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Castaway - Chapters 33-34

October 21, 2015
Posted at 12:41 pm

Superficially, Germont's aria "Di Provenza" from La Traviata seems like it's opera singing for dummies; its metronomic rhythm and straightforward notation moving carefully along the scale make it one of the seemingly easiest pieces in the baritone repertoire, and a favorite of young singers. And if you just want to hit the notes, that about describes it. But in fact it's far from easy to sing correctly. It requires a silky legato-smoothness of vocal tone, which even some seasoned veterans lack-with plenty of vocal strength left over for the crescendi (peaks). It's easy to understand how a fledgling singer, as Nick was when he first learned it, could try to "fix" his inability to command its subtleties by interpolating the artifices of syncopation and rhythmic variation to distort the composer's intent. (Although I admit that it's a lot less easy to understand how his teacher or conductor would sit still for it.)
Remember, Nick's new to singing operatic leads. In the back of his mind he's still a comprimario; so he's learning as he goes along. Fortunately, in my conceit he's a quick study. He needs to be, with two of the finest, and most difficult, roles in the repertoire in the offing.