Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to Make Recitals More Accessible

(I put this discussion on my forum, so to see the original post and to make comments, CLICK HERE)

For several years now I have been thinking of ways to make recitals more exciting and/or accessible. I think sometime we get so wrapped up in etiquette that we forget to make compelling programs. We actually feel our stress level rise over something as trivial as when the audience should applause. If you listen to the big stars in their recitals, people applaud after every song! They don't wait for sets. So, if you are going to stick to etiquette, then at least put the rules clearly in the program - some of these people have never been to recital, and we want them to come back!

Some of my ideas to spice up recitals:

-Use supertitles instead of translations in programs - I don't know about you, but when I sing in another language I hate dealing with the "translation head-bob" as all of the audience members keep looking down to read (in the dark). I have used supertitles for recitals in the past, and had a very good response to them.

-Sing in English! - there is a great aversion to translations because somehow the "poetic value" is lost. I agree with that, only if the audience understands what you are singing. What poetic value is there if they have no idea what the words are? Look for good translations, or better yet, do them yourself. At first the stuffy people in the audience will hem and haw, and then they will enjoy it. The exceptions of course are when you are singing popular favorites like famous arias, then use supertitles.

-Change it up - keep it fresh throughout the program. Sometimes this can be as simple as putting up a different color flower arrangement or changing your gown/vest & bow-tie during intermission. This could also mean putting up a few simple props depending on the set your are performing. For example, if you are doing a Debussy set, maybe it would be a good idea to put a Monet painting up on the stage. Think of things that the stage-hand could switch on and off as quickly as you walk on and off to catch your breath between sets.

-Use different textures - in other words, be creative with performers. Do a set with a harp or a string quartet. Sing a duet or two. Do a joint recital with a different voice type. Create some variety.

-Plan effectively - this may sound simple and silly, but I have been to so many recitals where the theme was so vague it could have applied to any music, or was very specific and yet only one worked for one song. My coach right now (Valerie Trujillo - wonderful!) had a great suggestion: plan a recital the way you plan a meal. Program a "main course", a set that is the focus of your performance. Then plan the other sets around it. This way not every set will be as heavy as the main course, and also means the focus will stay centered. This also makes marketing much easier.

There are a few of my suggestions. What do you all think? Do you have other ideas that you have used or want to use? If you have any under-developed ideas maybe we can look at them here.

(to discuss, please go to my website-forum: CLICK HERE)