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Thread: Masterclasses at the Aix-en-Provence Festival

          
   
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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Masterclasses at the Aix-en-Provence Festival

    As part of our coverage for the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, let's talk briefly about the Academy, which is the part of the organization that trains young artists. This year, it's called the Résidence Mozart, and it has programs for singers, chamber music instrumentalists, pianists, focusing on Mozart but with works by other composers as well.

    The Festival sells passes for all the Academy events (it includes the masterclasses and also concerts and even full operas by student singers) - the pass costs 15 euros and is free for anybody younger than 30 (it also gives right to certain price reductions around the other Festival events); also tickets can be bought for individual events for 5 euros.

    We attended two of their masterclasses: one, with young singers being coached by Chef de Chant Ouri Bronchti on The Rake's Progress, and another one with Choreographer and Stage Director Leah Hausman, on body movements on stage as they relate to acting.

    Participants in the two sessions we attended were sopranos Cornelia Beskow, Clara Cecilie Thomsen, Angela Vallone, mezzos Lea Desandre and Yulia Sokolik, tenors Philipp Kapeller and Jamez McCorkle, baritons Denis Milo and Mathew Patrick Morris, bass-baritone Antoin Herrera-Lopes Kessel, and pianists Thibaud Epp, Killian Farrell, and Piotr Fidelus.

    In The Rake's Progress session, we heard Philipp Kapeller as Tom (he was born in Innsbruck, Austria); Angela Vallone as Anne Trulove (American, currently studying at Juilliard), and Cuban born Antoin Herrera-Lopez Kessel as father Trulove. Moscow-born Yulia Sokolik sang Baba The TurK.

    We won't detail the session here because it was no different from the usual vocal masterclass - in the past we've covered in detail those by Larry Brownlee and Frederica von Stade, and this one was similar - the faculty person stops the singers several times, works on their phrasing, corrects some notes, encourages proper breathing, etc. We found all four singers to be promising, especially Yulia who does have a powerful voice. Here are a few pictures of the singers:

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    Philipp, Angela, and Antoin, Opera Lively photo

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    Same

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    Yulia

    Now, the much more interesting session was the Movement one, with British choreographer and stage director Leah Hausman, who participated among others of the gorgeous production of Les Troyens that Opera Lively covered at Covent Garden, as well as Glyndebourne, ENO, La Scala, and others. In America she has been part of several productions too (Chicago - Billy Budd, Rusalka; San Fran - Don Giovanni, Lohengrin; Met - Le Trouvère, Roberto Devereux, Maria Stuarda).

    Ms. Hausman first made all participants (including the pianists) jog and move their arms, jump, etc., for warming-up and for developing more consciousness of body movements. Then she taught seven states-of-being as they relate to movements and acting, and this was truly fascinating. She made the students pair with each other and encouraged the various pairs to engage in each one of these seven states - while I don't remember how she called each one, they ranged from acting like someone who doesn't have solid bones (which gives a drunken state, with singers making their limbs fall apart, rolling around), to being confident and proud while projecting one's chest forward and holding high one's head, to yelling out loud and pointing fingers in authoritarian ways, etc. Then she made them down masks so that they couldn't rely on facial expressions, and made them express the same states of being by body movement only. She also made them hold sticks (one studing holding each end) and face each other while moving the sticks around, to teach them how to connect to each other in a scene. Finally we were treated to two scenes where the students employed these techniques while singing, with the pianists providing the accompaniment.

    Pictures (taken by Opera Lively in less than ideal conditions so pardon the low quality of these pics):

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    The stage and the court inside the Aix Festival complex where the Movement masterclass was held

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    Students moving around

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    The exercise with the sticks

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    Swedish student soprano Cornelia Beskow engaged in the exercise with the sticks

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    The exercise with the masks

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    Same

    I have two video clips of the sung scenes; click on the links below to see them (very interesting):

    https://youtu.be/mGtunb_RNnU

    https://youtu.be/tPZ75I63IgQ

    Ms. Cornelia Beskow was simply superb in her singing scene, and she is one to be watched, for her future career developments.

    Don't miss the rest of our Aix coverage, with interviews, reviews, and pictorial blogs. You can click [here] to have access to a Portal that contains links to all our Aix articles.

    It is interesting to see how that same evening in Così fan Tutte I could see singers using the exact same techniques, and it did enhance my understanding of acting.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 8th, 2016 at 01:54 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #2
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    This is amazing material! I can't think of any opera publication that has ever provided this much in-depth coverage of a festival. I'm really looking forward to reading all of the artist interviews.

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  4. #3
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    This is amazing material! I can't think of any opera publication that has ever provided this much in-depth coverage of a festival. I'm really looking forward to reading all of the artist interviews.
    Thanks. The interviews are fantastic. They are also so many... and transcribing is a long and difficult task. By the way, there are five more coming in Berlin. This will make a total of 13 interviews in this trip, the absolute record for Opera Lively, and this will generate some 80 hours of work to put it all together (not to forget the many hours that went into getting them done),

    I'm so glad that Opéra National de Paris said that all the artists I consulted them about are gone for the summer and interviews will not be possible! I'll actually have a 4-day vacation in Paris at the end of this trip!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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