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Vespasiano

Beefcake in Opera . . .

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Here are baritone, Nathan Gunn (some time ago, I posted Mr. Gunn's performance from a semi-staged Camolot), and tenor, William Burden in the conclusion of the Pearl Fishers Duet from a 2004 staging of the opera in Philadelphia. Needless to say, both Mr. Gunn and Mr. Burden shatter the old stereotype of the opera singer's shape though I doubt too many tenors and baritones -- even the physically-conscious -- could boast physiques to match these two. I certainly never couldn't!

Apart from the view and fine singing, however, what I find really neat about this particular clip is that, particularly in regards to Mr. Gunn (the singer in the blue robe), one has the rare if only brief opportunity to see in action (watch the abdominal muscles) the breathing and diaphragmatic support mechanisms that serve as the the foundation for good singing.

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Oops! "I certainly never could" is what I meant.

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Here are baritone, Nathan Gunn (some time ago, I posted Mr. Gunn's performance from a semi-staged Camolot), and tenor, William Burden in the conclusion of the Pearl Fishers Duet from a 2004 staging of the opera in Philadelphia. Needless to say, both Mr. Gunn and Mr. Burden shatter the old stereotype of the opera singer's shape though I doubt too many tenors and baritones -- even the physically-conscious -- could boast physiques to match these two. I certainly never couldn't!

Apart from the view and fine singing, however, what I find really neat about this particular clip is that, particularly in regards to Mr. Gunn (the singer in the blue robe), one has the rare if only brief opportunity to see in action (watch the abdominal muscles) the breathing and diaphragmatic support mechanisms that serve as the the foundation for good singing.

Thank you for posting this, Vespasiano. I have played it several times over. As you say, the physique of the singers is impressive, and it is an excellent demonstration of breath control, I intend showing the clip to my senior speech students. I’m constantly telling them that breath is the basis of voice production so it’s important to develop good breathing habits. Some actually think practicing breathing exercises is a frivolous activity. I’ve lost count of those who bewail: “I know how to breathe, I’ve been doing it all my life….” Or “I don’t need to do breathing exercises, I just want to learn how to project my voice without losing it….”

I suppose singing teachers have similar experiences. It’s part of a day’s work!

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A mention of beefcake is incomplete without a reference to a certain Russian white-haired baritone... :D

I'll let those interested pull the Elle special from Google.

Mary - honestly? You have voice students that refuse to learn to breathe? That's... astonishing. Do these students intend to become professionals?

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Thank you for posting this, Vespasiano. I have played it several times over. As you say, the physique of the singers is impressive, and it is an excellent demonstration of breath control, I intend showing the clip to my senior speech students. I’m constantly telling them that breath is the basis of voice production so it’s important to develop good breathing habits. Some actually think practicing breathing exercises is a frivolous activity. I’ve lost count of those who bewail: “I know how to breathe, I’ve been doing it all my life….” Or “I don’t need to do breathing exercises, I just want to learn how to project my voice without losing it….”

I suppose singing teachers have similar experiences. It’s part of a day’s work!

I'm so glad to see that you enjoyed the clip and find it useful. In one sense, the student who says "I know how to breathe; I've been doing it all my life . . . " is correct: however, whatever actual knowledge that student has was automatized so long ago that it is now a subconscious action. An unexamined reliance upon natural, automatized processes is not sufficient. The singer, the stage actor or, for that matter, the athlete must develop and ultimately OWN a heightened, conscious awareness of those processes. This is what Technique is ultimately all about -- it is the recognition that Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.

What the singers, particularly Mr. Gunn, do in this clip is an illustration of Nature writ large. This is what enables them to fill with the sound of their own voices a 2000 or 3000 seat theater over an orchestra, without amplification and without damaging their instruments.

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A mention of beefcake is incomplete without a reference to a certain Russian white-haired baritone... :D

Would that be:

Pasha07_1111-400.jpg

or

Pasha07_1253-400.jpg

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Krassivoi, niet?

The funniest thing is that he now claims the whole Elle/"hottest male" thing was out of his hands, he was young and not in control of his image and it detracted from his serious work...

Bah, I like Netrebko and Gheorghiu for their voices! Their appearance most certainly does not detract from their artistry and wonderful sound.

My singing lessons were for maybe 3 years purely breathing, or 50% breathing 50% singing and music. So I completely agree with the above.

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