One on One for Music.
You probably clicked here to view the usual puffery of career accolades and a resumè, and for that I invite you to go to my blog, operavision.org or my website aprilemillo.org. I do include several video clips from YouTube that are lovely. While I am enormously proud of my work as a singer, here I am moved instead to write to you, to all the artists who are thinking about what to do next and where. You are the people closest to my heart, for you are restless and eager to improve; you want to be the best you can be; you want to delve deep and find more within yourself so you can realize more of your talent and your gift, and wants to get on stage already and learn there even more! That is the person that interests me most!
Singers in the modern opera world, especially the young artists, are in one of the most challenging times in the history of the art form, with many ” intelligent” people worried for its survival. Far from being “a dead art” form, it is begging for people to take it seriously and convince with great energy. Now might be the best time to return to the truth. What makes opera an opera is the voice… a piece of music without voice is a symphony…. so, singers everywhere have to be unafraid and rejoice in what they do. In this age where one is not “taught” to be anything other than an adult child on stage doing ever more adult things, “seen and not heard”, I want to encourage you to rebel!! How do you do that and still get hired? You become focused on what makes you the very best soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone or basso you can be. Audiences since its inception love authentic message, and the feeling that someone is singing from their heart. That comes from a rock solid technique, confidence and a superb knowledge of the style.
I want you to ask yourself what brought you to opera and why do you want to sing. What made your heart beat faster, or what makes your soul feel alive?
Opera is an unusual mix of the obvious and the mysterious. The obvious is everyone is singing the story, thoughts and feelings are sung through melody and poetry.
The mysterious is a little harder to grasp. It is the intangible…. hard to get hold of, like trying to hold liquid mercury in your hand. It is what happens when the most direct instrument known to man or woman begins to make sound. The human voice, without amplification, is heard over an orchestra, and that is a victory. We are told in society to be quiet, to conform, be perfect…. yet here, over the immense sound of a full orchestra, a human body is educated enough to make sound in such volume as to be heard!
It becomes a living Stradivarius, unique like a snowflake. In that harmony coming from your throat is a bridge formed between audience and performer. Resonating in the ear of the listener is this rarest of communications. Music has no borders, and with the genius of the composer, bathing in sublime melody and in his or his librettist text, you weave a world of such emotion and profound beauty that, suspended in time, you and your audience both experience a world unlike anything you will see before you die, and you live to tell the story! That amazing connection is born of years of hard work and study and sacrifice.
Tradition is like a painting entrusted to a collector. Or a piece of jewelry. My great friend Elizabeth Taylor said to me once when I marveled at the collection of paintings and jewelry she showed me, sharing together an awe in the face of so much beauty and living poetry…. ” You know, I am just keeping them safe, and protecting them, and they will then be here to enjoy for years to come to those who come after me…. they don’t belong to me really, or anyone! We just keep them, and love them and then pass it on to the next protector, as beautiful as they were when we received it!” Fabulous woman, fabulous thought….. same thing about the arts, especially Opera. We are entrusted with these treasures….just like the great singers before us. They took care of it, they nurtured it, admired it, were informed by it, inspired by it, and then they passed it on to a new generation to protect and enjoy. That is what I invite you to explore here at the Operavision Academy this summer.
So, if you are here, clicking this, ask yourself…… what do I want to do with my treasure? My gift? Come and explore with me and my wonderful family of music lovers, the magic that is music, the individual journey of each artist, the alchemy of souls joined together expressing through music, and the possibility of greatness…. an opera vision of your best self. What could be more rewarding?