Interpretation and Technique
‘Interpretation and Technique’ courses provide students with specialised technical skills and knowledge, specifically aimed at professional practice. Any particular repertoire focus depends on coming projects, visiting masters, etc.
Certain courses are exclusive to singers or repetiteurs.
The main goal of the coaching sessions is to foster and explore imagination, interpretation and communication. The repertoire is analysed in detail, through in-depth study of both text and music, and the relationship between these. Translation, pronunciation, meaning, dynamics, expression marks, phrasing, intonation, vibrato, rhythm and many other components are discussed and brought together to arrive at interesting interpretations. In addition, the differences of styles are studied. The focus is always on how to communicate all of this well to an audience.
Lessons can be linked to an IOA production, or the repertoire can be entirely free of choice. Repertoire can encompass opera, song, oratorio, operetta and musical theatre styles from early baroque to contemporary music.
For singers: The character’s development in a song, aria or role is studied and kept as close to reality as possible. Often, reference will be made to movement and/or acting classes. We address balance problems that may occur: how will a singer make him- or herself heard above an orchestra in a larger hall? Students receive help with choice of repertoire and Fach. They also receive guidance for their preparation: in general, but also specifically for concerts, masterclasses or productions.
For repetiteurs: We monitor the development of thorough repertoire knowledge, through work in detail as well as the improvement of students’ sight-reading skills. Classes specifically aim to increase students’ ability to play and sing at the same time. Therefore, these are closely linked to the course ‘Singing lessons for repetiteurs’. Where necessary, students will be given initiation to conducting and following a conductor, in preparation for the conducting classes and productions. Duo and ensemble work with singers (together with coaching singers and vocal ensembles) is discussed and put into practice.
Students are given guidance for their preparation: in general, but also specifically for concerts, masterclasses or productions.
Italian Language Coaching
During the first year, the course will focus at first on IPA transcription and correct reading of the language. Every individual student will bring to class his/her repertoire to play/sing. Any individual issues will be addressed in a holistic fashion, i.e. style-technical related issues might be addressed at the same time, in order to achieve the most complete result possible. During the second year focus will shift to recits, handling the theory of Recitativo practice first and then going deep into its performance (especially in small groups).
Students are expected to achieve knowledge of Italian IPA, awareness of basic prosody, correct enunciation (open and closed vowels, cogeminazione, double consonants), and to master the art of Italian secco recits.
French Language Coaching
During the first year, the French Language Class course focuses on IPA, diction, translation and meaning of text in French vocal repertoire, as well as how to combine clear diction with a free vocal approach. During the second year, attention will still focus on the combination between clear diction and free singing; moreover, there will be additional focus on musical phrasing, style and interpretation of French text in singing.
The teacher’s pedagogic approach is very much linked to the student’s individual needs.
Teacher and student consider the language in relationship to the voice, to the music and the meaning of the text. Classes are individual and based on each student’s growth and needs (both singers and repetiteurs). During the 1st year, special attention is paid to the way a singer produces a sound when singing a text. The student develops an understanding of how to sing and interpret the text with respect to his/her voice and body. During the 2nd year, extra attention will be given to the preparation of the French roles that the singers will sing in the opera productions organized by the IOA, as well as audition arias or roles in French.
German Language Coaching
German coaching classes aim to provide students with the following skills: flawless pronunciation and articulation, ability to use the German language as expressive means in both singing and speaking (on stage) as well as a thorough understanding of the relevant German repertoire.
Typically, students have individual coaching appointments, working on their individual repertoire. Students are encouraged to bring to the lessons any repertoire they are working on (opera, oratorio or Lied). The teacher can also suggest repertoire.
If there are several students that could benefit from theory sessions, group sessions are provided on German phonetics, pronunciation rules and grammar.
English Language Coaching
English coaching classes will explore the nature of the English language in relation to the singing voice, focusing on vocal music from the opera, operetta, oratorio and song repertoire. As English is the common language spoken between international students at the IOA, it is all the more important that attention is given to ensure English is learnt and applied accurately when singing.
The technical elements of each session will focus on all aspects of diction, concentrating on the correct pronunciation of vowels, diphthongs and consonants in sung English. Having built up technical strength, approaching a role, character analysis and storytelling will be an important part of each session. The pronunciation of and differences between British Received Pronunciation and American Standard will also be addressed.
The pace at which the sessions progress will depend on the ability and mother tongue of the individual student.
During the first year, each student acquires the tools to be able to pronounce, enunciate and express a vocal text in English. Successful communication of a text will be at the heart of each session. Ideally, by the end of the first year, the student should be able to apply their technical knowledge of the English language independently. Having mastered the technical foundations of the language, the second year lessons will encourage physical freedom in the student to enable them to fully communicate a text and inhabit a role in English. Repetiteur students will be actively involved in any English language coaching session they accompany, and will also be encouraged to develop their own skills as a coach from this perspective.
On several occasions during the academic year, members of staff conduct workshops regarding specific themes (for example: operetta, baroque, American Songbook, audition training).
These workshops last several days, up to a week. The results may be presented to the audience during a (semi-staged) concert. Each year, new workshops are planned.
Find below the workshops 2022-2023:
Workshop Repertoire II
The teacher will refresh all methods and skills involved in the presentation of the student’s repertoire. Classes will take place in group or individually.
Singers will acquire better knowledge of their repertoire choices, in order to be prepared for auditions in a next stage. Repetiteurs will acquire profound knowledge of the repertoire they have to play, and learn to “guide” the rehearsal.
Workshop American Songbook
During this workshop, we will explore the many splendid standards of The Great American Songbook. We will research the repertoire, style, timing and melodic phrasing of the songs. We will also find out which sound colour and voice qualities are best used when singing in this style.
If necessary, the teacher will provide tools, tips and tricks regarding vocal technique in combination with singing in this particular style. The goal of this workshop is for the students to get more familiar and comfortable whilst singing in this genre. This workshop is a preparation for the Caramba workshop using the same repertoire from the American Songbook.
This workshop serves as preparation for a concert (for private as well as public performances) based on classical opera repertoire as well as American Songbook repertoire.
Students will be challenged to feel free and secure in presenting classical opera repertoire, as well as repertoire that may not belong to their “comfort zone” (American Songbook).
There are specialisations for singers and for repetiteurs.
Specialisation for repetiteurs
The goal of this course is twofold:
First, the repetiteur acquires an understanding of several early keyboard instruments, like the harpsichord and the fortepiano. The student understands how the instruments work, what types there are and how to play them, how one can obtain a maximum of expression by using certain techniques, what the differences are in approaching the harpsichord/fortepiano keyboard and literature as opposed to the piano, etc.
Second, these technical aspects are put into practice by playing baroque and classical opera repertoire. Students learn (1) to perform baroque music on the early keyboards (orchestral overtures, arias etc. as well as smaller solo pieces); (2) to accompany a recitativo secco; (3) to distinguish and apply different stylistic approaches and (4) to find a musically convincing alternative by using these ‘early music solutions’ on the modern piano.
We will work on several aspects of continuo playing, as well as specific technical skills for the various instruments.
This class aims to prepare the standard audition repertoire that is expected from a repetiteur when applying for a position in an Opera House (.e. opera scenes from Figaro, Carmen, Bohème/Otello/Falstaff, Salome/Elektra/Rosenkavalier.). We will focus on orchestral understanding and sound, pianistic solutions and arrangements, coordination with singing and proficient diction in the main operatic languages. Furthermore, we will have practice sessions with singers, developing strategies and efficient ways to support and accompany them, even when having been given limited time to prepare.
Singing Lessons for Repetiteurs
Singing Lessons for Repetiteurs aim to develop the voice and posture of each individual pianist, and help students to prepare for specific professional situations, including auditions, rehearsals and internships.
This course focuses on the development of a healthy vocal technique. Focus on good projection, the ability to sing and play the piano simultaneously and the use of different languages in an assortment of relevant repertoire are central to each lesson.
There are various circumstances in which a repetiteur may be asked to sing an absent singer’s part. In this situation a repetiteur will often have to sing from offstage, possibly from the orchestra pit. The course will prepare students for precisely these circumstances. Vocal projection, confidence and stamina are of great importance for students training for this role. Warm-up and voice exercises accompanied by the teacher will lay the foundation of each lesson. Students will gradually engage in simultaneous playing and singing, using repertoire relevant to their own personal journey.
At the outset of the course, students will learn to sing and play songs and arias in a familiar language. They will then engage with operatic repertoire (arias and ensembles) in different languages.
Audition and rehearsal situations will also be re-created during class, along with the development of skills needed for repetiteurs to interact with other singers on a vocal level at all stages of a rehearsal process.
As the singing skills of the student improve, the aim of the sessions will be to pay special attention to specific repertoire necessary to prepare for upcoming auditions, coachings and productions the training repetiteur may be involved in. The aim for each repetiteur is to be able to expected to play and sing simultaneously, in a range of languages, with conviction and a high level of authority, especially when interacting with other students or colleagues.
Specialisation for singers
Vocal Advice – Charlotte Margiono
Charlotte Margiono is available for individual and group advice to singers, in order to refine their repertoire at a vocal level. In classes, sufficient attention is also given to ensemble singing.
The Mozart ensembles are approached, and other genres are considered: early and late Romanticism, as well as German, Slavic and (definitely) Italian repertoire.
Classes specifically pay attention to the following issues:
- finding an ensemble sound that is homogenous with the sound of colleague-singers;
- incorporating one’s own direction in musical interpretation and expression;
- learning safe singing techniques to use when following complex direction advice;
- focus on symbiosis of acting, theatre and singing;
- preparing for auditions: finding and studying the best arias for the student, and learning to acquire sufficient flexibility to cope with high-stress situations.
Vocal Advice – Martin Wölfel
These lessons provide technical, musical and interpretative work on arias and songs in accordance with the individual needs of the students.