The Crossover Opera Singer: Bridging the Gap Between Opera and Musical Theatre
Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Musical Arts in the Graduate School of The Ohio State University
Keyona Willis-Lynam, M.M
Graduate Program in Music
The Ohio State University
D.M.A. Document Committee:
J. Robin Rice, Advisor
For decades, a divide has existed between opera and musical theatre, with the lesser value being placed upon the latter. Singers, from the start of their training, are told to choose a genre if one wants to achieve any type of singing success. This type of division creates a chasm of isolation and misunderstanding between the musical styles.
From academia, to the stage, to the concert goer, one’s allegiance to opera versus musical theatre has been built upon a firm foundation of contrast, without acknowledging that both genres have ties to one another. As a result, most teaching of singing is done from the perspective of the classical singing style, with little to no mention of how to efficiently and healthily sing in a musical theatre style.
In today’s social and economic climate, opera houses across the United States and abroad are seeing a decline in ticket sales; some have been able to restructure to survive, while others are shutting down. Companies are seeking a variety of ways to stay connected to the community; one avenue that has produced an area of contention is the addition of musical theatre productions to the season’s billing. Opera purists see this as a disintegration of a centuries-old tradition, while others see this not as a destruction, but a continuation, an expansion of the genre. In opera’s quest to stay relevant, it is becoming more difficult to ignore the benefits musical theatre can have for opera, and as a result,
ii there needs to be a means of educating singers how to healthily sing in a musical theatre style.
This document is intended for the opera singer who wants to integrate musical theatre literature into his or her repertoire and for the opera community hesitant to embrace the genre. Chapter one will explore the evolution of American opera into musical theatre and how the genres function today. Chapter two discusses a means to look beyond genres and ways to reinvigorate opera as an art form. Chapter three addresses the tools and pedagogical needs for the opera singer to cross over into musical theatre. Chapter four fuses the concepts of opera and musical theatre to gain a better understanding of how the two can influence one another.
The intent of this paper is not to lessen opera but to enhance and build upon it with the addition of musical theatre concepts. From the stage to the classroom, a movement needs to take place to seek out the benefits of each style. In today’s society, singers need to know how to navigate different styles, within reason, and know how to do so healthily. Not educating singers on how to sing functionally in alternate styles, in addition to their predominant classical style, is a detriment to one’s career. In starting a dialogue to bridge the gap between opera and musical theatre, it is hoped this document can help strip away the divide and instead, bring them together.
This document is dedicated to my husband for being a constant support and encouraging
me to follow my passions and to my parents for showing me that a dream is worth
Robin Rice, D.M.A, Advisor — Joseph Duchi, M.M. — Kristine Kearney, M.F.A. —
Ted McDaniel, Ph.D. — A. Scott Parry, M.S..
2004...... B.M. Vocal Performance, Otterbein College
2004...... Powell Kuman Scholarship for Achievement ...... in Arts, Otterbein College
2004...... Joined Actor’s Equity Association
2008, 2009...... Graduate Administrative Assistant, Minority Affairs, The Ohio State University
2009...... The Wilson Award Scholarship, The Ohio ...... University
2009...... First Place, The Women in Music ...... Competition
2009-2013 ...... Graduate Teaching Associate, School of ...... Music, The Ohio State University
2010...... M.M. Vocal Performance, The Ohio State ...... University
2010 to Present ...... Adjunct Voice Instructor, Otterbein
2012...... Martha Speaks Award, The Ohio State ...... University
2012...... Graduate Teaching Award, The Ohio State ...... University
Fields of Study
Major Field: Music
Studies in Applied Voice: Robin Rice, D.M.A. (2008-2014)
Studies in Vocal Pedagogy: Scott McCoy, D.M.A., Karen Peeler, D.M.A. (2008-2012)
Studies in Laryngology: L. Arick Forrest, M.D. (2011-2012)
Surgical and Clinical Observations: L. Arick Forrest, M.D., Brad DeSilva, M.D., Kerrie
Obert, M.A., CCC-SLP, Michelle Toth, M.A., CCC-SLP (2011)
Studies in Opera Techniques: A. Scott Parry, M.S., Peter Kozma, M.M. (2008-2013)
Studies in Contemporary Commercial Music: Somatic Voicework The LoVetri Method,
Jeanie LoVetri (2015)
Table of Contents
Abstract ...... ii
Dedication ...... iv
Vita ...... vi
Chapter 1: The Evolution of American Opera and Musical Theatre ...... 1
Chapter 2: Opera and Musical Theatre, Can They Coexist? ...... 19
Chapter 3: Tools of Musical Theatre for the Opera Singer ...... 37
Chapter 4: Bridging the Gap ...... 68
References ...... 84
Appendix A: Differences Between Musical Theatre and Opera ...... 89
Appendix B: Song Literature for the Crossover Singer ...... 91
Chapter 1: The Evolution of American Opera and Musical Theatre
Opera has thrived for centuries by intertwining music, text, scenery, and drama to bring a story to life. Audiences are captivated by the visceral experience and are swept up in the musical narrative. In looking at the beginning stages of opera, it began by being performed in aristocratic circles in one’s home. As it gained popularity and expanded to a wider audience within the upper echelon,1 opera eventually made its way to becoming more accessible to the everyday man. The draw of opera was, and still is, the relationship of the human experience heightened by the musical drama. Opera provides a mirror for audiences to see a glimpse of a social climate and life not too distant from their own.
Stemmed from pastoral poetry and the madrigal, opera was based upon the discussions held by the Florentine Camerata.2 From their perspective, the ancient Greeks were able to produce “powerful effects with their music because it consisted of a single melody, whether sung by a soloist with or without accompaniment, or by a chorus. By conveying the message of the text through the natural expressiveness of the voice, the
1 Nathan Hurwitz, A History of the American Musical Theatre (New York: Routledge, 2014), 8. 2 In the early 1570’s Count Bardi hosted an informal academy in his home in Florence where “scholars discussed literature, science, and the arts, and musicians performed new music. Bardi’s protégé, the singer-composer Giulio Caccini, later referred to this gathering as the Camerata (circle) of Bardi.” Donald Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca, A History of Western Music (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2001) 263-64. 1 rises and falls in pitch, and the changing rhythms and tempo, this single melody line succeeded in moving the listener better than more complex texture did.”3 These concepts led the Camerata to believe the ancient tragedies were sung throughout. Wanting to regain the heightened purity of drama through text, opera was created.
In its earliest form, opera was a means to enhance and enliven the text. This can be seen in works created by composers Jacopo Peri and Giulio Caccini.4 As time progressed, textures of opera began to expand, creating a richer vocal and instrumental landscape to build upon the action of the story.5 Soon, the structure of opera developed a larger framework with more arias, duets, ensembles, and a larger orchestra. As opera continued to develop and expand, so did the size of the performance venue to accommodate the growing audience. “Opera spread throughout Europe and in short order became one of the most popular theatrical forms among the upper class. By the early eighteenth century, opera had split into opera-seria and opera comique.”6 The malleability of this genre was seen in its ability to adapt itself based upon the social and political environments of the city in which the work was being performed.7 Opera was “…amenable to a wide variety of symbolic interpretations—should interpretations be needed—but it also reflects the strengths, and the popularity, of contemporary operatic musical styles. Of course, taking a
3 Barbara Russano Hanning, A Concise History of Western Music (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2002), 180. 4 In 1600, Peri and Caccini set to music two settings of the play Euridice to create a medium melding the concepts of speech and song. 5 Claudio Monteverdi built upon the recitative style created by Peri and added his expansion of musical textures by adding more airs, duets, dances, and chorus numbers. Grout and Palisca, A History of Western Music, 271. 6 Hurwitz, A History, 8,9. 7 Roger Parker, The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 31. 2 work from one city to another could prompt changes and revisions to suit the new context and different audience expectations. “8
The early stage of opera in the seventeenth century was presented mainly to the upper class as a means of spectacle and entertainment for social occasions. With the decline of private patronage, composers took their works to the public concert hall to continue receiving revenue for their compositions. As a result, composers adapted their music not only engage the upper class but the middle class as well. This fell in line with the development of the Enlightenment Era, in the eighteenth century, when the dispersion of knowledge and culture was encouraged and the middle class developed an increased interest in education and the arts.
A notable shift in the art form took place with John Gay’s English opera, The
Beggar’s Opera, performed in 1728. This work reflected a political commentary of the corrupt system created by the upper class and its viewpoint from the lower class. Despite the English government’s dislike of this work, the greater public thoroughly enjoyed the work, “making it the worlds first long-running musical stage hit.”9 In observing this cultural shift, one may note the impact opera had in not only portraying a musical drama, but also creating a story that was a real-life reflection of the time. This amplification of an oppressed microcosm of society revealed not only one’s interest in spectacle but also the ability to relate to the common man.
Despite the fact that English opera, “…unlike that of either Italy or France,
8 Parker, The Oxford Illustrated, 31. 9 John Kenrick, Musical Theatre: A History, (London: Bloomsbury, 2008), 31. The Beggar’s Opera ran for sixty-two performances. 3 remained a local development, with little influence on the course of serious opera…”10 in
Europe, it did have the “…greatest historical consequence for opera in the American colonies. Beginning in the 1730’s, the majority of operas staged in America were either from England or written by Americans in the style of English opera.”11
As the varying styles of opera continued to evolve leading into the classical period which began around 1730, audiences sought an entertainment experience that presented not only spectacle but also a reflection of the cultural climate stripped away from stiff, unnatural movements and old scenery.12 “Paralleling the subsidized product was a different kind of opera…[which] recognized and tried to satisfy the need of the masses for a music theatre…Mozart’s Zauberflöte was written on commission and in collaboration with a commercial theatre impresario; it is an ideal example of the union of popular music and the highest degree of artistic power.”13 This addition to the opera genre led to the uniting of music drama and text to create a performance spectacle.
Leading into the nineteenth century, there was a decline of royal patronage, which caused opera to evolve into grand opera as a means to try and bring in wider audiences seeking excitement and entertainment.14 This also led to the development of opera
10 Donald Jay Grout, A Short History of Opera, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 297. 11 Grout, A Short History, 297. 12 Kurt Weill, “The Future of Opera in America,” Modern Music 19, no. 4 (May-June 1937): 184. 13 Ibid, 185. 14 Grand opera appealed to the uncultured audiences looking for excitement and entertainment. It was “as much spectacle as music.” Grout and Palisca, A History, 609. 4 comique,15 lyric opera,16 melodrama,17 human dramas,18 and music drama.19 These developments illustrate an exploration to fuse the elements of music and theatre together to create a musical language that audiences gravitated toward and were easily relatable.
Opera was a reflection of the cultural times and presented an opportunity for the audience to delineate into an alternate state of being to find respite in the midst of the social and political climate.
When looking at the development of opera in Europe, one can note a similar process taking place in the United States. Founded by immigrants, the cultural basis of the arts in America was established by importing productions from abroad. Audiences, ranging from a variety of backgrounds, sought the familiar and theatrical experience that musical performances could recreate. American composers of the 1800s were also creating works inspired by the imported works being performed in the states. Some productions mirrored ballad opera and comic opera, while others branched off to create a form of parlor opera, which was considered a form of popular entertainment stepping away from serious art.20 Along with parlor opera, minstrels21 were created as a program
15 Less pretentious than grand opera and included spoken dialogue instead of recitative. Grout and Palisca, A History, 610. 16 A style between opera comique and grand opera that focused more on the melody and the story was typically romantic or fantasy. Grout and Palisca, A History, 612. 17 “A genre of musical theatre that combines spoken dialogue with background music.” Grout and Palisca, A History, 619. 18 Verdi was most well known for creating works delving into the inner psychological drama of each of his characters. His works also contained disguised political statements of nationalism during the time of national rebirth. Grout and Palisca, A History, 614-619. 19 Wagner’s quest to combine “his ideal of opera as a drama with words, stage setting, visible action, and music all working closely together profoundly influenced later composers.” Grout and Palisca, A History, 628. 20 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 49. 5 consisting of “songs and dances interspersed with comic skits and seemingly improvised
‘plantation-style’ patter…the first indigenous form of musical theatre in the United States of America.”22
At the end of the Civil War, minstrel shows lost popularity. The American musical stage began to embrace vaudeville, burlesque, and musical reviews as more than taboo popular entertainment. Along with the lighter American theater styles being presented, imported European operetta was also being performed. This shift in entertainment at the beginning of the twentieth century revealed a decline of interest for grand opera, not due to a lack of artistic content but because the configuration of the work was framed upon an older, outdated structure. “[I]t may be regretted that these works had the misfortune to come at a moment when tastes in musical matters were on the verge of radical change…Part of that change was fostered by the variety of musical entertainment being offered in the theaters of New York City. The advent of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow at the New York’s Amsterdam Theater in 1907, for example, had a profound influence upon the future growth of operatic productions in America.”23 As musical operetta continued to evolve, productions by Gilbert and Sullivan, and their contemporaries, expanded upon the addition of speech-oriented singing, which continues to be a relevant component in the musical theatre repertoire today.
“After Gilbert, the craft of lyric writing would never be the same. Many of the great
21 Blackface performers had been around for decades prior to the black minstrel show. In 1843 a troupe of four white performers presented a full-length show in blackface and called themselves the Virginia Minstrels, thus, creating the first black minstrel show. Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 51. 22 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 51. 23 Grout, A Short History, 744. 6 lyricists of the future found crucial inspiration in his work. P. G. Wodehouse, Lorenz
Hart, Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner, E. Y. Harburg—all freely admitted that they studied Gilbert’s lyrics and emulated his playful use of rhyme.”24 Gilbert and
Sullivan’s development of this genre further encouraged the advancement of musical theatre. The accessibility to their works expanded the performance opportunities for amateur companies to perform their operettas.25 Almost every major musical theatre structure created during the first half of the twentieth century attributes their work to
Gilbert and Sullivan.26
With the development of operetta in the United States, musical theatre sought a national identity that was uniquely an “American idiom in America’s popular culture.”27At the turn of the twentieth century, leading up to 1915, most productions were created from an existing source of material. American culture had a great sense of admiration for imported works; most “American musicals were adaptations of European pieces, or written in the style of European musicals or operettas. In the mid 1910s, however, a unique confluence of events created the perfect environment for the
Americanization of the musical theatre.”28 The onset of World War I in 1914 caused the
German navy to close down the transatlantic shipping lanes in 1915. As a result, all non- essential travel was halted for the duration of the war, which would include the
24 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 92. 25 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 93. 26 Hurwitz, A History, 43. 27 Ibid, 59. 28 Ibid, 76. 7 importation of opera and musical theatre.29 Prior to this time, musical theatre was based upon a grand presentation of spectacle. The war created a social and economic stress in the United States that placed a strain on the ability to attend and produce shows. The
American musical needed to strip itself down and re-envision itself as an art form, creating a new concept of musical theatre called Princess Musicals.30 The focus of the production stepped away from the visual spectacle and instead was placed upon the content of the story, development of characters, and creating a melody that was not only memorable, but enhanced the story. The pioneers of the Princess Musical, Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern, created the musical, Nobody Home, performed at the Princess Theatre.
“For the first time, there was dramatic need behind every aspect of the show…Kern and
Bolton offered recognizable, contemporary characters acting out a story that the audience would recognize from their own lives.”31
Although European inspired operetta and opera were still being performed, it was apparent Americans had a need to hear a voice that was uniquely their own. As the musical art form branched out to create the Zeigfeld Follies and ragtime, the feelings of the American people, after the war, craved a native-born musical idiom, jazz. “When F.
Scott Fitzergald dubbed the 1920s ‘The Jazz Age,’ he was speaking for a discontented generation that found in this music an expression of their passion, their sorrows, their anger, and their sheer energy. Embittered by the senseless carnage of ‘the war to end all wars,’ they were out to have one hell of a good time, and jazz was the sound they partied,
29 Hurwitz, A History, 77. 30 This term came from the theatre in which the musicals were performed. The Princess Theatre was Broadway’s smallest house and had room for minimal chorus and set. 31 Hurwitz, A History, 81. 8 mated, and wept to.”32 Since composers were skeptical of jazz, some were able to create successful operettas without implementing this new style. But a majority of Broadway composers knew if they wanted to stay relevant in the current social climate, they would need to adapt to meet the public’s taste. This transition created the start of the golden age era. The outpouring of this need created the start of the Cinderella stories and Music Box
Revues. The golden age catapulted the success of composers such as George and Ira
Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter. Each composer and lyricist team brought a new element to the incorporation of jazz onto the musical theatre stage.
Although jazz music was the reigning influence of the public after World War I, it is worth noting that operetta was still a relevant genre, and audiences were wanting to hold onto a piece of this nostalgia. As a result, “[t]he American theatre developed a homegrown breed of romantic operettas.”33 Notable operettas that were performed in the
1920s are: No, No Nannette, The Student Prince in Heidelberg, Naughty Marietta, The
Vagabond King, The Desert Song, and Rosalie. Two important works, The Threepenny
Opera by Kurt Weill and Showboat by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II were pivotal compositions for the time. However, it was Showboat that stood out as a marker of the 1920s and as a shift leading toward musical theatre. “This show was revolutionary in two ways: it depicted a political (racial) issue, and it was the first “book” musical. In a book musical, the script tells a story and the songs are written to continue or embellish the dramatic situations. Previously, theatrical shows were put together as a series of
32 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 173. 33 Kenrick, Musical Theatre,196. 9 unrelated songs that interrupted the dramatic action and often had nothing to do with the plot. The book musical became the dominant theater genre (and remains an important model today).”34
Shortly after the success of Showboat, Wall Street suffered a dramatic hit, which was a catastrophic disaster for the economy. Several theater houses closed, and many composers headed to Hollywood believing the end of Broadway was around the corner.
Composers such as Porter, Berlin, Kern, and Arlen that stayed in New York and continued to write musicals became prominent writers of the decade. It was during this time that each of them “found their voice and their audience”35 in the midst of economic distress. Although fewer musicals were being produced, those that made it to Broadway were a wonderful display of entertainment ranging from nostalgic to inventive.36 “Revues got smaller but funnier, musical comedies became sharper and better crafted, and operetta gave up any pretense of intellectual content, offering more romantic spectacle than ever.
Typical runs were shorter, but there were still enough ticket buyers to keep musical theatre alive.”37 Among the other prominent composers of the 1930s, composer and librettist, brothers, George and Ira Gershwin, became a defining artistic element of musical theatre. Their works included Strike Up the Band, Girl Crazy, Of Thee I Sing, and most notably the jazz opera, Porgy and Bess. “The Broadway premiere of Porgy and
Bess took place…in October 1935 to mixed reviews. For the part, the work was
34 Karen Hall, So You Want to Sing Musical Theater: A Guide for Professionals (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2014), 12. 35 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 13. 36 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 215. 37 Ibid, 215. 10 enthusiastically received by the audiences, but it puzzled the critics who were at a loss to define its genre—was it an opera or a Broadway musical?...Porgy and Bess has been variously considered a folk opera, a musical comedy, a movie musical and…[a] grand opera.”38 Even after the first performance of Porgy and Bess, Gershwin drastically cut his score and replaced some of his recitatives with spoken dialogue. Revisions such as these are what cause Porgy and Bess to be an artistic enigma to this day. One could say
Gershwin was true to his personal style, but in order to stay relevant to the public,
Gershwin adjusted his work to meet the trends of the time.
Looking at the future trajectory of opera and musical theatre, both styles reflect the human experience—the American experience. American opera brought us works by
Aaron Copland, Douglas Moore, Marc Blitzstein, and Kurt Weill. Each of them sought to explore their own concept of folk opera—representing life in America during times of trial, hardship, rebuilding, and protest. These were relevant topics through the duration of
World War II. The integration of jazz and folk influences in opera were a musical voice for the thoughts and feelings of the public. In contrast, musical theatre, in many ways, tried “valiantly to marry the joy of musical comedy to the integration of operetta”39 in order to give emotional release to the heavy nature of the times. Oklahoma! by Richard
Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was a pivotal marker to this blending of styles. “[I]t was the first organic musical play, in which every element serves as a crucial, meaningful piece of the whole…While laughs still counted, they took a backseat to dramatic
38 Grout, A Short History, 750. 39 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 252. 11 coherence.”40
Following World War II, both opera and musical theatre sought out ways to engage the public. People wanted more than a catchy melody; they wanted “character driven storytelling that made everyday situations timeless and compelling.”41 Oklahoma! became a standard for the new musical theatre after the war. “Cynics often carp about
Hammerstein’s ‘folksiness,’ but his common touch is the very thing that makes his best musicals relevant to succeeding generations. Rogers used music to capture and even deepen the emotion of any given scene. Songwriters now had to be dramatists, and as of the mid-1940s, Rodgers and Hammerstein were still without peers in that repute.”42 In the same regard, opera was establishing a similar foothold—Kurt Weill was one of those voices. “[H]e made clear that he was writing music, not for posterity, but for ‘today,’ and that this music was designed to be accessible to a more representative public than the limited audiences for whom he had composed during the earlier European phase of his career.”43 With the evolution of the American popular opera, the overlap between opera and musical theatre became more prevalent with works such as The Most Happy Fella,
Sweeney Todd, Candide, and West Side Story. “Among composers who were not hesitant to declare the Broadway musical theatre idiom to be a wellspring for the creation of
American national opera was Leonard Bernstein…Bernstein remarked that ‘the American musical theatre has come a long way, borrowing this from opera, that from revue, the other from operetta, something else from vaudeville—and mixing all the elements into
40 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 258. 41 Ibid, 264. 42 Ibid, 264. 43 Grout, A Short History, 756. 12 something quite new, but something which has been steadily moving in the direction of opera.’”44 The amalgamation of these styles left some wondering if certain productions were musicals or operas; this was noted in shows such as Candide, Sweeney Todd,
Brigadoon, and Street Scene. “Their creators insist their works are musicals, not operas.
To be sure, neither genre is easy to define, for Broadway productions have made their way uptown to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera, and operas, such as Bizet’s Carmen, have reappeared, albeit usually in a different guise, on
Broadway. Nevertheless, what the Sondheim and Bernstein scores hold in common are musical-dramatic structures related to the operatic traditions represented by Singspiele and operas comiques.”45
Along with the evolution of art, technology also progressed during the 1950s. It was during this time that television became integrated into the typical American lifestyle.
It was here that the Broadway musical began to reach a broader audience. “Popular music took its cues from Broadway. Stage musicals sent songs to the top of the charts so regularly that when people heard a great new tune, they didn’t ask who wrote it; they asked what show it came from…Hollywood stopped developing original musicals by
1956 and limited itself to adapting Broadway hits for the big screen…Broadway was the
‘main stem’ of show business, especially where musicals were concerned.”46 This phase of the golden age era produced works such as The King and I, The Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls, The Music Man, and West Side Story. These musicals were a voice for the
44 Grout, A Short History, 761. 45 Ibid, 762. 46 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 277. 13 public’s desire to find moments of connection displayed in a theatrical world with a melody they could take with them.
American operas of the 1950s and 1960s adhered “to tonality, which made possible a traditional kind of operatic form, whether straight, as in Britten, or deeply ironized, as in Stravinsky. In much of mainland Europe, however, the pressure for change was irresistible.”47 During this time of exploring the realms of expression, most large opera houses, such as the Metropolitan Opera, were still focused on the traditional repertoire, while newer opera works were performed in smaller companies and performance groups.
It was during this period that opera was in conflict with itself as a genre and created a clash between tradition and innovation. Some composers of the time felt they were boxed into the past and intentionally tried to seek the opposite. In Pierre Boulez’s interview with
Der Spiegel in 1967, he highlights the “essential point was that there had been no regeneration of opera since Berg, and that the fixed routines and repertories of opera houses positively worked against innovation: all that was wanted of composers was the occasional new piece following traditional, even Verdian patterns of musical dramaturgy, and packing in the shocks.”48 It was this contrast that created a bit of isolation, not only within the genre itself, but from the public as well. In a quest to escape convention, there became “the problem of steering a course between the mere repetition of tradition and the
47 Parker, The Oxford Illustrated, 325. “Stravinsky [was ironic in the sense that he] was capable of shaking the heavens. But in his neo-classical works he chose small groups of musicians to bring these modest old musical forms to life in a new language. Stravinsky was always remarkably adventurous.” Miles Hoffman, “Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Rite Of Spring’ Counterrevolution,” http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2013/05/24/ 186296467/igor-stravinskys-rite-of-spring-counterrevolution (accessed November 23, 2015). 48 Parker, The Oxford Illustrated, 328. 14 perhaps empty enticement of new forms and new languages. It is the problem that lies behind much of the opera of the 1960s and early 1970s, and also behind much of the work in new genres that briefly seemed an escape, an evolutionary alternative.”49
Composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, and
Peter Maxwell Davies were at the forefront of explorative opera. Opera became an exploration in metaphor, political and social commentary. There was a constant desire to rethink the art form and break against tradition. “It was therefore inevitable that ideas would be exhausted, and that the anti-conventional urge in music theatre would lead to a world in which there were no taboos left to break, except the taboo against going back to tradition.”50
While opera composers were exploring their foothold within the genre, musicals were thriving and surpassing operetta. However, “there was still demand for musicals with big emotions and big singing. The Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company became a bastion of operetta, staging revivals of classics and spawning a string of new shows in the romantic tradition.”51 Kismet, Fanny, Candide, The Golden Apple, Little Mary
Sunshine, and Camelot are a few works produced during this time that melded the concepts of musical theatre and operetta together. The storylines were accessible to the public and the music was grand and catchy. In many ways, these musicals helped to bridge the gap between traditional, repertory opera and musicals during the explorative period of contemporary opera.
49 Parker, The Oxford Illustrated, 333. 50 Ibid, 334. 51 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 302. 15
Modern opera was pushing the boundaries of the norm during the 1960’s and
1970’s artistic revolution. While opera houses continued to present works from the standard repertoire, contemporary opera in America was still being performed in smaller performance venues. It was also during this time that musicals once again began to explore the intimate, scaled down musical while still presenting whimsical and imaginative productions. During the mid-1960s, despite the shifting cultural trends, six
American musicals became lasting hits focusing on “irrepressible characters who carry on with life despite all odds.”52 The memorable works were: Hello, Dolly!, Funny Girl,
Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, Mame, and Cabaret with an honorable mention going to Sweet Charity. Although, Sweet Charity did not run as long as the other productions, it did do something other shows had not done up until this time, “it recognized the existence of rock music.”53
Broadway composers tried to ignore rock and roll for more than a decade thinking the general public would eventually lose interest. By the mid-1960s, most youth were immersed in rock and roll. Radio began establishing stations specifically dedicated to rock and roll; popular songs from musicals were hardly heard over the airwaves.
Broadway, which was once the main center for entertainment was demoted by rock and roll. “The front page of Life magazine now touted the latest rock stars or covered
America’s deepening, ill-advised involvement in Vietnam’s long civil war. That war gradually polarized the nation, digging an irrevocable chasm between generations.
Popular music now focused on a youthful audience that disapproved of the war and
52 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 323. 53 Ibid, 329. 16 expressed their displeasure through radical fashions and music filled with a spirit of protest. With Broadway no longer a source of hit songs, musicals became non-news, the occasional entertainment of an older generation.”54 Recognizing the public was shifting focus from Broadway to a new medium, necessary steps needed to be taken to create something outside of the standard musical structure. This thought evolved into rock musicals. As the times continued to evolve, the 1970s brought about a surge of musicals in a variety of styles ranging from rock musicals, traditional musicals, and concept musicals. “All three subgenres had their strengths and flaws, and each had its champions…However tough the times were, it turned out from an artistic standpoint to be one of the most exciting decades the musical theatre has known.”55
While musicals were expanding within the genre and the styles of shows within the umbrella of Broadway broadened, opera was still creating a large number of works.
“America offer[ed] examples of still more prolific opera composers, such as Dominick
Argento, whose works continue in a direct line from the traditionalism of Moore, Floyd, and Britten. But at the same time other composers, engaged in or sympathetic to the anti- conventional trend of the 1960s, have found ways of restoring to opera—as if to a medium that has suffered mortal collapse—ways of writing operas, or at any rate
‘operas’, in a kind of life after death.”56
In taking a glimpse at opera and musical theatre transitioning into the 1980s and beyond, one can ascertain several conclusions. Both art forms have gone through periods
54 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 331. 55 Kenrick, Musical Theatre, 336. 56 Parker, The Oxford Illustrated, 336. 17 of expansion and contraction to have an impact upon the general public and respond to the social climate. This trend is as relevant today as it was in the 1600s. As two art forms with such intertwined histories, it is interesting to note how one’s perspective to integrate or delineate from the social climate could have such a profound impact upon the dissemination and accessibility of both art forms. In looking back, in times of growth, discovery, and revival, how have opera and musical theatre chosen to define themselves to make a place for their respective genres leading up to today’s culture?
Chapter 2: Opera and Musical Theatre, Can They Coexist?
For decades, a firm allegiance has been established in either being a supporter of opera or being a supporter of musical theatre. Some57 consider opera to be stuffy, avant- garde, and isolating. Others58 believe musical theatre to be shallow, showy, and musically uninspired. Rarely does one remember that musical theatre stemmed from opera or that opera started as a means to honor the Greek theatre.
Today, one would think opera and musical theatre are as unrelated as oil and water.
So much time and energy is spent separating each genre that I believe a large element is being overlooked - how can each genre inspire the other? In looking at the turnover rate of shows on Broadway and opera houses closing due to insufficient funding, it is apparent both art forms are in need of a jumpstart. However, of the two genres, Broadway has eclipsed opera in terms of its accessibility to the public. “Popular music found a more comfortable home in the American musical. Musical audiences today expect their musicals to have hummable tunes.”59 This does not mean opera is less relevant, but for an audience, musical theatre creates a sound and storyline more relatable than contemporary
57 Alexandra Wilson, “We need to move beyond the clichés about ‘elitist’ opera,” The Guardian (February 11, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/ 2014/feb/11/elitist-opera-cliches-alexandra-wilson (accessed November 11, 2015). 58 David Fairhurst, “Why Broadway Sucks,” Backstage.com (March 1, 2007) http://www.backstage.com/news/why-broadway-sucks/ (accessed November 11, 2015). 59 Michael John LaChiusa, “Genre Confusion.” Opera News 67 no. 2 (August 2002): 14. 19 opera does today. “There seems to be a veritable compulsion in man to fuse the worlds of reason and feeling, logic and passion, by combining verbal and musical modes. The popular song and musical comedy are two enduring examples of the impulse. And opera?
The impulse is the same but the attempt is larger and more demanding in its thrust toward an ultimate, transcendent mingling of modes.”60
This is not to say Broadway is a better art form than opera. This is highlighting
Broadway’s willingness to explore styles within the genre. For example, Broadway has recently presented pop-inspired musicals such as Rent, Beautiful, Spring Awakening and more traditionally blended musicals like A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The
Mystery of Edwin Drood, Les Misérables, and Cinderella. Broadway recognizes that the public is looking for a cultural experience that is engaging, memorable, and invigorating.
This inspiration could stem from a book- Wicked, a movie - Once, a historical event -
1776, or musical pop culture - Jersey Boys. No matter the source, one can see from trends on Broadway, there is a need to explore not only current popular styles, but also revivals of older musicals such as Sweeney Todd, My Fair Lady, The Threepenny Opera, South
Pacific, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and A Little Night Music. As much as there is a desire for a musical experience relatable to the present day audience, there is also an understanding for nostalgia and lush melodies. One might also want to hear an orchestra that fills the music hall in contrast to the electric guitars and drums that follow us from the radio to the concert venues.
The foundation of opera arose out of an attempt to reinvigorate ancient theatre as a
60 H. Wesley Balk, The Complete Singer-Actor: Training for Music Theatre (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), 7. 20 means of creating a “union of music and drama, and bringing the drama into complete balance with the musical form.”61 What eventually separated opera as an independent genre was a result of the music eventually outperforming the drama. As time progressed, the public wanted more than a stirring melody. They wanted a story and characters that moved them by presenting a musical drama. Audiences wanted the performance to arouse their sense of human connection. The music was memorable and gave them a melody to hum for days after leaving the theatre. This allowed them to remember and connect with the theatrical experience they witnessed. As one can see in the division of time, opera did not evolve in isolation. It expanded in response to the cultural climate of the works being created. This can be seen in the evolution of music as it transitioned from the
Renaissance, the Baroque, the Classical, the Romantic era, and others. Every artistic era in history presents a reflection of the social and political times. Composers created works based upon the needs of the benefactors paying them to create operas (Jean-Baptiste
Lully’s work for King Louis XIV court, such as Armide) and in response to the current interests of the public (the spectacle of grand opera as seen in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell).
Whether exploring a world of Shakespeare in Verdi’s Falstaff or Mozart’s opera buffa Le nozze di Figaro, operatic composers reflected the musical and cultural times in which they were living. In the same way, Broadway was, and still is, adjusting in response to the current audience. Reflections of this are seen in Jonathan Larson’s Rent, which comments on the struggles of impoverished artists and the fight against HIV/AIDS in a time when these issues were coming to light. Another example of contemporary social issues in
61 Weill, The Future, 183. 21 musical theatre is Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots. This show highlights topics of acceptance and perseverance. It mirrors today’s social climate discussing gender and race equality.
Stepping away from the differences of opera and musical theatre, one can see both genres evolved with the culture of the day and mirrored the environment in which they were living. In the early twentieth century, a shift occurred in opera moving away from
Romantic idioms and merging into modern, contemporary opera. Composers pushed the boundaries of harmony and perception to create works that were outside the borders of what had been written. The more the composers continued to experiment with the musical realms of their compositions, the more their works were considered anti-opera. In many ways contemporary opera isolated itself from the mainstream public as a means to evolve for the sake of evolving versus adapting based upon the needs of arts—it was art for art’s sake.
It is interesting to note that from the beginning of the twentieth century to modern day, new operas have continued to be written and performed, but most of the works being presented to the public in the last one hundred years are works from the Romantic period and earlier. Contemporary operas are performed in larger houses but not with the same success as the standards of the operatic repertoire.
In establishing a timeline of opera from the perspective of the influences of the social climate upon the art form and looking at the current trends happening with opera, one question keeps recurring, “is opera dying?” I don’t believe it is. However, I do believe opera took a detour from itself and became an isolated art form in the twentieth century as at begin to experiment with musical concepts becoming “anti-opera” as it was
22 called in the 1970s. Opera is gaining momentum and finding its place in the twenty-first century with works like Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie and Doctor Atomic by John
Adams. However, I believe opera may need to take a few steps back to pick up a few pieces, mainly, musical theatre.
As with anything created that is to be sustainable throughout time, the need arises for the created work to expand, be enjoyed, be talked about, and be consumed. In looking at the historical elements of opera, the moment contemporary opera deviated from its audience is the moment opera left the limelight that sustained the art form for centuries by drawing audiences in to see what new work would be presented next. One could say the genre became too introspective while exploring the concepts of tonality, visual experience, and artistic commentary. It became about the experience, not necessarily the story. This is not to say opera was irrelevant. It very much was relevant and still is vital in the world of performing arts. In knowing that works of the traditional opera repertoire have sustained concert attendance in opera houses to present day, this indicates how timeless these works are for the contemporary audience. One “can never have too much of a work it loves, provided that the work does not fall below a mean standard…In a world where much of new music has moved beyond the idea of delighting the audience, the opera public, given its own head, will prefer to be delighted with works that it knows, rather than having to rise to the challenge of a new work, often unfamiliar and even forbidding in its musical style.” 62As discussed previously, we are consumers of music.
We crave variety and an artistic experience that moves us - concepts that transcend time.
62 Michael Bawtree, The New Singing Theatre: A Charter for the Music Theatre Movement (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 34. 23
In establishing the relevancy of opera, one must note that although opera has a strong tie to today’s audience, in looking at the future of the art form, one can observe the thinning of the medium from the early twentieth century to now.
Contemporary opera has continued to exist, but in many ways it separated itself from the mainstream audience. “In an odd sense, the final quarter of the last century and
the first years of the present one have seemed more receptive to new work than the
preceding fifty, if only because new operas have become so rare that their arrival is
greeted with indiscriminate, desperate attention. Individual composers are almost
beside the point for contemporary opera audiences. Beginning with Philip Glass’s
Einstein on the Beach in 1976, the wonder of any new opera has seemed
substantially to reside with the mere fact that it is new…Heavily hyped in advance
as the next media event, most have seldom been seen since their premieres. When
one or another does turn up in revival, opera houses tout them diligently.
Subscribers attend them dutifully, applauding their own attendance as much as (if
not more than) the actual work.”63
Recognizing the pressure to constantly create a new form of musical-dramatic expression and seeing it was causing the segregation of opera from the public, there were, and continue to be, a few composers trying to find ways to restore opera from the anti- conventional trend firmly established in the 1960s.64 Works written by Benjamin Britten,
Samuel Barber, Gian Carlo Menotti, Douglas Moore, and Carlisle Floyd, created a link to
63 Barry Singer, “Curtain,” Opera News, 73 no. 1 (July 2008). http://www.operanews. com/Opera_News_Magazine/2008/7/Features/Curtain.html (accessed June 1, 2015). 64 Parker, The Oxford Illustrated, 336. 24 mend the separation of tonality. In some circles their works are deeply admired, and others have a general appreciation of their works, but have not connected with them as much as the classic operatic styles. “[T]here is a gnawing insufficiency to much of what passes for melody in contemporary opera, a derivative, second-hand sense of postmodernist pastiche that is often clever, even impressively accomplished, but rarely absorbing and barely satisfying.”65 For example, Menotti is viewed as a composer who was influenced by Puccini, but he was drawn to smaller compositions and musical styles.
As a result, he created a tonality closer to musical forms of Romanticism while still maintaining newer concepts of harmonics, but the scale of his work was diminutive comparatively. Audiences respected Menotti’s operas, but did not seek after them with the same reverence as a Puccini opera. Works like The Medium, by Menotti, created a climate in which works were appreciated, but they weren’t necessarily loved.
Contemporary composers and opera goers found themselves in a hard place.
“Buffeted by popular music’s perceived banality on one side and modern music’s relentless lack of melody on the other, there was one path of escape – backward, in time and tone, to the reassuring changelessness of the expired grand-opera tradition embodied by Puccini, along with his dead French, Russian and German counterparts, from Bizet through Tchaikovsky, up to and including Wagner.”66
While contemporary opera is continually regaining its footing in the mainstream opera repertoire, one element is holding it back: the separation of opera and musical
65 Singer, “Curtain.” 66 Philip Kennicott, “Text Message,” Opera News 73 no. 2 (August 2008). http://www. operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2008/8/Features/Text_Message.html
25 theatre. As discussed earlier, the American musical is an extension of opera. The concepts including tonality, musical structure, and plots, are a passed down tradition.
Unfortunately, somewhere during the passage of time, opera alienated itself from musical theatre and broke all ties with the art form. In many circles of the operatic community, musical theatre is viewed as lesser in quality and substance. One could say it is because musical theatre continued to track the influences of the current audience and culture instead of preserving tradition. However, as opera composers in the past once did, they observed their surroundings and reflected that in their works. This was highlighted throughout chapter one to show that the early evolution of opera stemmed from the culture in which it was submerged. It is more likely some of them such as Gay’s The
Beggar’s Opera and Mozart’s Così fan tutte, were considered radical works for their time, but in present day, their operas are considered important works in the development of the art form.
Herein lies the problem. Contemporary opera, although gaining interest, is still struggling in the area of melody with works like Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin and
Lulu by Alban Berg. Audience members are captivated by the experience contemporary opera has created. However, it has not created a foothold to draw audiences into the full music-drama experience. Noting contemporary opera has backed itself in a corner, current composers are exploring other mediums to gain interest – additions of technology, text based opera, visual spectacle – composers are doing everything they can
26 to avoid the idea of seeking the lineage from which opera abdicated. Opera purists67 shun the idea of traversing down a path similar to musical theatre for fear that it will water- down and bring the demise of this beautiful art form. Contemporary composers, still exploring the ideas of tonality, are seeking other avenues to create a musical experience more relatable to today’s audience than operas of the past, but they do not want to move toward a coloring similar to musical theatre. This brings us back to the same idea created in the 1960s of being anti-conventional. Now, it seems as though we are creating an anti- musical medium. Instead of viewing the future of opera as an isolated genre, this art form should return to the path from which it began. Opera should be a music drama that embraces the mediums of text and music to create a heightened emotional and dramatic experience. In order to create that experience, the opera community needs to look into the current trends of today. This does not mean opera will become watered down. This is an opportunity to gain information and build upon the art form.
What if opera had not become an introverted art form during the twentieth century?
Would it still be struggling to find its foothold? Would we be questioning the validity of the art form in relationship to the public? The answer is, no. For centuries, opera was the predominant musical style and due to its popularity many other styles were influenced by
67 There is no set group of opera purists, but there are those that want to maintain the structure of opera, and that can encompass set design, costumes, orchestration, amplification, etc. An example can be taken from Matt Dobkin’s book when discussing New York City opera’s decision to install an amplification system. “Opera purists are going out of their minds over this development. The whole point of operatic singing is that it’s natural, unamplified…I find myself agreeing that if opera is amplified, it won’t take long for it to turn its back on tradition and enter the realm of the Broadway musical.” Matt Dobkin, Getting Opera: A Guide for the Cultured But Confused (New York: Pocket Books, 2000), 64. 27 it. Opera constantly evolved and grew and explored boundaries of human connection. As a genre, contemporary opera has much to offer the community and the arts.
Unfortunately, until it truly breaks down the barriers of an elitist’s art form, it will always be considered highbrow. Contemporary opera will begin to exhaust itself if it cannot find a way to establish itself in the way traditional opera styles are still relevant today.
If Mozart were alive today, would he feel the same way about musical theatre or rock music the way opera purists do? It is my opinion he would not. He was in-tune with the interests of the public, and it is revealed in his operas. Composers of the past sought after innovations that revealed themselves in the social world in which they lived. If one style of music became popular, such as opera comique or ballad opera, composers would borrow from these innovations to make it their own or would see ways to expand upon the art form and make it better. For example, Kurt Weill stated about the future of opera in America,
“the musical taste of the general public is better here [in New York] than in many
other countries…What will grow [here] is hard to say, for there is no sort of
tradition…Whether the growth will be opera in the European sense or music theatre
in the broader sense, an amalgam or word and tone bearing a new idea, it is certain
that it will be an active, vital part of the modern theatre, that dramatists and
composers will cooperate in its creation, that from the plentiful supply of young
singers a generation of singer-performers will emerge…It may be that music theatre
will rise out of Broadway. There are already many starting points for a new kind of
musical comedy…It is also possible that the few existing operatic institutions will
take the lead and start a development…Perhaps the resurgence that the
Metropolitan had experienced in recent years is the first indication that American
composers will be able to create operas in the spirit of our own time for the great
group of singers in that institution.”68
In looking to composers of the past, it is unfortunate to see how excited they were for the possibility, the potential, of the art form. Yet, today, classical music is doing everything it can to preserve the genre by isolation, which is a complete contrast to the works we have come to admire. Opera in America was finding its footing and musicals were being explored as an extension of what was happening, not a deviation from opera.
One was not considered dominant over the other. Both were embraced with the opportunity to find a voice in America since the tradition had yet to be established. I do not believe composers of the past anticipated such a divide to take place. America was the place of opportunity, freedom, and expression; conflict and division was not part of the American vision. “The cross-pollination of genre and discipline shouldn’t be dreaded by opera and musical purists; it’s the only way for music theater to thrive. If there is an
American aesthetic, it’s all-embracing—and expects the unexpected.”69
In order for both genres to thrive, recognition of balance between the genres should come to pass. As Duke Ellington said, “There are only two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.” If both musical theatre and opera are producing good works, and if either has an opportunity to improve in a way where the other is thriving, then a need to learn and expand is in order. In some ways, the conflict of opera and musical theatre does
68 Weill, The Future, 187-88. 69 LaChiusa, “Genre Confusion,” 73. 29 not lay in the difference, but in the similarities. There is a fine dividing line between the two. Each is pursuing a music drama heightened by an interplay of music and text. The variable is that opera leans toward the music and musical theatre, the text. The division between the two is thin, but it has created an area of contention. “This explains why for centuries opera-goers have revered works written in languages they do not speak. Though supertitles have revolutionized the art form, many buffs grew up without this innovation and loved opera anyway. As long as you basically know what is going on and what is more or less being said, you can be swept away by a great opera, not just by the music, but by visceral drama.”70
Understanding the foundation of opera is grounded in placing the focus on the music, contemporary opera has created a dilemma in avoiding that exact foundation - seeking out a tonality easily embraced by the general public and basing the intent in the music. In contrast, contemporary opera is exploring the ideas of text and how the music can support the text as seen in Libby Larsen’s Clair de Lune. This concept then brings the cycle full circle. If opera focuses on music and musical theatre on text, how can one glean from the other and yet remain two separate genres that are at odds? In the pursuit of opera exploring text, it has stepped away from lush melodies and merged toward music functioning as a means to match the inflection of text. In many ways, this breaks down the tonality, which has become a key factor in labeling opera.
If the American opera audience can grasp the text but isn’t moved by the music, the
70 Andrew Clements, “Opera in The Modern Age,” The Guardian August 19, 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/aug/20/opera-in-the-modern-age (accessed June 1, 2015). 30 listener is missing out on the visceral experience they expect. The same goes for someone attending a musical with great music and a subpar text, they will miss out on the connection of the text. The line is thin, but the divide runs deep between opera and musical theatre. It is unfortunate that as a modern society there is still this idea of either/or. “When crossover offends the nose, as it so often does, the rot lies not in a name but in a thing.”71 To consider the idea of dissolving the concept of either/or when referring to opera and musical theatre does not mean they should dissipate and become one genre. Both genres have much to learn from the other in regard to tonality, ability to set text, orchestration, acting, and more.
Despite the prolonged social condemning of musical theatre as a lesser art form in the larger opera community, some opera houses in the United States and in Europe are starting to realize musicals may be able to find a place in the operatic repertoire.
Presently, the addition of a musical may be purely for financial reasons, and even if that is the case, the public is embracing it. There is still debate about opera companies “selling out” by adding musical theatre to their season. This idea is still considered taboo.
However, as it has been expressed earlier in this chapter, opera companies may need to add lighter, classical musical theatre styles to their season not only for ticket sales, but to fill the gap while contemporary opera evaluates how it wants to evolve as an art form.
From a production standpoint, it is interesting to note the success of traditional musical theatre in comparison to present day contemporary opera. A search on
71 Matthew Gurewitsch, “The Crossover Question.” Opera News 69 no. 4 (October 2004). http://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2004/10/Features/ The_ Crossover_Question.html (accessed June 1, 2015). 31 www.operabase.com selecting eight shows from traditional musicals and operettas spanning from 2013-2016 being performed in the United States and abroad revealed a stark contrast when compared to the most popular works of five living, contemporary composers with an expanded search of 2010-2016.72
Traditional Musicals and Operettas performed from 2013-2016 were:
Johan Strauss’s Die Fledermaus - 1,345 performances
Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow - 642 performances
Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd - 147 performances
Richard Rogers’s The Sound of Music - 108 performances
Leonard Bernstein’s Candide - 98 performances
Richard Rogers’s Carousel - 92 performances
Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance - 79 performances
Jerome Kern’s Show Boat - 52 performances
Contemporary Operas performed from 2010-2016 written by the top five opera composers were:73
Philip Glass’s The Fall of the House of the Usher - 18 performances
Peter Davies’s The Lighthouse - 14 performances
Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking - 11 performances
John Adams’s Nixon in China - 13 performances
72 http://operabase.com/oplist.cgi?lang=en&ask=t (accessed June 6, 2015). 73 http://operabase.com/visual.cgi?lang=en&splash=t (accessed June 6, 2015). 32
Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio - 19 performances
Even when totaling all of Philip Glass’s74 operas performed from 2010-2016, the performances from all of his operas add up to 79. One could argue the lower performance totals are a result of the contemporary operas being less familiar than the musicals and operettas performed in the opera houses. Yet, when looking back at the introduction of each of the operettas and musicals listed, they were far more successful when they premiered compared to the six year time span of the contemporary operas.
In looking at the statistics, one can see there is still a divide taking place between twentieth century opera and operas from 1600-1900. This does not mean measures are not being taken to bridge the divide. Composers are exploring the ideas of text-driven opera, believing audiences are craving an opera, which gives them a work the ears can comprehend. “If text-driven opera is the future…the effects in the opera house could be profound. If operas are text-driven, audiences need to understand the texts, which may be all but impossible in very large opera houses, especially if the text is complex.”75 Libby
Larson proposes there is a solution for this problem, but does not believe the opera world is ready for it - the use of amplification, microphones, as an aid to clarify and enhance the text.76 In suggesting the aid of amplification, this would not mean all of opera should be amplified, but at least her works or other twenty-first century works trying to pursue a
74 Philip Glass is ranked number one as a living composer with the highest number of works performed to date. 75 Philip Kennicott, “Text Message,” Opera News 73 no. 2 (August 2008) http://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2008/8/Features/Text_Message.html (accessed June 1, 2015). 76 Ibid. 33 text-driven approach to composition.
The addition of amplification could be a means to clarify barriers surrounding contemporary opera, but in any case, it brings one back to the opposite end of the spectrum - melody. In John Corigliano’s production of The Ghosts of Versailles, he intertwined various styles to evoke a blended musical work ranging from classical to contemporary. One piece, the quartet “Come Now, My Darling” was a perfect example of a classical style with a text set in English. Unfortunately, the text was almost incomprehensible due to the tessitura of the pitches. The melody was stunning and captivating, which falls in line with the opera style. Nevertheless, knowing the work was set in English, American audiences wanted to not only experience the music, but also to understand the words that went with it. Were the text set in a foreign language, a different expectation may have resulted, creating an alternate performance experience with the only supposition of being captivated by the music.
In exploring the differing elements of contemporary opera, venturing into the concepts of text or melody, it is apparent there is a need to link the two together instead of choosing one idea or the other. In order to remedy this situation, a simple solution exists - picking up the pieces and integrating elements of an art form that stemmed from opera: musical theatre. Again, this is not to say contemporary opera will lessen as an art form, in fact it will be significantly enhanced. Contemporary opera is avoiding the elephant in the room by doing everything in its power to not acknowledge that musical theatre concepts may be the missing piece to the tonality conundrum. Musical theatre
“absorbed the best parts of opera tradition—specifically, the most important component
34 of music theatre: drama unfolding through song. There would be no Sweeney Todd had
American audiences not long ago accepted characters onstage telling their stories in song.
The American musical absorbed the European operetta; it embraced a variety of immigrant theater and music and dance from all cultures that found a home in this country.”77
In seeing the dropping numbers of ticket sales in opera across the United States, it is apparent the public is craving something more. Only experiencing traditional opera produces suspended stagnation of the art form. Contemporary opera is creating emotional experiences, but is not reaching the same magnitude of heightened music drama as older styles. As a result, opera goers are becoming more open to musicals; the language and story is something uniquely American, and the music phrasing supports the text in a way that enhances the drama, creating a fulfilling performance experience. In today’s social and economic climate, one can no longer ignore the exploration of varying styles gradually taking place in opera houses across the United States. Companies are starting to realize early musicals are the missing link between Romantic opera and twentieth century anti-opera. One’s willingness to experiment with varying styles during a performance season, to stay relevant and funded, is proof that the integration is a perfect and needed fit.
Performing in overlapping genres does not mean opera singers should now sing
Dames at Sea in an operatic style; that would not be appropriate. Nor is this to meld musical theatre and opera into one genre. This is an opportunity to acknowledge that both
77 LaChiusa, “Genre Confusion.” 35 styles have the ability to coexist and borrow from one another. This shift will create a fruitful advancement within each genre and will lift the stigma upon the education and dissemination of information surrounding musical theatre. In order for contemporary opera and musical theatre to thrive, more emphasis needs to be placed upon the technique of being a versatile singer capable of performing works by Stravinsky, Sondheim, and
Mozart rather than isolating training to one area alone.
Chapter 3: Tools of Musical Theatre for the Opera Singer
Across the board, opera attendance has suffered at even the most prestigious companies. For example, the city known for containing the best opera in the United
States, “New York City Opera went out of business after 70 years. The Metropolitan
Opera reported [in the 2013-2014 season] it sold only 69 percent of its total potential box revenue…the lowest in years. That figure has generally hovered around 80 percent for much of the past decade.”78 This period of financial instability affects not only the opera houses, but also the singers they hire to perform in the operas.
Not only does the job of the opera singer extend far beyond the trained voice to sing operatic repertoire, but involves the history of each work, performance practice concepts, language study, and more. Due to the industry’s instability, it is necessary for singers to keep their finger on the pulse of the field in which they want to work. What are opera houses offering in future performance seasons? Does the singer’s voice type match the works being performed? What are the budgets of the houses? How can the singer secure enough work to balance travel expenses, role preparation, and every day living expenses?
78 David Belcher, “Musical or Opera,” The New York Times March 26, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/arts/international/opera-companies-turn-to- musicals.html?_r=0 (accessed June 1, 2015).
Singing is not only an artistic form of expression, but a career and way to make a living.
It is a fine line to maintain the balance of creating art and achieving financial stability. It would be naïve for today’s opera singer not to be aware of the progression of this art form. To stay relevant as an artist, one must be cognizant of the past, present, and future of the medium in which one wants to work. Performing is constantly in flux. Contracts come and go, which means it is invaluable for a performer to stay one step ahead of the last paycheck to continue making a living.
In accepting responsibility to be aware of the current economic and artistic climate happening in today’s opera houses, it is necessary for opera singers to establish flexibility in varied styles to balance the demands of traditional opera and the addition of musical theatre repertoire to suit the season’s billing. For opera singers hesitant to explore the musical theatre genre, Anthony Freud, general artistic director of Lyric Opera Chicago, mentioned a key element to keep in mind and discussed the integration of musical theatre productions in their repertoire. Freud stated, “The vast majority of musicals are not appropriate to opera companies, but there are a small number of titles that are enhanced by the skill and scale of an opera house. I see it as an inherent part of our output. I don’t see doing ‘The Sound of Music’ with any less professionalism than in doing La
Traviata.”79 As observed, the integration of musicals in the opera house is not to cause a dissolving of opera or to “stress out” the performer to learn an entirely new genre but to embrace the expansion of works stylistically appropriate to the opera house.
For the opera singer thinking about doing crossover work, a great place to start is
79 Belcher, ‘Musical or Opera.’ 38 listening to a variety of shows from different eras to decide what one likes and what sounds vocally possible. For example, if a singer listened to Next to Normal80 and liked the music but found the style of singing beyond the scope of where he or she wanted to go vocally, that would help to gain appreciation for a style, but designate better parameters for what to sing and what not to sing. If musicals are completely unfamiliar, listening to a variety of shows is key. With the accessibility of YouTube, Pandora,
Spotify, and more, there are many ways to gain access to recordings of Broadway musicals. The way to discover one’s flexibility in a neighboring genre is by listening to earlier works stemming from the operatic structure. Operettas like Pirates of Penzance or traditional musicals, such as Carousel are great places to start. Once one gains some familiarity in the varying styles of musicals, it is possible to decide how far “outside of the box” one may want to cross train based upon one’s own natural abilities and interests.
In order to sing musical theatre, it is important for a singer to understand his or her voice and how much he or she wants to branch out in either genre. This becomes a key factor since a musical performed in an opera house and one performed in a musical theatre house will have different stylistic approaches to the same work. Some may find they have a relatively easy time adapting to musical theatre styles while others may want to narrow the focus between genres. This will help the transition from opera to musical gigs and vice versa. No matter how much a singer decides to expand his or her crossover study, it is necessary for the singer to understand one’s instrument, know the varying
80 Next to Normal falls under the category of contemporary musical theatre and requires a definitive belt/mix quality. This would not be an advisable show for a crossover artist, but it represents a great example to show how a singer can like a style, but may not be able to pursue it given the vast differences between vocal demands. 39 style requirements, and sing the music in an accurate and healthy manner.
When establishing the concept of musical theatre being an extension of opera, rather than a contrast, the idea of training is brought up. Most voice training is gleaned from the perspective of a classical music format; anything deviating from it is not healthy singing, or so it has been thought for many years. Looking from the perspective of a classical approach, if an opera singer tried to perform Elphaba from Wicked, she would more than likely have a difficult time adapting into the style given how high one must use a belt/mix up to F5.81 Please note: the opera singer deciding to sing a role such as
Elphaba is making an extreme style shift that would require a significant amount of training outside of the classical style. This example is to highlight how one style of training will not benefit a musical theatre singer. This does not suggest musical theatre singing is unhealthy. Instead, it suggests the style requires a different approach. A similar situation would exist if a coloratura soprano went from singing, “Batti, Batti,” from Don
Giovanni to a dramatic soprano piece like, “Elizabeth’s Aria,” from Tannhauser.
Although both roles are from the classical repertoire and both are soprano roles, vocally speaking, the singer would not have the stamina or the skill set to healthily perform the aria, let alone the entire role. Healthy training does not equate to the ability to sing anything. Any change in vocal study requires the skill set to go with it; otherwise, the individual will not be able to adapt to the changes necessary. For the sake of expanding
81 There is a form of standard notation that designates each new octave, beginning with C1 at the bottom of the keyboard and ending with C8 at the top of the keyboard. All pitches within each octave will have the same corresponding number. C4, otherwise known as middle C, is in the middle of the keyboard. An example of a scale would be: C4, D4, E4, F4, G4, A4, B4, C5, and so on. 40 analogies, the same applies to running. A sprinter and a long distance runner both run, but the training is different. They can both be considered runners, but their specialization is the variable. Both are required to do some sort of cross training to maintain flexibility, long runs vs. short runs, interval training, etc., but each runner has an area which is stronger than the other. It takes time and dedication for a runner to understand the mechanics of his or her body and where his or her personal interests lie in dedicating to an activity.
For the opera singer and voice teacher helping the singer, this brings to light the concept of function versus style.82 To lift the blemish casting musical theatre as the lesser genre, one must seek out the function of the voice to find the parameters of how much the singer can and wants to expand. This pertains to the singer only wanting to sing opera or musical theatre as much as it pertains to the singer wanting to perform both. The root of all singing is based upon function. One should have an understanding of registration, breath support, anatomy, etc. However, one’s understanding of breath is not based on a person’s ability to sing classical music. The parameters of breath need to be adapted in classical singing to meet the demands of sustaining an aria like “Un bel di vedremo” from
Madama Butterfly in the same way the breath needs to be adapted for a singer wanting to belt “Always Starting Over” from If/Then. At the foundational level, both styles need an awareness of an appoggio breath.83 However, the engagement of the breath will be
82 Concept stated by Jeanette LoVetri at the Contemporary Commercial Music Institute held at Shenandoah University, 2015. 83 This refers to balanced breathing. The Italian word appoggio means lean on. In breathing, it is necessary to have a balanced antagonism of the muscles within the thoracic and abdomen to control the air pressure. 41 completely different. This does not make one better than the other, but means the breath was modified to meet the needs of the style. This is the variable of style.
In looking at the focus of singing from a functional standpoint, this can help the beginning crossover opera singer navigate how much one wants to expand based on one’s ability to adapt to varying styles while maintaining a healthy function. Some may find it easier to explore different registration concepts. The singer who has an easier time extending chest register and merging into a chest mix/head mix may be the singer to verge into mid-century golden age theatre (Babes in Arms, The Boys from Syracuse, Pal
Joey). The singer who does not gravitate toward an extended chest register, but feels comfortable adapting head mix into his or her singing would be more inclined to veer towards more traditional musical theatre styles (Rosalina, The Merry Widow, Naughty
Marietta). This same perspective is used when placing a classical singer into a Fach.84 A young lyric soprano will gravitate towards roles such as Micaëla from Carmen, Susanna from Le nozze di Figaro or Liù from Turandot. This same soprano may be interested in dramatic soprano roles like Cio-Cio San from Madama Butterfly, Desdemona from Otello or Donna Anna from Don Giovanni, but the singer may not be ready to sustain these roles. One may have access to the pitches necessary to sing the role, but not yet possess the stamina, or the size of the instrument may not be able to project efficiently enough to meet the acoustic demands of the role. As time progresses, the singer’s instrument may take a different path - one cannot predict how hormones, aging, and vocal training will
84 Fach is a German term referring to voice categories. Generally speaking, the categories are: soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass. Within each category is a sub-division to specify which repertoire, in each Fach, is most appropriate to the individual singer. 42 affect the voice. It is possible to have a concept of the voice based on a singer’s range, size of the instrument, timbre, vocal flexibility, and other characteristics, but as one trains, those parameters can begin to shift.
In continuing the discussion of tools necessary for the crossover opera singer, the concepts in this paper will be focused on the female singer. This is not to suggest that crossover work is not relevant for men. However, the research on male musical theatre performers has not been developed to the extent that it has for female musical theatre performers.85 Research also suggests that men have an easier time adapting between styles since men stay in one register for a wider pitch range. This may be another reason why not as much research has been conducted.86 There is opportunity for research in this area. However, since the basis of this document is to find areas to integrate opera and musical theatre, and knowing women have a more difficult time adapting to different styles based upon registration shifts, the concepts in this chapter will be geared toward the female singer. From an industry standpoint, the male singer will still be able to glean information from this chapter based on stylistic differences.
It should also be stated there will not be as much of a division pertaining to Fach.
In current musical theatre, performers are expected to sing all ranges and all styles. The dividing lines are being blurred on voice parts. Most casting notices refer to ranges or styles wanted versus the separation of soprano versus mezzo. For example, at
Backstage.com, casting notices may list the want of a high belter, a low belter, a belt/mix
85 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 65. 86 Tracy Bourne, Maeva Garnier, and Diana Kenny, “Music Theatre Voice: Production, Physiology, and Pedagogy,” Journal of Singing 67 no. 4 (March/April 2011): 441. 43 with a legit extension, traditional legit, etc., but few reference the exact voice type.87 The listing that does specify voice part such as, “soprano with a belt mix,” will still fall under a different classification from a classically trained soprano. For example, a recent posting on Backstage.com asked for a soprano with a strong rock mix/belt and the range was from G#3-D5.88 From a classical perspective, this range is much smaller than the typical soprano repertoire. For musical theatre, this is a justifiable classification. It should be noted, however, a role requiring a mix/belt up to D5 would be beyond the scope of the typical crossover opera singer, but to demonstrate the different terms used for voice classification, this is a beneficial example.
Knowing the parameters of one’s voice lays the groundwork toward the repertoire of the singer. This highlights the concept of function. If the singer knows his or her voice and what feels comfortable, the singer will know the range and style that suits him or her best. For this document, the predominant focus will be geared toward the opera singer exploring musical theatre styles closer in proximity to opera, but it is important to recognize there are stylistic differences for the opera singer wanting to pursue legit musicals in musical theatre houses versus opera houses.
Musical theatre can be divided into four main categories: traditional legit, contemporary legit, traditional belt, and contemporary belt.89 For the crossover opera
87 Warren Freeman, Kathryn Green, and Philip Sargent, “Deciphering the Vocal Demands for Today’s Broadway Leading Ladies,” Journal of Singing 71 no. 4 (March/April 2015): 492. 88 http://www.backstage.com/casting/little-shop-of-horrors-88680/audrey- 334319/#seeking (accessed September 20, 2015). 89 Robert Edwin, “A Broader Broadway,” Journal of Singing 59 no. 5 (May/June 2003): 431. 44 singer, traditional legit and contemporary legit would be an easier stylistic adjustment.
“Legit is Broadway shorthand for ‘legitimate,’ which refers to singing in a classical-like style. Among other things, the vocal tone will have chiaroscuro90 fullness…Traditional legit favors a sound that is decidedly classical in nature and is heard in many of the pre-
1960s musicals. Contemporary legit is less formal and more speech-like in sound. It can maintain some of the classical requirements such as vibrato from onset to release, chiaroscuro, and sostenuto, but can also include pop and rock-influenced sounds.”91 It is also worth noting when revivals of older legit shows are produced, a contemporary legit sound may be preferred over the traditional legit sound;92 then again, it also depends on the house in which the work is being performed. The house that puts on mainly musical theatre will want the contemporary legit style, while the opera house will want more of the traditional legit sound. This is an important element for the crossover opera singer to consider when preparing a musical theatre audition.
The defining difference between musical theatre and classical singing can be broken down into the balance of chest and head registers. “In the simplest of terms, female music theatre singing requires more use of chest register, especially in the middle register, (the middle-C octave), while classical singing uses more head register throughout the entire vocal range.”93 For the crossover opera singer comfortable singing contemporary legit musicals, it will be necessary to learn how to extend chest register
90 Chiaroscuro is a term taken from the visual arts which means light/dark. In classical singing one should strive for a balance of light and dark. 91 Edwin, A Broader, 431. 92 Edwin, A Broader, 31. 93 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 69. 45 beyond the natural shift of E4. In musical theatre, the clarity and communication of the text is the most important element. In order to enhance the text in musical theater, belting emerged in the twentieth century to project the unamplified voice in the middle, speech oriented range.94 The crossover opera singer that pursues contemporary legit musicals may not need to belt, but should spend time developing chest into a “mix” register.
Keeping the idea of text in mind, the mix/belt is used to extend the speaking voice, which is the communicative voice. Some pedagogues state a classical “mix” is a blend of chest and head register with head register being dominant95 and musical theatre is a blend of chest and head register with chest register being dominant.96 It is my opinion, although both classifications exist, each has the opportunity to overlap. For example, “Good Night
My Someone,” from the Music Man requires more of a head mix versus a chest mix sound. The chest mix would stop around E4 and then transition into head mix; otherwise, the song would have a coloring closer to, “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No,” from
Oklahoma! which would be stylistically inappropriate. In a similar way, Fiordilligi’s aria,
“Come Scoglio,” from Cosi fan tutte requires an extension of chest mix into the E4/F4 region to maneuver the various register shifts the aria requires. If the aria were sung predominantly in head mix, it would not have the same dramatic effect. Highlighting the concept of “mix” demonstrates not only stylistic differences required between genres, but also the similarities as well.
It is important to recognize in some contemporary legit musicals such as Les
94 Christianne Roll, “The Evolution of Female Broadway Belt Voice: Implications for Teachers and Singers,” Journal of Voice (forthcoming): 1. 95 Richard Miller, Training Tenor Voices (New York: Schirmer Books, 1992), 3. 96 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 71. 46
Misérables, Into the Woods, and Man of La Mancha, there will be an overlapping of legit, mix, and belting roles. Roles such as Eponine (Les Misérables), The Baker’s Wife (Into the Woods), and Aldonza (Man of La Mancha) are for the singer comfortable extending her belt or carrying chest mix beyond F4. It should also be noted that this type of opera singer is willing to embrace more cross training. This goes back to the idea of a singer having the ability to sing a pitch healthily in a mix or belt but possibly not having the stamina to sing those roles. It is my opinion if the crossover opera singer pursues roles like those mentioned above, a chest mix is preferred over a belt.97 A true belt would be along the lines of Patti Lupone’s rendition of “Anything Goes” from Anything Goes.98 In the same vein, roles like Cosette (Les Misérables), and Cinderella (Into the Woods) may be more appropriate while the role of Aldonza may be fitting depending on the house99 performing Man of La Mancha.
The operatic soprano wanting to pursue a classical track will typically transition from chest around C4 into chest mix until E4, into head mix around F4, and head register around E5/F5. The operatic soprano who feels comfortable doing crossover work following a traditional/contemporary legit track will need to take the time to adjust the
97 Pursuing more training in a belt style would be for the opera singer desiring to branch out more in the musical theatre genre for personal interests as well as professional reasons. As with any singing style, even within genres, it takes time to adjust. For example, a singer transitioning from Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro would need time to adapt the muscle memory for the role of Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff. Both works fall under the genre of opera, but each is from a different stylistic period requiring different vocal demands. 98 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW_sd4GYsR4 (accessed September 10, 2015). 99 A house that produces musical theatre or opera will have noted characteristic differences between the two. The musical theatre house will want more of a belt quality, where the opera house would want more of a chest mix stopping closer to E4. 47 standard vocal parameters and allow chest until E4 followed by at chest mix into A4, followed by a head mix around B4, and head register around F5.100 No matter the configuration of transition, an understanding of one’s own voice needs to be acknowledged.
This falls under the guidelines of recognizing which registration is needed and more importantly, how to transition between registers. Acknowledging how to balance registration will be an aid to ensure vocal health and longevity of one’s career, no matter the style of singing pursued. A singer with a naturally lighter voice may be more comfortable in a head mix and someone with a darker sound may be more at ease with a chest mix. The use of registration can also influence the timbre of the voice, which has an impact on what roles would be appropriate for the singer. For example, if a crossover singer approached the role, Laurie, from Oklahoma! with a darker color, it would work if the musical were produced in an opera house. If the singer sang the same way for a musical theatre company producing Oklahoma! the vocal coloring would be more suited for the role of Aunt Eller since it creates an older, more mature sound. With that being said, if someone with a darker instrument seeks out a chest mix by pressing out more airflow into the upper mix, the voice will not produce a blended sound when transitioning into the head mix - everything must fall into balance.
In general, breathing will be the same in either genre. Both require a balanced
100 The parameters of belt registration are not included since it falls outside the scope of this document. Those wanting to focus on belting should do it with patience and a guided ear trained in Contemporary Commercial Music styles to make sure healthy muscle memory is created. It should also be acknowledged that depending upon the show, where the show is being performed, and the individual singing the role, the registration framework will be adapted. 48 inhalation expanding the lower rib cage and abdominal cavity—from the front, sides, and back—and a controlled, stable exhale of muscular antagonism, starting from the pelvic floor to resist tightening the chest cavity and neck. Depending upon the style of musical theatre pursued, an adjustment of airflow will be needed. For the classical singer interested in pursuing a chest mix, the airflow needed will be reduced to balance with the chest voice registration. In chest voice, the vocal folds are thicker and closed for a longer period of time, which requires less airflow to reduce pressure under the vocal folds. For a lighter mechanism such as head mix, more airflow is needed since the vocal folds will not be closed as long, creating more of a balance between the amount of time the vocal folds are open and closed. The ability to monitor airflow in a belt/mix will help to reduce pharyngeal tension and aid in the ability to transition between registers. Taking time to recognize the differences between a classical approach to breathing and a musical theatre method of breathing are vital tools in crossover work. The foundational elements are the same in both genres but are used differently in aiding registration. Knowing that a transitional period is needed to adjust between styles, the understanding of breath will reduce the amount of time necessary from one gig to the next.
The opera singer wishing to explore the expansion of chest mix should also consider the alignment of the body in conjunction with modifying the breath. In Karen
Hall’s book, So You Want To Sing Music Theater, Hall states, “One exception to classical alignment is the position of the head: in belting, music theatre singers often tilt their head up slightly to facilitate the upward movement of the larynx. In classical singing, the female also tips her head upward when singing in whistle register (the C7 range).”
The song, “Your Daddy’s Son,” from Ragtime sung by the character, Sarah, is a great example of chest mix transitioning into head mix. Taking weight off of the larynx while going up in pitch helps to maintain a smooth register shift from a chest mix into a head mix.
Due to the adjustments in registration and musical theatre’s desire to gravitate toward a speech-like quality, a difference will be created in tone quality and will be modified by adjusting the articulators: the lips, tongue, and jaw. “Changing the shape of the vowel, in turn changes the color of a sung tone to a more speech-like sound and alters the resonance qualities and space. These vowel adjustments are employed to clarify the text and ensure that the enunciation of the text predominates—it is this change in shape that is perceived by the ear as the brighter, more speech-like sound favored in music theater singing.”101 Depending on the style of the show and where the show is taking place, there may be a need for an adjustment of vowels and mouth shaping. An opera house performing Showboat may want the song “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine” sung with a taller mouth structure, rounder vowels, and consistent vibrato throughout the vocal line. Whereas a musical theater house may want brighter vowels, a more horizontal mouth structure, and less vibrato.
Stemming from the concept of articulation, it is worth commenting on the topic of amplification. For musicals written in the early 1900s through the early 1960s, musicals were unamplified, and required singers to have a strong sensory awareness of resonance for their voices to be heard. It was the addition of rock musicals that tilted the scale and
101 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 73. 50 required performers to wear body microphones. It is now a standard for musicals to be amplified. The opera singer desiring to sing in opera houses and musical theatre houses must have an understanding of how to work with a microphone. The concept of resonance is not the same between the two. “Amplification does not preclude good singing technique. Rather, amplification in music theater venues allows the singer to produce voice in an efficient manner while the sound engineer is effectively able to mix, amplify, and add effects to the voice.”102 The microphone picks up the nuances of the voice, and as a result, if an opera singer produces a sound with the same focus on resonance as is needed in an opera house, the voice will produce a darker timbre with a diction quality further removed from conversational speech. The opera singer is used to creating his or her own amplification system. This is counterproductive to a stylistically appropriate musical theatre sound, which is required in a musical theater house. If the musical is being produced in an opera house, there will typically be no need for a microphone and the singer can rely on one’s use of resonance, unless Libby Larson’s suggestion to amplify text driven opera, at least her operas, becomes a possibility. Until then, opera singers only need to make acoustic adjustments when singing in a house that will require microphones.
In addition to the vocal requirements necessary in pursuing a crossover career, one must think about the physical body beyond the parameters of body alignment and expand upon self-care as well. Singers are unique musicians in the fact that their instrument is housed within the body. The habits we create in our day-to-day lives influence our
102 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 59. This is a quote from contributing author, Speech- Language Pathologist, Dr. Wendy LeBorgne. 51 instrument. As an artist, it is important to create a healthy living environment based on nutrition, mental well-being, and physical maintenance. Comparatively speaking, musical theatre holds a higher commitment to hiring by type both vocally and physically. There is not a musical theatre performer out there who is not aware of their vocal and physical type and, usually, those match. This is not a call to condemn different body types. It is my opinion that all body types should be appreciated, and there is too much pressure from society to conform to an unrealistic standard of beauty. Health does not equate to size. Health includes being physically active, eating well, hydrating, sleeping well, reducing stress, not doing drugs, not smoking, and moderate alcohol use. Being healthy is important for one’s personal well being. It is also a means to preserving a person’s physical type for roles most suited to the individual. This is not stated to create a cookie cutter environment. Different body types give the performing arts the various individuals represented in our culture. We relate to the tall, the short, the thin, and the curvy. We want to see ourselves in the shows we see, and it is important to know which type singers fall into. Some individuals are more suited for comprimario roles/supporting characters.
They are still just as valuable as those who are the ingénue or the leading man. At the end of the day, a paycheck and a résumé credit is still a paycheck and a résumé credit.
In musical theatre, as previously mentioned, those lines are more clearly defined. If someone has a light soprano voice well suited for Maria in West Side Story and her physical appearance does not match the expectations of her type, she will have a harder time pursuing crossover work as an ingénue. In opera, physical type is not as specific, but with the addition of HD Met broadcasts, there is a propensity for physical type casting.
“In today’s operatic reality, stage directors often have the deciding vote on casting. It isn’t just abstract physical beauty, but the appropriateness of the singer’s appearance for a specific role as that director sees it.”103 No matter the appearance, no matter the size, there should be an effort made to be the healthiest version one can be. The way we treat our body affects our vocal instrument.
While taking care of one’s physical being, it is also worthwhile to take dance classes. After the successful run of West Side Story and its integration of a dance heavy musical, it became a standard to have dancing in musicals. In the musical theatre field there is a thin line between singers who dance and dancers who sing. Moreover, it is becoming a standard to veer toward the dancer who sings, which is why it is important for anyone wanting to pursue some type of musical theatre, whether traditional or contemporary, to have some type of dance training. Ballet is a wonderful place to learn dance terms and increase flexibility since many dance calls are spent marking through the dance routines while talking through the steps needed. If a knowledge of the steps are known, going from a marked rehearsal to a fully performed dance audition will not be a problem. The addition of jazz, ballroom, and if available, a musical theatre style dance class would be highly beneficial to build muscle memory in the body to be prepared for a dance call at an audition. Tap and modern dance are valuable classes to attend, but those classes would be more suitable to the crossover singer wanting to make more of a career adjustment toward musical theatre. Stylistically, tap and modern would fall into more dance heavy musicals. There may also be an opera composed in the near future that will
103 Robert C. White and Lenore Rosenberg, “Reality Check! Training for an Operatic Career,” Journal of Singing, 64 no. 2 (November/December 2007): 190. 53 require tap dancing; the realm of possibility is endless. Opera does not place as strong of a focus upon dancing, but there are operas that have ballroom dance moments integrated into the score. An opera singer may not be looked down upon for not dancing, but it would make the singer more marketable for an opera with dancing implemented in the libretto or the crossover singer auditioning for a traditional legit musical that requires light movement.104
In addition to singing and dancing, the crossover opera singer will need to focus on acting. With the importance of text comes the ability to not only convey the emotion through the voice but through speech inflection and body language. Some may argue that opera singers have an awareness of acting and how to interact on stage. Nevertheless, the intensity of training for the opera singer is far more focused on the singing versus the acting. In contrast, musical theatre programs have a stronger integration of acting training opposed to singing. This highlights the reason a subpar musical theatre singer might be hired for a musical due to his or her acting being so convincing and also the reason an opera singer with less than ideal acting, but a phenomenal voice, is hired for an operatic role.
One of the main rationales behind the tessitura105 of the American musical being lowered in the 1940s and 1950s was to write music which brought out the clarity of the text. This aided in the ability to write storylines for more realistic characters to which the
104 There are musical theatre auditions that have a mover’s call and a dancer’s call. The mover’s call is geared toward the person that can dance, but does not consider himself or herself a strong dancer. This is the new classification stemming from “singers who dance” because in today’s musical theatre, everyone dances. 105 Tessitura refers to the range of notes suited to each voice type. 54 audience could relate and to give a stronger emphasis on vocal expression versus vocal beauty.106 The enticement of this music was enhanced by the emotional expression of the characters. It was this marker which began to set musical theatre apart from opera and has continued to draw larger audiences for decades. While exploring concepts of vocal coloring in the voice, it is highly advisable to take acting classes to learn how to communicate text in song and dialogue.
There are a variety of acting techniques available to singers and actors.107
Whichever one a singer decides to pursue, and hopefully the singer will explore more than one style, the focus will be on the text and ways to embody the story in an honest and true fashion. For the opera singer, there is a thin separation between emotional expression and staying true to the music. For musical theatre performers, if the vocal line is occasionally inhibited due to a surge of emotion, the music drama is considered enhanced and more relatable. If the same happened on the opera stage, it could potentially be considered a distraction from the music drama. This creates a slim division between opera singers and musical theatre singers. This does not mean the musical theatre performer should strive to breakdown in tears in order to sabotage the vocal line for the sake of emotion. What this does mean is the musical theatre singer is present and open to the text and what is happening in the moment. If the vocal line is distorted while
106 Bourne, “Music Theater Voice,” 437. 107 Stanislavski System, Lee Strasberg Method, Meisner Technique, Stella Adler, Practical Aesthetics, and Michael Chekhov Technique are some of the more popular acting schools. University acting programs typically branch out into a variety of these styles to equip their students with a combination of acting approaches. There are also acting classes available to those post-academia that want to take a specialized class in acting. 55 staying true to the story and the character, then this is a byproduct of the moment. But, this should not be the desired goal when performing on stage since this will create an affected performance not a genuine one. “There are principles from actor training that are highly valuable for singers to know. For example, when classical singers consider the acting dimension, the word emotion or emotional tends to come up immediately, and in some cases, the word gesture is also operative. Actors and musical theatre singers, on the other hand, tend to come from a different direction and speak of objective, intention, and tactics.”108
In opera, the predominant focus is given to the musical line, the focus of the tone and orchestration that supports the music. The text is an important component, but music is there to heighten the emotional drama. Opera singers may have an awareness of the text and storyline, but it can sometimes be diminished in an effort to convey the character of the music. This goes back to the idea that audiences attend opera to be swept up in the music, which is why audiences do not mind operas in a foreign language. However, if they know the work will be in their native language, they want to be engulfed by the music drama and the text. “Once a lyric is fully analyzed and understood in dramatic context, then the singer can pair it back with the music, and often find deeper ways that the music supports or informs the text, leading to a richer and more deeply felt performance.”109
In addition to acting in song, crossover opera singers should also take time to work
108 Joan Melton, Singing in Musical Theatre: The Training of Singers and Actors (New York: Allworth Press, 2007), 212. 109 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 122. 56 on the speaking voice. Singers may use a wide range when singing, but can often fall into a trap of speaking in a narrowed head register dominated sound that creates a speaking voice that is perceived as sung and unnatural. This connects the concepts of registration in song, and the importance of understanding registration in speech as well. Singers must learn how to understand what they are saying, know what they feel about what they are saying, and convey it in a way that is relatable to the audience. This demands the singer to have a grounded connection to self not only as the singer performing on stage, but the person—the character performing on stage.
A 1989 article in the New Yorker written by Ethan Mordden discusses the idea of crossover singing. Referring to a recording of West Side Story with Kiri Te Kanawa and
José Carreras singing the parts of Maria and Tony, Mordden states, “Te Kanawa and
Carreras sound terribly senior—so assured, such professional velvet. The opera singers couldn’t even be trusted to deliver their own dialogue; Bernstein’s children were called in, and the change in vocal quality from speakers to singers and back upsets the fragility, the nocturne quality of the “Tonight” scene.”110 As Mordden mentions, the talented opera singers were not lacking in vocal skill with their “professional velvet” voices, but they were lacking in connection to the meaning of the text.
Opera singers should not only be accountable to the music; the emotional connection to the text is also a vital element. Perhaps, if Te Kanawa and Carreras had experimented with finding the meaning within the text itself, they may have found a deeper meaning in the score and with their characters. They may have even felt
110 Ethan Mordden, “’Show Boat’ Crosses Over,” The New Yorker (July 3, 1989): 89. 57 comfortable enough to speak their own dialogue, which would have more than likely given a more relatable, personable quality to the recording. “Too many singers clearly do not understand the importance of the text. They’re so consumed by the vocal and musical elements that they forget that the text is the predominant language of dramatic communication, not just sounds to vocalize on…[T]he whole reason for a song in a musical is that a character must express a strong emotion or idea. Yes, both the music and vocal melody participate crucially to that end…but for the vast majority of songs, the words supply most of the emotional and intellectual context and content, and must be the starting point for the singer’s understanding of the song.”111
For the crossover opera singer, the concept of text study not only in song, but also as spoken dialogue may be the hardest aspect to adjust to while pursuing musical theatre.
Being grounded in the ability to communicate text, in speech, gives an extra element of bodily connection to the words and how those words affect a person. It is not enough just to say words or sing words; one must know what the words mean and how to convey those words with intention. This idea should be as relevant to opera as it is to musical theatre. The composers and librettists of opera and musical theatre were intentional in what they put together for the performers as a guide to recreate the vision they put on paper.
Whether singing Mimi in La Bohème or Mimi in Rent, today’s audience wants
“singer-actors who are confident enough in their musicianship, and their technique to be
111 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 121. 58 able to develop a much wider spectrum of color, timbre, style, and resonance.”112 In exploring the skills necessary to pursue a crossover career in opera and musical theatre, one element permeates either genre: the ability to communicate. Audiences are wanting more than the grand musical experience, the visual spectacle, or a commanding monologue. Audiences are craving the full package. They want to be swept away in the experience; to feel immersed in the story as though they could be a part of the action themselves. “The undeniable fact is that the creators of American musicals from
Showboat to West Side Story…took over from operetta the task of pleasing an audience unconditionally, and they did so – the best of them – not by offering pap but by introducing into musical theatre dramatically powerful plots, clearly etched characterization, dialogue of wit, humor, and lifelikeness, situations with tragic as well as comic overtones, and above all song that married text to music in an increasingly sensitive and emotionally connected way.”113 This is not to say opera is not on the same tier as musical theatre; it is. There is a grand story and deeply rooted plot of human connection dripping from each note and each word; however, opera does have something to learn in how to convey the deep meaning within the text. For the opera singer pursuing crossover work, text study will help to gain tools to pursue a career in musical theatre, whether in the opera house or the musical theatre hall. The skills acquired will also enhance the opera singer’s ability to find a deeper meaning and intention with one’s operatic roles.
In looking at ways to explore crossover training, it is imperative to acknowledge a
112 Bawtree, The New Singing Theatre, 172. 113 Bawtree, The New Singing Theatre, 172. 59 shift needs to take place in the education of contemporary commercial singing styles. As much as I can talk about crossover concepts for the opera singer to explore musical theatre styles, if these ideas fall on deaf ears, the art of the crossover singer will not advance, and a continued misunderstanding of the style will endure.
It cannot be repeated enough, a focus on function should be primary in any studio.
Even the beginning opera singer can be misguided in producing an operatic sound by over expanding the oro-pharynx, compressing the larynx in a held down position, and pulling back and down on the tongue root in an effort to sound like an opera singer. This is not to say these habits go unnoticed to the trained ear, but are a byproduct of what we perceive a style to be. Many singers develop these habits which go unobserved because it sounds right. These vocal tract adjustments are against the natural function of the voice and inhibit the realm of possibility when exploring style. When we strip the voice down into the concept of function, we can adjust and use any configuration of the mechanism – tongue, soft palate, larynx, pharynx, breath, body alignment, etc., – in a healthy manner conducive to any style within the natural abilities and desires of the singer.
To date, there is a firm divide between teaching for classical music and teaching for musical theatre, with a negative towards the musical theatre style mainly due to a misunderstanding of how to sing musical theatre healthily. This brings the concept full circle; if institutions are not offering pedagogy in contemporary commercial music
(CCM)114 styles, the knowledge of how to sing musical theatre correctly will not be spread to the teaching community. Therefore the skewed conception will continue.
114 Contemporary Commercial Music was a term created by Jeanette LoVetri to label musical theatre, jazz, pop, rock, rap, etc., as something other than, “non-classical.” 60
Presently there are only two universities, Penn State and Shenandoah University that offer a degree focusing on CCM pedagogy. This is not to say all other intuitions are producing poor singers; this is acknowledging there are pedagogical differences to achieve a desired style between classical and CCM. It is valuable to know how to equip singers with the right tools. For example, I have heard singers that want to pursue musical theatre and work with exceptionally talented and knowledgeable pedagogues of the classical style. These educators encourage their singers to use tall, round, and dark vowels in their upper register with vibrato and consistently the text will be distorted, the pitch will be flat, and there will be tension in the voice. One could offer a simple adjustment of modifying from a darker vowel to a brighter vowel to relieve tongue tension and lift pressure off the larynx creating an immediate shift of clarity and ease of sound. The primary teacher will typically deter from the adjustment because they prefer rounder vowels and pursue other ways to fix the intonation and tension. This does not mean the pedagogue is lacking in skills, but unfortunately, those vocal techniques would aid a classical sound, not a musical theatre sound. And for the singer wanting to pursue musical theatre, this education will be a detriment for them since they will not be presenting a truly musical theatre sound. I can say from experience when I began crossover work, I walked into New York musical theatre auditions where I was told my sound was too classical for legit calls. For example, a Phantom of the Opera audition notice stated they wanted a classical sound, but in looking back, they wanted a blend of traditional legit and contemporary legit styles. At the time, I was unaware of the
61 difference, since no one was creating a dialogue on what those differences were because the foundation of singing was based upon a classical framework.
In a 2013 article written by Matthew Edwards and Jonathan Flom titled, “Preparing
Singers for College Auditions,” published in the American Music Teacher journal, they discussed the differences in the number of schools offering degrees in Vocal Performance versus Musical Theatre and the attendance and ticket sales of both genres outside of academia. They stated, “training opportunities for classical voice and musical theatre are varied. According to the Higher Education Arts Data Services (HEADS) Project, there are 383 schools offering a degree in vocal performance with 7,078 students enrolled. For musical theater training, there are approximately 61 schools currently offering BA and
BFA degrees with 2,302 students enrolled.”115 On paper, one might think the number of students pursuing vocal performance degrees in contrast with the number of students enrolled in musical theatre programs would show that a classical degree would be the better choice. When one looks at ticket sales between the genres, the exact opposite was revealed in the article by Edwards and Flom. Based upon a 2008 survey conducted by the
National Endowment for the Arts, “4.7 million adults attended an opera in the United
States during the time recorded. For musical theater, the number came in at 47.6 million.”116 Opera America posted stats on box office sales for opera in the United States
115 Matthew Edwards and Jonathon Flom, “Preparing Students for College Auditions: Musical Theatre and Vocal Performance,” American Music Teacher 63 no. 1 (August/September 2013): 33. It is worth noting an attempt was made to secure recent statistical information from HEADS, but it was not possible to obtain official information during the time-frame this document was written. The HEADS report referenced shows a data period ending June 30, 2010. 116 Ibid. 62 and Canada during the 2010-2011 season with revenue of $136 million.117 The Broadway
League stated that in 2010-2011, $1.8 billion in box office sales were reported of “the 40 theaters that compose Broadway and the approximately 18 Equity touring shows.”118
Highlighting these statistics is not to deter individuals from pursuing a career in opera. The industry needs singers to continue the pursuit of classical literature to keep opera alive. However, this does show the public has a variety of interests, and one of them happens to be musical theater. It would benefit singers and academia to learn the necessary skills to healthily adapt between genres to meet the demands being created in the professional world. There is a gap between what singers are learning in college and what is being presented in the industry. It is creating a disadvantage for a singer pursuing a performance career. As Lenore Rosenberg stated in a 2007 article discussing the realities of being an opera singer and the educational tools needed, before graduation,
“schools are not teaching to the needs of the profession. This is not just something that could affect opera at some vague point in the future; the lack of good training is affecting opera companies, young artist programs, and audiences right now.”119 With the large number of students pursuing careers in performance, it is vital to equip students with the necessary skills to survive in the industry. Musical theatre is happening in the operatic industry now whether one chooses to acknowledge it or not. Singers wanting to consider cross training should be able to work with a teacher that has “an appreciation of and a respect for any style they teach so they are not tempted to change the style, thus
117 http://www.operaamerica.org/content/about/PressRoom/quick.aspx. (accessed September 10, 2015). 118 Edwards and Flom, 33. 119 White and Rosenberg, Reality Check, 192. 63 compromising both the integrity of the art and the singer’s ability to successfully compete in that art form.”120
Again and again, when a CCM singer suffers an injury, the voice teaching field immediately states it is a byproduct of voice misuse due to a lack of classical training.
Rarely do we think the injury may be from overuse, not misuse of the voice. Musical theatre singers have intense demands laid upon them performing eight shows a week and typically singing in a high intensity manner conducive to contemporary musical theatre singing. In keeping this in mind, it is important for musical singers to have a solid technique to withstand the requirements necessary to sing in a variety of different vocal styles often found in musical theatre singing. A consistent format to teach these singers is necessary. Although there is a movement to advance the teaching of musical theatre singing, there is still work to do in lifting the stigma that musical theatre ruins the voice.
Poor technique does ruin the voice, but so does the application of the wrong style of training.
Keeping in mind that the scope of this document is to highlight the opera singer pursuing crossover work in traditional legit and contemporary legit theatre, this singer will not have the same demands as the contemporary belt singer which is why those concepts were not highlighted in this document. Even though the musical theatre crossover work may not vary drastically, it should be noted there are still stylistic differences from opera that require specified study to be true to the style and technique.
For example, a soprano hired to perform the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro during the
120http://www.americanacademyofteachersofsinging.org/assets/articles/CCMVoicePedag ogy.pdf (accessed September 20, 2015). 64 month of February and then Marian from The Music Man during the month of April will not require a drastic vocal shift, but time will need to be spent to adjust her vocal parameters. It is advisable for the singer to spend time doing mid to upper register slides of no more than a fifth on an [i] or [æ] to gain a slightly brighter coloring in her head mix. Incorporating some chest mix exercises from G3-G4 on triads or a scale of 1-2-3-4-
5-4-3-2-1 on the sound [jæ] or [ŋæ] will aid in a balanced transition from chest mix into head mix. Doing fast ascending and descending arpeggios of 1-3-5-8-5-3-1 within a range of A3-A5 on [jæ] transitioning between chest mix, head mix, and head register will aid in the flexibility of maneuvering the different registers of the voice. Although more time will be spent adapting to a brighter lower and mid register, it will be important for the soprano to continue working on her upper register to maintain the flexibility of her voice. The upper register will also require a brighter vowel to maintain continuity of the voice. For example, in the song “Goodnight My Someone,” a classical singer would be inclined to sing “night” of the word “Goodnight” with an [a] vowel on the pitch C5 and the same would apply to the word “star” sung on E5. A musical theatre singer would merge toward an [a/æ] blend to brighten the sound on both words. There may also be instances when the musical theatre style would require a moment of straight tone merging into vibrato. This would be similar to early baroque singing styles, which implemented straight tone singing. The one recommendation in transitioning between styles would be an awareness of scheduling gigs. Even though the modification between styles is minimal, it would not behoove a singer to carry over brighter vowels into an operatic role. For example, if The Music Man was performed first, in February, and Le nozze di
Figaro was performed in March, the short transition period between gigs may not be enough time to break away from all of the necessary musical theatre habits. In Italian, the precision of the vowel distinguishes the meaning of the word. Implementing only bright vowels would diminish the authenticity of the language, and using overly dark vowels in a musical would inhibit the commitment to the style. Slight modifications, such as the ones described, are necessary to accommodate the style, but would not inhibit the crossover opera singer’s ability to navigate between genres as long as the singer was aware of the time needed and stylistic adjustments required to successfully balance a crossover career.
It is vital for the opera singer to know how to healthily create a musical theatre sound versus producing an affected, mimicked sound that will cause tension and discomfort. We already live in a time where singers listen to digitally enhanced recordings and try to recreate a sound impossible to produce based on the adjustments made in the studio. Not having a guided ear to establish a solid cross-training foundation is a detriment to the crossover singer. Taking the time to understand the stylistic differences needed for musical theatre will better equip the singer to be more marketable and, most importantly, help the singer balance both styles in a healthy manner to sing for years to come. In an artistic climate that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what makes opera or what makes musical theatre, it is necessary to be aware of those adjustments to stay current to the trends. Maintaining older singing styles in a different medium is like putting an oval into a circular hole; you may get part of it to fit, but it will never be just right. As one can see in looking back at the development of opera and
66 musical theatre to present day, both genres are constantly evolving. Being a performer requires an awareness of one’s abilities and how one can adapt to the shifts in the industry. Understanding the stylistic differences needed for opera and musical theatre and how to transition between the two will help bridge the gap in crossing over from one to the other. It will help the longevity of one’s career in marketability and in care of the voice. Exploring cross training is not to limit an opera singer, but to expand the realm of possibilities. The possibilities are already out there, one just needs to realize it and pursue it.
Chapter 4: Bridging the Gap
Opera companies are starting to realize there is a missing element. Maybe it is purely from a financial standpoint or from trying to bring in a wider audience new to opera. Either way, opera houses such as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Utah Festival Opera,
Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera North, Oper Graz, Dallas Opera, San
Francisco, Tri-Cities Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Central City Opera, and others, are exploring the idea of integrating light opera and musicals into their season. To the dismay of opera purists, opera companies are trying to find ways to stay relevant in the public to combat the shifts happening in social interests and the economy. “Despite declining state support, and increasing difficulty in recruiting patrons for opera among the new tech- based possessors of extreme wealth, opera persists.”121 Opera, as an art form, will continue to hold as strong of a place in the arts as Shakespeare does today. It is how we continue to present opera that will make the difference. “The operas and musicals we think of as ‘classic’ naturally reinvent themselves; the signs and symbols inherent in these works transform themselves for each new generation that encounters them. But a programmed season at an opera company that presents only classics—like a Broadway that offers only revivals—is cultural stagnation. Knowing what to expect is lowering
121 Leon Botstein, “The Future of Opera,” The Musical Quarterly 97 no. 3 (December, 2014): 354. 68 one’s expectations. The classics are best revisited when presented alongside the new.”122
As an art form, we owe it to our listeners to trust they can handle works outside of the opera staples of Le nozze di Figaro, La Bohème, and Carmen. Those operas, among many of the other standards, are gems in the repertoire and should be performed, but it is worth the time to let those works air out and circulate in other pieces to keep the art form fresh.
There are far more works to explore besides the top ten and extending an invitation to musical theatre should be a welcomed addition. There is an underlying story waiting to be uncovered within each opera, and it is the performer’s job to bring those stories to life beyond the beauty of the music. The music is the heartbeat of the character, and the text is the voice to the emotions felt. These are the elements that give musical theatre accessibility audiences crave, and this would more than benefit the sustainability of opera. If houses only produce operas focusing on the music and everything else occurs as an afterthought, the intent for music and words to come together to create a heightened experience is lost. When composers of the past were writing operas, their compositions were inspired by the text. The story being told inspired them to write the works we have come to treasure today. It has often occurred that a melody inspired the words. In either case, one did not exist without the other. “Music relates most strongly to pure feeling,
[and] idealistic longings…Words relate most strongly to rational thinking, logical perception, dissection, and analysis…And although no pair would seem less likely to meet and marry than words and music, we have been joining them through the act of
122 LaChiusa, “Genre Confusion,” 13. 69 singing since the very beginning.”123
In exploring the differences between music and text it becomes necessary to see that a balance exists and not a divide. From the inception of opera formed by the
Camerata to present day, there has been a desire to find the perfect art form to create an elevated emotional response. “The form is neither musical nor theatrical, it is both; the operatic performer is neither a singer nor an actor, but a singer-actor.”124 It is from this standpoint that opera and musical theatre can bridge the gap to create a stronger foundation learning from the other.
Opera goers today crave something richer and more honest, which is why opera houses are exploring the integration of musicals. Although a necessary adjustment, a key element is still missing in the idea of music theatre.125 To be clear, music theatre is not a reference to the musical. The musical is a genre in and of its self. However, the structure of the musical is based upon a mixture of music and text with the content and meaning being the driving force. This falls under the umbrella of music theatre; the ability to fuse the music and text to create the opportunity to enliven the value of the human, emotional experience. A perfect example of this, or rather, a lack of this, was highlighted in a review written in The New York Times by Anthony Tommasini on The Merry Widow performed at the Metropolitan Opera.126 Overall, the review was complimentary to the
123 Balk, The Complete Actor-Singer, 7. 124 Balk, The Complete Actor Singer, 12. 125 One can refer to Wagner’s term of music-drama, but in either case, current opera is lacking music theatre/music drama. 126 Anthony Tommasini, “Talking (and Talking) About Love: Susan Stroman’s ‘The Merry Widow at the Met,” The New York Times, January 1, 2015. 70 singers and production. However, it did point out that the production was underwhelming and “tentative.” Tommasini mentioned Peter Gelb pinpointed the problem in a different article discussing the production of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, performed the previous season. Gelb said, “What I’ve learned is, the less dialogue the better. The Met is built for opera singing, not for spoken lines.” Tommasini goes on to mention that although the singers wore body microphones for their text to be heard, it was still difficult to understand their words because “the house is just too big for dialogue.” Tommasini went on to talk about Kelli O’Hara’s role in the show, which was met with anticipation since
O’Hara is a musical theatre performer singing in an opera house.127 Tommasini states,
“her tender voice carries nicely in the house…Still in trying to project her singing a little more than usual, Ms. O’Hara compromises her enormous skill at making words come through with naturalness. I kept wondering how her performance, and the entire production, would have come across in a house a third the size of the Met.” At first glance, it is easy to fall under the assumption that because this was operetta, it does not hit the mark because only opera could function in an opera house. And, yet, an allowance can be made when attending an opera in English, because, after all, it is opera. For example, an article in Opera News, written by Michael John LaChiusa mentioned a conversation he heard during the intermission of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby. “I overheard a woman say, “Is this in English?” Her companion replied, “Well, you know
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/arts/music/susan-stromans-the-merry-widow-at-the- met.html?_r=0 (accessed August 30, 2015). 127 O’Hara trained as a classical singer, but has worked as a musical theatre performer. 71 opera. It’s more about the music than the words.”128
We are skewing the perspective on what is permissible for today’s opera. When we attend a work considered an operetta in an opera house and we cannot understand everything, it falls short because it is not opera. When we attend an opera in English in an opera house and cannot understand everything, it is excusable because it is opera and it is about the music. What standard are we setting for opera as a genre? To personify music, we put too much pressure on music. No wonder composers almost unraveled the structure of contemporary opera in the twentieth and twenty-first century. The scale is so heavily skewed toward the music that the text and storyline barely have the opportunity to thrive.
As an art form, we have permeated the concept that music is the foundation and the top of the music drama pyramid. Unfortunately, it has become a weighted scale unable to support itself.
In looking at the Met’s production of The Merry Widow, the size of the opera house was argued as a reason the production fell short. In contrast, when Lyric Opera of
Chicago performed Carousel, The New York Times review had no conflict with the size of the opera house. 129 It was mentioned that some up tempo group numbers left “you waiting impatiently for the energy to rise” and may have been a result of the size of the opera house; however, Isherwood stated that he had “no complaints about the performances once [he] grew used to the amplification in such a large house.” Knowing the difference in seating between the Lyric and the Met is 237 seats, it is hard to justify
128 LaChiusa, “Genre Confusion,” 13. 129 Charles Isherwood, “’Carousel,’ a Broadway Turn at Lyric Opera of Chicago,” The New York Times, April 27, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/ theater/ review- carousel-a-broadway-turn-at-lyric-opera-of-chicago.html (accessed August 30, 2015). 72 the size of the opera house as a reason to say light opera does not have a place in the Met.
It was also mentioned in both reviews that each production used amplification. The difference was the Met only amplified the dialogue and the Lyric amplified the entire production. In the Met review, the grievance was even though the singers were wearing body microphones, it was still difficult to understand their spoken dialogue. This could be due to the simple fact that the Met was not used to amplifying the voice. But, more than likely, the singers were not used to speaking, only singing. Now, one could mention that although there was controversy surrounding the concept of full amplification for the
Carousel performance, beyond the idea of it, Isherwood never mentioned it inhibited his experience as an audience member nor did he have difficulty understanding or connecting to the dialogue.
In looking at the differences between the Met and the Lyric putting on light opera, there is a concept that lingers over the two productions: the stigma that opera has as a genre to be an elitist’s art form focused on the sound. An example that brings this stigma to life is the performance of Kelli O’Hara, a musical theatre actress, singing on the
Metropolitan Opera stage. As the reviewer mentioned, one of her trademarks, the ability to convey the text in a natural manner, was inhibited while trying to “project her singing a little more than usual,” even though he mentioned she was clearly heard in the house.
What changed? The environment. The weight of importance upon the work being performed was not about conveying the story. It was about giving prominence to the music because opera is known for its musical experience. Even the most veteran musical theatre performer fell under the pressure to portray a performance acceptable to operatic
73 standards. This highlights the underlying stigma that in order to produce a great operatic performance, the connection to the text must be sacrificed in order to honor the music. In contrast, the Lyric placed two Broadway performers, Laura Osnes and Steven Pasquale, in the leading roles. Both performers committed to the style of the work and were noted having “excellent voices.”130 Ironically, the only performer whose review fell short was opera singer, Denyce Graves. “Ms. Graves sings [You’ll Never Walk Alone] with the requisite hallowed feeling, although as a performer best known in the opera house for sultry roles…she sometimes seems a bit stiff.”131 It is apparent the idea of “opera” is getting in the way of the needs of opera. Encouraging opera singers to understand the meaning of the text is not enough. Opera singers should be held accountable to seek out a balance of how the text interplays with the music and how the music interplays with the text. Focusing on the precise attention and meaning of the lyrics will in no way inhibit the operatic voice. To simply understand the text is not the same as knowing how to convey the text with honesty. This performance approach will enhance the singing and supply an all-encompassing comprehension of the words and intent of the character being portrayed in the opera.
Embracing the concept will not dull opera or turn it into musical theatre, but it will enhance and enliven the production. There should be dividing lines between the genres.
Otherwise a watered down version of the two will be created. Plus, that is what designates the difference of styles. The ability to overlay concepts within the genres should be encouraged to fill in the gaps where there are weak components. Stating the
130 Isherwood, “Carousel”. 131 Ibid. 74
Met is not meant for dialogue is a disappointing copout. The venue should not affect the art. Intent is intent. It does not matter where a production takes place. The essence of text, the essence of the storyline does not equal the presence of the story; conveying an essence is what leaves audiences feeling underwhelmed. Performers should not base their work on generalities and hypothetical ideas. Audiences attend shows over and over again because they experienced a heightened emotional event.
As a people, we do not live based upon generalization. We live specific lives with specific emotions. Some are happy, confused, sad, angry, content, or blissful. No matter the emotion, they are real and honest. Performers owe it to the craft and to the audience for whom they perform to be committed to the work that is being presented night after night to the audience members filling the seats, seeking a human connection. Opera goers should not be saying, “Well, you know opera. It’s more about the music than the words.”
It should be about the story AND the music AND the text. There should be no dividing line. No work has been created without intent and a message. As a genre, it is necessary to embrace the concept of music theatre/music-drama to bring depth of life to the opera stage again.
From a cultural and economic perspective, one can see the act of crossing over is not only about the idea of putting a musical on an opera stage and using the same guidelines required of opera. The production will fall short. This revealed itself in the
Met’s production of The Merry Widow. What is apparent is the acknowledgement of music theatre styles, added to the opera stage, does not take away from the operatic performance experience. It establishes a depth of emotional and musical colors which
75 enhances the work. As an opera singer in today’s world, it would be naïve not to be aware of this impact on the arts. “[Singers need] a sure grasp of classical vocal technique, but also for the ability to extend that technique to cope with today’s demands. And central to the demands that the new singing theatre must make on its singer-actors is not merely general versatility, but also versatility in the actual sound that the voice makes – in the style of singing that it can cope with.”132
Until opera companies begin to see the issue is not within the work itself, but the perspective through which the work is being performed, people will continue to look down on musicals, contemporary opera will continue to dance around the music-drama, and traditional opera will continue to squeeze something new out of the same form. There is much for each component to learn from the next, and taking a moment to step back and see the larger picture is vital.
Good music is good music. Labels are necessary to classify things; however, labels should not deem something either/or. There should be a concept of this and that. One always influences the other. There are far more opportunities for inclusion versus exclusion. The juxtaposition of styles can help the modern day audience relate to a show written one hundred years ago. For example, “Signore, Ascolta” from Turandot carries a similar air of angst that “I Had Myself a True Love” from St. Louis Woman displays.
Both songs are completely different, and stylistically would not be sung the same way, even though the context is the same. Both are speaking of a love never realized and how they coped. The concept of a hurt heart transcends time. The audience members, when
132 Bawtree, The New Singing Theatre, 171. 76 seeing a connected performance, are not thinking about the style. They are thinking about the fact that they connect with the performer expressing one’s feelings through song.
Mr. Anthony Freud of Chicago Lyric makes a justifiable argument for the integration of varying styles, “I believe passionately that it’s central to our job as a major company to see how the opera art form can evolve. I’m not sure there is a clear definition between operas and musicals. If you distill it down to its basics, it’s about telling stories through music and words.”133 As with all art, historically, it has been produced in response to the social, economic, and political climate of the times. Performing is not only a means to echo the time period in which it was created, but also a means to impact the culture it is reflecting. Music theatre occurred as a byproduct of the culture it was reflecting and has intermingled a wide variety of styles since its inception. “Music theatre is nothing if not diverse—in both its music and styles of singing. This combination of styles, both vocal and musical, has created a musical melting pot of sorts, reflecting the multiethnic population shifts that have taken place throughout the history of the United
States.”134 Musical theatre is an extension of opera. The acknowledgement of this art form as an extension of opera is still on the sidelines waiting to be embraced. The watered down concepts of music theatre that opera is utilizing is not sustaining when looking at the long-term trajectory of opera. “Opera singers with the training and flexibility to branch out into these new venues and repertoire will be in great demand as
133 Belcher, ‘Musical or Opera.’ 134 Hall, So You Want to Sing, 2. 77
American opera continues to evolve into new areas.”135 Continuing to make music the primary element only takes away the opportunity to create multidimensional characters with a voice to share beyond the melody line being sung.
Exploring and understanding varying musical genres can help a singer become a grounded, well-rounded performer with the connection to the character and storyline.
Musical theatre can influence one’s acting and connection to the action, while traditional opera can help with line and consistency of tone. Contemporary opera can develop musicianship. Each element is a smaller piece to the puzzle. America is a melting pot of cultural experiences, and as artists, no matter the medium, it is integral to understand and relate to the world in which we are living. That translates to an opera written in the 1600s or a musical written in the 1950s. The human experience transcends time, as long as we, the artists, are connected to the honesty of that experience. Only focusing on the technique and the resonance separates us from the integration of the story and the music.
Vocal technique and commitment to style is important. It is valuable to understand the genre beyond performance practice to take the trust of the technique and style to embody them into a music theatre experience. “The learning of the song and the learning of how to make the sounds and where to breathe isn’t necessarily what you’re going to be doing when you are on the stage…It’s work you do before you get there. If you’ve trained
135 Valerie White Williams, “Classical Singer, Fashioning Her Unique Path,” Classical Singer Magazine, (October 2014) http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine/ article. php?id=2767#sthash.fSwn0lx4.dpuf (accessed May 20, 2015).
78 properly, the vowels will get made by your mouth. If you’re thinking about those vowels, what you’re actually doing is…luxuriating in a technique rather than showing up.”136
Opera singers that venture into musical theatre can learn that trusting the text, the music, and the technique allows everything to fall into place. There is no need to affect the sound to create a result. The intent is already there. It is the performer’s job to lean on one’s abilities and honor the production whether it is an opera or a musical. As a performer, it is important to realize we are more than a voice, a face, and a body going through the motions. We are a whole being communicating stories with our whole selves.137 Only displaying a piece of our self cuts off the depth required to portray a character. The integration or rather the normalization of the crossover opera singer helps to encourage a breakdown between barriers of the closely-knit and yet firmly separated lines of opera and musical theatre. Opera singers are starting to take the American musical seriously in that it is enhancing the art form they already honor. 138 By encouraging the integration of the singer-actor, it is important to note there should not be a dominance of one style over the other. This would bring back the intent to divide the genres versus creating a common link.
It is my belief that eventually opera and musical theatre will find a place upon the same stage without the vice that one is in pursuit to dominate the other. The amount of energy spent isolating each genre has been an unfortunate roadblock upon the cultural impact both could have on the American audience together, not separately. This does not
136 Barber, J., “Crossing Over,” http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine/article. php?id=2087#st April 2010. This is a quote made by teacher, Craig Carnelia. 137 Hall, 118. 138 Bawtree, The New Singing Theatre, 171. 79 mean opera houses should start performing Jesus Christ Superstar. Stylistically, this would require vocal demands outside the scope of the opera singer. However, the musical
Ragtime, might be within the realm of possibility if it is understood that stylistic adjustments would need to be made in order for the singing style to be relevant to the context of the work.
Modifying for style does not mean a destruction of opera or technique.
Modification of style means an understanding of where music has come from and where it is going. The isolation of musical theatre from opera, and vice versa, cuts off a beautiful progression of one style from the other. The development of the American musical139 voice was a pivotal point in history, and it is worth noting how that development enriched the span of colors and intent to bring a story to life. “Today’s musicals are producing more contemporary sounds that this generation can identify with.
Classical music is a great style and sound, but if you look back on the time that it was created, it also was the popular music of its day. Those performers were not reliving the music of hundreds of years ago. The performers of today are dealing with a variety of colors and sounds—even in opera—that have jazz influences and pop influences. We don’t seem to prize these contemporary styles the way we do Mozart or Puccini.”140 We have an obligation to continue the stream of the music drama evolution.
Opera is nearing an impasse. The concept of saying it is okay not to understand the words because it is opera will only last so long. Audiences want to invest two to three
139 Referring to the concept of musicality, not the musical. 140 Megan Gloss, “Genre War,” Classical Singer Magazine (September 2008). http://www.classicalsinger.com/magazine/article.php?id=1771#sthash.FzG8z3Bl.dpuf (accessed May 25, 2015). 80 hours of their evening being swept away in a complete musical and theatrical experience.
The times of highlighting or glazing over the emotion and focusing on the music alone will begin to miss the point. Yes, opera singers need to maintain body awareness to navigate the difficult passages required in opera, but if the predominate focus stays on the music and not the honest meaning of the text, the emotional intent will not be there and it becomes a shell of emotion. Maybe it will take the integration of contemporary American opera in the opera house to highlight the importance of music theatre. I am not referring to the contemporary opera only being performed a few times a year, but as a regular addition to each opera house. The more this happens the more audience members will begin to recognize that music alone will not entice them. They are and always have been searching for a music drama that reflects and enhances the entire human experience.
Until that day comes, I encourage opera singers to continue to explore the boundaries of their craft and to embrace the idea of musical theatre. There is a wealth of knowledge and human exploration living in the realms of musical theatre. We are a collection of experiences both past and present. It does no one any good to suspend time and not acknowledge the advances music made since the beginning of the twentieth century. For the performer wanting to specialize in Bel Canto singing, learning contemporary legit singing styles will not benefit that singer’s vocal goals. However, connection to the meaning of the text and subtext will enhance his or her character study and create a performance with more depth and breadth of life. Perfect singing is nothing without sincere emotional conviction. We owe it to ourselves as artists and as admirers of the arts to deepen the roots of our vocation. We pursued this journey because at some
81 point we were inspired by a performance that made us forget our own selves and were swept away in the story we witnessed. We did not think in terms of genre. We were engaged by the encapsulating experience. Any singer who pursues performance, whether it is classical, musical theatre, jazz, or anything else, should be honored because they are continuing the legacy started before us. Our only job is to immerse ourselves in our art, discover and stretch our physical and mental being as performers and pay that honesty forward. If along the way we discover an interest in other styles of singing, and find that we balance them well, we should not be condemned, but celebrated. In the same way that
Broadway is exploring different styles of shows ranging from Cinderella, Porgy and
Bess, La Bohème, and Beautiful the Musical, opera is gradually venturing out into new directions as well. The lines of staying the straight and narrow as a vocalist pursuing one path are blurring. It is becoming necessary for opera singers to keep an open mind to the plethora of opportunities available for the crossover singer. Pursuing crossover work should not be an idea that is considered limiting since we are creating an extension of the art form and not a hindrance. In fact, it may very well lead to a flourishing career. The wider our palate and understanding of ourselves, the better off we will be as individuals and as a culture.
“Classic American musicals are now embedded in the repertoire of opera companies of all sizes.”141 We are at a crossroads where one can acknowledge the integration of musical theatre and adapt, or one can spearhead the change to ensure we are expanding the art form with emotional honesty and sincere artistic expression. Merely
141 Brian Kellow, “Opera’s Broadway Overtures,” Opera America, 9 (Fall 2015): 22. 82 singing musical theatre is not enough. Performers owe it to their craft to understand the intent of the works being performed on the stage to bring the story to life. No longer can a singer know only one genre of music. They must know more than one. Performers need to be well versed in opera and musical theatre styles to be an artist that works in today’s market that demands so much more of the singer. The crossover opera singer is not a watered down concept. It is a reality that needs to be discussed because whether one realizes it today or years from now, the art of singing as we know it will continue to evolve. It is necessary for opera singers to be involved in this evolutionary process.
Otherwise, there will be more instances where musical theatre performers are hired to sing the musical roles being performed in the opera houses. We are not just singers or singing-actors. We are storytellers. There are a plethora of stories waiting to be told.
Some may be musicals and some may be operas. In any case, if we have the capacity to sing them, the integrity to honor the style, and the passion to bring the character to life, then our purpose as crossover singers is ready to be realized.
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Appendix A: Differences in Musical Theatre and Opera
Musical Theatre Opera
Uses microphone. Does not use microphone.
Type casting is normal. Type casting is not normal, however, it is
beginning to follow that trend.
Learn songs for auditions, not necessarily Standard to learn the entire role from roles before booking a job. several operas that fit within the Fach.
There isn’t a set voice type. Singers are There is a set Fach system and singers expected to sing in the extremities of their learn roles based upon that system. registers. This applies to men and women.
Dance skills are required. Dance skills are not required, but it is an
advisable skill to acquire.
It is not necessary to read music (but It is necessary to read music. should be).
Songs can be transposed. Songs are not transposed.
Stamina to sing eight shows a week. Stamina to sing two to three shows a week.
Brighter coloring to the voice. Emphasis on chiaroscuro (light and dark).
Emphasis on text. Emphasis on music.
The tessitura is set slightly lower to The tessitura is not influenced by the text, accommodate a speech-like quality. but by voice type.
Chest register is extended beyond E4, in Chest register typical stops around C4 or the female voice. E4, in the female voice.
Vibrato is not always used, depending upon Vibrato is used unless specified in style, for the style. example, Baroque opera.
Vowels are articulated more forward by the Vowels are rounder with and the placement of the tongue and the mouth pharyngeal structure is more vertical. shape is more horizontal.
Depending upon the time period of the The larynx is typically set in a lower work, the larynx is in a higher position. position.
Appendix B: Song Literature for the Crossover Singer
The following is a list of literature suggestions for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, and
Baritone. The list is not an all-encompassing list of songs. The songs mentioned are to help the beginning crossover singer have a place to start when finding literature to sing.
Poor Wand'ring One Pirates of Penzance Gilbert and Sullivan One Kiss The New Moon Romberg Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life Naughty Marietta Herbert The Sun Whose Rays The Mikado Gilbert and Sullivan Lover, Come Back to Me The New Moon Romberg Ah! My Heart is Back in Napoli Naughty Marietta Herbert I Dreamt that I Dwelt in Marble Halls Bohemian Girl Balfe Villia Merry Widow Lehar Glitter and be Gay Candide Bernstein and Wilbur Art is Calling for Me The Enchantress Herbert Sorry Her Lot H.M.S. Pinafore Gilbert and Sullivan The Hours Creep on a Pace H.M.S. Pinafore Gilbert and Sullivan Is Then His Fate Decreed The Beggar's Opera John Gay The Threepenny Barbara Song Opera Weill Bright Silver Star of Love Florodora Stuart and Hall Kiss Me Again Mlle Modiste Herbert
The Maid of the My Life is Love Mountains Fraser-Simon and Graham Some Day The Vagabond King Friml and Hooker Will You Remember Maytime Romberg I Feel Your Flowing Eyes Blossom Time Romberg Love for Sale The Vagabond King Friml and Hooker I Love You Song of Norway Grieg/Wright and Forrest Summertime Porgy and Bess Gershwin Friml/Stotart and Lak Jeem Rose Marie Harbach/Hammerstein II Friml/Stotart and Pretty Things Rose Marie Harbach/Hammerstein II What Good Would The Moon Be Street Scene Weill and Rice
Soprano Musical Theatre Stranger in Paradise Kismet Wright and Forrest How Long Has This Been Going On Rosalie Gershwin To Keep My Love Alive A Connecticut Yankee Rodgers Someone to Watch Over Me Oh Kay! Gershwin Peach on the Beach No, No, Nannette Vincent Youmans Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man Kern/Hammerstein II and of Mine Showboat Wodehouse Kern/Hammerstein II and Bill Showboat Wodehouse Kern/Hammerstein II and After the Ball Showboat Wodehouse I Have to Tell You Fanny Rome I Feel Pretty West Side Story Bernstein and Sondheim A Little Bit in Love Wonderful Town Bernstein and Green That'll Show Him A Funny Thing Sondheim My White Knight The Music Man Wilson Warm All Over The Most Happy Fella Wilson Somebody Somewhere The Most Happy Fella Wilson Rodgers and The Sound of Music The Sound of Music Hammerstein II Shall I Tell You What I Rodgers and Think of You The King and I Hammerstein II
Rodgers and Hello, Young Lovers The King and I Hammerstein II Rodgers and My Lord and My Master The King and I Hammerstein II Rodgers and So Far Allegro Hammerstein II Waitin' for My Dearie Brigadoon Learner and Loewe I Hate Men Kiss Me Kate Porter So in Love Kiss Me Kate Porter I Had Myself a True Love St. Louis Woman Arlen and Mercer Rodgers and Mister Snow Carousel Hammerstein II Rodgers and Many a New Day Oklahoma! Hammerstein II Rodgers and Falling in Love The Boys from Syracuse Hammerstein II My Man's Gone Now Porgy and Bess Gershwin He Brought Me Wild Flowers The Golden Apple Moross and Latouche The Boy Briend The Boy Friend Wilson Wouldn't it be Loverly My Fair Lady Lerner and Loewe I Could Have Danced All Night My Fair Lady Lerner and Loewe Show Me My Fair Lady Lerner and Loewe The Simple Joys of Maidenhood Camelot Lerner and Loewe Much More The Fantasticks Schmidt and Jones Love Don't Turn Away 110 in the Shade Schmidt and Jones Vanilla Ice Cream She Loves Me Bock and Harnick Will He Like Me She Loves Me Bock and Harnick What Does He Want of Me? Man of La Mancha Leigh and Darion Aldonza Man of La Mancha Leigh and Darion Green Finch and Linnet Bird Sweeney Todd Sondheim Children of the Wind Rags Stein and Strouse Blame it on the Summer Night Rags Stein and Strouse The Phantom of the Think of Me Opera Webber On the Steps of the Palace Into the Woods Sondheim Come to My Garden The Secret Garden Simon and Norman How Could I Ever Know? The Secret Garden Simon and Norman Forty Days Passion Sondheim The Beauty Is The Light in the Piazza Guettel
The Joy You Feel The Light in the Piazza Guettel The Light in the Piazza The Light in the Piazza Guettel The Mystery of Edwin Moonfall Drood Holmes Rodgers and In My Own Little Corner Cinderella Hammerstein II The Bridges of Madison Another Life County Brown Veronique On the 20th Century Coleman and Green Never On the 20th Century Coleman and Green A Gentleman's Guide to I Don't Know What I'd Do Love and Murder Freedman A Gentleman's Guide to Inside Out Love and Murder Freedman
Mezzo Soprano Operetta Solomon's Song The Threepenny Opera Weill and Blitzstein Somehow I Never Could Believe Street Scene Weill and Rice A Boy Like You Street Scene Weill and Rice Haugette Waltz The Vagabond King Friml and Post/Hooker Alone and Yet Alive The Mikado Gilbert and Sullivan I'm Called Little Buttercup H.M.S. Pinafore Gilbert and Sullivan When a Merry Maiden Comes The Gondoliers Gilbert and Sullivan For That's My Way The Threepenny Opera Weill and Blitzstein Pirate Jenny The Threepenny Opera Weill and Blitzstein When I Leave Town Florodora Stuart and Hall The Queen of the Philippine Islands Florodora Stuart and Hall Trouble Man Lost in the Stars Weill Stay Well Lost in the Stars Weill When Maiden Loves, She Sits The Yeomen of the and Sighs Guard Gilbert and Sullivan Baba's Aria The Rake's Progress Stravinsky I, Like a Ship in Storms, was Tossed The Beggar's Opera Gay Addie's Blues Regina Blitzstein There is a Garden Trouble in Tahiti Bernstein 94
When Fredric Was a Little Lad The Pirates of Penzance Gilbert and Sullivan
Mezzo Soprano Musical Theatre Careless Rhapsody By Jupiter Rodgers and Hart Nobody's Heart By Jupiter Rodgers and Hart Maybe Oh Kay! Gershwin Life Upon the Wicked Kern/Hammerstein II Stage Showboat and Wodehouse Supper Time As Thousands Cheer Berlin Poor Pierrot The Cat and the Fiddle Kern Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Roberta Kern and Harbach Falling in Love with Love The Boys from Syracuse Rodgers and Hart One Life to Live Lady in the Dark Weill and Gershwin My Ship Lady in the Dark Weill and Gershwin Bewitched Pal Joey Rodgers and Hart Rodgers and You'll Never Walk Alone Carousel Hammerstein II Grieg/Wright and Hymn of Betrothal Song of Norway Forrest Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home St. Louis Woman Arlen and Mercer So in Love Kiss Me Kate Porter I Hate Men Kiss Me Kate Porter How are Things in Glocca Morra Finian's Rainbow Lane and Harburg I Know it Can't Happen Rodgers and Again Allegro Hammerstein II Rodgers and So Far Allegro Hammerstein II Rodgers and A Cockeyed Optimist South Pacific Hammerstein II Rodgers and Something Wonderful The King and I Hammerstein II Rodgers and A Very Special Day Me and Juliet Hammerstein II
Rodgers and Climb Ev'ry Mountain The Sound of Music Hammerstein II Young Lovers The Most Happy Fella Loesser A Funny Thing Happened on That Dirty Old Man the way to the Forum Sondheim What is a Man Pal Joey Rodgers and Hart It's a Lazy Afternoon The Golden Apple Moross and Latouche In Izzenschnooken Little Mary Sunshine Besoyan Raunchy 110 in the Shade Schmidt and Jones Aldonza Man of La Mancha Leigh and Darion Liaisons A Little Night Music Sondheim Cherry Street Café Rags Stein and Strouse Schönberg and I Dreamed a Dream Les Misérables Kretzmer Moments in the Woods Into the Woods Sondheim Loving You Passion Sondheim Goodbye My Love Ragtime Flaherty and Ahrens What Kind of Woman Ragtime Flaherty and Ahrens Your Daddy's Son Ragtime Flaherty and Ahrens Beautiful Marie Christine LaChiusa Way Back to Paradise Marie Christine LaChiusa No Turning Back Marie Christine LaChiusa You Don't Know This Man Parade Brown The Bridges of Madison To Build a Home County Brown The Bridges of Madison Almost Real County Brown The Miller's Son A Little Night Music Sondheim
Tenor Operetta It's a Windy Day on the Battery Maytime Romberg Gypsy Dong Maytime Romberg Serenade The Student Prince Romberg Songs of the Vagabond The Vagabond King Friml and Hooker The Night Was Made for Love The Cat and the Fiddle Kern and Harboch A New Love is Old The Cat and the Fiddle Kern and Harboch It Ain't Necessarily So Porgy and Bess Gershwin 96
When a Woman has a Baby Street Scene Weill and Rice Lonely House Street Scene Weill and Rice My Love Candide Bernstein and Wilbur It Must be So Candide Bernstein and Wilbur A Tenor All Singers Above Utopia Unlimited Gilbert and Sullivan Oh is There Not One Maiden Breast The Pirates of Penzance Gilbert and Sullivan Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes The Gondoliers Gilbert and Sullivan With Other Lips Bohemian Girl Michael Balfe Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise The New Moon Romberg The Wild Justice Lost in the Stars Weill O Cruel, Cruel Case! The Beggar's Opera Gay And Where is the One Who Will Mourn Me Down in the Valley Weill Oh, Gentlemen, Listen, I Pray Trial by Jury Gilbert and Sullivan If the Heart of a Man is Depressed with Cares The Beggar's Opera Gay
Tenor Musical Theatre The Song is You Music in the Air Kern You're Devastating Roberta Kern and Harboch The Boys from Dear Old Syracuse Syracuse Rodgers and Hart Kansas City Oklahoma! Rodger and Hart Soliloquy Carousel Rodgers and Hammerstein II The Legend Song of Norway Grieg and Wright/Forrest Strange Music Song of Norway Grieg and Wright/Forrest Lonely Town On the Town Bernstein and Comden/Green Lucky to be Me On the Town Bernstein and Comden/Green I've Come to Live With It Kiss Me Kate Porter I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean Brigadoon Learner and Loewe Come to Me, Bend to Me Brigadoon Learner and Loewe You are Never Away Allegro Rodgers and Hammerstein II Younger than Springtime South Pacific Rodgers and Hammerstein II I Am In Love Can-Can Porter
It's Alright with Me Can-Can Porter The Big Black Giant Me and Juliet Rodgers and Hammerstein II Restless Heart Fanny Rome Maria West Side Story Bernstein and Sondheim Something's Coming West Side Story Bernstein and Sondheim Hey There Pajama Game Adler and Ross A New Town is a Blue Town Pajama Game Adler and Ross Boy for Sale Oliver! Bart On the Street Where You Live My Fair Lady Lerner and Loewe C'est moi Camelot Lerner and Loewe If Ever I Would Leave You Camelot Lerner and Loewe Rain Song 110 in the shade Schmidt and Jones Tonight at Eight She Loves Me Bock and Harnick Barber's Song Man of La Mancha Leigh and Darion Later A Little Night Music Sondheim Only Home I Know Shenandoah Geld and Udell Johanna Sweeney Todd Sondheim The Contest Sweeney Todd Sondheim Not While I'm Around Sweeney Todd Sondheim Bring Him Home Les Misérables Schönberg and Kretzmer Empty Chairs and Empty Tables Les Misérables Schönberg and Kretzmer The Phantom of the The Music of the Night Opera Webber The Phantom of the Why so Silent Opera Webber At The Grand Hotel Grand Hotel Wright/Forrest and Yeaston Love Can't Happen Grand Hotel Wright/Forrest and Yeaston A Bit of Earth The Secret Garden Simon and Norman Make Them Hear You Ragtime Flarety and Ahrens The Light in the Il mondo era vuoto Piazza Guettel The Light in the Love to Me Piazza Guettel The Mystery of Edwin A Man Could go Quite Mad Drood Holmes The Mystery of Edwin Never the Luck Drood Holmes
Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful Cinderella Rodgers and Hammerstein II The Bridges of Wondering Madison County Brown A Gentleman's Guide Foolish to Think to Love and Murder Freedman A Gentleman's Guide Sibella to Love and Murder Freedman The Time and The Place and The Girl Mlle Modiste Herbert and Blossom Love Me, Love My Dog Mlle Modiste Herbert and Blossom
Baritone Operetta Friml/Stotart and Rose Marie Rose Marie Harbach/Hammerstein II I Got Plenty O' Nothin' Porgy and Bess Gershwin They Pass by Singin' Porgy and Bess Gershwin I Got a Marle and a Star Street Scene Weill and Rice Fair Moon to Thee I Sing H.M.S. Pinafore Gilbert and Sullivan I Am the Very Model of a The Pirates of Modern Major General Penzance Gilbert and Sullivan Time Was When Love and I Were Well Acquainted The Sorcerer Gilbert and Sullivan Peacham's Morning Song The Threepenny Opera Weill and Rice I Want What I Want When I Want It Mlle Modiste Herbert and Blossom The Maid of the Fraser-Simson and A Bachelor's Gay Mountains Graham Marianne The New Moon Romberg Neath the Southern Moon Naughty Marietta Herbert I'm Falling in Love with Someone Naughty Marietta Herbert Maxim's The Merry Widow Lehar Let Things be like They Always Was Street Scene Weill and Rice O Tixo, Tixo, Help Me! Lost in the Stars Weill Thousands of Miles Lost in the Stars Weill
My Boy, You May Take it from Me Ruddigore Gilbert and Sullivan The Pirates of I am a Pirate King Penzance Gilbert and Sullivan
Baritone Musical Theatre Kern and Wodehouse/Hammerstein Ol' Man River Showboat II I've Told Every Star Music in the Air Kern Something Had to Happen Roberta Kern and Harbach Don't Ask Me to Sing Roberta Kern and Harbach The Scars Knickerbocker Holiday Weill Ballad of the Robbers Knickerbocker Holiday Weill September Knickerbocker Holiday Weill Happy Hunting Horn Pal Joey Rodgers and Hart Rodgers and Oh, What a Beautiful Morning Oklahoma! Hammerstein II The Surrey with the Fringe on Rodgers and Top Oklahoma! Hammerstein II Rodgers and Lonely Room Oklahoma! Hammerstein II Bernstein and Lonely Town On the Town Comden/Green Bernstein and Lucky to be Me On the Town Comden/Green Bernstein and I Understand On the Town Comden/Green I've Got the World on a String St. Louis Woman Arlen and Mercer My Defenses are Down Annie Get Your Gun Berlin The Girl that I Marry Annie Get Your Gun Berlin Were Thine that Special Face Kiss Me Kate Porter Where is the Life that Late I Led Kiss Me Kate Porter The Heather on the Hill Brigadoon Lerner and Loewe Rodgers and Some Enchanted Evening South Pacific Hammerstein II Rodgers and This Nearly was Mine South Pacific Hammerstein II
My Time of Day Guys and Dolls Loesser Joey, Joey, Joey The Most Happy Fella Loesser Rosabella The Most Happy Fella Loesser Don't Cry The Most Happy Fella Loesser A Funny Thing on the Love, I Hear way to the Forum Sondheim What a Waste Wonderful Town Bernstein and Green How to Succeed in Business without A Secretary is Not a Toy Really Trying Loesser Never too Late for Love Fanny Rome Why be Afraid to Dance Fanny Rome It was a Glad Adventure The Golden Apple Moross and Latouche You're the Fairest Flower Little Mary Sunshine Besoyan Why Can't the English My Fair Lady Lerner and Loewe I'm an Ordinary Man My Fair Lady Lerner and Loewe I Wonder what the King is Doing Tonight Camelot Lerner and Loewe The Man Who has Everything No Strings Rodgers Days Gone By She Loves Me Bock and Harnick If I Were a Rich Man Fiddler on the Roof Bock and Harnick Man of La Mancha Man of La Mancha Leigh and Darion The Impossible Dream Man of La Mancha Leigh and Darion In Praise of Women A Little Night Music Sondheim I've Heard it all Before Shenandoah Geld and Udell No Place Like London Sweeney Todd Sondheim Sunday in the Park Finishing the Hat with George Sondheim No More Into the Woods Sondheim Wright/Forrest and The Crooked Path Grand Hotel Yeaston No One Has Ever Loved Me Passion Sondheim Because of Her On the 20th Century Coleman and Green If I Can't Love Her Beauty and the Beast Menken and Rice Epiphany Sweeney Todd Sondheim