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Acting And Mimicry:
 Acting And Mimicry

 What Is Mimicry?

 Acting—opera And Stage

 How To Study And Analyze A Part

 General Rules

 Exercises For Elasticity

 Elements Of Mimicry - Part 1

 Elements Of Mimicry - Part 2

 Elements Of Mimicry - Part 3

 Elements Of Mimicry - Part 3

 Read More Articles About: Acting And Mimicry

Acting—opera And Stage

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Somehow or other, there is current among vocal students, and even among finished singers, an unjustified notion that acting on the singing stage is entirely different from acting on the speaking stage. This is a fallacy.

The singers who are guided by this false theory are the ones who, as Rasi claims, are poor actors. They have formed their ideas from the photo-graphs and paintings of 1850. So we have the tenors who, when singing the aria from Rigoletto, for instance, will insist upon drawing on and toying with the unavoidable glove, thinking, perhaps, that by so doing they are impressing the audience with their artistry. Or there are the sopranos who, while singing, never omit to display the inevitable handkerchief which they crumple and uncrumple in their nervous grasp. Again, there are those who seem to be counting their steps as they advance towards the foot-lights in preparation for a cadenza.

The principal reason for poor acting in opera is the lack of understanding of the part played. Experience has shown that when a singer thoroughly understands his part, he is convincing, dramatically. This was proved in the case of Tamagno one of the greatest dramatic tenors of not long ago. Verdi and Boito, after having written Othello for him, were greatly perturbed, for he seemed unable to enter into the spirit of the part. They then worked with him for months until he grasped thoroughly the thought under-lying the rôle he was to sing. The performance, as a result of this painstaking study, was the greatest triumph Tamagno ever had; his acting was called consummate on this occasion, for he showed by his intelligent interpretation that the "acting talent" had been awakened in him.

In opera, of course, the musical requirements of the passage being sung must be taken into consideration. The gesture or pose sometimes is longer, sometimes shorter, than on the speaking stage, for it is dependent upon the melody and music.

From the acting point of view, modern opera offers many more opportunities than classical opera. Classical opera, as it has come down to us, is full of conventional traditions which must be observed. In it, often many bars are sung on the same word, and therefore the gesture must be prolonged accordingly.

To correspond with the repetition of words a favorite device in old opera it is advisable to find a variety of gestures. These the singer must create for himself, as his own thought and instinct should be a better guide than any hard-and-fast rules which might be given. Modern opera is free from this conventionalism, so that the singer can display his histrionic talents with greater freedom.

As the librettos of operas are either dramatic, tragic, or comic, the acting of the whole is thus naturally dependent upon the subject-matter therein contained. In comedy, the action should be lively and move quickly, the gesture should be free, spontaneous and agile. In tragedy or drama, in which the destructive forces are nearly always represented as defeating the constructive ones, the gestures must be more sustained.

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