Working with singers is an endless journey of discovery. Is it possible that a particular quality of voice that catches your ear and dazzles you with its facets of color is yet to be heard, or an artistry that sparks your imagination and touches you in un- expected and inexplicable ways exists in a budding voice student? I often say that coaching singers is the best job in the world because it is a treasure hunt. All that's required is to find the key that unlocks a free, unobstructed, pure human sound that is by its very nature, a sound we've never heard before. The job of someone who works with singers is to wait for that quality to appear, to coax it out, shine a light on it, celebrate it, and to watch it unfold.
When I was a student, working with opera singers for the first time, I saw these little miracles happen most often through diction--the detailed study of vowels, consonants, the shaping of words, the gesture of a phrase, the telling of a story. When a singer happens upon what can only be called the "sweet spot", it is undeniable, breathtaking, life-changing. This treasure hunt became my vocation, my daily work, and the spark that created Classic Lyric Arts as I eventually found colleagues equally fascinated by the relationship between words and music, friends and supporters who love this art form and are committed to its future, and young singers who know that they have something inside of them that can only be expressed through their voice, and are willing to dedicate their lives to finding a way to bring this out through the masterpieces of opera and song.
Three quotes beautifully encompass our mission at CLA. The first two are from the mentor/teachers whose work is at the heart of these programs. The third is from Shakespeare, who knew at thing or two about words (and music!).
"The French sing more through their words than through their music. The unique strength of French song is in the music of the words, the painting of words. The singer becomes a painter, describing a landscape, suggesting an emotion...One must use the entire palette of colors of the voice."
Michel Sénéchal, principal coach, CLA France
"The great singers who become true legends are, not by coincidence, those who have an impeccable diction, one that is intrinsically connected to their vocal technique."
Ubaldo Fabbri, principal coach, CLA Italy
"Words without thoughts never to Heaven go."