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April 2016
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20 Golden Rules for Singing Opera

Mezzo-soprano Sophie Rennert, author of 20 Golden Rules for Singing Opera

Mezzo-soprano Sophie Rennert, author of 20 Golden Rules for Singing Opera

Singer Sophie Rennert has the internet in stitches with her Golden Rules for Singing Opera that she posted on her blog April 23, 2016. There’s no shortage of digs about divas out there. But Rennert’s Golden Rules pack a particular punch since she herself is a singer. What rules would you add to her list? Tell us in the comments.

  1. Everyone should pretend to have contact with the conductor. If you are a soprano, you do not have to follow this rule.
  2. If the conductor suggests change sin tempo, dynamic, or expression, nod very seriously, mark something in your score, and then go back to singing it like you always did.
  3. If you sing a minor part, suggest cutting a lot (especially when it’s Rossini). However, if you sing a major part, insist to insert some extra cadenzas.
  4. If you sing a wrong note, give a nasty look to one of your partners.
  5. The right note at the wrong time is a wrong note (and vice-versa). Make this especially clear to the soprano. If you are a soprano, turn to rule No. 4.
  6. Keep your ears open for your colleagues’ technical mistakes and give them notes afterwards. They will appreciate this a lot.
  7. After the rehearsal, start a lengthy discussion about your own high notes. Your colleagues will be thrilled to hear about your new technical approach.
  8. If the director tells you to act more, nod excitedly then reduce your action. If he complains, tell him that you will do it all in the performance.
  9. Warm up carefully so that you are ready to sing louder than everyone else.
  10. Markings for dynamics should not be observed. They are only for decoration. The orchestra will be playing too loud for you to sing an actual pianissimo anyway.
  11. If you are insecure with your text, pretend that you had troubles turning pages.
  12. If a passage is very difficult for you, stop everybody and say, “I think you are speeding up here.”
  13. If a passage is very easy for you, speed up the tempo a little bit to make it even more difficult for your partners. When confronted, blame the conductor.
  14. If you are completely lost, stop, turn to your neighbor and say, “Could you sing this phrase right for ONCE?”
  15. A true interpretation is realized when the conductor cannot follow you anymore.
  16. A flat high note sung timidly is a wrong note. A flat high note sung with authority is expression.
  17. When everyone else has finished singing, you should not sing any notes you have left (except when you are a soprano, make sure to hold the last note at least twice as long as others.”
  18. If your voice fails in an exposed passage, distract everyone by explaining your reflux and digestive problems in detail. Everyone will be very interested.
  19. If you are singing a very demanding part, make sure to tell everyone how very demanding it is. That way you will look very professional. If you are soprano, additionally tell everyone that their parts are even more demanding to make them nervous. Your performance will shine even more when others screw up.
  20. If you are a tenor, ignore all rules and just do whatever you want. You’re a tenor. They need you.

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