Sunday, November 8, 2009

Songs That Invite You to Sing Them ... or ... Handel on Sunday

I don't know why I woke up wanting to sing Handel this morning.

Maybe it was because the other day in my blog post  ("How to Get Your Singer to Sing ... But Not Too Much"), I mentioned that my teacher stopped me from indulging in an operatic aria for too long  before I was ready and steered me over to Handel.

Or maybe it's because ever since I was inspired by that Ornamentation class I took this summer ("Ornamenting Handel and Bach, Rameau, Mozart and Monteverdi?  Me?") I've been slowly reading through a biography of Handel, by Christopher Hogwood, about a page or two a day first thing in the morning, so I've often got him on my mind for a few minutes each day at least.

Or, maybe it was because just last night while reading an article about the castrati on The Choir Girl's  blog ("Accepting the Castrati") I had watched a youtube clip scene from the movie Farinelli, where the actor sings the beautiful song, Lascia ch'io pianga .

Or maybe it was just because Handel seems like a nice thing to sing on a Sunday.  I usually do complete vocal rest on Sunday except for singing a couple of hymns in church when we go, but sometimes, like this morning, I can't squelch the urge to sing.

I was curious to test out this morning if some of the progress I had made with vocal technique this past year would make a difference in the Handel pieces I had been learning last year, but had put aside.  I pulled out Ombra Mai Fu and Sommi Dei, and O Sleep.

Yes!  They were much improved.  I have posted "before" (from last year) and "after" clips (from today) in Frescamari's Practice Room for anyone who is interested to hear. (Click here to listen to "'Before' and 'After' Handel")

I thought I was done for the day, and had something to write and post about today's work.  But as I entered the kitchen to begin cleaning up the breakfast dishes and start heading the family out to church, I couldn't get that haunting tune of  Lascia ch'io pianga out of my head, and I really really wanted to sing it and I wanted to sing it NOW.  The song was calling me, inviting me.  Did I have a copy of it in my Handel aria books?

I knew I had experienced this song recently in my life.  But where? Oh, I remembered!  It was in the Ornamentation class.  I dug out my thick binder full of materials from the class, and sure enough, there it was.  Not only did it have the simple version of the song's melody, but right above it was the "ornamentation" and all my notes from class.

Now, I don't know if you read my posts about the ornamentation class this past summer or not (post 1 and post 2), but I was not technically able to learn and sing the ornamentation, especially not in a short amount of time.  I still, as you will hear me repeat over and over again, had been trying to figure out my voice technically after all these years.  There were young people in the class doing amazing things with the ornamentation and I was in awe at their coloratura and flexibility, and accomplishments with this style of music. If you remember, as much as it inspired me, I concluded that this was not going to be the music that my heavy, cumbersome, slow-moving, wobbly old voice was going to be able to tackle.  Not in my destiny as a singer.

Well, I was delighted and surprised to find "possibility" there when I looked at Lascia ch'iio pianga.  Not only that, I even tried a little of the ornamentation above the simple version and it seemed like it was also something that might be possible for me.

I was amazed by how all the little threads of what we do and learn come together at times.  The class, the blog I was reading, the vocal progress.  All added up to an overwhelming desire to experience a song.

Sometimes we definitely have to go back and look at what we couldn't do, even as short as a few months ago, in order to experience some joy in our progress.  I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to where I would like to be, but it can be invigorating and inspiring to compare myself to where I was!

I have posted the read-through of Lascia ch'io pianga in Frescamari's Practice Room, in case you would like to hear. (Click here for "Reading  through Lascia ch'io pianga")

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