Sunday, June 08, 2008

Carmina with oomph

As part of the Festival Chorus I'd sung in Carmina Burana in August 2007. We did some ten weeks of rehearsal for it, picking apart the text and music intimately, learning the text off by heart. What a blast it was, a tremendous experience.

When it was announced that the Chorus Oz performance for 2008 was also going to be Carmina, many of the Festival Chorus thought to give it a miss. When you get to the end of all that rehearsal and the performances, you almost never want to hear it again.

I'd often wondered what it would be like to sing tenor (being an alto) and I expressed this at some stage. A fellow alto said that if I registered as tenor for Chorus Oz, she would too. So we did!

We spent this last weekend rehearsing and performing it. There are lots of similarities between the alto and tenor parts, but there was plenty of new stuff to keep us interested and on our toes. There are some songs which are only for the men, including a fabulous (and difficult) drinking song.

It was a very different experience. How delightfully amusing it was to be treated as the pampered divas by Brett Weymark, our conductor. Altos are the workhorses, but tenors are temperamental artistes. He referred often to the men, and men-esses. Did he really mean menaces? Out of a choir of over eight hundred there might have been 8 women tenors. I gather there were about 270 male voices, including the basses. There were heaps of altos, and about two boxes fewer sopranos. Carmina is a piece where the men have a real starring role so it was a good one to be my debut.

Sitting on the right hand side of the stage gives one a different view of the orchestra and conductor, and it is very close to the sopranos, so the sound balance is very different. Singing those blokey songs in full volume chest voice takes a lot more energy than the pretty alto part in head voice. I was really tired at the end of it and my voice felt very strained. There seemed to be a lot of testosterone in the atmosphere around me!

I don't think I'll sing tenor again. It was interesting, and it was certainly fun to belt out those booming low notes, but I think I like being a girl and singing girl parts. I missed the musicality somehow, of the lovely alto lines. It will be good to get deep into the Beethoven program that is coming up - rehearsals start in a few weeks.


  1. Sounds like you were exhausted! I can imagine it would have been a lot of hard work. I must confess I was glad to have the weekend off - the Beethoven will come around soon enough :)

  2. Anonymous11:06 PM

    I have wondered what it would be like to sing the tenor part. I feel my voice is heading in that direction! It was a great performance (particularly as I sang from the stage-a whole different musical experience)
    the injured chorister