Friday, October 14, 2005
DICHTERLIEBE DIARY 7 -LOTTE LEHMANN
OK, so I've spent the whole week keeping my throat open. Damned near gagged with a bulldozer, but finally I know how to squeeze out more sound from the abdominal muscles and use compressed air-the power-through the cords. I'm not saying the sound is pretty, or particularly expressive, or even nice, but there is a sound just past this side of a steam whistle.
Today I got some minute word by word coaching on the German. I'm the macro type myself, but this type of work is crucial, and to me was invaluable. One needs to breathe whether it makes sense musically, and usually-that will be where it makes sense in the words, an afterthought, a qualifying sentence, etc.
Yesterday I was asked to substitute teach a class on Dichterliebe for undergrads.
It's a song lit. class, taught by a first class teacher and artist. He took the day off to sing Yom Kippur services. I told these young people, if you are going to sing this music, then aside from technique and language you must have courage. Don't be afraid to be overtly emotional in your approach. Move your bodies, move your faces, be aware that your eyes are also important points of contact for the audience
(And don't ignore American song; nothing like singing in your own language).
The reason the song business is dying is that you have nice people getting up and singing in German. They don't speak German. Their audience doesn't speak German. But here we are doing two hours of German. So you obviously have to integrate yourselves into the language so completely that you could tell the story blind folded (or gagged!) That's what you are up there for. To tell a story. If it's about love, well what do you know about love? About loss? , pain, unrequited love (the worst) Song literature is chocked full of this.
I knew they would not know Lott Lehman and they didn't. I showed a DVD of one of her master classes. I said, This old lady was the greatest exponent of German song. She had an imperfect technique, and by the time she came to the States her voice was past its best. How did she manage to pack concert halls here for years? Because she believed every word she sang. She gave something of herself to every two minute song. She was unafraid. So must you be.