The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The MT Bro??

Before I get into this post, I'd firstly like to announce to followers of this blog that I will be performing the role of Jud Fry in Oklahoma at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma this summer from June 23rd-June 27th. This is my big home theater where all the national touring musicals travel through, and it also takes place in an immense performance hall that has grown to be very special to Ol' Yeargain through the years. This will be the first summer in 4 years where I'll actually be home. I'm getting to perform a very fun role in the show that is about my home state. In my home state, in my home theater. I've got layers of happy with this one.

This will also be a very good bragging opportunity for family and friends. My Ma is like most mothers and wants to display her children's achievements, but most of my gigs have taken me out of town and my family and friends are left little opportunity to see my work. This will change this summer.

The Opera and MT Conundrum

People are probably curious why a dude that calls himself an "Opera Bro" is pursuing Musical Theatre. Allow me to address this.

Firstly, before I wanted to be an opera singer, before I wanted to be a violist, I wanted to be an entertainer. I was always trying to crack jokes in class and I got in trouble for it a few times, got pulled aside and was told "everything has a time and place" and that kind of stunted my class clown pursuits, but I still wanted to be a center piece of performance. When I was a kid growing up, I always wanted to be in front of the camera. Me and my friends made some very embarrassing parody movies, and I insisted that I played a leading role (Sounds familiar). I even went through a brief time where I wanted to be a stand up comedian and get onto SNL.

I think I'm a natural attention seeker, but only in formats of my choosing. I don't like the "dance, monkey, dance" game. 

Regardless, performing, entertaining and demonstrating my emotional capacities has always been a part of the Ol' Yeargain game plan. At this point of the game, being a singing actor is highly attractive to me, and regardless of the music I'm singing, I'm going to give it my all.

That being said, Musical Theater has a lot of personal interest that I feel I should discuss...

1. I've always shined the brightest in roles that are in English.

The general language barrier of opera has been an issue for me in the past. I don't blame the art form, I blame my ability to conquer it's barriers. I've always had difficulty with languages, and it's something that requires a great deal of work to be great at. It's one of the reasons opera is such an incredible art form and one that is so demanding on it's performers. This is not to diminish the English language, which I believe (ie, My Opinion) is by far the most difficult to sing with a technique that involves optimal resonance that is associated with operatic singing.

2. Dialogue

Acting, specifically with spoken dialogue has always intrigued me. It's something that I'm not particularly educated in, but I feel that I possess a degree of natural talent. I've taken acting classes, done straight scenes, and a teeny tiny bit of screen work, but I don't feel that these are the reasons I'm good with dialogue. I believe I'm good at dialogue because of people's reactions to my dialogue driven performances. I'm not perfect, I don't pretend to be, but I have the capacity to impress and I'm forever the student in this regard. I don't watch films, T.V., and plays with the thought of "This is entertainment" but always with the microscope of "I'm here to learn." And, more than anything, I'm always looking to improve through the practice of performance. Accents, the peaks and valleys of an individuals voice, finding that character in the language both in the body and the vocals. It's an absolute labor of love.

3. Voice Type Ambiguity

In opera, you're forced to choose what you can sing, and after you've chosen a type you'd like to audition for, you're then given a million opinions about what you should be singing. It's an issue that is discussed ad naseum in pretty much every level of opera singing. If you're a tenor, what kind of tenor are you? Are you baritone or tenor? Your high notes are too easy for you to be a baritone, but then again, your low notes are pretty impressive, have you considered bass baritone literature? I've spent hours debating about what super stars in the business should be, shouldn't be, and will and won't be singing. Of course anytime you're passionate about an art form, you find reasons to talk about it, regardless of your actual input on the decision. Just like the millions of people who jabber on and on about sports line ups, coaches decisions and whatever in regards to athletics.

The great thing about musical theater is that there is a lot of ambiguity in regards to voice types and what roles you can, should, or should not be singing. It seems to be much more based on type, age, look, and vocal timbre than what you classify yourself as. It requires you to be very honest about what kind of type you fit into, to the point of considering whether or not people even want your type at all. In theory, a person capable of numerous vocal styles, colors, and with an immense range could shine in dozens of various roles throughout the repertoire. As a guy who is constantly looking for something new and interesting to sink my teeth into that challenges my vocal capabilities, can you see my interest peaking?

4. The Music is Immensely Beautiful

Anybody that says the music in many Musical Theater shows is not the same caliber of Verdi, Puccini, or even at times the caliber of Mozart himself, is just pretense. I'll stand toe to toe with anybody with that opinion sprawled on my chest. Of course there are terrible musical theater shows, there are thousands of operas, plays, tv shows, movies, etc. that are nothing but utter shit. However, there are gems in each genre, or little sparkles in large turds of shows that shine forever.

5. And finally, I'm not leaving Opera...

At this point in my life, I don't have to choose, I can do whatever the hell I want, chase after what roles I desire, and not have to answer to anybody. I'm a singing musician, and I have both Opera Roles AND Musical Theater roles on my schedule and I hope to continue to have both on forever. Why? Because life is too short, and the music and stories are too perfect and beautiful to shun. I'll sing whatever people will allow me to sing. Tenor, baritone, bass, I'll sing it all if a casting director thinks me capable.

Until Next time, Sing the music that makes you happy, but only if you...

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

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