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

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