BBC Cardiff Singer of the World – Masterclass with Dame Felicity Lott
Dora Stoutzker Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Friday 21st June 2019
One of the many great things about Cardiff Singer is the support for younger singers. Of course, the main prize is for those up to their early 30s, but support for emerging talent from teenagers and young people is still integral.
One of the many ways in which this is proved is through the selection of masterclasses that are put on every time Cardiff Singer happens. I was gutted to have missed David Pountney give a masterclass in how he directs his singers, truly something I would have savoured. Though a chance to see the great Dame Felicity Lott guide young singer in vocal techniques is not something I would not miss for the world. I even came back from a trip to London just to see this. Dame Felicity is an awesome singer, one of the finest of her day. I cant tell you how many times I’ve watched her rendition of The Cat Duet with Ann Murray at the Last Night of Proms. I LOL hard when Lott raises the huge bouquet of flowers in the air. Past the light relief of Rossini and Offenbach, Lott proved herself in fine performances of Richard Strauss to name just one composer.
Here, Lott was the guide to these plucky singers. The students picked an all German programme of Brahms, Schumann, Schubert and Wolf, so pronunciation was pivotal to this masterclass. Lott really made them drink in the sensuality of the German language, as it is embedded into the luscious lieder. She made us learn to love the language as well. Breath control was another barrier that needed to be discussed, one of a few pitfall for budding singers. One impulsive breath and you’ve completely spoilt the line of a phrase. Nerves were another factors, though there are ways to get round this. Some of the female vocals had sweet voices, with pure higher resisters. The boys had wonderfully rounded tenors, that work marvellously in these songs. Touching upon the difficulties of being a classical singer in today’s world were also expressed, as had been established by Dame Kira Te Kanawa in the past.
Lott was laid back here, witty and bouncy in her enthusiasm. Some funny moments came when she corrected the singers, but they turned out to be right in their pronunciation. Her brief moments of singing the odd line from songs, were fleetingly beautiful examples of her voice which got her so much praise over the years. She spoke herself of how little she did of masterclasses and similar ways of developing of her voice. Her honesty and openness made for an infectious encounter. We can easily see why she is a member of panel for the main prize.
With Llŷr Williams also accompanying each singer on piano, we got some sublime execution from the Welsh wonder of music. His support and time giving was also highly appreciated.
An inspiration to all young singers.
*Note on finale of Cardiff Singer* Though I had to miss this due to ill health, I was delighted to hear that Ukrainian baritone Andrii Kymach won the title, for his fine voice and theatrical depth. No doubt this is the catapult of his rising career.
BBC Cardiff Singer of the the Worlds will return in 2021.
Watch and listen back to this masterclass [https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07dwg3c] and Cardiff Singer of the World 2019 on BBC iPlayer and BBC Radio 3.
Photo Credit: BBC iPlayer Screenshot