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Subject: Re: Kaufman in Otello… NY Times:
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 4 Jul 2017 10:35:58 -0400

text/plain (92 lines)

I have asked Mr. Hanson, twice now, to provide specific incidents of directors and 
producers who ask and prefer such things of their casts. He has not. He most likely 
cannot, because he is confusing his personal dislike for the sound with some sort of 
juvenile fantasy about what is being asked for by seasoned professionals he doesn't 
know and doesn't respect. 

Producers who know their protocol don't give notes to actors. Those of them working on 
Broadway largely know that protocol, or learn it very quickly. 

I would not think much of a professional director whose notes were among the "for 
heaven's sake, don't sing" variety." The implied attitude is unprofessional and it shows 
that Mr. Hanson most likely has never observed a professional rehearsal or coaching. 
Aside from the fact that "don't sing" has other meanings (more on that in a second), I 
can't think of any respected/respectful Broadway director who would actually be asking 
his actors to yell through their music. Ridiculous. Given that Broadway performers 
normally have to do their shows 8 times a week (something unheard of in the opera 
world), they must take extra care of their voices. Like opera singers, Broadway singers 
work with qualified teachers and coaches, and the ones that are serious about their 
careers know how to sing healthily. And any conscientious director is of course aware of 
this - the last thing anyone wants to see happen is to have a singer out of the show due 
to serious vocal issues. Or worse, for any performer to develop permanent vocal injury.
 (Though, just as in opera, it happens.) To imply that Broadway professionals actively 
*encourage* unhealthy singing is ludicrous, naive, and a damaging indictment to the 

In terms of "don't sing" - that's most often shop talk for LESS vocalism, not some sort of 
yelling. It's really a request for more text-based delivery - usually less of a rounded 
"legit" tone in favor of a more conversational, "spoken on pitch" kind of approach. 
Singing the WORDS, not just the music, as I often say to my own students. It's not 
yelling. It's in fact a style of singing that I believe opera singers often find harder to do 
when singing non-classical rep, which is why true and satisfying "crossover" singers 
seem relatively rare. More text, more consonants, much less vibrato (especially in 
pop/rock style music), more natural (less rounded) vowels, etc. But not yelling. Please. 

When the Theatre du Chatelet did a production of Into The Woods a few seasons ago, the 
opening of the show, with the basic theme of "I wish" being contrapuntally passed from 
character to character, is a great example of the disparity. The members of the cast 
wirth musical theatre experience were able to simply sing the word "wish" as we hear it 
in conversational English. The opera singers in the cast could only generally vocalize 
"weeeeeeesh." Too round, no nod to the crispness of the music, and no sense of the 
difference in musical style. And most likely no thought into the actual meaning of the 
text. Just vocalizing. But what the musical theatre singers were doing was no less 
healthy, or even hard to listen to. It was just right for the musical style of the piece. 

I'm thrilled to say that what the Chatelet did Passion last year, with Natalie Dessay 
taking on the VERY different role, for her, of Fosca, she did a truly admirable job. She 
was truly "speaking on pitch" when the score called for it, and it worked. And it was no 
less rewarding to hear than her usual rep. And in the moments when the score could 
allow for a more "traditional" legit legato sound, she delivered. (And here's a role where 
the character literally has to yell and scream at times, as part of her mental disarray. But 
of course operas have that too.)

Anyway, I digress. If Mr. Hanson hates what he hears in the contemporary Broadway 
sound, that's fine. But for him to preach from his bully voice teacher pulpit to tell us 
something he doesn't know - namely, how Broadway professionals do their work - that's 
slander as far as I'm concerned. And I either ask him to give us specific examples of 
directors and producers who are literally asking their singers to yell their music, and 
what professionals are saying things like "for heaven's sake, don't SING," or I ask him to 
back off that statement. Such misinformed slander doesn't belong out here. Please, feel 
free, Mr. Hanson, to talk about singer's formant until you're blue in the face - but please 
don't slander other professionals because you don't like the music they sing. Which is the 
blatant attitude I read coming off of your statement. 

That said, I wish everyone in the states today a happy 4th - though I also have to admit 
I feel we don't really have a lot to celebrate this year. Let us hope things improve, and 

On Tue, 4 Jul 2017 00:10:22 +0000, Lloyd William Hanson <[log in to unmask]> 

>The tenor must change his formant tuning above the lowest note of his passaggio which 
could be anywhere from D4to F#4. Before entering the lowest note of his passaggio he 
formant tunes to the 2nd harmonic of his sung pitch. Above this he is tuning the formant 
to the 3rd harmonic. If he does not do this his high tone become more like a yell.  This is 
the common practice of men singing in present day Broadway style.  It meets the 
preference of the producers, directors etc for Broadway shows (“For heavens sake, don’t 

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