Singing & Acting: Lovers or Enemies?

by adriafi1 on June 10, 2010

It is possible to sing and act at the same time! I did it – and many others before me. In opera, as in any well written piece, the clues are all there in the music waiting to be pieced together to form an elaborate tapestry that is a living, breathing character.

In the less detailed works where it is all about vocal virtuosity, one must build a creature, sometimes out of thin air, and the trance set by the composer. The silences are as important as the sounds. The acting must serve the music, the singer must serve the music, and the actor must serve the work. Within that disciplined service we create new synergy composed of fidelity to the works we perform and personal interpretation that allow us to transcend the work itself and create that movement onstage when it all comes together and we are aflame with inspiration.

The Performers package

Then there is “it ain’t over ’till the black dress sings.” Well, there are certain realities that nibble way at tradition. Why is it a law that an opera singer must be fat, or skinny, for that matter? Norman Treigel wasn’t fat, his voice certainly was. Pavarotti was not slender; did it lessen his vocal appeal? But then, if you really want to embody a character onstage, isn’t it part of your discipline and responsibility to look like that character as well? Aren’t singers Olympic athletes? Aren’t we a performance package?

Traditions have changed. Is it possible to look great and sound great? Isn’t it possible to have fine acting and singing – one complementing the other? I remember a night at Utah Opera when we greeted patrons still in our Aida costumes. A man grasped my hand and said, “You sang so beautifully, you. . .you.” and tears filled his eyes. It wasn’t just my voice that touched him, but a woman & a princess torn by jealousy whose heart broke for all to see.

Why not have nights of great singing and great theater? It has happened — it is called excellence. Is it easy to do? No. Are the results worth the effort? Most definitely.

In Adria, we have a fearless performer capable of embracing all aspects of the stage and captivating any audience. In working with Adria, I realized that the use of her voice and her body, as beguiling and astonishing as can be imagined, was only the first step in discovering the soul behind it; that primal force of energy that gives life to what performers do, and meaning to an artist’s existence. Adria’s rich life experience will help many performers a great deal, particularly the ability to put it all in perspective.
Roland Peelman, Conductor & Artistic Director, The Song Company, Sydney, Australia

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