Tag Archives: soprano

Pilar Lorengar… and a little more Granados

Photo credit: wikipedia

Doing one’s homework for another Granados discussion, and remembering that Frank Marshall had been a pupil of Granados and accompanied singers, thus hopefully carrying on Granados’ traditions, and knowing that Alicia de Larrocha had been a pupil of Marshall, it seemed reasonable to look for and listen to YouTube examples of de Larrocha and Marshall accompanying.

Sorry about that long sentence.

The CD, The Catalan Piano Tradition, has Marshall accompanying Supervia (a guitar student of Granados whom he discovered during solfeg class) so that got a listen.  De Larrocha is also on the recording, with Badia singing.

On YouTube, the following were also useful:

Pilar Lorengar –

Teresa Berganza  –

However, there weren’t enough with de Larrocha, and as Pilar Lorengar is a (shamefully admitted) new-to-moi lyric soprano, she needed to be added to The Library.

An excellently reviewed Decca double CD set was located via Amazon, and it’s just arrived, containing tonadillas from Granados’ set, all with de Larrocha …

Later, after listening …

Splendid voice has Lorengar; how she loves all the high A’s and occasional B-flats!  And sings them radiantly, too.  Yet I cannot agree with much of her Granados interpretation.  De Larrocha is marvelous.  More on that when we do just Granados.


Dolora Zajick on Dramatic Voice Training

Recent articles decry the lack of dramatic voices. Nonsense!  Teachers don’t know how to teach them, and most directors don’t want to hear them.  Mezzo soprano Dolora Zajick wants to, and she’s started her own school.

Knowing there aren’t many effective teachers for this voice type, and there aren’t many dramatic voices being heard in public these days, many people have never heard a true  dramatic voice.  YouTube to the rescue!  During commercials of The Blob, yours truly put together a listening list.

In addition, here’s a 1990 article for further illustration.  Even the title is appropriate: That Rare Vocal Bird.  It’s in the Features section of an old web site.  Sorry I can’t get a more direct link.  Click the page, go to Features (left column), then click below where you see Arts and Leisure.

The Listening List

For the desired effect, turn your volume all the way up and don’t use earphones.

Voices need room to resonate, especially big ones.

The bigger the room you’re in, the better, and the louder you can turn up the volume!

The 3 mezzos below are all singing the same aria, “Stride la vampa” from Verd’si Il Trovatore.  The Marx Brothers used this opera in their “A Night at the Opera” so it might be familiar.  The character singing is the gypsy Azucena.  The grisly song is about her memory of the night her mother was burned to death.  An English translation is included in the first selection.  The last two are Ms. Zajick’s favorite mezzos, giants in their field.  Happy listening.

Ms. Zajick

Ms. Cossotto

Ms. Simionato


Interview: Director John Copley

Please take a listen to this 30-minute podcast with mezzo Joyce DiDonato and stage director John Copley.

It’s chock full of amusing anecdotes, historical facts, and their opinions of what makes good music matches yours truly’s.

Also mentioned, amongst others, are Victoria de los Angeles, Maria Jeretza, Beverly Sills, Dame Janet Baker, Monserrat Caballé, Maria Callas, and others.

If you’re a singer and don’t know these names, you need to learn!

All of them have clips on YouTube.

Happy listening!


Spontaneity & MLK

  1. SPONTANEOUS, a. [L., of free will.]
  2. Voluntary; acting on its own impulse or will without the incitement of any thing external

Of free will.  No wonder so much stress is placed on it.  In an atmosphere of so many human wills trying to influence and/or control others, to practice true spontaneity is not easy.

All too often, one may doubt their own thoughts – which is exactly what those who want to control them desire.

Think about it.  If you’re busy worrying about whether an impulse is genuine, you’re not doing it.

That’s opportunity lost…

Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to this in a sermon as “the paralysis of analysis.


Anna Russell

The author saw Ms. Russell’s performance at Wolf Trap Farm Park in the early ’80’s.  Talk about stamina – the entire last half of the program was Herself at the piano, taking the audience through the entire Wagner Ring cycle, singing all the parts herself.  She’s also on YouTube

From The New York Times: “Merely by telling the plot of Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelungs” in a voice laced with Edwardian-era class and postwar-era sarcasm, Ms. Russell affectionately sullied opera’s most devotional experience.

“I’m not making this up, you know,” she said when her account of the plot seemed to become particularly outrageous. That became her tag line — and the title of her 1985 autobiography.”

Check out her Amazon page.


Wisdom from Martha Graham

“I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer.  It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way.  Sometimes it is not pleasant.  Sometimes it is fearful.  But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

“No artist is pleased.

“There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.

“There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

Martha Graham

People in the arts understand these two quotes perfectly because we live them as an innate part of our artistic gift and resultant way of life.

Not so for the rest of the world, with talents and gifs in other areas.

Why not?

Can’t the research scientist feel just as driven?

Can’t a teacher or business owner feel similar “divine dissatisfaction?”


Singers: How to handle your performing mentality

Power Performance for Singers

Emmons & Thomas

Most performers are subject to pre- and/or -post-performance syndrome in varying degrees.  Performers may experience different levels of either or both, depending on what, when or for whom they’re performing.  This situation isn’t limited to singers.  Athletes (which singers should be) are very conscious of it.  Ever heard of sports psychology?  This is it, applied to singers.

It works.

It can be unsettling to hear sharp comments from a performer, or have them say something totally out of context, or not understand something you try to tell them, or act as if they didn’t hear what you said, or answer a completely different question from the one you asked.

Remember, they’re in the middle of a chemical, physical and mental state that has them totally focused on another time, place and activity – their performance –  not you.  Most non-performers can’t begin to imagine the kind of concentration a performer takes for granted.

Some people either don’t know this, don’t understand it, or want to take advantage of it (generally for their own benefit).  However, it is not an excuse for outright rudeness or abusive behavior!

Makes teaching or coaching quite challenging, and always interesting.

Everyone has performance moments in their lives.

Consider the bride/groom, speaker at a funeral or memorial service, or reader in church services.  They’re performing publicly, generally with no previous experience whatsoever, nor any knowledge of how to handle themselves, the situation, or their thoughts about any of it.

No wonder they’re nervous!


W. Stephen Smith’s “The Naked Voice”

The Naked Voice, from Amazon.com

Not a novel, but a quite serious book on considering the whole singer instead of just their vocal folds.  Smith’s students include Joyce DiDonato and Christine Brewer.  He taught at Juilliard, but beginning in 2011 will be teaching at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

From a favored dictionary, Noah Webster wrote:

NAKED, a. Open, discovered, to strip.

Not covered; bare … open; exposed …

Plain; evident; undisguised…

“The secret in singing

lies between the vibration in the singer’s voice

and the throb in the hearer’s heart.”

Kahlil Gibran