About Us Contact Us Help




Soprano Recital - An Exhilarating Experience

Kriti Subramanyam

On April 23, 2011, I stepped onto the stage at Spring Step studio in Medford to perform my first solo recital as a soprano, an event I had been anticipating since I began my training five years ago under soprano Mary Ann Lanier at the New England Conservatory.  Feeling both exhilarated and a bit nervous, I wondered whether the audience would understand the music to appreciate the nuances, beauty and variety of the pieces that I had carefully selected to perform with Ms. Lanier’s help.  It was a big step for me, who, not long ago, was nervous about singing in public!

So, you may wonder what being a soprano is all about.  The term soprano in general describes a singer who can sing the higher notes on the music scale comfortably.  A soprano may be able to perform a wide range of songs - from Broadway show tunes to opera.  In my case, I had trained mostly in singing operatic music and had done smaller work on Broadway pieces.  In a formal recital like mine, there is no required set of pieces that a singer must perform; instead, the singer is free to choose pieces that best suit her voice and exemplify her repertoire.  The only instrumental accompaniment in the recital is the piano.  I was fortunate to have Christina Chao, a highly accomplished pianist at NEC’s graduate school, accompanying me.  Christina was a constant source of encouragement both during rehearsals and backstage before the recital began.

My recital featured twelve songs in all, ranging from classical Italian arias to French folk songs to lighter Broadway numbers.  I began with the aria “Verdi Prati” from George Fredrich Handel’s opera Alcina. Other pieces included “Ch’io mai vi possa” from Handel’s Siroe, Faure’s “Mai”, Quilter’s “Take O Take Those Lips Away”, Rogers’ and Hammerstein’s “When I Marry Mister Snow” from Carousel, Wolf’s “Zitronenfalter im April”, Gluck’s “O Del Mio Dolce Ardor” from Paride ed Elena, and Mozart’s “Batti, batti o bel Masetto” from Don Giovanni.   

One of the biggest challenges of learning opera is that arias are written in many different languages. The pieces I performed were in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.  I had to practice long and hard to master the pronunciation and diction for each of those languages.  Even English and Spanish, languages that I am comfortable speaking, required extensive work before my pronunciation was accurate and authentic.  Ironically, it was English that proved to be the most difficult for me to sing because the diction for the spoken language differs greatly from that of sung English.  Additionally since no two consecutive pieces in my recital were in the same language, I had to practice transitioning between songs sung in different languages

Another challenge in operatic singing, which is also one of its most unique characteristics, is that each aria is part of an opera, and therefore, performing the aria entails more than just perfecting the language and mastering technical elements.  For each piece that I sang, I had to read up on the opera and the scene in which the aria is sung in the opera in order to develop an understanding of the character and inhabit him or her as I sang.  As I sang my arias in my recital, I had to incorporate facial expressions, body language, and acting to convey to the audience who my character was, and to provide them with the context of the opera without having other characters to help.  And in a long recital, it is important that each character be distinct enough for the audience to distinguish between all of them. Building the characters for my singers was perhaps the most time-consuming part of my rehearsals.

I concluded the recital with my favorite aria, “Vedrai Carino” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  In this song, the peasant girl Zerlina playfully assures her fiancé Masetto, who has just been beaten by Giovanni, that love can cure all wounds.  It was wonderful to share this experience with my friends, family, and music teachers from both NEC and my school.  The recital represented my years of hard work and training and was made even more special by the fact that it was my eighteenth birthday as well!  Afterwards, judges from NEC who were evaluating my performance wrote, “Wonderful voice and presentation.  It’s a joy to hear and watch your expressive face.  Languages are excellent; intonation and style are all great.  Please keep studying and considering adding acting and more movement to enrich your Western opera production.”

During my five years of study at NEC, I was enrolled I the vocal certificate program, a four level diploma program that provides intensive training in the vocal arts.  In addition to the successful completion of a solo voice recital and annual voice evaluations, students in the program must also demonstrate proficiency in piano playing, music theory, and diction in French, German, Italian, and English.  Students perform in NEC’s Youth Chorale and attend voice master classes, where top voice instructors from other conservatories provide critique to improve singing technique.  After five years in the program, I earned my Level IV diploma this May, graduating with honors.  While proud of my accomplishments at NEC, I look forward to continuing my training and expanding my repertoire as I pursue my passion for singing when I start college this fall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Of-pOO9MRA  (Zitronenfalter im April)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrzRQSlzGNw  (Vedrai Carino)

Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help