Sunday, 28 March 2010

Singers aren't machines : Christianne Stotijn

Here is a link to the Opera Today review of Christianne Stotijn's Lieder recital at the Wigmore Hall, London, on 25th March. It's critical, but constructive. She's basically a good singer, with charm and sensitivity, who needs to be nurtured, not knocked. In the long run that's what's best for the art. Maybe reading this will help other singers, too, and help non-singers appreciate what's involved.. 

"....Tamerlano is a brutal tyrant, and male. Modern audiences are perhaps more used to hearing a lower voice expressing such things. But Handel isn’t Verdi. He wrote the role for female voice, which makes it all the more difficult to create the role convincingly for modern expectations. Tamerlano’s personality doesn’t come naturally to Stotijn, though part of the art of acting means becoming a character completely different to yourself...."

"Her programme was wide-ranging: Pfitzner, Wolf, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Debussy, Strauss and Loewe. This is the kind of recital singers often create to show their prowess....The danger with programmes like these is that they stretch singers out too thinly, militating against depth of interpretation....The Strauss set showed her at her best......"

"Part of Stotijn’s problem is that her voice is currently underpowered. Sound seems trapped in her chest, not fully projected, either in volume or intensity. Building up her technique will help, and strengthening the middle of her voice....."

"Unlike instrumental players, singers “are” their instruments. Unlike machines, their performance can vary, depending on many different factors. Stotijn was born with a good voice, capable of great warmth and sensitivity, but at the moment, something is getting in the way. At times like these, technique comes to the rescue. Indeed, good technique has saved many a lesser voice. If she takes the opportunity to refine her skills and rebuild her confidence, she’ll emerge from this period with credit. Just as fire strengthens steel, perhaps these current difficulties can strengthen Stotijn in the longer term."

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