Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pants Role Concerns

I've been getting some questions recently on my other blog about pants roles.  They're very good questions - questions that I think a lot of singers have - so I'm going to put them up here.

Singing-through-thenight asked: Hello! I will be auditioning for pant roles in the fall for a few productions, and I was wondering if I should invest in a pant suit? Is it really unacceptable to call for a pant role while in a dress? What do yo do? Help! :)

My answer: Great question!  I’ve asked this same question to many different coaches/conductors/directors/etc and basically gotten the same answer.

First of all, it isn’t completely unacceptable to wear a dress.  If that’s all you have, then go with it.  Also, if you’re doing a general audition where you’re singing arias from several different roles (and they’re not all pants roles) then you should probably side with a dress.

However, if you are specifically auditioning for a pants role, it is a good idea to come in a pants suit or at least dress pants and a blouse.  It’s good for them to see you in a way that is closer to how you’ll look in costume.  I’d also do your hair in a way that’s flattering but is off your face/pulled back.  My hair is short so I don’t really have to worry about this part. ;)

Pants suits are a touchy subject, though, because it’s easy to go wrong.  You must wear a suit that flatters your body - you don’t want to hide your form or make it look different from what it normally looks like.  Also, you must find a suit that is professional and classy yet stylish.  Remember, you’d normally be wearing a dress for this audition - the suit should be on the same level of formality but you don’t want to look like you’re headed for a business meeting.  You still want to show a bit of your personality with what you’re wearing.  It’s a tough balance, but it’s completely achievable.  When in doubt, wear something that makes you feel confident and that shows you off in your best light.  :)

Mag4ever asked:  Saw your photos from Hansel and Gretel! My performing arts high school is doing that as our opera this year! Super excited! Any advice for a teenage mezzo on performing, pants roles, or anything else? How about specifically for the role of Hansel (which is who I want to be)? Thanks! 

My answer:  Thanks!  And this is definitely a question that I’m more than happy to answer.  :)

First of all, check out this website for some of the best tips on playing a pants role.  It goes over everything and even gives helpful examples.  Hansel is mentioned specifically there, so it’s definitely worth a look.

Second, watch and listen to every production of Hansel and Gretel that you can get your hands on.  How do professional singers portray the character, both vocally and physically?  What can you learn from them?  My favorite Hansels are Brigitte Fassbaender and Angelika Kirchschlager.  And besides listening to the singers, just really get the music in your head.  That opera has an extremely complex orchestration and it will help you immensely in the long run if you know all the vocal lines and the orchestration inside and out.

Third, practice the crap out of your music.  Just when you think you know that part, something crazy will happen and you’ll be headed right back to your piano to relearn something.  Know every note, every dynamic, every meter change, etc etc.  Hansel is a tricky role - he’s all over the place both musically and physically - so be over-prepared so you can be ready for anything.

Fourth, do some hands-on research of your own.  Watch how little boys play, how they move, what they’re interested in, and how they interact with the people around them.  I’m sure you have brothers or cousins or neighbors who could be helpful in this.  I’ve learned almost everything I know about pants roles from observing.  Just start mimicking guy’s movements and gestures.  It will all come in handy later.

Fifth, have fun!  Good luck with everything and please ask if you have any further questions :)

If you have any questions for me, or if you have anything to add to what I've said here, please don't hesitate to send me a comment.  I'll do my best to answer your questions or pass along your suggestions.

Also, a very happy birthday to a favorite mezzo of mine (who plays her fair share of pants roles!), Ms. Vesselina Kasarova.

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