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

Opening night for my new website

Dear beautiful singers,

I know exactly how alone you sometimes feel when you have a special voice and the desire to have that voice trained into an opera or concert voice, and how desperate you are to find teachers or a place where you can be seen and heard. A place where you can technically develop your voice and also work on repertoire and roles with professionals who have brought them to the opera stage themselves. In recent months I have been brainstorming with my team of pianists from the Zurich Opera House.

The master classes and workshops at the International Institute Stimmkunst have been tailored even more specifically to your needs and stage of development, so that everyone, from beginners to professional singers, can develop their own potential with our know-how and help.

I am pleased to announce that you can now access this information on my NEW website: www.stimmkunst.ch. Here you can also subscribe to my FREE Weekly Nuggets, where you can get an insight into the world of opera from my 30 years of stage experience and teaching. You also find it on the stimmkunst-page on Facebook.

Cordially, in bocca al lupo!

Vera Wenkert

 

Career Challenge

From time to time it is important for a singer to write down her or his goal. Is there a specific role you want to sing? Is there a specific Opera House you one day want to sing? Is there something you want to stop doing? What do you want to have in the future ? I want to encourage you to write it down. When we commit to write our goals down they tend to become more “real“ for us.

Second step could be to imagine that you have achieved your goals. I did this when I was a young and studying. My daily mantra was: “I am singing Elsa, Elisabeth, Sieglinde and Isolde on stage.” At this time I was a beginner, but I believed in my talent , I worked hard and was completely dedicated to my voice and music. It was a huge part of my every day existence that I stayed focused on doing my work and being hours in a practice room and making the choices that would make my mantra reality. As a result, I have been fortunate to sing all this wonderful Wagnerian female characters on stage!

So, what are your goals as a singer?
Dig into your next step. Write down your plan and keep focused. Also, find teachers and coaches who care about you and keep you on a realistic track.

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

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

Cool down after a Performance

Out of my long stage experience I want to encourage you young singers to install the habit of cooling down the voice after a performance. Like in the sports world, singers also use muscles to sing. In my opinion it is not only important to exercise the voice everyday but also to cool it down after a long performance or recital.

You can use the “u“ vowel to do so only in the middle register of your voice. For example you start with quinte third tonica or you go down a five tone scale. When you sing it softly abd with your support, the vocal chords return to freedom. It just takes 5-10 minutes to do so, but the benefit is a healthy relaxation of the voice. Remember treat your voice like your best friend and acknowledge and take care of its needs.

There is another benefit of this procedure: You will build up a sensitive relationship with your voice, knowing if you have sung in the right way through your performance.
The voice will show you afterwards, if it is too tired, you definitely pushed too much, gave too much volume etc. There can be several reasons for this, but now you know you have to find out. Knowing how to keep your voice healthy and fresh is crucially important for a singers life and career.

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Working with Jaw Tension

I remember I worked with a professional Mezzosopran on the “Hexe” in Humperdinck’s “Hänsel und Gretel” who was having her opening night in less then 5 days. Whilst working on the whole role with her, I realised that her jaw was becoming tighter and tighter as a result of all the quick diction and musical leaps in the part. I know stage directors and conductors often ask for a lot of diction and expression, but you have to know how to do it without straining the vocal chords and without building up too much tension in the whole vocal production and support system.

What to do?

For example, I worked with her the “Hexenbann” without words and let her do the whole magic spell on “ja ja ja”. This exercise frees the jaw. We also did light and easy staccato exercises (tonica, third, quinte, third, tonica) and then legato the same.

We singers always have to remember that the jaw should be just relaxed in an open position, slightly back and in most cases not forward. (Maybe there are anatomical exceptions.) Then the breathing gets deeper into the body naturally and the support system starts to work. When a tight jaw is doing the job it is very difficult to connect the voice to the healthy body support.

With the Mezzosopran the next step was to solve the diction. It is vital that the vowel and the consonants have to be on the airflow. We worked it very slowly with patience and joy and finally the “Hexe” was really magic

💡TIP: From my own experience it is helpful to gently move the jaw up and down to the right and left. If the jaw is too tight, you might have difficulties to do these gentle movements. If so, you can gently and tenderly massage the muscles around your jaw, the muscles under your chin with your thumb and your index finger. ATTENTION: never massage the area directly around the larynx.

AFFIRMATION: I find a solution for all the technical issues I am solving.

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Last Saturday I worked with my Singers

Last Saturday I worked with my Singers in an Acting Class on different Opera Monologues. It is a real task for Singers of all stages to keep the artistic energy flowing in a big Monologue. During our intensive work on the Marschallin Monolog from Der Rosenkavalier and the Prayer of Marie from Wozzeck. I pointed out more than once that you are the powerful creator of the Scene.
GIVE YOURSELF THE PERMISSION TO BE THE CHARACTER!!!! Then we can work, develop and polish it.

It is my passion to guide you through the process with all my stage experience and knowledge of vocal technique and music. I am super proud of all the Singers who have the courage to develop their talents with intensive work and dedication to rising with their wings. Bravo!! You are taking the responsibility for sculpturing your talent.

To be an Artist means also to work on our talent, our strong and weak points every single day.

🌟More in my Weekly Nugget next week:
“Step into your unique talent.”

With appreciation
Vera Wenkert

Performance Opportunities

In this weekly nugget I want to encourage young singers and artists to find performance opportunities, where you can see and proof what you already have accomplished and also for the joy of singing..
Use your phantasie for finding or creating a performance possibility.
Maybe you could sing in a church, in an elderly home, in a hospital, in a fancy big hotel etc. or in little productions.
Every young artist needs this route of experience before he or she can shine with selfconfidence on an operastage.
When I was studying with Gloria Davy as a very young singer, she always said no singer stands on a stage over night. She was right.
I seriously suggest first own your confidence young singers and start taking actions on your career dreams. Step by step.
For this reason I offer the young singers two times a year the opportunity to sing and perform in a staged public concert after a 5 day Masterclass, where we work on staging scenes.
It is wonderful to see their growth in the performance situation.
To become an artist needs talent, dedication and discipline and over all love to the art.
Wishing you : Feel inspired every day on your singing journey. Embrace the fact that you are on an exciting way and honor your learning path.
Warmest
Vera

Performance Opportunities

It is very important for young singers to find opportunities to perform in front of an audience.
Young singers need the experience of stage circumstances and of ensemble singing and be a singer and actor same time.
There is a proverb: No master falls from the sky
This is so true.
We all need practice, practice to learn and to become matured artists and singers.
My advice: Find performance opportunities in churches, old people’s home, hotels, etc.
In my Institute I give the singers the opportunity twice a year to be part of a staged operaconcert with a conductor and pianist from the Operahouse Zürich.
This is always a wonderful event, where singers in different stages of their development can sing in public and improve.
So I want to encourage you all find your performance opportunities. Go for it.🎶🎶🎶
Happy sunny weekend to you
Vera

Immersion into the World of Opera

Weekly Nugget: Immersion into the world of opera
I strongly recommend that singers study at least the piano reduction of the opera they sing, it would be even better to read the full orchsterscore, so that you understand the relation in dynamics and colour and phrasing of your music and aria and the orchestra.
One way to get an easy approach into this studyconcept is: Go to your musiclibrary in your town and find an orchestrascore of an opera, sit at home in a cosy chair and listen to this opera with your orchestrascore in your hand. I call it singer in wonderland of music…
I promise you, you will have a remarkable time in this special “wonderland”.
I have a couple of singers who work their stageroles with me like this and they have an extrodinary great time in the orchestrarehearsals and in their performances.
So I invite you to start this journey today.
With appreciation and have a lot of fun
Vera

Daily Voice Cart Part 3: Preparing an Operapart

I work with high level performing artists , with whom I make an extramindful preparation plan.
This means, we work the part mindful and when the time allows gently in the voice. For example pushing your voice in dramatic sound to fullfill the requests of dramatic sound is a completly wrong path and the risk is there of falling into bad habits of tension and other compensations that will be difficult to unlearn. In my opinion and according to my results in my own professional life and in the performance life of my artists it is a healthier way first to show the singer the special kind of self-awareness, so that he or she feels that every operasound has to be sung without strain in the voice. The singer needs patience to go through this process then he or she will get the way of steady progress. Once the singer has digest the healthy route to sing it is easy to put the dramatic into the piece. I remember when I sang Butterfly I started 3 months before the rehearsal time at the opera house started to sing it into my voice and to learn everything around the character etc. Then, when stagerehearsals start, I felt so easy in the part that I could fully concentrate on the character and staging.
Your body sensations and your mind and your emotions work together and all three are wired into voice. To understand this and to stay attentive to the process of feeling the voice is effortless singing is the important thing for keeping your voice healthy.
In my everyday teaching I see that it takes the crystal clear intention of the singer to trust in this profound work process. Singers who get involved in my special well-foundet way of working, which I have created, experience fullfilment and success in their performamces.
The magic pill you cannot find in a quick way , the magic pill lies in trust that your day by day self work will bring the result and hopefully with the help of a trustful voice teacher you will learn in a profound training or retraining to understand your individual vocal production.
Merry Christmas and a blessed time for you and your loved ones . Toi toi toi for all my wonderful singers, who have concerts and performances coming up the next 2 weeks. Next weekly Nugget comes 2018.
You are also welcome to find out more about Methode Stimmkunst 2018
With appreciation and warmest wishes
Vera

Take responsibility

A teacher in a singers life is a guide to learn the craft of singing, of making music, of stage craft etc., but the singer has to do the work. To be an artist means also to take responsibility for your development. This means study, study, just simply do the work and stop finding excuses. If you want to have a career in music, you have to become like a searcher for the phrasing in the music, the building of the character and the owner of a healthy vocal technique. Good and responsible teachers can help you with knowledge and empathie, but in the end, you’re either the kind of person who can take the responsibility and work ambitious towards your dream or you’re not.
Until today after having sung 30 dramatic roles on operastages I am thankful and respectful towards all my teachers on my career path. I mention only a few here: a heartful ThankYou to David Jones and to my Music Mentor since beginning of my studies Friedrich.
So embrace your individual power.
So dive into the music studies and be active
Have a wonderful sunday
Vera

Stagecraft Masterclass

Good morning singers!

I am giving a Stagecraft Masterclass this weekend, and I would love to give some input into how to make a role yours. Of course, you have to know the music and you have to be able to sing it beautifully with your unique voice,
but this is not enough for giving the role birth on stage in rehearsals, and later in performances. So let us dive deeper in the process…

…You have to know all details about your character as if it was a real person. Find out the age of the character, the surrounding and social status it lives in, the relationships to the other characters in the opera, the state of mind, which scenery, when you sing the aria or duet etc.
You become an interesting working partner for the stage director when you have done this thoughtful work before you meet him/her. They will give to you their ideas and then you can work with these on a serious empowered basis. (These are only the basic things to take into consideration . There are many other things to conquer)
I remember when I was preparing my debut Lady Macbeth (Verdi), I was so thrilled by the idea to not just portray her as cold and power greedy, that I translated every word and searched for the deeper meaning therefore finding a more versatile character who I could give life to on stage.

Wishing you joy with your unique approach!
With appreciation,
Vera