The last time I sang UpcomingRole1 I was fresh out of Undergrad and ready to take on the world.
This time I get a chance to do it all over again, x years later, a few legato notes and cadenzas wiser.
I've been doing a bit of memory work recently, and here is the conclusion that I've come to regarding how it works for me personally.
Whether I spend three days crash-memorizing a role that I have to jump into (see Summer 2007), or whether I prepare a leading role 9 months in advance, at a leisurely pace while on the beaches of the 'motherland' (See Summer 2007 ALSO), memorizing works in mysterious ways for me.
Sometimes I can look at the score, listen to a recording once and just 'get it'. The melody will be in my head always. And all I have to do is memorize the words and fit them in the right place. Of course this is RUDIMENTARY role acquisition. I'm not talking about being musical, making the nice sounds, or building character. I'm simply talking about memory work.
Sometimes, it doesn't help at all to listen. I have to be at the piano, banging out notes and little tunes and themes for what seems like ever, learning the words at the same time as memory cues, and I can learn the whole thing that way. As something 'hand in hand' in terms of music and lyrics.
MOST times I've had to learn a role whether I'm at the piano, or just flipping through the vocal score sightreading (in my head, and usually on an airplane), or listening to some old recording of someone who I would NEVER want to copy, just so that the music can get in my ear), I always remember the music. NOT so much the words.
Which is why about a month before the production begins, I am usually walking around with little folded pieces of paper on which I write out the words to the entire opera. Numerous times. Every day.
And (knock on wood) I've never had a word blip or brain fart (as they say) on stage or during rehearsal that has been so ridiculous that I couldn't recover from it on the next note or phrase.
But it's so strange--I work so hard to GET to the first rehearsal, have five weeks basically sleeping, eating and living a show, and then, one month later, it couldn't be farther in my mind.
It's almost like I WILL my short term memory to 'forget', so that I can make room for new things!
Of course, I haven't forgotten all of it. On the contrary, I think I actually remember about..92-95 percent of it.
But it's those little ensembles and the accompanied recits and that big choral number--the parts that I usually don't LOVE to practice because it's not all about 'me,me,me' in that there are long breaks, other things going on, or a high note held above 26 measures and then some patter.
Well. So. UpcomingRole1.
I just listened to it while power-walking/Yogging (it's a soft J) for an hour and a half...and for the MOST part, my memory has served me just as I thought it would.
I recall all of the major things, and there are a few minor patter/chorus/middle of duets/talky parts that I need to stop fooling myself into thinking that I'll remember, and actually start writing down. Every.Day. Ah- routine.
WELL- I am starting to work through that, but I think it's going to be the piano-banging-type.
It's French (also), there is MUCH patter, MUCH repetition as in couplets, MUCH fast Frenchiness (basically, more cowbell....)....and with THAT I will end the entry and say that I am not sure I'll ever really figure out how I learn best, because there ARE so many choices.
To each his own, and seemingly sometimes...to each OPERA its own...