Today I had a longer than usual lesson because I had a tougher than usual issue to deal with. Here are the things I understand about my voice and how it is working and how it has changed in the past two years.
I came here with a solid voice that was a lot of raw talent. I had energy, I had the smarts to put my pieces together, I had performance experience, I had a good audition package, I was a crazy high coloratura, I had evenness everywhere, but no power really- and that was not something that was ever mentioned. I never needed to think about breating because everything was just so easy, and I suppose, a little on the light side? Notes were perfectly in tune, center, just easy.
Easy to compete maybe with all "Olympia's", "Fire's", and some other crazy roles in French. But not easy to compete with soubrettes with a nice color in the middle, or lyric coloraturas with more weight throughout and still an amazing top.
And so slowly, new terms like support, breathing, no little girl voice, and others crept into lessons and I slowly imbibed them and worked on things. Worked on opening up a clenched throat (which is why singing was so seemingly effortless breathwise in the first place", worked on evening out and establishing a stronger middle, worked on making those high notes actually sound HIGH instead of just too easy for people to believe those were E's, F's, etc.
In that process there were times I took it too far, I know. There were times when it was too much leaning on the breath and darkening of the sound. Then I lightened that up back to the start. There were times when manipulations of my face/jaw seemed to me the answer to the questions of how to sing an "eeeee" vowel in the middle or the high or the passagio or the low. There were times when some magical voice came out of me, and I felt like I did absolutely NOTHING- and those were the times when my teacher always said that was perfect, what did you do? And I couldn't describe it.
There was then the realization that the "new voice/technique" was too far away from what my comfortable zone of singing was, and that I wouldn't be able to keep it up, because although it was the weight and color that I wanted, I was losing clarity of pitch/tone, and was not approaching things in their center. There was the realization that doing things with my face was distorting something and I just need to let everything go (not too much!) and SAY it. There was the realization that I was doing things right all along (2 years ago), I just had never really thought about releasing that sound or breathing just a bit more into it, because my energy was one of youth, inexperience, but extreme confidence in the fact that there was no "flat" or "sharp", there was just me learning the notes and words that I needed to learn and then putting a character or idea behind it.
So, now, then.
1. Communication. If it's not in my eyes, in my face, in my body, in my words, in my mouth, in my soul, it's not there anywhere (especially not in the vocal production).
2. Release with energized breathing. How not to make my larynx tense up while at the same time invigorating the breathing and tone and always going somewhere. Never sitting in something and settling. No tension on the small scale (ie specific body parts), but tension in terms of a large scale pull that is continuously enriching the tone, breath, sound, energy.
3. Doing this for me, not for them. I know that's a selfish one, and sometimes hard to think of when the whole point is to try and get noticed, get hired, get reviewed positively so you can get hired again, but it's ME. I love this. I love to work on these characters and sounds and melodies and ensembles. I love to walk out onstage and impress, move, wow, please, shock, do Something to people that are watching or listening. It's not to PROVE something, it's to "share", yes, I know that's cliche.....but it's true. Share this something that I have to say about something, that at that point of the night with that particular opera company, no one else is saying, because those people are there to see me, and not in some other town seeing some other production.
maybe more later. must sleep.