Teresa Berganza Masterclasses
Park Lane Group – The Purcell Room 10 & 11 April 2006
Stephanie Lewis – mezzo-soprano / Ouri Bronchti – piano
Caryl Hughes – mezzo-soprano / Caroline Jaya-Ratnam – piano
Eliana Pretorian – soprano / Kirsten Simpson – piano
Katrina Broderick – soprano / Jonathan Beatty – piano
Kristin Finnigan – mezzo-soprano / Tarek Al-Shubbak - piano
Kishani Jayasinghe – soprano / Caroline Jaya-Ratnam – piano
Gordon Hart - Translator
Public masterclasses are variable feasts; some appear to be for the self-glorification of a grand artist, some for the entertainment of the audience.
Teresa Berganza's were without doubt directed towards the benefit of the individual singers and their pianists, and we were privileged eavesdroppers. From the moment she stepped onto the platform she projected an atmosphere of confidence and encouragement, and it soon became apparent that we were in the presence of a great teacher. And one who knew how to husband her resources and preserve her own voice; she demonstrated everything she wanted from her pupils and made it clear that she could still enthrall a Wigmore Hall audience if she chose to give another recital there.*
She stressed that each composer has his own voice which requires a certain style and voice colour. A sense of period is important, Mozart and Rossini lived in an age where customs and manners, as well as dress and deportment were quite different from those of today, this needs to be recognised. Words and tempo came in for similar attention.
Much of her advice was highly technical and quite specific, and only occasionally needed help from her translator. Support this note from the diaphragm, keep this section in the upper part of the face, don't dissipate your energy too early, know where you are aiming for and place notes where you want them – straight in front of your face or fading into infinity. She demonstrated with humour as she went along and showed them how to use facial expression and movement to draw out the emotion of the piece – audiences need help!
She drew the pianists into the process, checking the score markings with them and underlining the importance of their role.
Two fascinating evenings, and productive ones for the participants.
*The Park Lane Group are arranging a Wigmore Hall recital for her during next season !
© Peter Grahame Woolf