What are the qualities of a professional singing voice?

This is a fabulous question.  Everyone involved in the classical singing world needs to train his/her ear to know exactly what the very best singing is.  That takes devoting a significant amount of time to listening to and analyzing the voices of many singers, both live and on recordings.  But in order for a complete understanding to survive, it means that the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of exactly what the various qualities are and how they manifest differently in different voice types needs to be passed down directly from the experts to subsequent generations.  It is also crucial to understand that the very best voices possess all of these qualities, not just some or most of them.   While all need to be trained individually into the voice for consistency, each quality enhances the efficacy of the other qualities, allowing for new discoveries of openness, ease and resonance.  Here, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, which results in a beautiful, free, polished, professional sound.

The classical singing world is at a crucial point in its history.  One hundred years ago, there was very little competition for audience members’ attention.  Fifty years ago, opera stars were known celebrities and performed on primetime television.  We are in a completely different world now, one that most of the great operatic composers would never have been able to imagine.  Classical music is in competition with every other type of media available for the attention of over-stimulated, over-committed fans.  It is so much easier for music lovers to stay home and be entertained by electronic devices than for them to buy tickets and travel to see a live operatic performance.  There has to be a compelling reason to keep audience members coming.  Shocking interpretations, unusual costumes and computer-generated images can only go so far in enthralling an audience for hours at a time.  What is consistently enthralling about opera is the soul-touching music that speaks universally to generation after generation without seeming tired, hackneyed or anything other than miraculous.   And the power of that music rests largely on the techniques of the singers performing it.  Great music performed by mediocre singers sounds mediocre.  Great music performed by great singers and supported by meaningful interpretations, sets and costumes has the ability to transport the audience and offer a powerful, visceral experience that can never be had by virtual options.

That type of experience is what makes live operatic performances unique.  For opera to survive, it is crucial that singers are trained to embody all of the necessary qualities for a truly professional sound, that teachers learn how to recognize and teach those qualities effectively in all voice types and that opera companies hire the very best singers to perform.   The magic of opera lies in the music and the music deserves to be sung ravishingly.  This is the way for opera to not only survive, but to thrive in the 21st century.

These crucial qualities of the professional singing voice will be discussed in detail in my blog for the next few weeks, along with examples of singers who exemplify these qualities.  Stay tuned and keep up the training of your own ears.

 

For more articles and information, visit my website, http://www.thebricelandstudio.com

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