I took the Bacchianas to a lesson with my teacher Patricia Rozario, who has performed the piece many times. We worked mainly on the middle section, completely reworking the text - there was a bit of a discrepancy between what I had been taught by my Brazilian and Portuguese colleagues and what Patricia had been taught by various South American conductors. I was, of course, very happy to go with her suggestions! It turned out that in Brazilian Portuguese it's very important to pay attention to nasal sounds, the [ch] sound of [t] endings, and the way the [e] sounds more like an Italian [i]. This gave the text so much more colour and I felt that I could express the words so much more vividly - Brazilian Portuguese is so onomatopoeic. Patricia also encouraged me to pay more attention to the rhythmic differences between triplets and quavers/ semiquavers in the middle section, using the triplets as a vehicle to heighten musical tension approaching the fermata.
Click here for an audio clip from our lesson where Patricia talks about text and interpretation.
We then focused on finding a more voluptuous, sensual colour for the opening and on finding the optimum resonance for the recap - we decided that a closed [m] was actually more successful than an open [ng].
I then joined the cellists in the afternoon. I shared Patricia's ideas on interpretation, and after a run through David focused on different ways to approach the ending so that the cellists could really support the singer on the difficult final note, for which I was very grateful! This is an aspect of musical collaboration that I really like, and there was definitely a sense that the rehearsal room was a safe space where we were not only able to experiment but to help each other.
To end the day, we ran the whole programme. David encouraged us to use the opportunity not as a rehearsal but as a performance where we could have time to take risks and experiment. It was extremely inspiring to watch the full programme of cello pieces, and to hear the huge variety of colours that a consort of cellos are able to make through different musical styles. It was also exciting to watch performers with such artistic integrity making really defined musical decisions. I think as singers we can often get lazy, not taking the time to find new textures, colours or articulations, becoming preoccupied with the sounds of our own voices and to an extent the text. I was particularly impressed with how the soloists in the Vivaldi (Urška and Helena) and Sollima (Joao and Thibault) threw themselves into the music with abandon. They seemed devoid of ego, letting the works of the composers be heard through their playing. This will be my aim for the performance tomorrow.