Voice Characters

In previous blogs, I have demonstrated starting the note from the larynx mechanism, the pharynx, the nasal and the imposto. Here is a chance to put these ideas together to create three different voice characters. To achieve this, I have followed Lucie Manen’s book ‘The Art of Singing’ and recalled the teachings of the late Beatrice Webster.

Lucie Manen writes that Lilli Lehmann was able to sing all three characters in The Tales of Hoffmann! Accordingly, I will explore this in my studies too. Today, I am beginning with the three qualities – the Light Coloratura, the Lyric and the Dramatic – sung on ‘a’.

Light Coloratura quality demonstrated by Deborah Wai Kapohe
Lyric quality demonstrated by Deborah Wai Kapohe
Dramatic quality demonstrated by Deborah Wai Kapohe

Below is an example of ‘Una Voce Poco Fa’. What is remarkable in this example is that the Great Singer, Amelita Galli-Curci, could sing also lyric and dramatic soprano. Here she is demonstrating her incredible ability as a coloratura soprano.

The extreme attractiveness of Mme. Galli-Curci’s Una Voce…lies in its all-round merit. The rich, satisfying timbre, the essentially Italian quality of the voice, easily produced and managed with rare, unfailing skill, strikes the listener at once.

Herman Klein, Herman Klein and the Gramophone, Page 68.

Another example of voice characters. This example of Dame Joan Sutherland singing ‘Ah, tardai troppo…O luce di quest’anima’ captures the youth of the character so beautifully.

Here is my first attempt at singing Donizetti’s aria. I call this a work in progress because my voice is still too heavy (not light coloratura quality). Accordingly, combined with a loss of support near the end leading to the dreaded press and loss of head voice, caused a crash onto the top D. Never mind. We know the cause. Now fix it!

The loss of support here near the end caused the dreaded press which in turn led to a loss of head voice on the Cadenza and a woeful end to the piece!

Published by Deborah Wai Kapohe

I am a classical singer and guitarist. I have created a project called 'The Lilli Lehmann Project'. The project, lasting from 2020 until 2023, aims to refresh my voice and prepare me to be a singing teacher. The scope of the project is that I am studying Lilli Lehmann's singing book, bibliography, recordings and her reviews, as well as other historical vocal pedagogy. I have chosen this platform in order to blog about my discoveries, demonstrate techniques and exercises, and perform pieces of music. I have done so because I wish to be transparent. I think that if a student is prepared to learn from me then I should stand up to public scrutiny.

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