September 7, 2009

The Complete Musician: Daniel Helfgot's The Third Line

As we all prepare for seasons to start, I am grateful for having a few moments to catch up on writing - it has been somewhat difficult to keep up this summer, with having traveled many miles and the necessity of keeping my head down. Of course, as time passes, insights and thoughts may grow stale; nevertheless, I can only hope that what I write here reflects what has been brewing inside for the months that have passed.

During this summer's Utah Festival Opera season I had the pleasure to attend a master class taught by opera and stage director Daniel Helfgot. Currently living in California, Mr. Helfgot has directed over 150 opera productions ranging from the Baroque to the modern, including several world premieres. I was incredibly impressed with his teaching this summer, as he focused on each artist's complete performance as opposed to centering on elements of vocal technique. Upon speaking to Barbara Day Turner (and, coincidentally, one of my roommates), I found that Mr. Helfgot had written a book titled The Third Line: The Singer as Interpreter.

Having been taught to be a complete musician by my teachers and coaches, I was nevertheless excited to get a copy of Mr. Helfgot's book, and while I have not finished reading it I find myself wanting to say that what I have read is some of the most thorough and insightful writing on maintaining a performing career that I have encountered. While primarily written for vocalists, there are many sections in this book that can be applied to anyone in the performing arts, specifically the chapters on auditions, competitions and recitals. I will, over the next few weeks and months, write more of my observations on Mr. Helfgot's text - and have to say that his work most definitely fits into the concept of "The Unbroken Line" that is explored in Constantin Stanislavski's An Actor Prepares.

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