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The inner voice. The making of a singer

by Renée Fleming



Pagina 34 - December 2018
This is often the way we put together our lives, adding the striking qualities of others into our own character.


Pagina 36 - December 2018
Sing in the mirror. If it looks funny, it's wrong.


Pagina 36 - December 2018
Learning to quickly assume a role is a necessary part of the profession.


Pagina 38 - December 2018
The interesting thing about her being an instrumentalist was that she intellectualized the voice, studying it much more than a singer probably would have, which ultimately led to her becoming so strong a technician.


Pagina 38 - December 2018
Beverly used to say that tension in your upper lip could ruin your voice for the day


Pagina 39 - December 2018
don't suck in air


Pagina 40 - December 2018
"cultivated scream"


Pagina 41 - December 2018
How I support my breath is relatively simple to explain, but in practice a difficult process to really coordinate.


Pagina 53 - December 2018
Analyzing a voice and discerning why it isn't functioning freely, beautifully, and artistically are like trying to dissect a snowflake.


Pagina 53 - December 2018
It's not surprising, for example, that most great singers do not become great teachers. Some will openly admit that they haven't a clue how to explain what they do, and some can explain only that, without being able to apply it to other voice.


Pagina 54 - December 2018
Some teachers have achieved enormous success by doing nothing more than stroking egos and holding hands.


Pagina 54 - December 2018
to maintain patience when faced with a process that is often slow, confusing, and frustrating.


Pagina 57 - December 2018
the Underdog has always been my favorite role. I loved the comfort of being number two - just high enough to make me feel validated but not so high that I felt the air getting thin.


Pagina 58 - December 2018
for two weeks we were there I never stopped laughing, which I've always thought was the reason I won.


Pagina 59 - December 2018
It all goes back to teachers' and students' finding a way to communicate about the voice. It's a bit like talking about God: you almost have to talk around it, because there is no exact language for the thing itself.


Pagina 60 - December 2018
"What happened to your voice?" is not a question a singer wants to hear.


Pagina 62 - December 2018
She wasn't just working on my voice; she was working on me.


Pagina 64 - December 2018
Once I managed to figure all this out, listeners would tell me how fortunate I was to be born singing so easily.


Pagina 66 - December 2018
I realized that I had been singing with a high larynx for years. Every time I finished practicing, my speaking voice would be up an octave.


Pagina 66 - December 2018
remain open-minded, for you never know where you're going to learn your lessons.


Pagina 97 - December 2018
If you perform in an opera often enough, everybody's roles become familiar.


Pagina 98 - December 2018
The girls thought of home as being wherever I, their current nanny, and their respective toys and paraphernalia were, and they didn't seem to mind that it wasn't a stationary place.


Pagina 100 - December 2018
Opera singers are rightly terrified of fear, because by affecting our relaxation it undermines our breathing.


Pagina 102 - December 2018
if I'm actually singing I can hear almost nothing at all besides the sound of my own voice


Pagina 118 - December 2018
An interpretation exists because of what we find between the notes


Pagina 120 - December 2018
My goal is to please most of the people some of the time: a balance of well-known gems, a few obscure discoveries, virtuosic display, and more intimate fare.


Pagina 123 - December 2018
Most people today have had less exposure to classical music than their parents and grandparents, who grew up believing that classical music, like serious literature, was "good for you".


Pagina 123 - December 2018
Sometimes all people need to rethink their position is a little incentive.


Pagina 124 - December 2018
Singing in choirs and studying piano and other instruments were once normal parts of a child's upbringing aided by amateur groups, churches, and schools. These programs planted the seeds for a love of serious music that bloomed in adulthood. What we're finding now is often a case of no seed, no bloom.


Pagina 132 - December 2018
It's been a slow and steady climb, but at least it's always been a climb.


Pagina 136 - December 2018
She was going to live her life to the fullest, and when she couldn't do it her way anymore, that would be it.


Pagina 141 - December 2018
You don't really protect your voice by undersinging or holding back.


Pagina 142 - December 2018
I've always considered the question of health to be one of mind over matter.


Pagina 146 - December 2018
it has always been my goal to stop when I choose to and not when I have to.


Pagina 146 - December 2018
We should never sing past the point at which audiences begin to forget why they used to love us, or a new generation comes along and can't figure out what all the excitement was about.


Pagina 150 - December 2018
Muscle memory is an important factor, because we have to depend on involuntary muscles and coax them in the right direction.


Pagina 150 - December 2018
Singers must train just as an athlete would, with repetition just to the point of fatigue but not to that of injury.


Pagina 152 - December 2018
In the end I'm not sure how much impact reviews have had on my career one way or the other, or any other performer's, for that matter. An artist who is in demand and who is singing well is not going to lose work simply because of a bad review.


Pagina 152 - December 2018
I think there are very few people who truly don't care about what's being written about them.


Pagina 163 - December 2018
I have also learned through experience how important is to give to the camera, for an unfocused, tired, or dull expression does not an interesting photograph make. Hours of this takes a great deal of discipline and concentration, but if an alluring photograph encourages someone to pick up a CD of Strauss scenes and listen to it, then so be it.


Pagina 164 - December 2018
I have always been drawn to beauty, in whatever form it takes.


Pagina 171 - December 2018
My own personal signature on any given night a the opera is to trip over my own gown, something I think I manage with unparalleled flair.


Pagina 177 - December 2018
muscle memory is a key aspect of singing.


Pagina 177 - December 2018
I constantly have to remind myself that the audience is, on the whole, a benevolent group


Pagina 181 - December 2018
The reason that some singers go on to become great artists has very little to do with their voices, but rather with the fact that they have used their instruments as tools for detailed communication. lThey further take advantage of every aspect of their talents, including their talent for living, to capture the audience's imagination.


Pagina 182 - December 2018
As a wise colleague once said to me, "What we do is so joyous, so satisfying, we would do it for free. We are actually paid for the grief of leaving our families and friends."


Pagina 191 - December 2018
The goal is always to have singing be as effortless and as efficient as possible. This requires attention to both how to voice feels and how it sounds. The difficult thing to understand is that harm from faulty technique doesn't show up immediately, and it might even be the case that it doesn't feel wrong at the time.


Pagina 191 - December 2018
Protecting my voice doesn't mean seeking out undemanding roles, but rather singing roles that are a perfect fit for me.


Pagina 194 - December 2018
A "smile in the voice" is one of my favorite tonal ideas; the effect is produced with more lift in the cheekbones, or an inner smile. Victoria De Los Angeles was the best representative of this technique, which is a beautiful way to illuminate a phrase, so to speak.


Pagina 198 - December 2018
Violetta is a woman of tremendous integrity, unlike Manon, who is cheerfully decadent and has only glimpses here and there of the moral road not taken. Violetta makes the right choices at her own expense, so we feel she is victimized by class and circumstance and the men who love her.


Pagina 200 - December 2018
I still engage in a constant battle with myself as to whether as an actress I should be simple or layered, histrionic or direct. I go back and forth between these two alternatives on almost a line-by-line basis.


Pagina 201 - December 2018
If I had one wish as a performer, it would be to divide myself in two for a night so that I could be both onstage and in the audience, watching myself perform.


Pagina 203 - December 2018
The relationship between the world behind the curtains and the operagoers in their velvet seats is a little like that between the flaming hot, frantically busy, and completely well-organized kitchen of a five-star restaurant and the elegant customers who are enjoying their meals.


Pagina 205 - December 2018
you have to be at least moderately healthy to withstand this lifestyle.


Pagina 212 - December 2018
That's the real joy of performing: you do something for so long and with such discipline that it actually begins to look, and at times even feel, effortless.


Pagina 219 - December 2018
I cannot imagine a more satisfying calling than my own: beauty, humanity, and history every day, combined with the cathartic joy of singing.


Pagina 220 - December 2018
Music enabled me as a fragile young person to give voice to emotions I could barely name, and now it enables me to give my voice the unique and mysterious power to speak to others.


Pagina 222 - December 2018
We are unique, each human voice, not because we are completely self-generated, but because of how we choose to assemble the countless factors that made us.