November 18, 2019

Singers: how I approach OLD repertoire

In this short video, I give you a couple of things I look for when examining old repertoire. I also take you on a quick tour of Vienna, all the way to the State Opera, where I have my coaching. (Although I don't show you the actual coaching, because I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I have a degree of vanity you know!)


It's important to remember that YOU are the boss of your career, and at the end of the day, even if the money is great, even if you think you can "manage" the role, or if your agent is pressuring you, the choice to delve into old repertoire is yours and yours ALONE.

There are many pitfalls that come with singing old rep - falling into old bad technical habits because of muscle memory, pulling your voice out of the vocal track you've been on, (in my case, my voice is much larger now than when I studied this role, so I had to artificially "lighten" my voice to make it fit), and it can also send a "signal" to the industry that you are not sure of your voice and the direction of development. Of course the latter is quite extreme - I'm thinking more if you sing Tosca and you suddenly jumped over to sing Zerlina. Might make a few people scratch their heads....

On the other hand, if you have had a period of major technical growth, you may find MORE repertoire is suddenly available to you than before.


When my voice started to become more dramatic, most people said I should concentrate on German music, so I did. This was partly due to the very laser-like nature of my voice - it was very narrow and pointy and lacked roundness - and less to do with the color of my voice, which is very naturally dark and suited to versimo operas like Andrea Chenier or Manon Lescaut.

As my voice and technique matured and more warmth and body came into my voice, I found many more roles were available to me, even ones I had put away for years and years.

The main thing to examine when visiting old repertoire, is the present weight and color of your voice. This often determines the volume and carry of the instrument as well. If the weight and color suits a role, most times you can sing it. We have a great video explaining more about this process here, especially as it pertains to choosing audition arias.

As for me, I've decided not to pursue this role in the future, I think that time is firmly over if we use this criteria. If you have a guess as to what it is, I'd be glad to hear it. I let the cat out of the bag on Instagram a couple days ago...mwah haha!!!

Hint: it's Italian and very mainstream. DOUBLE HINT: it's not in my biography. I've never sung the full role on stage, only excerpts. (And I actually sang it with Norman! TRIPLE hint!)

Here's the video! Hope you enjoy it!

You might also be interested in these

Five Lessons I Wish I Knew at the Start of My Career
Are you feeling labeled as a singer?

Keep in touch with us! Get all things Living Opera directly to your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.