So, I’m taking my first vocal performance class… ever. The closest thing I’ve done to using my voice professionally is karaoke and singing in church plays. So, this is a whole new thing for me.
I have discovered that I am a soprano. Who knew? (Apparently, if you can hear alto, you get stuck in the alto section no matter what you can really sing.) I’ve got two fairly simple pieces in the works so far, and I need one more to fill out my repertoire for the recital. Today we threw around words like “Latin” and “Bach” - scary stuff, but exciting!
Here’s my actual question - I’m looking for things in my range that are challenging, exciting to sing and to listen to, and will stand out from the more normal “first-year recital” fare. I know that the standards are standards for a reason, but I hate doing what everybody else does.
Probably unnecessary details: the other two I’m doing are O Cessate di Piagarmi (Scarlatti) and Simple Gifts (Copland). My current working range goes up to a B-flat. I have good musicality, and good emotional expression, so I’d really like to find something that I can give people chills with. (O Cessate is reasonable for that, but is one of those first year standards that will not stand out.)
Help me, Obi Wan KeDopers! You’re my only* hope!
If you want to continue in the baroque vein, there’s lots of gorgeous Handel arias, like Lascia ch’io pianga, Ombra mai fu, Ah! mio cor! etc. Personally I find Italian easier to get my tongue around than German or Latin. Many also have English texts, like Silent Worship.
There’s an excellent book, 26 Italian Songs and Arias, which has some lesser known works from this period, along with really good notes on each, and on Baroque music in general, which really put them in perspective for me. The book comes with a CD, which is fun, makes it kinda like opera karaoke
The killer with all this baroque stuff is the ornamentation, all the coloratura and trills. It’s often a bit tricky, can sound awesome, and is just really fun to sing.
To help you pick pieces, you might like to try and identify your fächer, or voice type, e.g, lyric or dramatic soprano, soubrette, etc. The classifications are used a lot in defining operatic roles, and will help you pick which arias will suit your voice. This wikipedia link might be a place to start, and ask your teacher too.
Holy crap. See, I just start to think I’m learning something, and then Wikipedia once again informs me that there is a whole big world of stuff that I didn’t have any idea existed. Awesome!
It’s coincidentally nifty that you mention that book - that’s very similar to the one we’re using now (Schirmer, not Patton), from which we pulled O Cessate. I would like to do a third piece that is not Italian, though, mostly for my own preferences. I have a fair amount of background in written and spoken Latin, so I am hoping that tackling it in singing will not be too much rougher than Italian was.
Thank you very much for the suggestions - I can see I have a lot of reading and thinking to do!
Q: What’s the definition of an alto?
A: A soprano who can sight read.
See, that would be even funnier if I could read music.
How 'bout Bernstein’s Simple Song – challenging and beautiful.