Ying Fang, a rising star at the Metropolitan Opera

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lennygoran
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Ying Fang, a rising star at the Metropolitan Opera

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:11 am

There's also a clip of her singing.

She's appeared at the Met over 70 times in a variety of roles. Regards, Len


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How Does a Normal Person Transform Into an Opera Singer?

Ying Fång lives in the modern world most of the week, conserving her soprano voice with silence, stretching and sleep. Until it’s time to go onstage.

By Sam Anderson

May 30, 2019

How does a normal, everyday modern person — someone who might stand next to you in line for coffee, wearing sweatpants, checking Twitter, stifling a sneeze — turn into an opera singer? The world of Wagner and Puccini is, notoriously, orders of magnitude larger than life. Opera is one of those popular spectacles, like professional wrestling or national politics, that force human beings to act like aliens. Performers teeter across huge stages under large wigs, clutching in agony or triumph at one another’s costumes, sending thick ropes of sound from their mouths, often for hours at a time. Entering this world would seem to require some kind of radical metamorphosis — a magic amulet, a descent into a cave, a radioactive spider bite.


For Ying Fang, a rising star at the Metropolitan Opera, the transformation requires silence, stretching, sleep and salad. Fang is a 31-year-old soprano whose voice moves with enchanting precision way out near the edges of plausible human range. As a child in Zhejiang province on China’s East Coast, she exhibited a remarkable talent for memorizing the music she heard on the radio and TV — and then reproducing it, powerfully, out of her own mouth. Her parents allowed this, even at the dinner table, even when she became obsessed with Celine Dion. Eventually her passion led to international singing competitions, Juilliard and the Metropolitan Opera House — a gold-and-crimson palace of song that Fang describes as “sacred.” Even Celine Dion has never sung there.


Fang’s most recent appearance at the Met was in Mozart’s final opera, “La Clemenza di Tito,” a story of violence and mercy in ancient Rome. She played the part of Servilia, an idealistic young lover who gets snagged in the gears of revolution, then has to sing her way out of it. Compared with the other characters, Servilia is not onstage for very long, which Fang says raises its own special challenges. There is no time to warm up the audience; she bursts through a side door and starts singing right away. “You’re in the character immediately,” Fang says. “The personality, the voice, the presence. It has to be beautiful and be right there.” This means carefully managing her time offstage too — staying ready and relaxed, but not too relaxed. Fang brings her own tea. As she waits to go back onstage, she brews it, sips and listens.

Fang’s costume has been worn by others in the role since 1984.

Mozart gave Servilia some of the show’s best moments, including a witheringly beautiful aria in which she tells another character to stop crying and take action. (“S’altro che lacrime/Per lui non tenti/Tutto il tuo piangere/Non giovera,” she sings. “If you can only offer him tears, all your weeping is in vain.”) She emerges as the story’s conscience. On opening night, the audience lauded Fang’s performance with instant calls of “brava”; reviewers praised it as “lush and gorgeous,” “silvery” and “a source of pure joy and light.”
Waiting in the wings during dress rehearsal.

None of that would be possible, Fang insists, without the years and months and days of grinding preparation. “We’re vocal athletes,” she says. “Basically, the vocal cords are just two little muscles, aren’t they?” In the days leading up to performances, Fang tries to stay silent, hanging around home to cook her own simple meals, drinking lots of water and sleeping as much as she can. She keeps a humidifier in her bedroom and follows a stretching regimen. When music from the show starts to run in a constant loop in her head, Fang will sometimes try to banish it by listening to bossa nova or jazz. But the opera always comes back. Some days, after a rehearsal, she’ll find herself walking down the sidewalk, deep in thought, and the music will burst spontaneously out of her. She wonders if passers-by think she’s crazy — this woman singing opera right there in the middle of ordinary life. “I hope they’re not scared,” she says.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... -york.html

maestrob
Posts: 6373
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Ying Fang, a rising star at the Metropolitan Opera

Post by maestrob » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:38 am

Good peek at the life of a singer. It sounds rather sad and lonely, this need to be silent to conserve the voice: not all singers live like that. Her dedication is admirable.

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