Mezza Voce

Forum for singers about singing life, career and singing technique: management, taxes, auditions, appoggio, covering, messa di voce, placement, registers, etc.
onionscd
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Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 07:15

Mezza Voce

Postby onionscd » 02 Dec 2016, 20:47

As a rusty old tenor of nearly seventy, who stopped performing opera in public nearly seven years ago, my top range isn't what it was. On a rare good day, I can still hit high-C, but it is few and far between. Usually I would top out at A-natural.

The other day, I was just singing to myself, "Una Furtiva Lagrima" - not at full voice, but still not quite at sotto voce. I found that it was effortless to hit A-natural. The next day, I tried "Cielo E Mar" at the same volume. Hit a nice B-flat. Then, I gave it the acid test. Sang the last few measures of "Di Quella Pira", leading up to the high-C. As long as I didn't go whole hog, full voice, I could hit a pretty good high-C.

As I said, the volume is between full voice and sotto voce, but closer to full voice. It made me think - have I been doing it all wrong all this time? There is still a decent projection. Is it possible I was always pushing my voice too much in the past, worried about not being heard (I think that's a fairly common worry among many tenors)? Or is it just a trick old singers use?

What do you make of all this? Any ideas.

Jim
Posts: 51
Joined: 17 Mar 2016, 13:58

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby Jim » 03 Dec 2016, 12:08

A topic like this is fraught with all sorts of dangers. There are as many opinions as there are people. However is this what you mean?



Piotr Beczala also uses this technique occasionally and it is considered, for some reason, typically french.

Jim

onionscd
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Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 07:15

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby onionscd » 15 Dec 2016, 06:40

Jim wrote:A topic like this is fraught with all sorts of dangers. There are as many opinions as there are people. However is this what you mean?



Piotr Beczala also uses this technique occasionally and it is considered, for some reason, typically french.

Jim
ACtually, NO... That technique sounds more like a reinforced falsetto. I was not lightening my voice, just using less volume and focusing on a slight, non-violent push or support. If you play a tenor singing an aria and turning the volume down, that's about like what it sounds. Less bombastic and seemingly less forced, but still supported nonetheless.

TifosoBonisolli
Posts: 66
Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 23:47

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby TifosoBonisolli » 15 Dec 2016, 17:01

Not sure, either, what you mean, onions; but beyond doubt, the Vanzo recording is no good example of mezza voce. Actually, it's no example at all: Vanzo IS singing falsetto, totally unable to achieve mezza voce, which is of course very difficult. To understand mezza voce, you always have to go to Marcel Wittrisch, for example, to the last few phrases of this gorgeous recording:
But your description, onions, doesn't make me think of mezza voce as much as of singers who simply didn't have a fortissimo in the del Monaco or Callas style, because they knew how to sing (as opposed to shouting)...

...of Tito Schipa, above all (the recording date on the Youtube upload is wrong, it's actually from February 3rd, 1948, when Schipa was already 59 years old):
Schipa's voice was tiny, but there was clearly no danger he couldn't be heard because he knew how to make that voice CARRY.

...of Miguel Villabella:

...Luigi Fort:

But that kind of voice production doesn't only work for light or lyric singers; also spinto and even heldentenors sang like this, as long as singing was an art and not just donkeywork as established by the Western post-WWII generation of singers...
...Hermann Winkelmann, clearly past his prime, and yet what an easy, gleaming top:

...Franz Völker:

...József Simándy:

Now this is merely guesswork, of course; frankly, onions, it would be far easier if *you* could post a few examples so as to illustrate your question.

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LaGioconda
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Re: Mezza Voce

Postby LaGioconda » 28 Jan 2017, 12:18

I have the feeling two different things are getting mixed up.
The "voix miste" used so well especially by historic French tenors - Vanzo in fact would be for me the last one to really do it well - is something different from mezza voce.
Schipa had an excellent mezza voce - perfectly placed on the breath, never pushy, always carrying well. The mezza voce is not really an option or not. EVERY singer should be able to sing a REAL mezza voce. So rarely one hears a good one around these days. And yes - not only tenors are afraid of not being heard in huge houses and over big orchestras. That´s why almost everybody sings with more voice or louder than necessary.

The voix miste has a rather heady, "mixed" sound - if done well it needs an excellent balance: well supported but not pushy, but not sounding "airy" or "croony" or like a falsetto either, which it isn´t, or shouldn´t be.

The old lyric French tenors had a great way of doing it: Edmond Clément for example.

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Darksoprano
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Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 07:16

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby Darksoprano » 12 Apr 2017, 19:40



So this is "voix-mixte'?

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LaGioconda
Posts: 52
Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 13:43

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby LaGioconda » 19 Jun 2017, 13:03

Smirnov might be a good example - less "heady" than Vanzo, with great support, never croony or falsettish.


Jim
Posts: 51
Joined: 17 Mar 2016, 13:58

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby Jim » 26 Jun 2017, 11:21

The technique is the same in both cases as far as I can hear. However Smirnov integrates it more completely into the performance while Vanzo uses it as a technique for the highest register. I enjoy both.
Jim

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Coinerulio
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Joined: 11 Jul 2017, 16:21

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby Coinerulio » 11 Jul 2017, 16:32

onionscd wrote:
02 Dec 2016, 20:47
As a rusty old tenor of nearly seventy, who stopped performing opera in public nearly seven years ago, my top range isn't what it was. On a rare good day, I can still hit high-C, but it is few and far between. Usually I would top out at A-natural.

The other day, I was just singing to myself, "Una Furtiva Lagrima" - not at full voice, but still not quite at sotto voce. I found that it was effortless to hit A-natural. The next day, I tried "Cielo E Mar" at the same volume. Hit a nice B-flat. Then, I gave it the acid test. Sang the last few measures of "Di Quella Pira", leading up to the high-C. As long as I didn't go whole hog, full voice, I could hit a pretty good high-C.

As I said, the volume is between full voice and sotto voce, but closer to full voice. It made me think - have I been doing it all wrong all this time? There is still a decent projection. Is it possible I was always pushing my voice too much in the past, worried about not being heard (I think that's a fairly common worry among many tenors)? Or is it just a trick old singers use?

What do you make of all this? Any ideas.
Could you post a sample of your voice, please?

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LaGioconda
Posts: 52
Joined: 05 Jan 2016, 13:43

Re: Mezza Voce

Postby LaGioconda » 12 Jul 2017, 22:05

I am absolutely convinced that singers are giving way too much voice and much more than would actually be needed if they focussed more on projection instead of volume.
This has become necessary to a certain degree because concert halls and modern opera houses are huge, orchestras way too big and loud and because conductors have too little or no knowledge about singing. Singers are afraid that they will not heard and have started to adapt their way of singing and also their technique from the 1950s on. Most of them broaden the middle range way too much thus making their top short. You can do that for a certain time - push the full middle voice up all the way to the top. But after a certain time the top notes will start to give you problems. See di Stefano, see Villazon. Like a rubber band which will tear if you stretch it too far. You need to keep the elasticity in your singing, by not pushing too hard on one register, otherwise your registers will drift apart. Singing on the breath, leaning on it and not pushing on it. Some have vocal chords made of steel and can do it a little longer than others, but after a certain time this way of singing takes its toll, especially more lyric voices in the wrong repertory.


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