Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pacific Opera Masterclass: Lauris Elms AM OBE

Just google Lauris Elms. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Then listen to this.


I just LOVE that kind of voice... so warm, sultry, welcoming, fierce, ecstatic... a perfect mixture! Wish I could have heard her sing live. She's still around, of course, but she's of a supreme vintage now and doesn't sing any longer (that I'm aware of). She is still VERY capable of delivering an amazing masterclass to a group of aspiring opera singers, however.

Lauris came and schooled us on our recits for The Marriage of Figaro. We are performing the opera in English, so our diction and clarity becomes even more important to an English-speaking audience. I struggle with English the most! I think it's probably fine for other languages because I assume that not everybody knows what every word means so I can be as forthright as I like and people don't really know any difference; however, when it's English, you know they understand every single word. Gotta step out of myself more and into the shoes of the Countess. She doesn't apologise for anything!

Things I took away from Lauris Elms' masterclass:

- KNOW your opera. KNOW the character/s. KNOW the scenes. What are you saying? What are you feeling? Why are you saying it? What's her position? How would she be addressing her servant? How would she say it?

- SAY your words. Learn them as speech and say them as you would if you were that character. (eg. Countess, be imperious!)

- STAND like your character. What's she like? What would she be doing? Be the Countess. Shoulders back, chest up, head straight, not giving way for anybody.

- CONVERSATION - recitatives are a conversation between characters. Don't sing it so much as say it. Get the words out and be convincing.

- DON'T hang onto vowels and pretty sounds in recit. Get the words out and use the consonants to propel the words. For me, especially: "I'm not happy, Susanna." Don't hang onto "hap" - move the sound along. "I'm not happy, Susanna. To think that Cherubino heard all the things that his Lordship said this morning!" Be annoyed that it's all happened and take it out on Susanna. Be IMPERIOUS. Be a Countess.

I loved hearing about Lauris' career, and let me tell you, she may be 83 but that didn't stop her pulling us up every time she didn't like what we were doing. What an experience. |I hope she can come back to work on arias and duets before the opera!

Check out Pacific Opera's website for details about The Marriage of Figaro.

 Lauris Elms AM OBE talking about her career

 L-R: Zoe Drummond (Susanna), Pamela Andrews (Countess), 
Joelene Griffith (Cherubino), Lauris Elms AM OBE

2013 Pacific Opera Young Artists with
Lauris Elms AM OBE and Glenn Amer

Photography: John Kilkeary
Official Pacific Opera Photographer
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