Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday Cyberspace Recitals -- O cessate di piagarmi -- or, Learning Vocal "Make-Do"

Well, folks, I didn't think I was going to make this recital today.  If you have been following along in Frescamari's Practice Room at all, you will know that weird things started happening to my voice on Monday and I came down with a cold and sore throat yesterday.  I decided to use the time to figure out how my voice works under less than optimal conditions.

It reminded me of having a bad hair day.  When faced with a bad hair day, a girl has a couple of choices to make.  She can just decide not to go out altogether, and wait until the hair springs back.  Or she can figure out a few "tricks" on how to make herself look good even when her hair is not at its most cooperative.  Based on this, I figured a singer ought to learn how to do the best with her voice even when it is not in its most fabulous shape.

Or maybe it's also like making dinner when you're just "making do" with the things you happen to have in the house, rather than a refrigerator full of the freshest ingredients.  You sing with what you've got that day.

I just remembered something that happened to me a couple of weeks ago that illustrates this.  I had a guest coming to the house and I had absolutely nothing to offer him to eat while he was here.  I scrambled around and found a couple of bruised apples, some cheese, a pack of graham crackers, and some hard-boiled eggs. Not much to work with.

Now, when I was a young bride, I would have planned some elegant and sophisticated snack to have for the visitor. I would have fretted that everything be perfect. (Isn't this like the young singer who must have her recital come out perfectly in every way?)

But, here I was now, stranded in the position I was in, and I had to make do with what I had.  I quickly sliced the apples, sprinkled them with cinnamon, and fanned them attractively on a china platter, discarding the bruised parts.  I used my cheese knife to thinly sliver the cheese, carefully broke the graham crackers into their quarters and arranged them around the peeled and halved hardboiled eggs. (It's in moments like these that one steps back and begins to feel like one has been quite "clever.")

What a strange assortment of food items!  But it actually worked and the plate was empty by the time the guest left.  It worked because over the years I had developed some quick-thinking habits and knowledge about presentation that came in handy in a pinch.

Well, this is what all those O cessate audio files were about in Frescamari's Practice Room over the past couple of days.  I was playing around with the voice I had, trying to see if there was some way to make it presentable by Wednesday under these vocal conditions.  In the practice room you will find all the "bruised" apple sections I had to discard.

The result is that today, dear readers and listeners, I am serving you up a platter of this week's "O cessate di piagarmi," accompanied by myself on piano in Frescamari's Performance Space.  I hope you enjoy this addition to the growing list of 24 Songs and Arias.

Other posts in this series:
"24 Italian Arias in 24 Weeks"
"Wednesday Cyberspace Recitals -- Per la gloria d'adorarvi"
"Wednesday Cyberspace Recitals -- Sebben, crudele"

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