Aria guide: "O! du mein holder Abendstern"
Wolfram's aria is a pretty magical moment in Wagner's Tannhäuser. It's almost a stand-alone song within the opera, the minstrel having a musical soliloquy, and it feels much gentler, much more intimate than everything that has come before. Wolfram is singing to the evening star, thinking of Elizabeth and her sad love for Tannhäuser.Read More
Shades of opera: how to tell your buffo from your bel canto
Verismo music is decidedly gorgeous, with long, sweeping lines and a thick orchestra. The musical style is a foundation for the film scores of today, and though the impression is powerful, the harmonic structure of many verismo scores is fairly simple; it adds to the audience accessibility, and makes for some beautiful tunes to hum as you leave the theatre.Read More
A FAQ checklist for opera newbies
One word of advice: if you spend the opera wondering how long it's going to be, that opera will certainly feel pretty long. Bring a bottle of water, accept that most operas are a bit longer than the average movie, and let yourself get sucked in.Read More
Pianists: where's the fire?
It can be extremely humbling for a trained pianist to discover just how hard it is to stay with a conductor. It may seem unfair - shouldn't a conductor be a living, breathing version of a metronome, after all? In some cases, that's true; Philip Glass' music works well when a tempo is set and maintained, but we guarantee you wouldn't want to hear your Puccini at an unwavering 108 clicks a minute.Read More
Tips for pianists: how to tremolo like a pro
In a case like this, sometimes a slower tremolo yields better results on the piano. If you try for speed, it'll likely sound a bit drier, a bit more percussive; a slow tremolo lets you just sit in the sound that already exists, and your muscles will be relaxed enough to sustain it.Read More
Aria guides: Dido's Lament
For our latest Aria Guide, we've picked an aria that has it all: it's beautiful, it's in English, and mezzos get to play Dido, an actual woman. In Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, "Dido's Lament" happens at the end of a simple and sad story: Aeneas, whom Dido loves and has agreed to marry, believes he has to leave her and go to Italy. As he goes, Dido dies from her grief.Read More
Aria guides: "O wie ängstlich, o wie feurig!"
Amid captured loved ones and Turkish harems, there's a tenor in love. Belmonte is off to resuce his abducted fiancée, Konstanze, but not without telling us how she makes his heart beat faster. For any tenor, this aria is a mountain of work; there's tricky coloratura, lines which hover through the passaggio, and making it to the end takes planning and stamina.Read More
Being a helpful pianist: which is your page-turning hand?
Our theory is that there's more nature than nurture in each pianist's preferred page-turning hand. For us, it's our left, because we find ease in a motion across the body, towards the bottom-right corner of the page; in turning the page, our left hand retracts swiftly back into playing position.Read More
Aria guides: "Schweig! damit dich Niemand warnt"
Der Freischütz is an action-packed story about girls, guns, and selling one's soul to the devil. Caspar is a man who owes his soul to the devil, and when he sings "Schweig! damit dich Niemand warnt," he plans to substitute Max's soul instead of his own. Caspar's aria is a schizophrenic rambling of a desperate man, and Weber's score is packed with traps that cost you breath and beauty of sound, and it's an aria that takes patience and time with your teachers and coaches.Read More
Aria guides: "Ach, ich fühl's"
It's a deceptively simple aria, and the empty accompaniment, a singer can easily feel as though they're walking on eggshells. Along with help from your teachers and coaches, we can offer a few tips for keeping things simple, and creating the illusion of superhuman breath control.Read More