Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good times!

It feels WONDERFUL to be able to report that I believe a good time was had by ALL on Saturday night for the opening of "The Barber of Seville" here in NYC! I think the audience was happy to be given the chance to laugh out loud a bit, as laughter truly does tend to work magic, even on the most unsuspecting!

Yesterday was a huge day, as I had a big brainstorming session with my recording team of EMI/Virgin, and there are definitely exciting prospects lurking ahead! Knowing the Rossini disc has been well anticipated had everyone in a good mood, and ideas were flying about how to beat this apparent downward trend in music sales. I don't believe people are no longer interested in buying music, I think simply the means to purchase it has changed so drastically, and so quickly, that the folks on both sides of the aisle don't quite know how to proceed. One thing I'm beyond happy about is that this team around me believes 100% in the importance of QUALITY programming and producing. No one around that table was hinting at dumbing down, or watering down what it is that I do and love. Everyone believes in keeping the standard extremely high, no question. The caveat comes in how we market that, so they can afford to keep the level at such a premium.

But we also tossed around some very fun ideas - ideas that really excite me, so the future should prove to be interesting, to say the least!!!

I then hopped in a taxi with a REALLY belligerent NY Taxi Driver (how I love them!), and arrived 2 minutes late to a master class I was giving for the young artists at the Met. First thing I always say, "Be on TIME", so I'm not sure how much credibility I carried for the next 90 minutes, BUT I still think it was a good class. I'm always astonished at how much I feel I have learned in doing sessions like this - and I can only hope that it's a mutual gaining of knowledge, as I just love the exchange of ideas and seeing the occasional light bulb click on over the soprano's head! It's a scary proposition to work with such talented singers who are already receiving the best coaching in the world, but what never fails to impress me is how tireless and infinite the learning process is for an artist.

Most of the session consisted of me asking questions, and feeding the singers possible sub-texts for what they are singing. Does Donna Elvira need to convince herself that she will REALLY tear off Giovanni's face when she sees him (hence the need for the wayward, yet driving ascending scales at the end of "Ah, chi me dice mai?", or is she utterly convinced and sure of herself? That absolutely affects the intention with which she sings those tricky phrases. Does regret enter into any of her thirst for revenge? Is perhaps the more legato, less angular phrasing of "Ah si ritrovo l'empio" a chance to show her more delicate side? (Does she have a delicate side?) I'm sure that once the vocal foundation for an aria is established (legato, breath support, phrasing, pure vowels, etc), questions become a singers best friend. And the license to chose different answers, and then experiment with different colors as a result, start to lead to comprehensive, deep portrayals.

How I love that moment when the singer starts to leave the rehearsal studio and starts to inhabit their character. Oh, it's GOOD!

And in keeping with the need for laughter, let's just enter the world of the panda for fun. I mean seriously, why NOT?!?!?

Have a wonderful day!

Panda Sneeze Attack - Watch more Funny Videos


Irishrover said...

Happy to hear that everything works fine in NYC! This is such a wonderful production, everytime I see it, I can't help laughing ^^

It's very interesting to have a glimpse of the questions a singer is bound to ask him/herself when it comes to embody a character. Opera is not just a matter of voice, one has to give emotion through the acting. And when voice and acting are united, how can one stand up to such a torrent of emotions? This is precisely why I love opera so much: beautiful music, and incredible acting conveyed by this very music and the singer's sensibility.

Speaking of Elvira, I always get goosebumps when I'm watching yours. Talk about embodying a character! This balance you found between her harshness and her vulnerability is just priceless. So thank you for not being only a voice, but also an actress.

Btw... these pandas are just adorable :)

david said...

I attended this master class. Not only were the young singers could but Joyce was astounding. What a wonderful personality. Such awesome commitment to what she does. I am so glad for the opportunity to experience. My wife was with me and she had seen Joyce in the rehearsal of BARBER and came home enthralled. Bravo to the entire cast.

Scott McPherson said...

Hi Joyce, I just wanted to pass along another "brava!" for tonight's performance at the Met. The whole cast sounded great and you were wonderful! Keep up the good work.

steve49w said...

Love the new record. How great it is! Nice to know that EMI is working with you on keeping your recordings on the up and up and not asking for disco versions of the Flower Duet from Lakme. (yet)

Love the Pandas, and I see that the one is sneezing into his elblw like Elmo said!

Gi said...

I just learned that you are being honoured at the Fifth Annual Opera News Awards. Congratulations! I know it's early, but I hope you have a great evening on November 19.

Gi said...

Oops: forgot the link to Opera Chic's post.

AnnaO said...

Congratulations on your new CD Joyce, I can't wait to hear it!

I saw the live HD broadcast of Tosca yesterday, and during intermission, I believe I heard Susan Graham say that the broadcast of your Barbiere di Siviglia at the Met from 2007 will be released soon?! Is this true or am I dreaming? (please let it be true!)

Chris said...

Congratulations to you on your new CD and on the richly deserved award from Opera News. Regarding the "apparent downturn" in sales of CDs, Florez opined in a recent interview that You Tube was largely at fault since singers' performances appear there for free sometimes only hours afterwards. Alagna also had some things to say about the business. He revealed that he gets only 25 centimes (a quarter of a Euro I presume) for each of his CDs. Thus a CD selling 20,000 copies would net him only 5000 Euros. I think it is sad that this business has deteriorated as it has. Artists deserve more reward for their art.

David said...

Again, congratulations on the Colbran disc. I have listened through once so far, and it is excellent!

You were mentioning some "brainstorming" with your team concerning future recording projects. I would immediately suggest a second Colbran disc. Seriously, this repertoire fits you like a glove, and there is more than enough music to fill at least one more CD. Is there any chance you would consider this? There are excellent arias in each of the untapped Colbran operas: Ermione!, Zelmira (a tremendous final scene), Mose in Egitto, and Ricciardo e Zoraide (very seldom recorded). In addition, if memory serves, there are additional arias in both Elisabetta and Otello. You could also include a couple of duets - possibly with Lawrence Brownlee as on the current disc? Anyway, it's just a thought. Best wishes to you.

Gi said...

Bad news from, your CD's release has been postponed from October 12 to November 2: I won't have it for my birthday.

M.J. said...

I really like the pandas. Were they a special post for someone special??

Raisa said...

Hi Joyce:
Yesterday your Colbran CD arrived in the mail!
It's incredible:72 minutes of beauty and inspiration.
Rossini's music and your voice are a match made in heaven!Congratulations!

Yankeediva said...

Thanks, everyone, for all the support and comments!! I don't know, yet, about the release of the Barber, but as soon as I hear anything - I'll let you know!!!

and SO happy to know that you are enjoying the new disc. I think it will make a GREAT Christmas present (she said, hoping to turn the tide of the classical recording industry!)

And Chris - you are right, no one is making money on recordings. I'll speak for myself, but I'm personally doing it for the art ... hopefully we can pay our rent via other means. OR some genius at the top will figure out how to turn things around!! Any takers???

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