Whilst waiting for the score I looked at other blogs to help me find what other singers do to prepare a role. I’ve never learnt a role this size in Italian before so the language is going to be a bit of a barrier for me as is memorisation as I often struggle with this.
I had a look around on the internet for a couple of blogs to help me understand how to learn the role, as I didn’t know where to start.
The first blog I read was buy Lucia Lucas (read full blog here), an opera singer who had lots of professional operatic experience. I had also been told about this by a few colleagues so thought it was worth a read.
The first bit of advice is to get the score, and to make sure you’re getting the right edition (i.e. the one that the company you’re singing with is using). Luckily I’ve already done this step haha! Next step is to mark up your score (I’ll show you this once my score has arrived) by highlighting the parts your in and using sticky tabs to mark each entrance. Next step is to mark things that are important to the language. Then write in the translation (if it isn’t already), the edition I will be using is in Italian and German, so I will use the Nico Castel translation, as it’s available in the library at the RCS. The next step is TLM (Translated, Learnt, Memorised). So for every section you’re in you write wether you’ve translated it, learnt is and memorised is using T,L and M. I like this system as it’s a good way to track what learning you need to do, especially if you’re doing a big role but I feel it may be a bit too much to mark in the score; I’ll have to wait and see. The blog also talks about getting a good coach, luckily with being part of the opera school we get coachings as part of our course! The next part is really interesting. It discusses the rule of 25, by David Holloway. This involves saying the text 25 times, speaking the text 25 times in rhythm, then singing the music 25 times with the score. I really like this and I am definitely going to apply it to learning Agrippina.
The next blog I read is by Kirsten (read full blog here) and she breaks down learning the role into 3 easy steps.
Her first step is; getting the score. Again like the previous score she states how important it is to get the right score. She then says to write in the cuts, we’ve been told there will be cuts in the opera, so once I know them I can write them in. She also says ‘tab your score’ and mentions putting sticky tabs at the start of each scene you’re in, as it makes it easier during the rehearsal process to know when you are needed on stage. I’ll be doing mine that way! She also says you need to highlight your part, but be careful not to overdo it, just incase you sing another role in the same opera! (very wise haha) I don’t think I would be singing any of the other roles in Agrippina as they don’t suit me, so I’ll highlight each line. Step 2 is; organise your musical learning process. She says once you’ve marked up your score it will be apparent which parts are more difficult, and require more time to learn. Which in turn helps you to prioritise your learning. She also states how important it is to do your language work, so putting in the translation word for word and the poetic translation. I’m not sure how much room there will be in my score for this, so I’ll have to see. she says then you need to learn the rhythm and notes and work with a coach (like the previous blog). Interestingly the next step is; become the character. The other blog didn’t touch on this, so this will be useful to me, as not only do I have to learn the music, I need to create a character as well. She says gather as much information about the character as possible, wether it be literary or otherwise. Luckily for me there’s a lot of information about Agrippina readily available as she was quite infamous! If there are any gaps in the information she says to fill them in yourself and create a life story for your character. Create a quirk for your character, some sort of habit they have or do. This part of the blog is very interesting, I hadn’t thought too much about developing a character. Lastly she says you need to meet with your acting coach or director. Unfortunately for me, I won’t be able to meet the director until production rehearsals start..
Overall I found these blogs very useful, especially the 25, 25, 25 rule. I also liked the character development from the second blog. I’m also glad I found some information about role preparation, as it’s not something I’ve ever discussed despite being educated at a conservatoire for 5/6 years! Now I just need my score to arrive so that I can cracking started.
Watch this space!