Takeaways from Friday’s masterclass

On Friday, I hosted a masterclass featuring conductor Richard Carsey, who worked with 7 singers on musical theater repertoire. Some students were pre-professionals who want to pursue musical theater. One was an avocational performer in her local community theater companies. Two more were professionals, one experienced in musical theater, the other making a decision to crossover from the opera world.

I took notes for the participants because I remember doing masterclasses and having people ask me, “So – what did the clinician tell you?” and I was able to say a few things, but I often couldn’t remember all the specifics because I was singing at the time! So I decided that I would take the notes that they would take if they were able to do so – and sent them out at 4am the next morning because I couldn’t sleep.

As I was going through the notes (somewhat groggily) before I sent them, there were a few common things that Richard said to multiple people, and they were:

  1. Simplify
  2. Every detail is a clue

The admonition to simplify wasn’t limited to one particular thing. It referred to:

  • gestures
  • technical approach
  • intention

“Every detail is a clue” was in reference to multiple elements as well.

  • The pitches chosen at the beginning of “You gotta die sometime”
  • The images Anya sees in her mind’s eye in “In my dreams”
  • The switching between major and minor tonality in “From the home I love”

The singers were all very receptive to Richard’s very insightful and supportive comments, and implemented them to the best of their ability in the time allotted. Watching people’s faces as they absorbed what he was saying and then trying again with those intentions in mind was extremely rewarding for me as a teacher and an artist.

See how happy everyone looked at the end of it? (I look a little crazed, but that’s how I manage to keep from blinking.)

I am hoping to continue this series of workshops/masterclasses under the Curiously Strong Performing umbrella. I am currently considering the following:

  1. Self-taping workshop with a Las Vegas colleague (who rocks at this)
  2. A masterclass on the dramatic aspects of songs with the Executive Stage Director at the Metropolitan Opera
  3. Some kind of improvisatory workshop with an internationally renowned L.A. based opera/music theater educator
  4. Adding pop music to the musical theater audition book with Lissa deGuzman

The last one just popped into my mind while I was writing this and I haven’t actually talked to her about it yet, so I need to send an email. The other three people I will speaking to in the next few weeks and plans will be made!

If you took this masterclass, what takeaways did you have? For that matter, if you took any masterclasses/workshops anywhere this summer, what takeaways did you have?

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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