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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Vocalists

Joan Sutherland: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Here is a clip of one of the all-time great sopranos, Joan Sutherland, performing the "Vissi d'arte" aria from the Act 2 of Puccini's opera "Tosca".

The tone and control she maintains when singing in the extreme high register, all while turning a beautiful phrase, is what all instrumentalists strive for. Truly incredible stuff.

And I love the subtlety of her vibrato. (At least subtle compared to a lot of other sopranos singing in that register!)


Maria Callas: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

As I have written on this blog over and over again, all instrumentalists are simply trying to sound like singers.

Maria Callas was an American-born Greek soprano who lived from 1923-1977. She is one of the all-time greats. If you are not familiar with her work you are in for treat.

Here is a great collection of 12 arias featuring the music of Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti and more. Here is the full list of arias performed:

UNA VOCE POCO FA • Gioacchino Rossini "Il Barbiere Di Siviglia" 
ADDIO DEL PASSATO • Giuseppe Verdi "La Traviata" ( 06:48 )
CASTA DIVA • Vincenzo Bellini "Norma" ( 10:15 )
UN BEL DÌ VEDREMO • Giacomo Puccini "Madama Butterfly" ( 17:29 )
PACE, PACE MIO DIO • Giuseppe Verdi "La Forza Del Destino" ( 21:59 )
EBBEN NE ANDRÒ LONTANA • Alfredo Catalani "La Wally" ( 28:24 )
O MIO BABBINO CARO • Giacomo Puccini "Gianni Schicchi" ( 33:12 )
O MADRE MIA • Amilcare Ponchielli "La Gioconda" ( 35:44 )
QUANDO, RAPITO IN ESTASI • Gaetano Donizetti "Lucia Di Lammermoor" ( 37:37 )
TACEA LA NOTTE PLACIDA • Giuseppe Verdi "Il Trovatore" ( 42:37 )
SPARGI D'AMARO PIANTO • Gaetano Donizetti "Lucia di Lammermoor" ( 48:46 )
GIASON! DEI TUOI FIGLI LA MADRE • Luigi Cherubini "Medea" ( 52:56 )


How to Develop a Great Vibrato

Andrew Hitz

When you break it all down, all of us instrumentalists have only one goal: to sound as natural as singers. They are the best example we have of lots of things, including phrasing and vibrato.

Developing a really great vibrato (and identifying when and how to use it) is a very important thing for an instrumentalist.

(Note: This is not to say that any musician should ultimately develop only one vibrato. Variations in vibrato give us way more tools with which to tell our musical stories.)

But where do you start?

My advice would be to find three examples that speak to you of a singer using a vibrato. Then analyze them for the following:

  1. The speed of the vibrato
  2. The width of the vibrato
  3. When vibrato is used and when it isn't

Take one of the examples and try to copy the three above things on just one note in your middle register at a medium dynamic. The key (always!) is to record yourself and immediately listen to it.

Once you have a version that sounds somewhat similar to the example you are trying to mimic, move on to the next example, and finally the third.

This exercise will at least give you a starting point for developing a vibrato that can help you to convey your musical ideas.

Bottom line: Always start with singers.