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Acting for Singers: Creating Believable Singing Characters by Ostwald, David F. [ ] [David F. Ostwald] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
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A self-promoter? If you want a professional career, dont ignore this one. Study how people develop careers in your particular area of interest, whether it is opera, musicals, oratorio, or lieder. Where do I want to be as an actor-singer In six months? In one year? In five years? What are my realistic plans for achieving my goals? Can I develop a continuous inner voice subtext, internal dialogue for my character? How skillfully do I use my imagination to project myself into a variety of situations? How willing am I to expose my feelings as a character?

How broad a range of feelings do I have at my disposal? Can I leave my negative self-assessments behind as I am performing? How reliable is my vocal technique? How well do I integrate any vocal demands with my characters inner voice? How able am I to move freely as I sing?

Instructions: Every four to six months make a videotape of yourself performing. Study it closely for all aspects of your effectiveness as a performer.


As you watch and listen ask yourself: Do I seem self-conscious? Do I stay in character?


Are my gestures expressive of my characters thoughts and feelings? Do I gesture in a logical relationship to my breathing and to the flow of my characters ideas? Do I make extraneous facial or body movements? Do I have movement mannerisms? Are there places in my body that seem rigid or tense? Is my weight well balanced on my feet? Do I breathe from my diaphragm, without lifting my shoulders?

Do I use my voice expressively? The hardest part about using videotape as a constructive learning tool is setting aside irrelevant self-appraisals like I hate my hair and concentrating on evaluating your effectiveness. It helps to remember that just as a sound recording is not an exact reproduction of your live voice, so a videotape does not exactly reproduce what you look like. To begin with, it tends to make everyone look heavier than they are. Developed by the great Russian acting teacher Constantin Stanislavski, this amazing tool is no more than the provocative phrase Im going to behave as if.

Although these words may seem innocuous, they can powerfully stimulate your imagination. They can lift you directly into your characters world and help you generate believable actions that express your characters feelings. Imagine also that she has no insurance, and that you are the only family member who can help.

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Now try saying these contrasting phrases to yourself. As you apply the Magical if to each of these alternative circumstances, they will surely arouse different feelings in you, and therefore will stimulate you to take different actions. Naturally, you would be upset in all three cases. But in the first circumstance you might also feel proud and relieved that you can generously save her life, which would cause you to write a check.

In the second circumstance you might also feel desperate but determined, which would cause you to search everywhere for a loan, or maybe even to sell your house to raise cash. In the last circumstance you might also feel rage and the need for revenge and refuse to help her. If it were your character whose mother was dying, and if his circumstances and motivations were identical to any of these, it is likely that he would have feelings very similar to your own, and would be moved to similar actions.

You may well protest that some characters behave in ways that you never would.

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For instance, even as a spoiled teenager, no matter how hot your sexual desires, how great your need to have your own way, or how strong your hatred for your stepfather, and no matter how explosively that hatred might mix with your longing for revenge and with your frustration at being rejected by a man with whom you are obsessed, you would never manipulate your stepfathers lust to force him to behead the man you desire. However, that is what Salome does, and what you, as Salome, will want to make believable.

The beauty of the Magical if is that you can achieve that believability even if your character behaves in a way that is quite outside your experience. With the Magical if you create believable characters not by denying your own voice, body, and feelings but by using them. As discussed in chapter , the more deeply you imagine yourself into your characters circumstances, the more those circumstances arouse your feelings and lead to believable responses. Describing Your Characters Reality In order to behave as if you are your character, you need to describe her reality clearly and in detail.

To develop your description, you draw on the information the composer and librettist embody in the score. Because the creators of the piece supply it, this information is commonly called your Given Circumstances. Answering the following six questions as your character and in the first person will enable you to extract the essence of those circumstances from the wealth of material in a score.

When are the events taking place? In history? In her own life? Where is my character? In the world? In her surroundings? Who is my characterincluding her relationships to the other characters? What does my character want? Your characters want distills the need that drives her to do what she does.

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For the entire piece? This is called your characters super-objective, and is explored in chapter. For each scene or stanza? These are called your characters objectives, and are explored in chapter. Why does she want it? What has just happenedliterally, what has just occurred that causes her to sing? When you are developing the Given Circumstances for your character in a song or lied, you may have to use your imagination to augment the information in the scoreparticularly to describe your characters want, why, and what, since often they are not well defined.

When: The beginning of the Christian era. My stepfather, King Herods, birthday. Where: An outdoor terrace in my stepfathers immense palace in Judea. My mother is now married to King Herod, who constantly undresses me with longing glances. My stepfather is wealthy and powerful. He has imprisoned the apostle Jokanaan John the Baptist in a deep cistern beneath the terrace, from which we hear him raving against the excesses of my stepfathers court.

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I am fascinated by this strange man, in part because it is obvious that my stepfather is afraid of him. Want: I, Salome, want anything I cant have or I, Salome, must be free beyond moral or sexual constraints. Why: I am an adult with a will and feelings of my own or Ive got to get away from my stepfather. What: has to be defined for each vocal response she makes. As examples, lets explore how you might apply the Magical if to one element of the who, first for Carmen and then for Tony from West Side Storytwo characters with circumstances less unusual than Salomes.

Think of these explorations as models of the process. As you create your Carmen, you will want to explore how your character and her responses might be shaped by being a gypsy living by her wits in nineteenthcentury Spain. You may want to begin by reading the story Carmen, by Prosper Mrime, on which the opera is based.

Pdf Acting For Singers Creating Believable Singing Characters

You could also research gypsy,Spain, and Bohemia; examine historical costume books; consult with a local Roma cultural organization or gypsy fortuneteller. Lets assume you discover that as a gypsy in nineteenth-century Spain, you are not allowed to own land or sleep within the city limits. You are not allowed to attend school or practice any profession. You live out of wagons in small groups, ready to move on whenever the authorities harass you.

Neither you nor most of your clan of fellow outcasts can read or write. You all scrape for a living as best you can, which includes begging, smuggling, and prostitution. You wear cast-off clothes, and, as a child, you went barefoot. Even as an adult you wear shoes only in the winter. What if it were you?

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How would you feel, what would you do if: People treat you like dirt? As you try this out, remember you are a member of a tiny, despised minority. The established authorities always side against you. You need money, but only the most menial jobs are available to you? You, an outsider, find yourself desired by a man from the in group?

You can advance yourself by throwing over one lover for another? Tony is a twenty-two-year-old Polish American who, until recently, was the leader of a New York City street gang. Perhaps you find that you can easily arouse the feelings of pride, responsibility, and self-confidence that might motivate you as a young man in your late teens to lead other teenagers. However, you find it hard to arouse the uniquely fierce blend of fear, anger, and hate that would compel you to lead a street gang.