#20 Acting for Singers
Bay Area Opera and Musical Theater Director David Ostwald has written a fine text book “Acting for Singers”, subtitled Creating Believable Singing Characters, available through Oxford University Press.
This is a well-designed systematic approach which clarifies a sequence of steps one can follow to develop convincing characters and interpretations in opera, musical theater, art songs and auditions.
One learns how to analyze the dramatic structure of a piece, fashion a theme statement, define the character’s super-objective and motivate the character’s actions from moment to moment.
The exercises are all given in the context of the special requirements of the singer; to help them remain un-entangled with physical tensions that may arise in expressing emotions so that they may maintain their vocal flexibility.
Included in the book are exercises for the individual, as well activities for groups in the acting class setting.
A regular director for many of the regional companies of the Bay Area, including BASOTI and West Bay Opera, Ostwald’s unique approach to finding the through line of a characters’ development leads to inspired and inspiring productions.
Ostwald’s Ten Maxims of Believable Singing Acting are:
Your characters believe they’re real people
Your music is your characters’ feelings
All humans have a common reservoir of feelings
You are always you
If you don’t let it show, the audience can’t know
You are making art
Believable characters engage your audience
You make your characters believable by endowing them with convincing, apparently spontaneous , re-creations of real human behavior.
Play the minutiae of what’s happenin
Never try to repeat results
When looking at a piece of vocal music this week notice
how your interpretive skills are improved by looking for answers to these
Where is the character?
When in history and in the lifetime of the character is this event occurring?
Who is the character in relation to others?
What does your character want?
Why do they want it?
What is the theme of the piece (love, jealously, joy, fear, etc.)?
Have a very fine week, and rest from your labors!
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Copyright © 2010 by Sarah Oppenheim-Beggs