Today was my first day of rehearsals for The Elixir of Love with the Atlanta Opera. We started at 10:00 this morning with “sing and tell”. This is where the entire cast assembles and we sing through the entire score with the conductor. It can be a daunting experience because as a picky perfection singer, I am always trying to get everything just right and my expectations are usually way high. I know better than to expect perfection. How boring is perfection anyway? And whose perfection are we following? My idea isn’t always the idea of my conductor or director! As I was sitting in rehearsal today I kept reminding myself to not try and create what I had done in my private coachings earlier in the week. I know the goal is to create in the moment and to turn lose of any expectations. This is when we are truly free and can be the most convincing. It is when we are truly committed to the text and emotion. I know these things, but on “sing and tell” day I always tend to try to recreate rather than create. I get caught up on giving the conductor what I believe he wants instead of what I feel. Towards the end of rehearsal an old song popped into my head from the vast collection I have cosseted up in my brain. It is an old country song by David Allen Coe called, The Ride. The chorus of the song rang out loud in my head in the middle of rehearsal drowning out all of Donizetti’s bravura. “Drifter, can ya make folks cry when you play and sing? Have you paid your dues, can you moan the blues? Can you bend them guitar strings? Boy can ya make folks feel what you feel inside? ‘Cause if you’re big star bound let me warn you, it’s a long hard ride.” That’s it. That’s the key. Forget trying to manipulate a soaring, swooping phrase or subtle word colors every other measure. All of those things happen naturally when we risk feeling something. Can you make people feel what you feel inside? There are tons of technical ways to achieve feeling, but I think coming to it from a more natural and simple place works best. Hmm. Maybe, just feel.
When I got home this afternoon I found the following clip while browsing around the internet. It made me laugh because it is chance, so random, and very expressive. It doesn't follow rules or have any expectations but manages to sound as if it were on purpose and thought out. This composer was reading the newspaper and saw birds on a wire and thought of what their random placement on the wires would sound like as music. Pretty beautiful to me! My goal is to be like these birds and sing with no expectations other than what the moment gives me. I’ll just land on that wire with commitment, feeling, and gusto and sing until my Partridge heart is content and I believe I just may make the most beautiful music yet. Enjoy.