<< -- 2 -- Tess Crebbin SINGING OUT
TC: When you rehearse, do you usually sing out or do you mark it?
RDS: Sometimes, if we work on the same thing over and over again, I take it easy to save my voice but usually I like to sing out to warm me up. Also, because some operas are so long, this means the rehearsals are so long that I don't have any energy or time in between to go practice. So I use the time, singing out, to work on the role vocally. It is a good exercise of discipline.
TC: You used to be a baritone and changed to tenor, and that also took some discipline ...
RDS: True. I had to apply an enormous amount of discipline to myself, to cope with that change and the new demands, the music and the technical problems. The demands of the Heldentenor repertoire are such that the baritone colour, baritone weight to the voice, is what it takes to get past the orchestra and make the character a little more believable. Character-wise, and also in the voice, it is just heavy. That's the best word to describe it, although I think of myself as a lighter, lyric Heldentenor
[listen -- 'In fernem Land' from Lohengrin].
TC: What happened to make you change from baritone to Heldentenor?
RDS: I found that the top of my voice wanted to be developed more. I was fine as a baritone but I had this question in the back of my head, for some time, about the switch to Heldentenor. Yet I kept telling myself no, I'm a baritone and I'm going stay a baritone. Until finally came the point where I said: maybe I should at least try it. I had a couple of months where I did not have much to do, and so I did my exercises as a tenor and learned a few tenor arias. At the end of these couple of months I said: I'll see if this works. I knew I could do it. So I quit my job and got myself a job as a tenor.
TC: What attracted to you being a tenor, as opposed to staying a baritone? There are so many wonderful baritone parts that you gave up for this change.
RDS: It was all about natural curiosity. I wanted to develop my voice and my musicality as much as I could. I didn't care if that meant changing to bass, staying as a baritone, or changing to tenor. I wanted to find out if Heldentenor was what I was supposed to be. My brain and my voice came together at the right time, so I was able to make the change. That was in 1989.
TC: That was a big risk to take ...
RDS: Very much so. I have taken a lot of risks throughout my career, but they were always calculated risks. After I had taken these two months out to study tenor arias, I knew that I would make my way. The reason I came to Germany in the first place, the reason for everything I did, was because I wanted to sing the music. I didn't care really about singing in the top theatres. I wanted to sing, wherever it was. And that has led me from one step to the next, through the development. I knew that changing to tenor a step I should take, even if it meant starting at the bottom again, which I basically did, and seeing where that would lead me. A lot of what it takes for coming across the ocean, and trying to make it here, is stamina. You have to be willing to hang out until you get the right moment. You must never give up, if that's what you want to do. That's very difficult, financially and emotionally. People with families have it even more difficult.
Copyright © 20 July 2004
Tess Crebbin, Germany