That's interesting that you're a soprano; have you ever done The Magic Flute? I'm always impressed whenever I hear the Queen of the Night's aria:
However my question is this; how can a man train to be a countertenor (BTW that is not one of my goals)? One of my favorite operas is Philip Glass' Akhnaten but I still can't believe that the lead can sing this high without being a castrato:
:D This is a fun question (thanks, Patrick!), so I think I’ll have my beau (Ian, opera singer) help me out on it. :D He also coaches me in voice, cause he’s so nice.
Queen of the Night is in my range, but I’m not sure if its really in my wheelhouse yet. It’s a very dramatic role, the angry mother telling her daughter to kill her father or she’ll never speak to her again. Some of the problem you run into with sopranos trying to sing older than they are, or for an older voice type than they are yet, is that you start damaging the vocal chords. Also you don’t develop the breath support. ;D I am probably old enough to sing Queen of the Night now… just haven’t really spent much time on it yet.
From Ian: The real reason Mozart wrote the arpeggios the way he did in “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” was to see his leading lady’s (read: mistress’) “breath support” in the passages where her mammaries inevitably bob up and down during the run. Every soprano knows this, as do most opera goers, who enjoy Mozart-period push-up corsets to add to the effect. Just sayin.
Thanks, Ian. So since I might be more convincing as the daughter right now, I’ve been working on Pamina’s aria, from Magic Flute. We haven’t decided what voice type I am… lyric sorpano, most like—ahhhh I haven’t been working on my runs enough lately. This past year I’ve been really lazy with my classical work, I’m pretty disappointed in myself about it! We’re gonna vocalize today and maybe I can take a video and post. :) Anyway, Pamina is an example of the ingénue, a possible character type for me. We also talked about soubrettes, lol.
As for countertenors, Ian explained a few things—-it really is just like training any voice, you have to have a strong vocal technique to sing countertenor, but in particular you have to have a highly developed falsetto. Countertenors strengthen their falsetto through their voice training, because this is the part of the voice they sing in most of the time, ocassionally coming down into a mix of chest and falsetto in the lower part of their range. You definitely don’t have to be a castrato—we haven’t had any of those in what, a hundred years?
From Ian: Phillip Glass has been a major force in getting countertenors to be taken more seriously since he writes so often for them. Now we have operas in the major canon that have countertenors in them, even though we’ll never be able to know what a true castrato could bring to the singing; a combination of boy soprano meets fully developed male vocal chords. Still, countertenors sing about the same range.
Yup! :) Ian Greenlaw is a lyric baritone, currently working on a Kurt Weill revue, “Berlin to Broadway,” to perform with Opera Columbus in October. <3