I've always been curious about what happens when we put different components together. Like peaches and chilli. Like a lute and a grand piano. Like those particular musicians and that specific composer. Like Caronte and me. Like Orfeo and Euridice. Like me and Ensemble Odd Size...Had we've aimed to only touch each other through touch, we wouldn't have succeeded. It's pure physics. Again, Karen Barad:
"A common explanation for the physics of touching is that one thing it does not involve is . . . well, touching. That is, there is no actual contact involved. You may think you are touching a coffee mug when you are about to raise it to your mouth, but your hand is not actually touching the mug. Sure, you can feel the smooth surface of the mug’s exterior right where your fingers come into contact with it (or seem to), but what you are actually sensing, physicists tell us, is the electromagnetic repulsion between the electrons of the atoms that make up your fingers and those that make up the mug. (Electrons are tiny negatively charged particles that surround the nuclei of atoms, and having the same charges they repel one another, much like powerful little magnets. As you decrease the distance between them the repulsive force increases.) Try as you might, you cannot bring two electrons into direct contact with each other."FN
But, in this project, the touch and the contact between Me, Elisabeth, the characters in Orfeo, the musicians, and the stage have created entirely new personas and places for my voice to resonate. Where I am right now, I feel the Sameness, and Otherness of Myself at the same time. I am not quite the same, not quite the Other. The Otherness of the self turned out to be impossible to capture. In fact, the Otherness was already there. The feelings I have towards the characters in L’Orfeo, to the whole project and to my self, can be expressed like filmmaker Trin Minh-ha says:
"The moment the insider steps out from the inside, she's no longer a mere insider. She necessarily looks in from the outside while also looking out from the inside. Not quite the same, not quite the other…
…She is, in other words, this inappropriate other or same who moves about with always at least two gestures: that of affirming "I am like you" while persisting in her difference and that of reminding "I am different" while unsettling every definition of Otherness arrived at.”FN
To begin with I was inspired to embody and further explore Magnus Tessings Schenider’s thesis, and academic research on Role Doubling in early 17th-century opera. I wanted to find out how, as a classically trained singer who feels equally at home in Early Music and in New Music- how I would behave, feel and react in these varying musical settings and musical roles? What would happen if I put them together instead of keeping them apart? How would the Baroque Me affect the New music me, and the Concert Singer Me affect the Actor Me? I have challenged the views on what a classical baroque soprano/singer can be today; I have experimented and explored different vocal techniques while staying within the classical/baroque frame; I have challenged myself to be an actor as much as a singer, and to use the text in an even more theatrical way (while still maintaining my singing persona).
Investigating how the physical and intellectual processes of acting affect my singing, through using techniques and ideas from 20th-century physical theatre, Commedia dell' Arte, and storytelling I’ve developed into a new kind of performer: devising a new idea of what it is to be a singer- an Actor-Singer! Indeed, I do understand this is a personal interpretation of the word and phenomenon: the “Actor-Singer”, but for me, this new role allows me to play with my voice, and use music in ways I had not realised before.
Through drawing in these theatrical elements to my production of L’Orfeo, I believe I came closer in spirit to 17th-century actor-singers, such as ”La Florinda” and Anna Renzi. The direct body language I explored in the physical theatre forms, gave my voice a presence which I firmly believe was (and still is) needed for the 17th-century opera house, and for the telling of ‘Stories through Music’- the original Favola in Musica
Performing all the roles forced me to make fast shifts between each character which made my voice react fast and almost instinctively to the signals sent by thoughts, neurons, and co-musicians. There was no time to think and judge - only act.
Experiencing the shifts between these different roles also forced me to see myself from different perspectives and made me understand (if I didn’t already know) how much more there is to see in all of us.
Instead of being La Voce FN (as I did before) my voice lives in me, in my body (It is not me) and can take the vocal shape of almost anything, and anyone, I desire.
My voice has other potentials than just sounding like Elisabeth, which makes it is by far more interesting.