What does a young singer tell a panel of adjudicators who are all going to hear some wonderful voices in any selection process? The world is heaving with suberb voices. Some reverberating through the grand gilded opera houses, employed; some lost and under the carpet of alternate career paths. So what is it about my voice, that makes me even consider I am worthy to apply for a position in a leading German Staatstheater?
Nothing about my voice per say is worthy. But there are many things in my mind that possibly are. My voice is like any other singer’s voice. It has its strengths and beauty matched by areas to improve. It’s human. It originates in my larynx and if acoustics permit, projects through a confined space. I’ve spent many hours working on it. I’ve even fixated on it.
What constitutes my voice in my development has been much more than the acoustic output that the listener hears. In my Master of Speech Pathology studies, that followed a Bachelor of Music, I sought to unlock the code for perfect phonation. Sure, I learnt the most I could about the bio-mechanics of the voice and how to maintain its integrity. My voice developed as is expected in the natural trajectory of any singer. My larynx has integrated more fully in singing and my command of breathing may have enhanced. But this is not what has really made my voice. It is what I add to my voice that is of note.
For the last two years in Bulgaria, I have sought to refine my ability to express. I have learnt that my voice is the full sum of me as a person. I have read reams of literature, I have devoured art over morning coffee, I have pondered libretti and taken notes from my conductors and played around with interpretation. I have spent hours in the rehearsal room developing my Gretel, only to learn that she really is not mine at all, but rather the sum of what the director asks that I truthfully infuse her with. I have become flexible, not just from regular ballet class, but in my mind and perception as an artist and individual.
In the joyous event that I were considered as the recipient for a contract, I feel confident to say that I would present as an enthused and vivacious singer with a fastidious work ethic and unquenchable desire to learn, develop and evolve to the highest standard capable. I would express and question and conceptualise each role that I have the honour to prepare and be true to the composer and librettist to the best of my knowledge and capacity.
In the course of my artistic development I have followed the same regimen of any good, well behaved singer- regular scales, fixation on attaining bel canto technique, healthy respiratory behaviour, and vocal well-being, musical fastidiousness. But none of this makes me worthy. This is my job as singer. I have learned in the hours alone studying scores and in the studio of my teachers, coaches, repetiteurs and conductors, and on the stage that it is what I can say, that makes me worthy of applying for any theatre I choose to apply for. I have something to say and the only way I can really get it out is by singing.
I have intentionally and also inadvertently developed into the specific artist that I am. I’m proud of my achievements but I also know full well that to continue to enjoy the luxury of expressing my art, I need a position that allows me to make the characters I have aspired to portray on stage. I hold a copy of the Deutsches Bühnen Jahrbuch. I love its red cover, a good rich red, as red as the opportunities it may hold. I’m prepared to work cover to cover to sing everywhere until that elusive contract is under my messy signature. And if nothing arises, I’ll still forge on to other continents, other borders. God give me strength and lead my path.
- Classical singers judged by actions, not voice (telegraph.co.uk)