combined together to make something a bit old and still a bit new....) and then finally, after that long process, figure out which ones are right for me and my voice and my sense of the drama (by singing through all of them, naturally). And until that point, my friends, sometimes days have gone by! And this is just one Aria we're talking about!!! God forbid it has a da capo and then you've got to figure out all new ornaments for the second time around.

Of course there is that moment where you finally find the cadenzas that you want to use and then it seems as if the heavens have opened up and Beverly Sills and Sumi Jo and Joan Sutherland are all patting you on the back.......but that's a very short-lived moment.

So.....while you take this moment to ponder how I can improve my cadenza research so that it takes less time (please God, is there actually a way!?) and let me know your ideas in the comments below, I'm going to go vacuum the apartment. :)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Long Can Opera Singers Sing Per Day?

To those readers who aren't singers (or even those who are) I would like to take some time today to talk about the proper and measured use of our voices (speaking and singing) during the course of a normal day and over the course of a normal week.

This subject has come to mind for me because of factors relating to everyone' normal daily lives.  We are technologically-connected beings who are constantly communicating with someone, somewhere, somehow.  Sure, it's great to talk at work with your co-workers during lunch break, or have a phone conversation with your Grandmother for an hour every Tuesday, but just how much is all that talking really weighing on your voice in an overall evaluation?

Because I have been singing six days a week for at least two hours since last June (and have really kept that schedule up- amazingly--okay, except for Christmas break at which point I didn't sing for 1.5 weeks) I've noticed that speaking frequently over the course the day would…

Opera Chorus Jobs: The Warm-Up

When I talk to non-musicians and non-singers about the difficulty of breaking into the solo career scene in Opera, they ask me (as any logical person would) "Well, why not just join the chorus? At least you could be still doing what you love- singing!"  And, while this is a very sensible plan and a good one in theory, it actually has a lot of pitfalls that I'd like to explain now to you in this post.  This will also hopefully bring about some good conversation from my operatic colleagues who are opera chorus members, or who are thinking of doing it, or who are opera house managers and who deal with chorus singers and the system of how the hiring works.

I must stress that what I am saying here is in no way the only view on the matter, but it is an informed one, as I know many chorus singers are various size opera houses, and I see and hear about the politics associated with being a chorus singer through being in the opera business and being around those people in charge o…

My Audition for a REAL Opera House in Germany!

This past Tuesday I had my first German Opera House audition!  I was asked at the last minute by a colleague who worked there to audition for a role they're looking to cast next season and which I sing, and have sung for this colleague in an audition before.  (Sorry, I can't be any more specific with names because I don't want to jinx it.)  Honestly, I was really lucky to have been asked to audition since normally these sorts of things don't happen unless you have an agent who knows about the vacancy which the theater is looking to fill, and then sends you there, and actually, all of the other singers who were there to audition had agencies.  So, I was quite overjoyed to have been invited, to say the least.

However, sticking to the point- I'd like to relate what the experience was like.

I heard of the audition on a Friday and the audition itself was taking place on Tuesday of the following week, so in four days.  That really didn't give me a whole lot of time t…