Opera shorthand, part II: Proben & Fächer
Last year, we brought you some tips on opera-insider jargon, and how to speak the industry shorthand. Part I focused on the names of operas and their nicknames, and in part II, we're talking rehearsals and types of voices. So, if you're hoping to infiltrate opening-night opera parties, or just keep up with the opera talk with your singer friends, we can help you with the shortened lingo.Read More
4 arias & their common misconceptions
Daughters have been making pouting faces and puppy eyes at their fathers to get what they want for centuries, and Puccini encapsulates the strategy perfectly. "Babbino" is like saying "Daddy", or even "Daddykins", and to sing it on top of the lush tune is the equivalent of crocodile tears. "I'll throw myself off a bridge", Lauretta paraphrases (twice), if she doesn't get her way. Ugh.Read More
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