When I began my career in the opera world, I had just graduated from college and was very young. Over the next years, singing Elektra and Salome in my early 20’s, I received press, mostly positive. But there was much criticism that I, in their opinion, was singing on my natural, uneducated voice and the consensus of “professional” opinion was that I was going to ruin my voice within two years. The truth is that I had studied voice since I was 11 years old. I had trained my voice with the best vocal technique for many years. Actually, I maintain that a voice has to be trained so well, that finally it would sound “natural” and easy: no strain, no heaviness in the voice, but a voice that had a large volume (because of the correct breath support) without forcing.
Well, in my opinion, I believe, I have survived a good number of years and have retained the lightness, range and technique in my singing. I have been told just recently with my concerts in Germany on April 1 and 2 of this year that my voice has not aged and still sounds very young, brilliant and responsive in forte passages as well as piano passages.
Most of my repertoire during my career was the “hoch-dramatic” repertoire of German opera: Wagner, Richard Strauss (Elektra, Salome, Dyer’s Wife (Faerberin), Bruennhilde, Isolde, Venus, Ortrud, etc.). Only with the correct technique and discipline can a voice retain the beauty and ease of singing this repertoire without damage to the vocal cords and larynx.
The key to a long career is a combination of important conditions. One must have a born physical build with the ability to be strong of body (not fat in weight), correct build of the vocal cords that allows strength without force. To these conditions, the singer must have an excellent vocal technique and live a healthy life: exercise, healthy diet, adequate sleep and rest between performances, not smoking and not drinking alcohol.
But, let us not forget that I have always been disciplined. I still practice every day – even today – and I not only “sing” every day, but work my vocal “gymnastics”, vocalizing and working all registers and all dynamics with a well-founded vocal technique. I also am a voice teacher and faithfully teach my students this technique. (Please read my earlier entries in my website on vocal technique .)
In the next recordings of Hector Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’Ete which I just sang on April 1 and April 2, 2017, in concerts in Germany, I want to give all singers the courage to keep up their work at any age and give other singers the knowledge that they can be role models to their students and other singers who might be tempted to give up their careers too early.