Monday, June 24, 2013

Opera & Hockey: Parallel Worlds?

As we head into game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final (GO BRUINS!) we asked our Twitter followers to tell us what it's like being an opera lover and a sports fanatic: 

@abbottjones says: Both get my heart rate up. I cheer at both: "Bravo" or "War Eagle" or "Go Sox!" Both make life more exciting. #operafan #sportsfan. "

@baritoneirvin says: " Some might argue that opera IS a sport. I know I feel that way after some shows. :-) " 

Baritone Matthew Worth (@worthmatthew), recently seen as Guglielmo in BLO's production of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, reflected on what it's like to be an opera singer and a (sometimes) athlete:

I was yelling at the opposing team's player with my soft palette raised high, producing a supported, vibrating {o} vowel.  I wasn't alone--my brother and I were seated behind one of the hoops for an important pair of free throws and our whole section was yelling in chorus to distract the player from the task at hand.  My brother wasn't fully committed to tripping up the guy at the line, though.  He couldn't stop laughing at my foreign sound and me, the opera singer with a sports problem.

There was a time when I was playing sports more often than I was performing on the stage.  These days, it's certainly reversed--I only occasionally play pickup basketball, flag football or a round of golf whereas my livelihood is made as an opera singer.  Every day, however, I'm able to draw similarities between the two mediums.  Both athletes and singers are entertainers, required to be focused in every moment on the stage.  We visualize success before it happens, having prepared countless hours on our own in practice rooms and on empty courts.  

There are less-obvious parallels to be drawn as well.  If I were to break down singing into very basic principles, it would go something like this: Intake of breath, onset of support, onset of sound, release of sound, release of support.  Every major athletic motion has an equivalent. In taking a free throw, I breathe while bending my knees, then extend through the shot while exhaling into the follow through.  My golf swing (when it's working) begins with a breath in the backswing, exhaling through contact into follow through.  I've never been a hockey player, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that every player on the ice in this Bruins/Blackhawks series has a similar progression in their wrister across the ice or slap shot. 

Make way for the Bruins!

Click here to read about our friendly wager with the Lyric Opera of Chicago
It's been a blast battling it out on Twitter with @LyricOperaFollow us @BostLyricOpera to join in the fun and help us win our Re-Tweet Challenge!

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