We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi and Sean Christensen
Most master classes are both instructive and educational; they usually focus on interpretation, diction, phrasing--rarely on voice production, leaving such matters to the participants' own voice teachers.  Yesterday's master class was an exception--and it was exceptional.  Sponsored by Classic Lyric Arts which hosts programs of advanced studies in language, culture and classical repertoire in Italy and France, the class was taught by Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi, Director of Daltro Canto, dedicated to R&D of new approaches to vocal pedagogy.  The emphasis is described as "spontaneous vocal production through an understanding of energy flow and increased mind/body awareness".  Doug Han accompanied the artists.

As an observer and auditor, we noticed impressive changes in all four participants, sopranos Tamara Rusque, Elizabeth Novella and Dorothy Gal and tenor Sean Christensen.  We had never heard any of them sing beforehand but were able to compare their performance before working with Maestra Lombardi and after a half-hour of coaching.  The methods were new to us and seemed to involve a profound knowledge of anatomy and bio-energetics.  The guidance was given in Italian and translated by Glenn Morton, Artistic Director of Classic Lyric Arts.

There was some overlap but each participant was handled differently.  Signora Lombardi seemed to know exactly where each singer's tension was located and how to release it.  The entire body was brought into play, from the feet up.  There was a lot of emphasis on the spine and the hip joint.  Singing on one leg with the other swinging back and forth seemed to work wonders, as did wiggling the spine in serpentine fashion.

Much work was also done with the face.  Holding the lower lip between the fingers produced quite a difference as did wiggling the upper lip.  Who knew before today that showing the lower teeth could change the voice?  Or that the diaphragm was connected to the cervical vertebrae?  One singer was given a Ricola to hold between her back teeth.  Another interesting strategy was to bite the lower lip and vocalize.  Lacking the knowledge to understand how these strategies work we are nonetheless sure that the participants who are taking her weekend workshop will come away with a great deal of valuable knowledge.  The maestra is not only an amazing teacher but is a gifted artist herself--well known in all the famous opera houses of Italy as well as Paris, Zurich and Stuttgart.  How admirable that she is sharing her unique discoveries with the next generation.  Bravissima!

© meche kroop

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