Fidelio and Salome excerpts in YouTube
Finally I have uploaded excerpts from Salome and Fidelio in YouTube.
Oxana Senina from California has recently emailed me: “I just read your article “A Handbook for the Development of an Expressive Voice”, and this is exactly what I am trying to learn. I do have a few questions that have come up as I practice, and I would love any insight or advice you might be able to give me.” I think it would be interesting to my readers to answer her questions here in my website.
1. “…My teacher…mentioned that the voice should be placed in the middle of the forehead. When I place the voice there, I feel a lot of vibration and even sometimes a ringing in my ear when I sing at louder volumes. I just want to make sure this is the right spot for the placement of the voice (the middle of the forehead)?”
Oxana, I warn against PLACING the tone ANYWHERE. You will begin to “manipulate” the voice. This will bring tension in the voice and take away its freedom. There are all kinds of repercussions that will hamper the quality and quantity of tone. The voice needs “many places” of resonance to function freely. By attempting to limit the voice to one place, the production of tone will beome controlled and not allowed to take on its FULL resonance and beauty of tone. Even resonance ocurs in the body as well as the head, and it should be allowed to use ALL of the resonance areas.
If you have learned the feeling of “inhalation” - that the tones are coming to you and not being sung outwardly (exhalation), you will find that the voice will take on resonance in the head and upper palate (raising the soft palate automatically) and also the body. This is what we want. Don’t limit the resonance area. Let the voice be free without tension. Freedom without manipulation, but with full body support from the epigastrium and back using you “counterpressure”, will give you the optimal tone.
2. “When I sing quietly in my middle register, I feel like I am sending the air to the front of my mouth just behind my front teeth. From there, I feel the air bounce up and into my head just behind my forehead. When I sing at louder volumes, though, I feel like the air is taking a different pathway. Instead of moving forward to my teeth and then bouncing up, I feel like it travels up the back of my mouth, then up and forward into my forehead. I’m confused about which is the correct pathway.”
Oxana, it seems to me that you are thinking too much about non-essential things and probably not concentrating on the right things. There should be NO feeling of air moving anywhere. Very probably you are exhaling your breath and not inhaling. Concentrate on your breathing and body strength (never let up with your “counterpressure”), concentrate on the feeling of inhalation, concentrate of your freedom and RELAXATION in the throat, concentrate on the position of the tongue (forward and away from the throat) and an optimal articulation. When you are out on stage, these things must come automatically so that you can express your thoughts and feelings.
”Lastly, I was just wondering if you had any exercises you could recommend to practice the inhalation technique. Up to now I have been praticing the technque just by focusing on placement, but I would love to learn some exercises that would give me more specific direction.”
(Forget placement!) Yes, pratice a lot on “oo’s” and “oh’s” with the feeling that these vowels are coming to you in the upper palate area. Not placement, but a sense of direction. Practice a lot with “th’s” (voiced). “Th” is the best consonant(s) to use because the tongue in in the most forward position possible. In this position you can be certain that you are not swallowing the tongue and blocking the back of the throat, nor depressing the larynx. (The base of the tongue is connected to the larynx.) Oxana, I will be scanning and putting some exercises online soon. With the above, however, you can make a very good start. With “counterpressure” (not collapsing with the muscles of support which are the muscles of inhalation - don’t forget the back expansion) and the feeling that the tones are coming to YOU and not being projected outwardly, you will find that you will progress rapidly. Flagstad, who had this Bratt technique, said she had doubled her voice in a month - almost instantaneously. Doubling our voices is a good sign that we are singing with our bodies correctly and not putting pressure on our throats that will minimalize the quantity as well as quality.
I am open to more questions. I will try to guide you through this process, even though I am not with you in person. Tell me how you get along and if you understand. Thank you for your interest and contacting me, Oxana. Please keep in touch. I’ll be thinking of you!
Merry Christmas with music in 2011!
Please think of ordering or downloading “Glory, Glory, Alleluia” for Christmas from cdbaby ! This CD includes sacred selections from Baroque Oratorios as well as songs that everyone loves to hear like “Amazing Grace”. I recorded this CD in the Rheingauer Dom, a cathedral in Germany built in the 12th century and which possesses the largest double manual historic Stumm organ (1842). I was thrilled to have made this recording and I believe you will enjoy it!
Also to be ordered from cdbaby is my CD of German Romantic Lieder, songs of Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss and Franz Schreker. This is the same program which I sang at my Carnegie Hall Recital on February 25, 2011. My accompanist, Christian Schmitt, is a wonderful pianist!
For those who love contemporary music, you can also enjoy my recording of Medea from the opera Medea of Friedhelm Doehl, which was just released in 2011. I am very honored to have been chosen to sing the tragic, heroic figure of Medea in this complex, dramatic, exciting opera! The conductor is Klauspeter Seibel. You can buy this incredible opera as an MP3 download from Amazon or as a CD from Classic Direct, Dreyer Gaido Records.
Have a Merry Christmas with music!
Short notes to Medea recording
The role of Medea was not a simple task. Its complexities demanded highest musical and interpretive skills and fullest concentration. The vocal range extended over 2 octaves, sometimes in direct jumps, with “Sprechgesang” (spoken styles of singing) as well as piano singing and expansive forte outbursts. At the same time, the character of Medea had to be portrayed with utmost sensitivity. She could not be portrayed as a cold killer, but her psychological inner world had to be visible to the public. The conflicts in her heart and her vulnerability had to be mirrored in her acting. And that all in the most modern of modern music! Avant-garde music and lots of percussion contribute to the extremely dramatic character of this great and exciting work!
Medea - Act III Monologue
Here’s a recording of me singing Medea’s third act Monologue in Friedhelm Döhl’s opera, Medea, recorded live in Kiel, in 1990, just recently released as a CD.
Opera to Opry program
On YouTube I have uploaded my video “I will always love you” that I sang at the country music portion (Opry) of the benefit concert. It is not a professional recording, but I wanted my fans to know that there is a lot of great music genres out there and one of them is country music.
Now I have the Fidelio aria from Antwerp, Belgium, “I will always love you”, and portions of the Mozart Requiem (soprano part) from the United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, VA with Andrew Sheldon on the organ on YouTube. Please take some time and listen. I am also uploading the “Suicidio” aria from the concert and “In Jesus Name”, a wonderful song by Paul Lewis which we sang together at a country music jam. All great music and FUN !
From Opera to Opry continued
Our Opera to Opry event was very successful! I want to thank everyone for supporting the church in this cause and who gave freely to help others. There are many needy organizations helping people in these difficult times. I do hope that this program of various musical genres can be repeated! It was an exciting program!
I have received this comment recently and want to thank the sender for his kind words. Gayla O. wrote: “I have to get across my passion for your generosity supporting those people who actually need help… your special dedication has in most cases enabled guys just like me to get to their objectives. Thank you so much” Mr. Gayla O. !
From Opera to Opry - Brenda Roberts and Friends
I am singing a benefit at the Lowell Indiana Methodist Church on July 31, 2011 at 3 p.m. This event is planned and hosted by Jim Kirk, and will include opera arias sung by me, then sacred songs and, after the intermission, a country music session. Indeed we are all performing at least 2 hours of music from opera through sacred to country music. Please look at the beautiful poster that my son, Mark Roberts, created. The title is From Opera to Opry.
I will sing “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca, “La mamma morta” from Andrea Chenier, “Suicidio” from La Gioconda, and “Dich theure Halle” from Tannhaeuser. Among other selections that I will sing are “How Great Thou Art”, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, Dolly Parton’s song “I will always love you” and “One Way Wind”.
I am really having a great time with my friends, who are all fantastic musicians, putting together this event and this is all as a benefit for the church. If anyone is in the area, please come and have a great time with us!
Dramatic Songs from the German High-Romantic
Carnegie Hall is an experience that I will never forget. The excitement of performing on this renowned stage as so many other great artists have done is a remarkable dream come true. I was well-taken care of by the people at Carnegie Hall and would like to thank them all for their help and support. Everything was extremely well-organized and everyone was pleasant, thoughtful and courteous.
New York is an exhilarating city and excitement was already filling the air as I moved into my hotel right across the street from Carnegie Hall. I spent a few days there rehearsing and enjoying the city. The performance - although almost 2 hours long - went by much too quickly. I think I will have to plan another recital in the future. That will have to wait best until the construction is entirely finished. This was a bit of a hindrance - especially in viewing the posters hanging between the wooden supports. Oh, well, not even that could detract from the exuberance of my debut on the Carnegie Hall stage! Who says that dreams don’t come true? I believe they all do come true when you put forth a bit of an effort in turning them into reality.
CARNEGIE HALL TICKETS GO ON SALE TOMORROW!
A blessed Merry Christmas to all! I wish you all the very best!
Carnegie Hall tickets go on sale tomorrow, December 26, 2011 for my recital in Weill Hall on February 25, 2011. I hope you all will order tickets and come to hear me sing! It will be a very interesting program! Start off the New Year with my recital in New York City! I will also be delighted to meet you afterwards in the Jacobs Room in Weill Hall!
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