For singers: A crash course in historical style and technique
For audiences: An inside look at the process, explained and demonstrated
Ornamentation Bootcamp is a hands-on course in understanding, composing, and even improvising the decorative notes in Italian opera - for centuries, one of the singer’s most basic means of self-expression. Embellishment went away when music turned in other directions; the age of revivals later brought it back. But it can reach its full expressive potential only when it comes straight from the singer’s own mind and heart.
The Ornamentation Bootcamp is designed to equip singers for that. Taught by Teatro Nuovo’s artistic director Will Crutchfield, it is simultaneously a methodical analysis of techniques and an adventure in awakening fantasy.
Five Wednesday evenings, 7-10 p.m.
March 13, 20, April 3, 10, 24
MacKay Studio, Opera America
330 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001
SINGERS AND PIANISTS: Six singers and two pianists will be chosen by audition to participate on full scholarship (must be available for all five sessions). Vocal participants should be working singers or career-bound students who already have strong agility skills. Pianists should be working or aspiring coach-accompanists interested in learning more about improvisation and performance practice.
AUDITORS: Space for up to 26 observers is available at a subscription price of $150 for the entire series (with guarantee of reserved seating), or at a single-admission price of $35 on a first-come first-served basis for any un-subscribed seats. Any and all music-business professionals, academics, and opera fans curious about the nuts and bolts of Bel Canto are welcome as auditors; those who wish will have a chance to participate in group exercises as well! Click here to purchase seats.
The course combines two complementary elements:
An overview of ornamentation’s colorful and beautiful history, as it is preserved in manuscripts by composers, singers, and teachers reaching back to Handel’s time, and in rare recordings from the pre-microphone era, when echoes of the Bel Canto tradition were still heard from singers trained in the 19th century.
Practical work on the skill-set implied by the information, with exercises in the execution of ornaments and strategies for finding - both by sight and by ear - exactly how they can or cannot fit into different melodic skeletons.
A small group of arias will be chosen in consultation with the singers as working material for the course (with scores, texts, and translations provided to all observers).
Each session will begin with an informational seminar (with Q&A and discussion), followed by a work-session in masterclass format, applying the information examined directly to the pieces in question.
The goal is to take each singer to the highest possible level of freedom, invention, and confident execution over the course of the five sessions. The final session will end with a free-wheeling improvisation tournament - like a poetry slam, with the auditors as judges. Don’t miss this unique event!
Auditors and observers: Click here to purchase seats to Ornamentation Bootcamp.