Weekly Nugget: How to study a dramatic part  

Dear beautiful singer,
the most important thing: You need time to delve into the score and let it sink into your system.
The first step young dramatic singers is to work in the complete technical control of your voice and body.
Second step is to explore the music and orchestration and to sing in this way that you are not carried away by this huge incredible orchestral sound. Your voice has always to soar over the orchestra effortlessly. You need a lot of physical stamina and concentration to sing this dramatic repertoire.
Last week a soprano studied with me the role of Lady Macbeth Verdi.  Having sung this role myself in many performances I know how demanding this role is in any aspect. The singer has to sing coloratura, whispering sounds etc.
When Lady Macbeth enters the stage with „Vieni affretta” and the Cabaletta, you as the singer have to establish your character.
Like in all dramatic repertoire, to be able to sing all the notes is just the beginning of the journey into the wonderful working process of making a role yours. Out of my career and experience with this heavy repertoire, I would, at least, suggest to plan at least 6 month for learning a dramatic role.
How to cope with a last minute offer?
I know that singers sometimes get the offer last minute. This is a difficult situation.
My suggestion:
See your voice teacher and a coach you trust and ask if you could manage to learn this part in a couple of weeks.  A better choice for all the  weeks you are not in a contract, instead of getting frustrated sit down and learn Opera roles of your vocal fach.
Enjoy the music 🎶.
Your long term goal with every dramatic part should be that you sing it near-perfectly  and know the music like your heartbeat. Reason: Then you have no fear concerning wether you can come through the performance.
Another long term goal is to develop a strong personality on stage. Then you are expressive and and and….
I always emphasize that it is essential to have enough experience before tackling those big dramatic roles and to have a voice teacher and music coach working with you who you are nurture from.
With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Voice Disorders

Sometimes a singer enters my studio showing signs associated with voice disorders. As a singer we are depending on a perfect voice function. I want to give you some advice to avoid unnecessary vocal problems.

There are phonatory disorders like swelling of the laryngeal tissues etc. and disorders which appear because of inappropriate use of your voice. When you use your voice in an unhealthy way, it can lead to laryngeal problems.
Sometimes a singer suffers from Acute Laryngitis after a cold. As a result, the singer feels major stress, because our life depends so much on our voice. My advice is find an excellent ENT and rest your voice until the reddening and swelling of the vocal chords is gone. I tell my vocal students go on “Silent Diva Days“. Afterwards slowly begin to get your voice back in shape.

There are of course many reasons for a voice disorder, but this has to be discussed in a different context. The voice disorder can sometimes come from too much pushing of the vocal chords during singing, and this is also result of poor vocal technique or singing in the wrong Vocal Fach. The voice sounds pressed then and has often a hissing sound. Sometimes there is an incomplete glottal closure in the Arytenoid region. Also here you will find many more reasons and roots for voice disorders.

So what to do?

First aid is to rest your voice, then find a good and responsible voice teacher who helps you with specific exercises to get back on track.
My second advice is: Do not sing heavy repertoire when your voice is not in good shape. Listen to yourself and do not let yourself become persuaded to sing “just this one time.” You will be in danger if you do so.

AFFIRMATION: I use my voice wisely and economically with a healthy vocal technique.

To your greatness,
Vera Wenkert

Dear beautiful singers

In my career on stage and in concerts I have sung many Wagnerian roles: Elsa, Elisabeth, Venus, Senta, Sieglinde, Brünnhilde, Isolde. Out of these experiences and from the experience I have with my teaching practice in teaching dramatic voices, my number one advice is:

DO NOT RUSH INTO THIS DEMANDING REPERTOIRE AS A YOUNG SINGER

The chief characteristics of Wagnerian music are beautiful long phrases combined with a brilliant, emotional text and a big orchestration underneath the vocal line. This demanding music requires you to have a solid technique. Not only this, but I have learnt from my time on stage that it is a great help to have some stage experience beforehand. Having this, you can float on the music and orchestra and you are able to taste the German diction in this beautiful music, and you can caress the text and music together. There is also the big misunderstanding that Wagnerian music always has to be sung loud. On the contrary, if you study the orchestra part of a Wagnerian opera you will find so many piano markings and other dynamic wishes of Wagner himself. Do not to forget: Richard Wagner loved Bel Canto!

As a result of the intense emotion in Wagnerian repertoire, a singer sometimes starts to push the voice…then you can really harm yourself! Last week, a Wagnerian singer travelled to me to work on Sieglinde. During the lesson I could hear that the coaches at the opera house have put her too much in the “diction mode” in the front of her mouth in the narrative “Der Männer Sippe…” I completely understand why the coaches wanted this crystal clear diction, but it has to be produced in the RIGHT WAY.

So, my suggestion for you Wagnerian singers is: Study your roles early enough, sing it in your voice with the help of your voice teacher and then go into the theater rehearsal process. From my own experience and love affair with Wagner’s music, I can confess that this is the most efficient and joyable way to improve significantly in this repertoire whilst remaining healthy.
This is also how I work with the Wagnerian singers in my studio. If they are vocally well trained and musically ready, they can concentrate on all the other obligations they have in an opera production.

💕Affirmation for the day: I allow myself to grow into my future-self of a radiant Wagnerian singer.💕

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

What matters in learning new repertoire

As a singer we are obliged to have respect for every detail and nuance in the music.We need time and experience and healthy good advisers and teachers to grow as a singer and musician. Nothing in life can develop under pressure and therefore I try to create a friendly and nurturing enviroment for the singers , so that the talent can blossom in inner peace
Vera