Monday, September 29, 2008

Canadian Arts and Culture Week: Celebrating Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka

In honour of our current Canadian election campaign issue of CULTURE, I thought it appropriate to focus on Canadian singers. I could go on about how Mr. Harper of the Conservative party has dismissed culture as not something ordinary working people are into and discuss who and what we are as Canadians but I won't since I’m sure I'm preaching to the choir.

Instead, lets celebrate the greatness of our national and international opera stars starting with soprano Adrianne Pieczonka.

Originally from Brampton, ON Pieczonka studied with noted teacher Mary Morrison. It was Mary who told me while I was her student that Pieczonka was originally a member of the Canadian Opera Company Chorus but decided that she wanted to be a soloist so she went to Germany to work. It was there that she developed her remarkable technique and dramatic stage presences and learned the major roles. In typical Canadian fashion, she only returned to sing in Canada after she had been a European success. Her Mimi with the COC in 1994 was some of the most stunning singing I have heard (I went back twice to hear her!).

Today, Pieczonka makes Toronto her home but as you can read on her web page, she is singing all over the world including the Met, Covent Garden, and Munich to name a few.

Check out this clip of her singing Donna Anna's "Or sai chi l'onore" from Don Giovanni. Also note that Canadian tenor Michael Shade is her Don Ottavio!




Next up, tenor Micheal Shade!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Young Singers on the Rise - Joseph Kaiser

Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser is one singer to watch. Now singing all over the world, it is so surprising to hear he was a baritone in his days with the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio.

Listen to the way he uses the appoggio in his upper voice - it seems without effort. As well, his consonants are pretty loose so his voice rings with some pretty stunning vowels!

Check out his Lensky below:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Young Singers on the Rise - Measha Brueggergosman

In an age of instant information and massive everything (think Super-Size Me), packaging, image and BRAND IDENTITY have become the benchmark of a “quality” product. The opera world has even jumped on board to educate and inspire their audiences and attempt to squeeze out a share of the market.

So too have opera singers and no one more so than Canadian opera singer Measha Brueggergosman. With a solid brand, great (new) packaging and a marketing engine behind her that also promotes the likes of Madonna, Measha is one to watch.

Not content with a traditional opera career path, Measha has created life performances unique to her personality and talent. Thank goodness she has the vocal chops to carry it all. Check out her hair, her expression and most of all her voice….

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Young Singers on the Rise - Nicole Cabell

Here is a great introduction to soprano Nicole Cabell who was the Cardiff Singer of the World in 2005. Nicole is a fellow Eastman grad who studied with John Malloy (also Renee Fleming's teacher). What is so great about Nicole is her commitment to the drama and the incredible legato line she creates.


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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Day of School

Its the first day of school around here...actually it's been a week of first days! I love the promise of a fresh start with new music, new pencils and new students.

How do we get started again as singers? After a summer of playing with my kids and not doing a whole lot of singing on my own, I'm looking to get back into shape and at the same time, get my students into shape. Some of my favourite, go-easy vocal exercises include the following (scale degress are in numbers with IPA below):

123213531
(i----o------)

and

534231271
(yayeyaye etc)

Keep it easy and no louder than mf and drill these 3 or 4 different times per day. As Paul Kiesgen said this summer at his "Training Soprano Voices" at Indiana University, "the most important part of your practice is the beginning and the end therfore, schedule many short practices throughout the day for success".

What are your favourtie warm ups? Drop me a comment and i'll post them next week.

Happy first day of school!
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