Can you increase your vocal tessitura?


From singing and from
Italian singing technique (1)
Spelios Constantine in memory


Why is a solid anchoring of the voice in the body essential?
Time and again, my readers have expressed the wish that I should explain to them what the Italian style of singing I advocate is all about. Why is a solid anchoring of the voice in the body essential? What is appoggiare la voce, which I have often mentioned, about? I am happy to fulfill your wish and in the following I introduce you to the secrets of Italian-based singing. It may also be useful to active singers.
First of all, we have to get to the bottom of what is actually so important in practice about the Italian singing method. The answer is simple: only it makes the voice full and round, sonorous and expressive in every position. This is the only way to achieve a maximum of sonority and richness of substance when singing. It also lets most of the overtones resonate. Singers whose voices are in the mask, in the head or in the throat will never achieve the radiance that Italian-trained voices have. A number of examples illustrate this:
It was like that in earlier times Wolfgang Windgassen, who always sang extremely thinly throughout his life and, on top of that, liked to rest on the consonants and jingles, which is an absurdity and in no way acceptable, a narrow-gauge tenor of the first order, which in comparison with the vocal brute force and the vocal brilliance is one Hans Hopfwho for me represents the epitome of an excellent hero tenor, had to mercilessly fade away.
The extremely heady, mannered and artificial sounding, high-pitched baritone from Dietrich Fischer-Dieskauwho always only spoke on the notes instead of singing properly, had opposite the boy in Vienna Eberhard Waechter, who in his heyday had a fantastically focused, fresh and powerful baritone, no chance, just like Windgassen with the critical audience of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which did not want him.
And how much the wonderfully warm, heartfelt and soulful singing felt Elisabeth Grümmer Your collegue Elisabeth Schwarzkopfwhose vowel organ most of the attributes just mentioned in Fischer-Dieskau also apply, in the shadows. Schwarzkopf, Fischer-Dieskau and Windgassen were the most overrated singers of their era, whose performances were absolutely inadequate and who permanently spoiled the taste of an entire generation of opera-goers. An Italian-based way of singing stayed with them, but also beep sopranos like Erna Berger, Erika Koeth, Anneliese Rothenberger and Rita prank, alien throughout her career. This should be the be-all and end-all for every singer. He must absolutely acquire these.
So what are the characteristics of good Italian technique?
The basis and absolute must for any kind of classical singing is first of all that the voice is anchored in the body and has a solid appoggiare la voce. The place of the correct support is the sternum. The voice must be leant against this. To get to this point, yawning with every note sung is extremely important. Yawning is the magic word, because it allows the larynx to reach its lowest position, which is an indispensable prerequisite for a full voice sound. While exhaling on the singing note, one must pull the sternum inward, but at the same time make a tiny counter-movement. And it works like this: By pulling in the breastbone, the area of ​​the body to the left and right of it must be gently pushed forward. The idea that your nipples are being pulled out can help. It is also helpful if you tilt your head back a little, similar to what you do with Herbert von Karajan could often observe. This help of the back is also a great help when expanding the height register. The appoggiare la voce, which is indispensable for Italian technology, can therefore be achieved by constant yawning. This is what makes the body-anchored voice into a genuinely Italian-trained one.
This aspect can be seen well Nina Stemme illustrate. Overall, she sings well in the body and also intones warmly and soulfully, but does not yawn at the notes. As a result, no appoggiare la voce, no Italian vocal flow can set in with her. Her voice may be suitable for Wagner, but not for Verdi. So she is z. B an excellent Isolde, but as a “Forza” -Leonore she is not able to convince.
It is also essential for the appoggiare la voce that one lets the breath flow calmly and does not block the air, as a famous tenor of the present time, for example, often used to do when he had to sing piano. At a concert opera gala in Baden-Baden in 2009, he switched to pressing the tones for quiet passages, which had a detrimental effect on the sound quality of his performance. The air could no longer flow freely and his tone became pale and dull. The use of the voice is also and especially necessary for passages that are to be singed softly so that it does not lose substance. In the piano, too, the voice must sit up to the highest levels in the body and a countermovement must take place. To do this, one must not give more than a small, informal impulse, which in turn has to be done by a slight yawn, and do not want to do anything further, because as soon as one consciously wants to do something, one already presses the voice, which sooner or later has harmful consequences can result.
High as well as low notes must grow on a healthy and evenly flowing breathing column and must not be forced, otherwise the singer will regret it at some point. An example of this is also given: If you listen to historical recordings of Cesare Siepi one finds that the older ones are the better ones. In these Siepi sings with wonderful sonorous freshness, profundity and richness of color. This impression is put into perspective with the more recent recordings, where the bass player suddenly seems strangely dry. Here the voice has lost an enormous amount of sound and elegance. How is that possible? Well, the answer isn't too difficult in this case either. Siepi was by nature a high bass, a basso cantate that was made for Don Giovanni, his star role. Siepi ignored the somewhat higher tessitura of his voice and pressed steadily into the subject of the deep bass, the basso profundo, which, however, did not correspond to the natural structure of his vocal organ. He tried to acquire the extreme low register by force, and for this purpose pressed the voice heavily in this area, which of course had consequences. It was losing its beauty and gradually taking on the dry sound that you hear on the more recent recordings. Siepi wanted to force his voice, whereupon it suffered irreversible damage. He thought he had to do something to improve their quality, but on the contrary, he didn't have to do anything at all.
It is precisely this wanting to do nothing that keeps the voice healthy and fresh in the long term, but it is also the characteristic feature of Italian technology that is the most difficult to learn. The less you do, the bigger and more voluminous the voice becomes. It is therefore a widespread misunderstanding that you have to do a lot and make a great effort when singing. Singers who only rely on pure exertion of strength when singing, without being technically versed, the voice often slips down their throat and becomes - often very - shrill. Then there is no longer any singing, but only shouting, pushing, yelling and bleating.
This text first appeared in the opera magazine "Der Opernfreund"
Accepted in the muse sheets with kind permission.
Read on here next Tuesday!