Friday, July 09, 2010

Master Class with Jane Eaglen

Master Class with Jane Eaglen
Merola Opera Program 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010 | 7:00 - 9:00pm | Herbst Theatre

Last night soprano Jane Eaglen gave a master class to 5 singers before an audience of Merola supporters. Ms. Eaglen is a positive, encouraging & voluble teacher, & the Merolini clearly like her. Her coaching focussed on the sound of the voice.

Baritone Sidney Outlaw sang "Sorge infaust una procella" from Handel's Orlando. He has an eager personality & a bright voice. He impressed Ms. Eaglen with his ornamentation, which he had come up with only shortly before the class, in an operatic version of cramming. Mezzo Robin Flynn sang "Ces lettres!" from Massenet's Werther. Ms. Eaglen told her that the key to high notes is to "squeeze your bottom," then added, "I don't have a big bottom. I have big high notes."

Bass Kevin Thompson sang "Il lacerato spirito" from Simon Boccanegra. His voice is deep, wide & just plain sexy. Ms.Eaglen asked him to smooth out his sound, even if that resulted in slightly mushy diction. Tenor Kevin Ray sang "In fernem Land" from Lohengrin. This was new music for him, & he struggled more than the other singers, his voice sounding squeezed. Ms. Eaglen could hear him tightly sucking in air & tried to loosen up his breath. Finally, soprano Janai Brugger-Orman sang the "Song to the Moon" from Rusalka. Her voice is viscous & luscious, & Ms. Eaglen tried to get her to avoid abrupt vocal shifts.

I found the class interesting, even though I do not sing & did not understand a lot of the technical instructions. All the Merolini have polished presentations already, & Ms. Eaglen often got quite picky in her observations. After the event I was introduced to Eleazar Rodriguez, just briefly enough for me to tell him how much I enjoyed his Tom Rakewell earlier this year.


sfmike said...

Is Ms. Eaglen still as large as a barn door? Other than the British soprano Rita Hunter in "Norma" decades ago, Jane was the most enormous person I've seen on the San Francisco Opera stage.

Axel Feldheim said...

She is a large lady, yes. Fortunately she has a good sense of humor too. When Robin Flynn mentioned that she runs marathons, Ms. Eaglen quipped, "Yes, me too!"

I saw Ms. Eaglen in the Lyric Opera of Chicago Ring, & she was simply the largest thing in that production, vocally & physically. It would be interesting to know her take on the Deborah-Voigt-little-black-cocktail-dress situation.

Anonymous said...

Leaving comments such as yours sfmike is rather tactless and childish. You could simply have a little more class in your description - it says alot about you and your lack of education where a description is concerned.

Picking on a physical attribute i far more telling of your own insecurities. I am sure if Ms Eaglen really cared what people like you have to say - she'd not be where she is in her career today.

As for the LBD - Voigt could simply not have had the kind of confident demeanor Eaglen has about herself and her size.

No one "has" to hire her as per her words. I think shes gutsy and quite the dame for making a career last as long as it has kudos!

Axel Feldheim said...

Even though it is ultimately irrelevant, in this day of HD broadcasts & the need to reach a broader audience, singers' physical appearance is fair game. Fortunately there is still a place in the opera world for voices like Eaglen's & Voigt's, regardless. & I hope that does not change.