Feedback

As a singer we need feedback, but it is difficult to get an objective feedback and to put it in the right context for ourselves.

👌Tip number one is:
Try to get constructive criticism from people who understand the issues and the profession.
For example, your voice teacher has to correct your vocal technique and your pianist has to correct musical nuances. (Please note that a Theater Director or a conductor might not offer you substantial feedback after an audition. His time is limited and his job is just to find a singer for this specific role.)

There are always colleagues who have the tendency to give feedback so…
👌Tip number two is:
Take an inner step back and ask yourself: “What is the underlying motivation why this colleague is commenting on my performance?” A healthy on the spot reaction is to say thank you and a short sentence like “I will think about it“. Please try not to explain yourself. A colleague is a colleague!

It takes time, thought and concentration to give a thoughtful and neutral Feedback. When I was in the first year of my opera career I was young and insecure, and I received contradicting feedback. It took me a while until I understood that they are just opinions, often from people who are in the same boat or have no career, or what I call “pretending to be more then they are.” I remember my first production as a very young Tosca and my Scarpia was the famous Franz Grundheber. I was on one hand so overwhelmed singing an opening night of Tosca with this great singer, and on the other hand I understood very quickly that he was a nobleman only concentrating on his art and singing. Instead of giving his opinion he was in peace and concentration with himself, and I felt then that I have the time, the space and the atmosphere to grow into my interpretation of Tosca. It was a very special opening night for me and one of these rare performances where you feel the God of the Singing Heaven has just put a magic glow on you 🌟
My advice is : Do not give unsolicited criticism and do not listen to unsolicited criticism. You never know in which state of development the singer is or what tasks he or she is facing in the career.

Hopefully you have trustworthy sources in your life, like a mentor, your voice teacher, your number one coach, people who have helped to guide you through the varied up and downs of your singing education and career. You have a bond of trust and honesty created between you and these handful of people, and this is unpayable in the life of a Singer. Until today I am thankful and blessed that I have my mentors David L. Jones, Friedrich Gürtler and Thomas Barthel in my life, with whom I have trustworthy and honest relationships with for decades, and where I get substantial advice. As well, of course, all the wonderful female singers which have influenced my way, like KS Birgit Nilsson, KS Berit Lindholm and Janet Williams. These are only a few to mention here.

In this special Weekly Nugget I also want to give a THANK YOU towards all the brilliant young singers, and also the singers who are already in careers in my studio, for their dedication towards the art. As well as for their substantial honesty in the working process with me and the people around them in this profession. I am grateful for your heartfelt testimonials that are featured on my website now.

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

 

Photo: Vera Wenkert as Tosca and Franz Grundheber as Scarpia

Music and Freedom

Every Aria or every song we sing inhabits an eternal spirit and our task as interpreter is to find and get familiar with this inherent spirit of the music piece in front of us.

As Artists we are aided by the structure of piece, the rhythm and melody etc. When you are musically educated and know your vocal craft, you might be eager to find out the layer behind this obvious structure of the music piece you are singing. After doing so, you can search for the mystic and refine the human emotions. This is the root where music nurtures you as an individual singer and then in turn you can nurture your audience through your interpretation.

I remember my debut as Ariadne of Naxos, which was in the prestigious Antikenfestspiele. Ariadne of Naxos is an Opera which works with a mix of heroic-mythology figures and with figures out of comedia Dell’Arte. I remember I studied everything about Ariadne, Theseus and I also read a lot about comedian dell’Arte. Finally, out of all of my research, I understood the harmonic changes in this psychologically demanding opera. Ariadne then became one of my favourite characters to sing on stage.

Like Schopenhauer says: “Musik ist die Welt noch einmal.“

I love to encourage you to take your favourite music piece and try to figure out the layer behind the obvious craft. Wishing you a inspiring time with your research in the music wonderland!

Vera Wenkert
Dramatic soprano

How to work with a conductor

For young singers it might be challenging to work through the first orchestra rehearsal process with the assistant conductor and the principle conductor of the opera.

💡Here is the good news: There are so many supportive hints by the composer in the opera score,

When you follow the advice given by the composer, and your vocal technique is healthy and brilliant, you feel the ground beat in your body, then magic can happen between the orchestra and you! The conductor will guide you with love for the music and passion for the art.

Make sure you are able to sing at the orchestra rehearsal with full voice. Sometimes if the schedule is tight, you can discuss with the conductor to mark one rehearsal, especially when you have to sing a heavy big part or leading role. Later on in your career when you are a more experienced artist you might be able to weave your own interpretation ideas with the composers ideas, too.

Always remember that to be an opera singer does not mean to shine through your ego, it means to serve the music with your unique beautiful soul and artistry. I remember in most of my big dramatic roles I was feeling so comfy in this sound bubble created by these wonderful instruments around me, that I was totally absorbed in this music and character I was singing. Then Opera is in this moment is a better world because of this incredible music.

🌟My advice is: Fall in love with the music (not only with your melody) then most conductors will be by your side🌟

You will find more details about the good spirit we have to nurture and shout out in the opera and music business in my e book: “Methode Stimmkunst.” You can order it through my website: www.stimmkunst.ch

To your greatness
Vera Wenkert