Yes, I’m happy! *does Happy Dance* Sure, there were bits I didn’t sing as well I would have liked in a perfect world, but I’m not going to beat myself up over them. (Maybe I’ll do that when I hear the recording). But hey, I’ve ticked something off my bucket list, so that’s a bonus, right?
It was a big day in more ways than one. Because we had musicians coming from Dunedin, the rehearsal was held the same day. Certainly not ideal, but when you’re on a strict budget these things sometimes have to be done. The rehearsal went pretty well, and I tried not to sing to full out to help preserve my voice for the performance.
‘Belinda’ sang her first aria then we were into the first chorus, the short ‘Banish Sorrow’. By two-thirds of the way through my heart was beating so hard and fast I thought it was going to leap out of my chest. I stepped out and tried to look as if I were ‘press’d with torment’. It is entirely possible that my expression could have been interpreted as ‘deer caught in the headlights’. The first ‘Ah’ was a bit short due to me not having prepared for it properly but I had myself sorted by the second one and the aria went well – I even got through the longest ‘I languish’ phrase with breath support intact.
I enjoyed the latter part of the performance best, as I was able to interact more with other characters, in particular Aeneas in the scene where Dido compares him to ‘a deceitful crocodile’! And finally the Lament. About half way through I thought ‘Let go! Don’t think, just be Dido!’ and so I just let myself get swept up in the emotion and it felt amazing. Someone afterwards told me that I really conveyed Dido’s despair, which made me feel pretty good! I stood there and let the choir’s ‘With Drooping Wings’ wash over me and wished I could do it all over again. Although ideally I would want it to be a full opera performance.
Now my performance calendar has a bit of blank space, so I can sit down and work on some things that I haven’t had time to – Tornami a vagegghiar from Handel’s Alcina for one. Here’s La Stupenda in a 1960 rendition….
It’s Wednesday and Dido & Aeneas is this Saturday at 4pm. Of course I don’t really want to back out but I have, over the last week, been subject to bouts of ‘who the hell do I think I am to be singing Dido?’ I always wonder at what point someone like Jessye Norman or Pavarotti or any other world-famous singer goes on stage and thinks ‘I have every right to be singing this’. Is there a light-bulb moment when they realise that their technique, quality of voice and ability to convey whatever emotion is needed is all there, and they are completely confident in their own ability? When they think ‘Yeah, my voice IS so awesome that people will gladly pay a large portion of their weekly income to hear me?’
Obviously I’m a journeyman (journeywoman?) singer in a small city near the bottom of the world so the expectations on me are just a tad lower, but I still angst over the fact that people are using some of their precious time and money to listen to me. They have a right to expect something at the very least competent. And I realise that I’m being overly dramatic (no, really? Me?) because I’m not the only person they’re coming to hear. It’s just that there’s this little song at the end of the opera that Dido sings. The one everyone knows. And because they know it, they know when you don’t get the timing quite right, or a note exactly where it should be.
And so this morning, as I practised Dido’s Lament in the shower – don’t you love shower acoustics? – I thought, to hell with it, I know the notes, I can sing them competently, I’m just going to let go and invest it with all the emotion that I feel when I sing those sorrow-laden words. Maybe I’ll come in half a beat late on a ‘Remember me’. Maybe I’ll forget a bit of ornamentation. But by golly the audience is going to feel my despair!
Because that’s what it’s really all about isn’t it? Not just pretty notes – it’s about making people feel something.
I’ll be back after the performance to let you know if I succeeded.
…squeeeeeeeee!!! ♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♪ !!!!!
Ahem…..sorry about that, normal transmission is now resuming…..
Yes my friends, I have secured the part of Dido and to say I am excited would be the understatement of the year!
Right enough excitement…. Ah, ah, ah Belinda, I am press’d with torment………
I had my audition for Dido and Aeneas today. My favourite opera and one which I know very well having studied it at high school. It turned around my perception of opera and allowed me to open my ears to singing that was greatly different to the angelic but small voices of the girls in the choirs I belonged to at the time.
My choir is doing a concert performance of D&A in late April and all solo parts are being done by choir members. Obviously the plum role is Dido, and in other circumstances I wouldn’t even get a look-in, but there are no dramatic sopranos in our ranks and for once my voice has sufficient weight, compared with others, to be considered. I also threw my hat in the ring for Belinda as in general terms it is more suited to my voice. If I were to get either I would be thrilled but I’m secretly harbouring a yearning for Dido, as it likely the only time I’ll ever get the opportunity to sing the full role. I want to imperiously dismiss Aeneas with a dramatic gesture and an ‘Away! Away!’ that bounces off the walls.
I think the audition went ok. I probably rushed a little in some places where I could have allowed more space but overall I was happy. I should know by the weekend. Please cross fingers, toes, eyes etc for me 🙂