Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bad luck with tenors

Our opera group seemed to have little difficulty finding a new pianist after I let the last one go. One of our singers put out an announcement on the internet and we got a reply immediately. She's perfect. A professional accompanist who would rather work with an amateur group at the moment, which means we don't have to pay her. What luck! We're all having a good time making music together.

Finding the perfect tenor has been almost a disaster so far. Another one of our singers has been working really hard to screen them, schedule auditions with them, etc. The first one refused to sing anything for his audition. Unbelievable. Well, maybe not so unbelievable considering he's never sung an opera aria in his life -- he's strictly a choral tenor, performing in choirs for a decade or decades. I asked him if he was taking lessons. Yes, he replied. But it turns out his lessons are not serious, private lessons with a voice teacher. They are group lessons with his choir. I told him the bad news -- that our group would be too difficult for him.

So tenor number one was on one side of the spectrum. Tenor number two, a conservatory student from China, wanted to convince us he was way on the other side, so good that he didn't need to commit to regular weekly rehearsals even after he was told over the phone the rehearsals were required. At his audition, which was more like a negotiation, he would not take "no" for an answer -- and he wouldn't leave until I said he could sing one or two duets with me in the July concert. I only gave in this little bit because I could probably get away with just a few rehearsals before the concert. Well, he's taken off for China for a month -- we'll see if he's still interested when he gets back. If I find a more appropriate person for a group, he's outta here.

Tenor number three, a former professional singer, seems to be a nice enough guy and has a nice voice, but he's seriously damaged his vocal cords singing repertoire that was too heavy for his voice type -- a Mozartian tenor should not be attempting Verdi's Rigoletto, no matter how fun it is. I'm afraid I won't be able to take him since he can't sing the requisite high A. He's just not a tenor anymore, unfortunately.

We'll see our final (?) tenor on Monday. He's a semi-professional or professional. I have to be wary of his motives. Why join an amateur group when there are paying gigs out there? If it's just to add another line to his curriculm vitae, then our group dynamics may change for the worse. Right now, we all get along so well and have such a good balance of work and fun. We are making music because we enjoy it and because we are all interested in improving our musicianship, performance skills, and vocal technique. If we throw in someone who's way above us, I'm afraid of what the psychological or social ramifications may be.

By the way, a miracle is slowly unraveling in my throat. My high notes are coming back! I was so scared I'd have to go see a specialist, but I think with enough vocal rest, I should have my voice in very good condition in a week or two.

Wish me luck with my voice and the tenors!

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