Interim Evaluation – Raphael Fusco

Molto Cantabile: An Idiomatic Approach to Composing for Stimmfächer

Contemporary vocal music increasingly demonstrates a fundamental misconception or disregard for how the voice functions as an instrument. The lack of a comprehensive source of information on how to write for operatic voices makes experimentation especially difficult to navigate. While modern composition curricula teach four basic voice-types with fixed ranges — soprano, alto, tenor, bass — Kloiber’s Handbuch der Oper recognizes at least 24 different Stimmfächer each with its own distinctive characteristics and idiosyncrasies.

This project aims to identify effective strategies for composing idiomatic music for operatic voices by using the Stimmfach system and principles of healthy singing as a point of departure. It investigates how the physiology of the vocal apparatus affects the aesthetic attributes of each voice type and examines the relationship between musical gesture and physical traits such as vocal elasticity, breath control, dynamic range, and tessitura. Through analyses of operatic roles, structured experiments and interviews with singers, pedagogues, phoniatrists, and composers this research intends to ascertain the nature and advantages of idiomatic vocal writing and promote a framework for composers to push the technical limits of the voice in a healthy, sustainable and informed manner in their own compositions.

Internal Supervisors and External Advisors: Ulf Bästlein (KUG), Andreas Dorschel (KUG), Tom Cipullo (SUNY), Michael Edgerton (Malmö Academy of Music)

Raphael Fusco

Composition / Piano

Italian-American composer Raphael Fusco has been hailed by the international press as “one of the most outstanding composers of his generation (El Mundo)” and “accomplished and winning (The New York Times)”.

His genre-crossing compositions for voice, chamber ensembles, orchestra, and theater are performed by leading artists across the world in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kimmel Center Philadelphia, St. Bavo Kerk Haarlem, Casa Milà and the Église de Saint Séverin in Paris. He has written commissioned works for artists and ensembles such as GRAMMY Award winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis, Barbara Dever, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Cecilia Chorus of New York and members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras. In 2019 Raphael Fusco released his debut album REMIXED featuring original compositions for solo piano praised for their “stunning sonic ideas (Jazz Corner)”. In July 2021 he conducted the premiere of his operas inSOMNIA at the Opernfestival Oberpfalz in Amberg, Germany (“a multifaceted, atmospheric sound-painting” Mittelbayerische Zeitung) as well as Der Telefonist at the Forum Neue Kunst in Oldenburg in October of the same year. In 2022 he conducted the world premieres of his An American Requiem in the Herz Jesu Kirche of Graz and his cantata for 29 soloists La canora contesa in Lucca and Sant’Agata Feltria, Italy. Mr. Fusco has received awards from the NATS Art Song Competition, American Prize for Music, Aliénor International Harpsichord Competition, Padre Martini Fugue Award, Bohuslav Martinū Composition Award, as well as grants from the National Italian American Foundation and Exploring the Metropolis.

Raphael studied composition, piano, and conducting at the Mannes College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Conservatorio G. Verdi di Torino, Vienna Konservatorium, and Paris Schola Cantorum. Since 2019 Raphael Fusco has served as Senior Artist in the Institute for music theater at the University for Performing Arts in Graz, Austria where he is pursuing a doctoral degree in composition. A passionate educator, he regularly gives masterclasses and lectures and teaches on the faculties of Opera Lucca Festival and Classic Lyric Arts Festival in Italy.