Recordings are forever

22. March 2020

Recordings: life companions

There are some recordings on my CD shelves that have accompanied me for decades. Sometimes, I do not listen to them for years and they slumber away, almost forgotten. But from time to time, I will get them out, listen to them and let myself get back to the memories and feelings I connect with these treasures.

With some of those CDs, however, I have a love-hate relationship. They are all recordings with world-class singers, the crème de la crème of the opera world, wonderful orchestras, genius conductors … and yet…. I barely listen to them.

Recordings: disappointments?

Now, you might think that the reason is that I simply have listened to them too often and that I am fed up with them.
This is not the case here.

No, the main reason I do not like listening to them is – the pronunciation is wrong!

One recording for example is of Gounod’s “Faust” in French, its original language.

As I said, the singers are of world-class reputation. In fact, the cast was one of the reasons I bought the CD.
What I did not expect was to hear strong Spanish, English and Russian accents and words simply pronounced wrong.

At first, the mistakes were just irritating, but in the course of time they destroyed my pleasure of listening.

Another example is a recording of Johann Strauß’ “Die Fledermaus”. Additional to the arias, there are long spoken parts that do not make the performance easier for non-native singers.

However, when I buy a recording, I expect that I at least understand the dialogues. This was not the case here and after listening again and again to one and the same (spoken) sentence, I frustratedly hauled out the libretto to look up Orlofsky’s words.

I love voices and I love listening to as many different interpretations as I can. They give me pleasure and help me understand a role.

Yet, when something is wrong, either that the singer does not sing in tune or that the pronunciation is not correct, this recording goes on my “bad list”.

Recordings are forever

Look, it is bad enough to give a bad performance (for whatever reason). But this is only a one-time event and will be forgotten quite soon.

But recordings are different because:

Recordings are forever. They will exist long after the singer has gone, and future generations will either love them and use it as a reference or laugh at them and reject it as pathetic.

Keep that in mind when you do a recording of yourself, either by filming yourself and uploading it on YouTube or by going into a studio and making a professional recording.

Even if you think you know how to pronounce everything correctly, let a professional coach listen to it. (Read here why it is not advisable to listen to other recordings in order to learn good pronunciation).
You can only win!

Either your pronunciation coach confirms that you were right. In that case you gained the certainty that you do everything correctly which will boost your performance confidence.
Or your coach discovers several mistakes and helps you correct them which will make the investment worth a thousand times.