Quantitative and Qualitative Results of the survey ‘Getting into Character’ April and May 2012
KEY STATS•Survey between 23rd April – 31st May2012•48 respondents•Respondents taken from Trinity LabanCollege and Facebook Group ‘OperaTalk’
1. What is the first thing you do when you have anew aria to learn ? Watch the aria on DVD/youtube Watch the whole opera Find out the plot Learn the text of the aria Translate the aria Learn the music Other
2. When learning new arias, how frequently doyou watch the whole opera (live and/or DVD)from which they originate ? 40 35 30 25 Sometimes 20 Never 15 10 5 0
2. When learning new arias, how frequently do you watch the whole opera (live and/or DVD) from which they originate ?Comments can be summarised as :•Time/cost issues•Don’t want to pick up others’ mistakes
3. In a concert setting, what techniques do youuse to convey the character to an audience (iewhen you have no other characters on stage, nocostume and no props) ? 35 I adopt a physicality appropriate to the 30 character I alter my facial 25 expressions 20 I use my arms/hands to 15 show meaning I choose what Im 10 wearing carefully 5 I walk around the stage (in a concert 0 setting)
3. In a concert setting, what techniques do youuse to convey the character to an audience (iewhen you have no other characters on stage, nocostume and no props) ?Comments can be summarised as :•Act !•Appropriate suitable physicality for the character
4. Do you prefer to sing arias in a stagedformat (ie costumed, with props and othercharacters) or in a concert setting ? Staged format Concert setting
4. Do you prefer to sing arias in a staged format (iecostumed, with props and other characters) or in aconcert setting ? Comments can be summarised as : •12 people said ‘easier’ •Many comments surrounding ‘more personal input’ and ‘flexibility’ in a concert setting •More fun (3 people)
5. What, if any, barriers do you find in performing anaria in a concert setting ? 30 20 10 0 No other characters on stage to react to Difficulty in switching from one character to another in quick succession No costume to help me get into character No director to help my movements/choreography Lack of understanding of the character Lack of knowledge of the whole plot
5. What, if any, barriers do you find in performing anaria in a concert setting ? Respondents were equally split in their comments:- •4 people said ‘no barriers’ (out of 8 responses)
6. What top tip can you give to help a singercharacterise an aria in a concert setting ?Overwhelmingly, people said :-•Know the whole role/fully understand thecharacter, by the following : Understand the text The whole opera’s plot Visualise the surroundings of the aria (woods, glade etc) Research the opera’s context
In your opinion, how important is it that the ariaremains true to the original plot when sung in theconcert setting ? (38 respondents)Differing opinions :-‘There may be too much back-story…..therefore, to provide a meaningfulperformance, a new context needs to be invented and communicated.The plot isnt necessarily important to the audience but they should hearthe emotion and understanding in your voice.Versus:-‘Some arias dont make any sense out of context - in this case, better togive a straight performance than try to convey the whole sense of whatsgoing on!’And then the middle way :-‘It really depends on the aria!’
Conclusions•Singers prefer to sing the whole role in a fully stagedopera as it’s easier to get into character and more funto perform the whole role.•When singing arias in a concert, there are mixedopinions in terms of whether an aria should be‘generalised’ or whether it should still be sung as if in itsoriginal context.•They all agree that ideally, to characterise one ariaproperly, the whole role should be totally understood,along with the whole opera.
Conclusions (cont.) •There are no short cuts in preparing an aria for a concert setting rather than the whole role in an opera. This has implications for the amount of preparation time necessary for an opera ‘concert’ comprising arias from numerous operas.