TRANSCENDING FACH: A SEARCH FOR IDENTITY INSIDE AND OUT OF MEZZO-SOPRANO REPERTOIRE

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2006

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The German Fach system is a tool to classify voices in classical singing. This dissertation comprises three different programs that reflect my search for identity as a mezzo-soprano and my desire to transcend the limitations of Fach. The three programs, all presented at The Clarice Performing Arts Center, contain repertoire written for male and female voices thus allowing me to explore areas outside of the mezzo-soprano Fach, gain a better understanding of the Fach system and guide me as I strive to become a more mature performer. In my first program, I sang the role of Sesto, a role that was composed originally for a castrate, in the opera La Clemenza di Tito by W.A. Mozart. The Maryland Opera Studio production took place April 30, May 2,4&6,2003. Performing this gender-bending role provided an experience of physical behavior from the male view point along with the demands of coloratura singing. Program two (November 30,2004) contained the song cycle Dichterliebe by Robert Schumann and songs by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn, which are usually sung by male voices. This program experimented with extended range, tessitura and a gender-bending performance in the art song arena. 8 In program three (April 21 &23,2005), I sang the contralto role of Cornelia from Giulio Cesare in Egitto by George Frederic Handel. The role of Cornelia is psychologically complex, expressing emotions such as love, melancholy, rage, malice, joy and fear. To convey these emotions a voice needs warmth and darkness of quality. Although the range is close to that of the mezzo-soprano, Handel wrote Cornelia for contralto voice because he wanted a dark timbre and this role allowed me to develop my lower register and manage suitable ornamentations. The programs are documented in a digital format available on compact disc and are accompanied by the oral presentation at the defense of this dissertation.

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