One thing that always causes me some angst in relation to performing is clothing. Singing nude is not an option although I’m willing to bet there are some opera directors out there that would love to figure out a way to get some of their stars to do it – probably with Katherine Jenkins in mind. (Please don’t write furious messages telling me off for calling her an opera singer, I know she is not but the people out there who try to think up new ways of making money don’t care about the distinctions much less the quality of her singing). So when the choice is mine, how do I make that choice?
Firstly, and rather importantly, I have to be able to breathe. Not just ordinary every-day breathing but deep, lung-filling, get-me-through-the-long phrase breathing. Now that I am learning to relax and breathe fully and without restraint, this means that anything too tight round my midsection is out.
Next, there is the problem of legs. If the dress is too short the audience is distracted, too long and you risk doing a face-plant as you regally ascend the few steps to the stage/platform. I also have another leg problem – they shake. Invariably about half-way through the aria/art song/lied I’ll feel them start to tremble. Doesn’t matter if I’m feeling completely relaxed and calm, away they go like there’s a seismic tremor occurring directly beneath me. So a reasonable length of dress is a useful disguise.
So how about ‘the girls’? Anything too low cut and the audience will be fixated on your cleavage, waiting in a combination of anxiety and interest to see if you will have a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ as you take in the enormous lungful of air required to see you through the third coloratura bit of the Mozart ‘Alleluia’.
What about shoes then? Too high and you risk falling off them, too low and you can look a bit mumsy. Earrings? Too dangly and/or sparkly and they distract the audience. Bracelets? They might jingle in the the wrong key. At least with my short hair I can’t go too wrong. (As an aside, I yearn for long hair that I could curl, put up, put down – I think it gives you more options).
So the other day I bought a dress. It doesn’t look like this:
But it does look like this:
I may not look even a quarter as glamorous as KJ but I bet my audience will concentrate on my singing and not my appearance. What do you reckon?