It feels WONDERFUL to be able to report that I believe a good time was had by ALL on Saturday night for the opening of “The Barber of Seville” here in NYC! I think the audience was happy to be given the chance to laugh out loud a bit, as laughter truly does tend to work magic, even on the most unsuspecting!
Yesterday was a huge day, as I had a big brainstorming session with my recording team of EMI/Virgin, and there are definitely exciting prospects lurking ahead! Knowing the Rossini disc has been well anticipated had everyone in a good mood, and ideas were flying about how to beat this apparent downward trend in music sales. I don’t believe people are no longer interested in buying music, I think simply the means to purchase it has changed so drastically, and so quickly, that the folks on both sides of the aisle don’t quite know how to proceed. One thing I’m beyond happy about is that this team around me believes 100% in the importance of QUALITY programming and producing. No one around that table was hinting at dumbing down, or watering down what it is that I do and love. Everyone believes in keeping the standard extremely high, no question. The caveat comes in how we market that, so they can afford to keep the level at such a premium.
But we also tossed around some very fun ideas – ideas that really excite me, so the future should prove to be interesting, to say the least!!!
I then hopped in a taxi with a REALLY belligerent NY Taxi Driver (how I love them!), and arrived 2 minutes late to a master class I was giving for the young artists at the Met. First thing I always say, “Be on TIME”, so I’m not sure how much credibility I carried for the next 90 minutes, BUT I still think it was a good class. I’m always astonished at how much I feel I have learned in doing sessions like this – and I can only hope that it’s a mutual gaining of knowledge, as I just love the exchange of ideas and seeing the occasional light bulb click on over the soprano’s head! It’s a scary proposition to work with such talented singers who are already receiving the best coaching in the world, but what never fails to impress me is how tireless and infinite the learning process is for an artist.
Most of the session consisted of me asking questions, and feeding the singers possible sub-texts for what they are singing. Does Donna Elvira need to convince herself that she will REALLY tear off Giovanni’s face when she sees him (hence the need for the wayward, yet driving ascending scales at the end of “Ah, chi me dice mai?”, or is she utterly convinced and sure of herself? That absolutely affects the intention with which she sings those tricky phrases. Does regret enter into any of her thirst for revenge? Is perhaps the more legato, less angular phrasing of “Ah si ritrovo l’empio” a chance to show her more delicate side? (Does she have a delicate side?) I’m sure that once the vocal foundation for an aria is established (legato, breath support, phrasing, pure vowels, etc), questions become a singers best friend. And the license to chose different answers, and then experiment with different colors as a result, start to lead to comprehensive, deep portrayals.
How I love that moment when the singer starts to leave the rehearsal studio and starts to inhabit their character. Oh, it’s GOOD!
And in keeping with the need for laughter, let’s just enter the world of the panda for fun. I mean seriously, why NOT?!?!?