Behind the Scenes with Vittorio Grigòlo: Master Class with the superstar Tenor
Behind the Scenes with Vittorio Grigòlo:
Master Class with the superstar Tenor
Leticia Marie Sanchez
All photography ©2017 Leticia Marie Sanchez
A master class with Vittorio Grigòlo offered an unexpected lesson in chemistry, conducting, and electricity.
The charismatic opera star has been in Los Angeles where he stars as E.T.A Hoffman in LA Opera’s Tales of Hoffman.
While in Southern California, Grigòlo led master classes with Angels Vocal Art, an organization that fosters emerging vocal talent. Singers auditioned for the chance to perform for the world class tenor.
At the master class, Grigòlo told the students that opera singers are also conductors.“A conductor is not somebody who has a baton in his hand..It’s a tube that can bring energy from the stage, passing through the people in the orchestra seats and sending it through the theatre. Conductors and Semi-Conductors. Electricity. We bring waves of energy with our voices.”
Grigòlo whipped the emerging young “conductors” into shape through intense work on the lyrics, the score, and their physicality. While student Ricardo Mota sang Bizet’s “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée,” Grigòlo reminded him, “You are a dark spirit, give me color.” Grigòlo encouraged his students to fully embody their characters. He did not allow small details like a scripted yawn to escape him, and he showed the students how to naturally incorporate even the smallest of nuances into the music. He urged them to probe the text, the notes, and even their own physicality in order to deliver authentic performances. When tenor Tyler Wolsten sang Bizet’s moving “Je crois entendre encore,” Grigòlo stopped him in the middle of his performance to focus on the word “crois,” the French word for believe. “What do you believe?” Grigòlo demanded, insisting that the singer reflect on the text before attempting to express an emotion to the audience. Grigòlo also encouraged the students to fully delve into the shades the notes of the score. When soprano Roksana Zeinapur sang Mozart’s “In Quali…Mi Tradi quell’alma ingrate,” Grigòlo asked her to pause to listen to a chord. “That chord is conveying uncertainty,” Grigòlo explained, encouraging her to convey the same sentiment though her voice.
The indefatigable Grigòlo even asked students to punch his stomach to understand the importance of diaphragm strength.
Under Grigòlo’s exacting instruction, the students showed a clear metamorphoses – for instance, some from shy and tentative, to rousing and convincing. The tenor stayed as late as possible to accommodate every student in the class and give them the opportunity to sing for him, even though he already had tight demands on his schedule that evening.
Like a Mercury heading into the night, the dashing tenor put on a pair of neon sneakers and a hoodie before bidding adieu. As he walked out the door, Grigòlo recapitulated the two days of master classes with one word: “endurance.”
A takeaway from the intense master class is that Grigòlo, in fact, sweats the small stuff. And that’s why he’s the big stuff.
Photo Above: Vittorio Grigòlo and tenor Tyler Wolsten
Photo below: Vittorio Grigòlo and soprano Emily Rosenberg