Thursday, May 23, 2013

Auditioning with my Contratenor Voice


     Last Monday I was at the Philippine Opera Company along Bautista Street in Makati City. They held an audition that is open to all young classical singers. I'm 38 and they allowed me to audition so that means I'm young enough hehe. 

       Only a few people know that I can sing with an operatic voice. I had no formal vocal training. It was only in 2007 that I became interested in learning how to sing Italian and a few French arias. Thanks to today's information technology, you can download minus-one arias in full orchestra, Google up the lyrics, and watch how they should be sung in YouTube.

      So what is my vocal range? I'm a contratenor. To my readers who do not know what that is, that's a male singer with the same voice range as a mezzo-soprano. Yeah, a man who sings like a woman haha. I happen to have a strong falsetto voice. In opera, if I'm not mistaken, contratenors play the role of boys or very young men. There was also an era when women are not allowed to perform publicly so contratenors played women's roles on stage.

       Here's a video of one of the well known contratenors of our time, Philippe Jaroussky from France:



Cool huh?

Anyways, so how did I do in the audition? I think I did okay despite the butterflies in my stomach and the dryness in my throat because of nervousness. I was actually auditioning for the first time in my life. I made a mistake with the timing while singing  because I couldn't hear the less amplified portion of my chosen aria with the small player that they provided.  My CD even skipped! Hehe. At least they let me finish and I was able to hit the high notes.  

Presiding over the audition was POC Artistic and Managing Director Karla Gutierrez and mezzo-soprano Clarissa Ocampo. They asked me why I chose to sing in this range and I told them that my head tone is stronger than my chest tone. Also they asked how attached I am to my dreadlocks. (Uh-oh!) I just said that it has become my identity now.

In the audition we are to sing one aria and one none-operatic song. I sang "Non so piu cosa son" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figarro, and for the non-operatic I sang "Waiting in Vain" (Bob Marley) with my ukulele. But I chose just to sing up to the chorus - really I don't think there's anything unique about my normal singing voice. 

Then I thought my audition was over but they asked me to sing another aria. Madam Clarissa  asked me to sing "Ombra mai fu" from Handel's Serse, which she knew it's also in my CD. Luckily I know the words   though I haven't mastered the breathing. So I sang it to the end and struggled to sustain the high notes.

After the last aria they said thank you and that's it. The audition is for finding talents for the productions of POC. So there are no comments, no immediate results. Well you know, even if I don't make it I am actually glad to know that my voice was something interesting enough for them to ask for another aria, while some auditioners were not given the chance to complete even one song.

And so I took my CD, my ukulele and stuff and thanked the ladies for this chance. At the moment I stepped out of the room, the other auditioners waiting at the lounge started applauding me hahaha! The audition room wasn't sound-proof, by the way. ^_^

All in all, it was a wonderful experience!

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