Tomorrow evening, I will be giving a recital.  The most important thing to remember about recitals is the “i,” otherwise you could have a problem, but the second most important thing to remember about recitals, is the music.

I have to be honest here, I have never liked recitals.  I don’t like going to them, and I don’t like giving them, as a general rule, although I am getting excited about this current one.  The thing about them is, it is someone just standing there, singing stuff.  Usually, slow, beautiful, boring stuff.  This is not what I like.  I like going to shows!  I like the drama, the sets, the costumes, the staging, and all the other things that distract me from add to the music.  With a recital, it is just you on the stage, singing.  And without all that other stuff, I personally find it a lot harder to memorize the music.  For me, the last step in the finalization of the memory is when I put a show on its feet and start to associate different sections of music with the accompanying stage movements. 

Now, some people will tell you that this is part of the challenge of giving a good recital.  When it is just you on stage, with nothing but your voice and the piano accompaniment, you have no choice but to create the drama yourself, or else die a slow death on stage, musically speaking.  It is a similar problem that one faces when doing an audition.  How can you adequately display all of the emotion and drama of a scene or an aria, when you have no stage help.  Perhaps you are singing about a beautiful flower, but with no flower there, you can either sing into your hand, or pretend there is a flower floating above the listeners’ heads, but you’ve got to do something!  And that something is not going to include an actual physical floral arrangement.  This kind of imagination is generally manageable for an aria or two, but with a recital, you have to maintain interest for a full hour, sometimes more.

One way to do this is to program contrasting materials.  This is what I am doing with my recital.  A little early music, a little baroque, some opera arias, modernish english songs, and some weird French things.  That ought to keep them guessing!  I have to say, and no offense to any of you personally if you have done this, but there is nothing that is more difficult for me to pay attention to, than an entire recital of music by only one composer.  Yes, I’m sure most great composers have plenty of music, and could fill several recitals, but by the end of the hour I am usually tuning out and thinking about dinner.  Side thought: could this just be my ADHD?

Anyway, as any great opera singer knows, the best part of singing a song is when it finishes and you get all the applause, signalling that it is time to take a break and let somebody else sing for a while.  Sadly, in a recital this does not occur, because whenever you finish a song, it is only time for more songs that you have to sing.

So that about sums up all of my feelings about recitals, except now that I am really doing one for real, I am getting a little psyched up about it.  I like all of the music I’m doing, and hopefully I am interesting enough on stage to keep people paying attention.  So you should come!  But hey, if you do fall asleep, no hard feelings.

Posted in Opera, Recital, Singing.

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