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

Sing with Heart and Soul

Before you start to sing an aria or an art song ask yourself: what do I want to say? What is the character feeling? Singing and music without emotions is like an empty basket.

I have been a member on the board of an examination panel for young professional singers for 10 years. Out of all my experience I love to give you the advice to find the essence and the soul in each phrase you are singing. Every note you sing is important. Ask yourself what is the meaning of this phrase, what are you saying etc. The audience wants to be touched through your singing. This means to bring music to life.

Wishing you the best on your journey!
Vera

How to Work with Stage Directors

A young singer feels like a champion when she or he has got the first desired engagement at the Opera House. Bravo 👏

On top of all musical work, the collaboration with the stage director begins. Under the guidance of the stage director you go through the whole process of how to build and portray your opera character on stage.

Out of my long career experience I love to give you some advice so that you step out of the former role of a student into the shoes of a professional singer…

… It is very wise that you have a vocal and dramatic approach to your role before entering the theater rehearsal process. I always found it fascinating to dive into the life of my opera characters. I remember, when I sang my first Fidelio Leonore I was so prepared vocally and musically that I could sing this very demanding part with pure controlled lines like strings in the orchestra. This is how you have to sing it because it is a very technically demanding role vocally. (Leonora’s character is extreme as she would do nearly everything to find and rescue her husband.)

It is a demanding task in a singers life to build up the psychological, vocal and body stamina to serve the music and portray the character. Most of the time stage directors are open towards thoughtful ideas a singer brings to a rehearsal process. There might be times when it opens a discussion and you have to compromise with the stage directors idea. Sometimes stage directors have their own concept in mind how it has to be and they want to have the staging exactly as they think. Out of my experience even if you have then to do like they insist you do, you also have the freedom to fill your character with your emotions and thoughts.

👍Again my advice is be prepared and be faithful with the character you sing and perform.

There might be also situations where you feel inside yourself a chrystal clear NO to an order or idea of a stage direct, for example a nude scene. There are opera characters where this request can be asked of you. A wise approach is to ask for a couple of hours to think about it. If you feel deep in your heart you do not want to do this, I want to encourage you to be honest with yourself and empower yourself to say NO in a kind and strong way full of self-esteem and acknowledgement for your inner boundaries. The cost might be that you then loose this engagement. However, my opinion is that in the long run you can only make a satisfying career if you live in your wisdom for yourself, your brilliance and your boundaries. If you have no problem to be nude on stage then just do it, but even then I want to encourage you to keep your dignity and privacy before and after your nude scene, then you will impress the conductor and the stage director.

🌟AFFIRMATION: I am mindful in preparing my roles and faithful towards my characters🌟

If you are looking for support in becoming ready for stage you are welcome to visit my website: www.stimmkunst.ch

Vera Wenkert

Create a Culture of Mastership

Sometimes singers come to me and they are in a super doubtful state of mind about themselves. Often there has been an influence from outside either positive or negative. I am always wondering why young singers or young professionals give their power away so easily and let somebody judge them even when they may not know this person, or this person is just an acquaintance. Again I want to emphasize, you must take 100% responsibility for yourself.

As an artist you have to be a powerful human being, grounded in yourself, but with room for your inner vulnerability and imperfections. This will help you grow step by step on your way to the profession and then of course in the profession.

Affirmation: I hold my inner compass⭐️

Safe travels in the Universe of wonderful music and art 💖

Vera Wenkert

Singing Wagnerian Repertoire

This week I worked with a young dramatic soprano who is preparing her first Sieglinde for stage rehearsals. It is an extraordinarily beautiful role and music. I have sung it so often on stage and I just love and adore the music and the role. The love duet is just very moving and needs a lot of colour and body and tone. In all Wagnerian singing are a lot of technical demands! As a Wagnerian singer you usually have the weight and heaviness in the middle of your voice but due to the emotions of the respective characters the singer has to sing a wide range of tessitura. Singing the very top notes can be a challenge when you have sung dramatic and weighty in the middle range. For example, when I sang Siegfried Brünnhilde on stage, the best approach for me was to take it more lyrical. Siegfried Brünnhilde’s tessitura is high. It is different with Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde. The role is lower and more dramatic and reflects the whole development in the Ring Cycle…
In Wagnerian Singing it is essential that the singer has an excellent breathing concept and that he or she has a chrystal- clear concept of the role in mind.
One challenge is the diction in Wagnerian music:
Of course, one has to understand every word but it has to be DICTION IN A HEALTHY SINGING PROCESS AND VOCAL PRODUCTION.
I stressed this with capital letters because when professional singers come to me to get their part ready to perform I have nearby always to correct their diction approach. The voice still needs to travel on the airflow and the consonants should not stop the airflow. I remember, when I worked my Elsa, Senta, Sieglinde, Brünnhilde etc. with Richard Trimborn, one of the old school and competent coaches from Munich State Opera house, he was emphasizing all the time, that you have to sing R. Wagner’s music with naturalness and beauty and there exist a lot of dynamics. PIANO!
Richard Trimborn was just a very competent rock in the music world of R. Strauss and R. Wagner.
Thank you Richard that I can pass your precious music advices to the singers in my studio.
Fazit: Sing Wagnerian music with a wide range of dynamics.
With love for the art and for every artist
Vera

Celebrate your success

Super proud of the Singers final concert of my Masterclass”SING AS A RADIANT SINGER”
I am touched that participants of the Masterclass shined in a concert in a variety of melodies and I feel so blessed that beginners of a vocal study process, semi-professionals and the professional singers were eager and determined to sing, share and shine in a concert together. BRAVI TUTTI for your dedication towards your goals: making music and sing from your hearts: I wish Anna Maske, Charlotte Whittle, Bader Hamwi, Geraldine Gamenisch, Lisa Dunk, Michael König, Nina Hreus,Olivia Betschart, Carole Simons, Louise Martyn, Dearbhla Collins, and all the young singers out there a wonderful path to fulfilling your dreams. Today I suggest take some time to celebrate yourself. A big thank you goes to Martin
With appreciation
Vera

Voice Teacher

As a singer it is crucial that you find an excellent teacher. No matter, wether you are a vocal student or a professional singer, you need a voice teacher who offers you solid technical results. The teacher should also be passionate about teaching and you should feel that you can trust him or her. It is hrh obligation of a voice teacher to guide you as an individual singer with your own vocal needs.
You are part of the process and if you have found a teacher who has a very good ear and offers solid technical results for your vocal need, trust and work day by day and you will make progress.

With appreciation
Vera