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.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Joyce DiDonato
A master class with Joyce DiDonato was presented by the Marcello Giordani Foundation and what a masterful hour and a half it was!  This superstar mezzo-soprano is as charming as she is modest, as gifted a teacher as she is an artist.  The audience, many of whom were singers,  seemed to get as much out of the experience as the students, three of our favorite young artists.  All of Ms. DiDonato's experience and wisdom were shared with consummate generosity.

The first participant, baritone Takaoki Onishi, sang "Ah per sempre" from Bellini's I Puritani.  It sounded just fine but after a half-hour of coaching on Bellini's particular style, Mr. Onishi sounded far more performance-ready.  Ms. DiDonato focused on grounding Mr. Onishi physically by teaching him to be more aware of his body, encouraging him to sing from his core.  She shared some tips on how to practice, breaking each phrase down, practicing it with different rhythms to gain flexibility.  She demonstrated connecting the notes from one phrase to the next to emphasize Bellini's long lines.  She offered suggestions on the mastery of triplets.  She discussed
how to get the brain to control the voice.  She advised knowing more about who the character is. 

The second participant, soprano Courtney Johnson, sang "Signore ascolta" from Puccini's Turandot.  Ms. D. taught her how to be even more expressive with her magnificent instrument by coloring every word with its underlying emotion.  She coached Ms. J. on how best to articulate the "EE" sound so that "Liu" and "piu" sounded better.  We were surprised to learn that that vowel, when correctly placed (narrow and deep) offers the most room in the throat.

The final participant, tenor Adam Bonanni, sang "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'Amore.  Ms. D. advised going back to the score instead of imitating famous tenors;  we were surprised to learn that those famous tenors often departed from what the composer wrote!  She told Mr. B. that he could "make it new" and by the end of the coaching, indeed he did.  He created a Nemorino that was not like any other.  We look forward to hearing him sing a role that seems tailor-made for him.

We could have listened to Ms. D's advice all night long.  It is always so rewarding when a master class makes a real difference to the participants.

(c) meche kroop

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