Artistic Intimacy

I was completely stunned by two video excerpts I saw yesterday on the ubiquitous youtube of Dawn Upshaw singing Messiaen‘s “Saint François d’Assise”, directed by Peter Sellars. (I’m indebted to Alex for posting one on his blog).

The excerpts show the rehearsal process, Dawn’s valiant struggles with the virtuosic music and Peter guiding, encouraging and sometimes being extremely exacting with her.

At times, Sellars appears to be making excessive demands– why on earth is he asking for such elaborate postures and insisting on such a precise quality of movement when the music is already so taxing? Can’t he see that just singing the piece accurately would already be plenty? As a coach myself, I’m an advocate for sensitive treatment of singers, and was at first perplexed.
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