Tips for Cherubino’s aria “Voi che sapete”

Here is the process I have followed today to locate a shiny sound for Cherubino’s aria. I would like Cherubino to sound youthful. Accordingly, I am looking for that old fashioned bright Italian sound. I will add to this post over the next month or so until the aria is complete.

The word ‘piu’ is a handy word for finding the sound needed for this aria. The ‘p’ keeps the placement light and the mouth small. The ‘i’ adds in the width (brightness) while the ‘u’ adds in the depth (mellowness and access of head voice)
Sing the voice consonants on pitch, fully resonant and with a relaxed expression
Line up the vowels so they all resonate within the ‘u’ sound. (Sing ‘piu’ again if you get stuck)
Sing sharp. This develops the tendency to approach from ‘above’ rather than scooping up to the note.
Put it all together, phrase by phrase.

Tuning the semitones. Semitones are different ‘sizes’. Some are ‘bigger’ than others.
Here is a nasal close in slow motion. You do this on a double vowel. First consonant is nasal then the next consonant is full resonance. This is the word ‘donne’. You can read more in Lilli Lehmann’s book ‘How to Sing’ and also I posted on this in my blog.
I put this phrase together but I am not happy because the ‘d’ is not on pitch. There is a scoop upwards. I am also not happy because the voice is too full. I want a youthful Cherubino and this Cherubino is beginning to sound like a Granny.
Now the ‘d’ is on pitch but the phrase is beginning to sound laboured so lets move onto the next phrase for now…
Here is the word ‘quello’ sung very slowly. The q and w should be sung before the beat. The u lands on the beat. The u vowel gives us a beautiful mellow sound so don’t move too far away from that to sing the e. The double l gives us another nasal close. First l is nasal and the second is full resonance. This allows the word to be heard better.
This phrase needs a springboard from the pro of provo. The pro should have imposto and a little messa di voce to create a springboard. I make a terrible scoop on the v. Don’t do that!
Here you can hear another scoop on the last note and even worse, I am closing my mouth slightly on the last o which distorts it. This should NOT be done!
I have fixed the last o but not the scooping… the scooping has to be fixed…but lets move on…
Need to make a springboard out of the ca of capir by adding a touch of imposto and messa di voce
Here is an example of no legato. No tying of one note to the other.
The way to help achieve a legato is to practice a vibrazione on every note.
Here I am adding in a more lyric quality to darken the ‘gelo’ and also, yay, I add in the chest. All of those days trying to be Beyonce didn’t go completely to waste…
We are now up to the middle of the piece. Now we can have fun. Here is the use of the two voice characters to colour the phrases. First the light quality and then the lyric.
I sing this slowly and then faster so show the series of nasal close. The difficulty of this passage is the series of nasal close, not the crossing of the two registers. If the nasal close are right the registers will naturally fall into place. Remember, with the nasal close the first of the double consonants is nasal & the second is with full resonance. Because you are crossing different pitches put the nasal on the pitch prior and the full resonant consonant on the new pitch. This passage must be sung slowly before attempted at speed.
Think of the top notes here so that you don’t droop. If you droop onto the lower notes they will go flat and it will be darn difficult to climb out!
Here I have exaggerated the rolled r. This should be practiced in isolation to make sure it is rolled on pitch or you will sing off key! Also, the roll makes sure the singing is on the breath support. In fact, the voiced consonants are terrific for making sure you are singing with the breath support. Breath support is gentle. It is not forcing the air through but it is not floppy either so if you have a lovely resonant consonant you are off to a great start!
Here the first two breaths I took are correct. They are silent. The second two are incorrect because you can hear them.
Here is the end of the piece. Try to vary it from the first time it was sung. Can you sing it softer? Louder? With a different tone colour?
Now here is the entire piece. This time we are looking for shapes. Looking for shapes usually takes a performance or two. Remember to put on your metronome!

Voi Che Sapete – further blog post

I am continuing this post in a separate blog post because I notice the information is too much for one page. Please look at my more recent post to see a comparison of different versions…

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: