Throughout the week, Greater Villeneuvois is the playground of lyrical singers, who will perform as part of the Festival lyrique. Women and men with extraordinary voices, the result of years of precise and intensive work.
On the small stage of the Yves-Duclos room, in Casseneuil, it’s rehearsal day for the premiere of the Festival lyrique du Grand Villeneuvois on Friday July 12. Accompanied by a pianist, four opera singers, with four different colors of voice, are on the stage preparing for the operetta show.
“A job that never stops”
There is Yves Coudray, tenor and director; Olivier Grand, baritone; Marie-Ange Todorovitch, mezzo-soprano; and Chantal Perraud, coloratura soprano and artistic director of the event. All four link their lines by giving voice, tirelessly repeating the gestures and facial expressions of the scenes. They also seek the best possible placement in space. A meticulous work, which could be compared to a top-level sportsman’s training, to be ready for the day of the show. For four days before the show, three hours of rehearsal in the morning and three hours in the afternoon have been programmed.
“This piece is new. It will be performed for the first time here, in Casseneuil. So there are still a lot of things to prepare, explains Yves Coudray. Especially since the operetta is a very complete style, where the singer must know how to do everything: sing, play comedy, sometimes dance. »
Rehearsals a few days before performances are only a small part of the work of an opera singer. The training starts long before.
“There is a huge personal work done on a daily basis for years, specifies the director of the show. And then there is the vocal technique. And that takes years and years of work. It is our color of voice that defines our vocal category and we learn all our life to master it. »
“The way we rehearse depends on the nature of the show and the repertoire we sing,” says Olivier Grand. There is work on comprehension, on the lyrics, on the music, on how to control the breath, but also on memory. We have to remember the text, the movements, the rhythm and even our position on the stage. Sometimes, it can happen to us to wake up in the middle of the night because we forgot a line. It’s a job that requires a lot of agility and that never stops. »
“The hardest part of this job is to last”
And above all, the opera singer is constantly adapting. “We adapt to the work we are asked to perform,” adds Olivier Grand, the baritone with a career of thirty years. We also adapt when we get older. You have to know how to change certain habits as your body changes. You have to have an excellent knowledge of your body. I know that it takes me four or five hours to wake up my voice. So I organize my rehearsal hours accordingly. This is very important because the most difficult part of being an opera singer is to last in the profession. »
There is also the greatest fear of any lyrical artist: the loss of voice. “It’s the worst thing that can happen to us”, launch the four lyrical singers together. And for that, everyone has their own technique. It begins not to catch any disease. “We have to be very careful about our health,” says Yves Coudray. The slightest cold can have catastrophic consequences for us. So we avoid the sick as much as possible. »