As singers, we work hard on the sound we produce. Every element of our voice is scrutinised and painstakingly tweaked. This takes years and as opera singers, we are resigned to the fact that we have to work very hard every day over a long period of our lives.
We also work hard at languages. Pronunciation, translation and authenticity are key to making a performance believable. Again, this isn’t an over night process and often we are working on multiple languages at once.
However, there is one element to an opera singers performance that is taken for granted and often ignore. Acting. Every single aria, song, recitative, gesture and movement is accompanied by an emotion. However, we just take it for granted that this comes naturally to singers. Very little weight is put on acting in a singers musical education. We may get the odd workshop once a year but it is often the last thing to be worked on. Can you imagine if we practised acting everyday for half an hour or so as we do our singing? How would we go about this? However, it can be this element that can make or break an audition or an overall opinion of a singer.
Often directors talk about a thought process. Imagining what the character is feeling of thinking. That’s a great thing to do but does it translate to our faces, eyes, bodies and overall performance? I know a lot of singers that feel neglected in this department and need more practical help in achieving a more realistic performance. Conservatoires do the bare minimum in this department and more encouragement is needed to help singers of all ages to realise their acting potential.
Here are a few resources to get you on your way to becoming a better actor.