Posted by: Dramamezzo | August 17, 2010

Thank You!

I’m working on several projects right now.  Moving to my official URL and making a new demo among them.  Things are a bit rocky as of yet, but I find my best growth is done while the pressure is on.  All prayers and encouragement are greatly appreciated.  It is awesome to have such a great and supportive group of friends!   Love you all!

Dramamezzo aka Monifa

Posted by: Dramamezzo | July 30, 2010

LIBERTA “I love it when men sing about liberty”

This is one of my favorite Verdi duets.  “E lui…desso.. l’infante”  I also love Placido Domingo add a lovely yummy baritone like Genaro Sulvaran and I’m in seventh heaven.


Do you have a favorite of this duet?  I’d love to hear it.

Posted by: Dramamezzo | July 28, 2010

For a limited time only!!!

I’m posting some clips of my practice today.

I’m learning 2 new arias “nei giardin del bello” aka The Veil Song from Verdi’s Don Carlo.

and “Entweite Gotter” aka The really loud Ortrud aria from Wagner’s Lohengrin

I’ve been working on them for not quite 2 weeks now so I’m including a splice of “mon coeur” from Saint Saens Samson et Dalila  so you know that I usually sound more polished (I hope.) I still have a lot of work to do with pronunciation so please forgive my mushiness.

These were all recorded from today’s practice session at home with my computer and audacity software.


This is very temporary.  Just wanted to see what ya’ll thought.  If you have any pointers or comments send them on in.

Posted by: Dramamezzo | July 21, 2010

Social Media’s Effect on Opera Awareness

The great thing is that social media is causing all kinds to have their first experience with opera.

The terrible thing is that thousands of people are having their first experience of opera from a recording.

They watch a video on youtube and think that explains everything.  Those who have known and loved opera for years know that a recording is at best 25% of the experience.  The experience of being in a room where an operatic voice folds around you or spears through you can not be recreated on youtube.

The next terrible thing is that many of the truly informed and knowledgeable operafiles (I just made up that word) don’t bother with youtube and blogging for the masses.

The result is deeply disturbing discussions on youtube comments that go like this:

  • Are we really discussing Beyonce and Borodina in the same sentences?????
    To get back on point, this is possibly the most “contralto-ish” version of this aria besides Ewa Podles and I just love Borodina’s rich burgundy wine-like coloration in the voice. She really makes an awesome Delilah because of her rich organ-toned chest voice although she’s really awesome here with some top notes that would make more than few dramatic sopranos jealous.
  • agnellodei 1 year ago 7 
so I guess mcdonalds is better than salmon and veggies since it is more popular.
4 months ago

I simply detest it when mezzo’s or alto’s push their lower register. Just listen to what she does at 1:12. It is such a turn off and display of bad taste. When I hear this I just cringe. If I was in charge, such an Eboli I would never cast, sorry.

5 months ago

you know this is really not the kind of aria she should be singing; she doesn’t have the high notes or temperament for this or amneris (note at 1:08, how she aborts that high note). gorgeous voice, but not for her the dramatic verdi mezzo parts.

5 months ago
Sorry,but that cant be a mezzo.She is a very big soprano and fantastic singer,but not a mezzo.I like her nevertheless.
This is confusing
How many young singers go to these videos to learn and get input?  In the US I’m sure it’s close to 100%.  Close enough.  Really opera buffs and singers need to take more responsibility.  Get off your high horses, overcome your extreme natures and speak sensibly about singing and singers.
Is this a new way to express prejudice???
I have a hard time listening to really straight and piercing voices.  What many people call “pure” voices.  I would never take that opinion and lambast Luciana Serra’s singing because of it.  She has a different voice.  The quality is common in coloratura voices.  The technique is used by many.
I understand that people are passionate about technique because bad techniques have ruined voices.  The reality is that many singers have been successful for many years by singing many different ways.  The basics are the same, everything else is an opinion.  Get over it.  Get over yourselves.
Why do people speak of things they know nothing about?
Did some of these people even bother reading other comments on the page?  Would understanding someone else’s opinion be such a waste of their time?  Not listening creates the idea that someone being able to sing high notes well makes them a soprano.
A discussion on fach
I can sing an D#6.  That doesn’t make me a soprano.  I have been called a true contralto because of how dark my sound is.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from teachers and audience members a like.  I have also worked soprano rep with teachers because I have a fairly easy top.   There is only one tried and true way that someone can tell what voice type a person is, and that is by testing where the break (passaggio) occurs in the voice.  If you haven’t heard this before you need to know this because too many people don’t know what they are talking about.
This is pretty extensive explanation but it’s worth the time if you are a young singer:
The next thing you need to know is that  just because somebody can sing an aria doesn’t mean somebody can sing a role.  I can sing some soprano arias, but I would be hard pressed to sing a pianissimo C6 or sing an entire soprano role.  Many sopranos sing mezzo arias but can’t do a full role.
Even weirder
Some people can singing entire roles that are meant for a different fach.  Which is a great trick, but if somebody attempts do this through an entire career they can destroy their voice and end their career much earlier than is necessary.  Doing a role outside a fach is actually done fairly often by experienced singers especially in dramatic mezzo and soprano fachs.  Moreover, many singers do this throughout their career in countries that are less stuffy about fach demarcations like Germany.   They obviously have to be very solid in their technique and in tune with their voices to avoid early burnout.
There are other exceptions
Some people start out in the wrong fach and switch mid-career to maintain their voices.  Some people sing smaller/lighter roles as their voices mature and then move into the fuller/heavier roles when their voices are fully matured and they have more experience and stronger technique.
The biggest misconception
That once you put a voice in a nice little fach box that it can’t come out.  You are talking about vocal talents that can sing 5 octaves plus.  You are talking about people who know everything possible about their instrument.  Just as there are freaks in track and field like Ussain Bolt.  There are freaks on the operatic stage that can sing what they feel like singing.  Technique helps A LOT, but some voices are just that flexible.
What brought this diatribe on?
Mostly the comments on this video (go to youtube to see full comments.)
Borodina is one of the few voices I can listen to and feel the kinship of a similar voice type.
Not only are people who are obviously not dramatic mezzo-sopranos talking about how Borodina isn’t one.  They are talking about how she shouldn’t sing a role that she sings fabulously.
I know many operafiles hate chest voice.  I happen to love it.  I love to hear it and love to sing it.  If you hate chest voice you hate dramatic singers and contraltos.  That is a sorry existence, but I will respect it because I have a hard time listening to the other extreme, high straight toning.
Then there is the oh so obvious newby
Someone who has probably only heard classical singers on youtube, tv or recordings expresses the opinion that Beyonce could sing “O don fatale” better than Olga Borodina.
This is something akin to torture.  Reading that flays me.  I totally understand the impassioned response by people who know better.
Yet, you have to understand what this child has grown up with.  Most of her generation prefer the undersinging and unsupported sounds of their pop idols.  They don’t know what a high C (C6) sounds like without a microphone.  I promise you if they stood in a room with Beyonce and Olga Borodina  singing side by side they could tell the difference.  They aren’t idiots.  They just don’t have the experience to know better.  There is more outreach that needs to be done as music is sucked out of schools.  We have to get kids and adults alike in the presence of operatic singers so  they can understand the difference.
Have you had any fach revelations?  How has choosing your fach been a vital part of your career?  Are you marketing/auditioning as a fach that you know will not be your final fach once you are matured or have a fuller career?
I’m very interested in hearing your fach experience and or diatribes 😉
Posted by: Dramamezzo | July 21, 2010

These voices I can relate to

Aprile Millo and Dolora Zajick

La Gioconda

So beautiful.

Posted by: Dramamezzo | July 4, 2010

Get it Together

Sorry Lifehacker I had to “borrow” this one.

I am a classic creative thinker.  I have a billion ideas, a billion percent of the time.  It often brings me to the point of mindless procrastination or angst driven inertia.

So this organization stuff can truly be the key.  Setting up systems to manage your creativity is a smart thing to do.  You don’t want forget your great ideas.  You don’t want to leave a project incomplete just because it has left your mind with the influx of new ideas.  You don’t want to abandon new great ideas because you know you’ll leave good ones behind in the process.

Make a system

This system should be simple and catered to you.  If you are a singer and want to make sure you get to listen to certain recordings,  have a list of recordings you can check out when you have available ear time.  If you have a plan to have audition arias ready, write them down and the steps you want to complete to learn them.

They say that you have to have a deadline for a goal to get finished, but in my opinion you only need deadlines for the things you are avoiding.  If you know that you are going to listen to music pretty much daily you can just pick your list during those times you’ll get it done.  If you REALLY don’t want to rewrite your Bio and Resume then schedule it before your next listening session.  You can listen to your favorite song as a reward.  You can even listen to your favorite opera while you edit if you know you can concentrate on what you are supposed to be doing.

What systems are you using to harness the power of your creativity? SHARE

My next system will be great ideas management.  And this video has shown me exactly how I’m going to do it!  Thanks Lifehacker / @Christian_Major

Posted by: Dramamezzo | July 2, 2010

Addicted to Vibrations

There are so many things that draw me to singing.

The creation of beauty.  The ability to make music.  Making music through my voice.  The literal transference of physical vibrations from my body through the air to another human being.  When I sing and feel my soul stir in my being the fact that people in the audience feel even an inkling of that… is just plain awesome.

But it has to be the pure physicality…

The feeling of the breath in, measure of the breath out, the focused vacuum that whirls through my sinuses and the willing to external.  Where along that ride do my emotions get put into the air/sound?  What makes the vibrations in my vocal chords find individual ears and become a part of their physical experience.

I know enough physics to draw the diagrams.

What I can’t quite explain is the withdrawal I go through when I don’t get to do it.  There is a withdrawal that happens when I don’t practice too, but it’s nothing like the one when I don’t perform.

I have heard that the value of life is what you give to others.  I hope that when I sing it is worth something.  This is the only gift I’ve given that has made someone cry.  No monetary gift, no gift of words has done that.

What is the value of sharing music with others?  Enlightenment, a touch of the divine, a glimpse of true spirit, the breath of inspiration… a transporting diversion.

All of those things and so much that I could never find the words for… and when I can’t find words…

I sing

Posted by: Dramamezzo | July 1, 2010

I Don’t Buy it

OK, granted I could be a poster child on the ad campaign, but I still don’t buy it.  Starving artists are so cliche.

  • I will not go into seniorhood without a retirement fund.
  • I will not spend the rest of my life with minimal or low health insurance.
  • I will not allow my career to be hindered by what lessons, coachings, and auditioning costs I CANNOT pay for.

I am going to build a business that will not suck my energy, monetary and creative resources dry.

How’s that for passionate?

If you feel the same, subscribe.  Over there —–>

Posted by: Dramamezzo | June 28, 2010

Cool IPA Videos/ Vocal Chords

It’s always good to have refreshers on these things for singers 😉

This predominantly British English, but the most of the  sounds are used in other languages also.  Also the lady is uniquely funny, but I bet you’ll remember the sounds and symbols afterward!

PS How about some up close vocals.  I think it is very interesting to see what is actually happening when we sing.

Posted by: Dramamezzo | June 25, 2010

Life According To Singing

I have a confidence when I sing that comes from the work I’ve put in and continue to put in. It is a sense of stability that I would have never guessed could come from singing because the instrument changes every day. I’ve learned to play the piano, clarinet, flute, saxophone and trumpet.  These don’t include those I’ve learned in classes to get my music degrees. I say that to explain that I have experienced the ups and downs of learning and making music on enough instruments to consider my opinion expert.
Nothing is as frustrating as learning to sing.   Nothing is as emotionally exhausting.
Now clarinet is the only one I learned even close to professionally, but when I got frustrated with something that I was doing wrong on it I just kept at it until it was resolved.
When I got frustrated as a singer, the frustration created more errors and more frustration. These became emotional fits that caused crying jags from a girl who took pride in not being a typical emotional female.   These ended in brain meltdowns of aimless one finger piano playing.   These transformed into utter defeat and lying under pianos to take emotionally exhausted naps.

I love a challenge.  Matter of fact, I started learning the clarinet because it looked the hardest. (I didn’t learn about French horns until much later.)
So obviously the next step was to pursue the most complex artistic form in existence.

Is there a point to this…?
Ultimately, singing has taught me how to live.  These are a few of the lessons.
1. Whatever happens…breathe.  A deep breath is the first step to handling everything.
2. Just because it was right today doesn’t mean it will be ready and waiting tomorrow. Your body, your mind and the world change from moment to moment.  Assuming what you built yesterday will give you EXACTLY the same results today is a trap.   The only way to get it right is to do the work.
3. Usually if you’ve given so much that you are under a piano emotionally and physically spent, you are on the verge of a breakthrough.

You just have to have the faith to push forward.

Do you have any life lessons you learned from singing?

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