How do opera singers develop the ability to embody a role?
Much opera research focuses on vocal pedagogy, however little is known about the nature and development of abilities around singers’ role embodiment skills (RE). For this study RE refers to: the integration of singers’ vocal command of a role with interpretative and choreographic requirements, and their need to refine stamina and concentration abilities while managing performance demands.
The multi-faceted nature of RE processing additionally requires well-developed competencies from the singer, particularly in terms of self-concept and autonomy. Historically, in-company mentoring has enabled singers to absorb the requisite skills guiding RE abilities, without the need for articulating or framing this knowledge. However, a decline in this mentoring mode has coincided with increased institutional training over the last 25 years. To this end, current analysis of UK industry-wide responses regarding training approaches advocates increased development of artistic autonomy in emerging talent.
Therefore this project has two-fold aims: understanding the artistic skillsets used in operatic role embodiment, and identifying how these develop in emerging singers. Using qualitative analysis of input from elite singer and artistic personnel, the first study will develop a conceptual framework of RE skills. A second will investigate how these are developed, focussing on singer-experiences in key transitional stages. The project outcomes will inform development of resources.