In RIVAL, I wove in references to music and artists I like, and that I think you might like, too. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about some of them here!
Bach Cantata: Bach is one of those composers whose music can either be very accessible or very hard to get into. But man, is it worth getting into! I’ve always found Bach difficult to sing—at first. You really have to understand the rhythms and the concept he’s trying to achieve. It’s almost like solving a math problem. But once you do, you find yourself in this surreal place where the music just makes sense and is so incredibly gorgeous. I started RIVAL with Brooke and Kathryn singing Bach, because I wanted them to tackle a piece that really was difficult, but that provided a nice payoff upon mastering.
Alto/Mezzo – The deeper of the female voices.
Soprano – The higher female voice part. Second sopranos often sing harmonies, while the highest notes go to the first sopranos. (In case you’re interested, I used to sing first Soprano.)
Tenor – The higher male voice part .
Bass/Baritone – The lower male voice part.
Spamalot: Broadway musical based on Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail.” At Brooke’s party, the kids listen to “His Name is Lancelot” and “Find Your Grail.”
The Gondoliers: A popular Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. “Once More Gondolieri” is a fun song that’s often used as the finale of choral concerts. The visual and sound quality are not great in this clip, but this is the best choral performance I could find of “Once More Gondolieri” online.
Deh Vieni Non Tardar: Famous soprano aria from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Simple and lovely.
Che Faro Senza Euridyce –Brooke’s choral audition aria.
Turandot – Famous Puccini opera, which was unfinished at his death. Since then, several new endings have been written. One of the most famous arias in opera itself is Nessun Dorma – Here’s Pavarotti doing it.
And, just for fun, here’s the most popular version. Paul Potts from Britain’s Got Talent.
Dawn Upshaw—Popular soprano. Here’s a clip of her singing Weill’s “My Ship.”
Denyce Graves—Popular mezzo, well known for her Carmen. Here she is singing the Habanera.
Trial by Jury: Another popular Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. It’s about a jilted bride who sues her would-be-groom in court. I played a bridesmaid in a college production of this.
Riders to the Sea: Written by Ralph Vaughn Williams, it’s a somewhat surreal operetta about a family in an Irish coastal town where all of the young men drown in the rough sea waters.
Stephen Sondheim: Brooke has a book of Sondheim songs from her father – Sondheim is a very famous Broadway composer who wrote everything from the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” to the musicals “Sweeney Todd,” “A Little Night Music” and “Into the Woods.”
Turn of the Screw: Originally a psychological thriller written by Henry James, it was made into an opera by Benjamin Britten. The story revolves around a governess who becomes two children under her care are possessed by evil spirits.
Valkyrie: This is the stereotype you always picture when you think about opera: Big ladies with big voices, wearing breastplates and horned helmets, and carrying spears. Brooke’s brothers tease her by calling her “Brookehilde,” which is a reference to the Valkyrie Brunhilde in Richard Wagner’s operas. The whole Valkyrie thing has been made fun of to death, and it can be funny to watch a bad soprano butcher the “Hojotoho!” in the famous “Ride of the Valkyries.” But I dare you to listen—really listen—to this music and not get chills. Truly, it kicks ass.
Vibrato: A tremulous or vibrating quality in the voice that gives it richness and warmth. Singers use varying degrees of vibrato depending on the style of music they’re singing, from a very straight and pure tone to a full, dramatic vibrato.
“The Jewel Song” - This is one of the pieces Kathryn performs at the Blackmore. It’s an acting aria from Guonod’s “Faust,” where the naïve young Marguerite receives a case of jewels from Faust and the demon Mephistopheles. She tries them on, laughing while she admires herself in a mirror. Here’s a performance of it.
“Glitter and be Gay” – A showpiece soprano aria from Bernstein’s “Candide.” It’s sung by a prostitute who feels guilty about her lot in life until she tries on the jewels she’s received from her many lovers. With humor and some serious vocal acrobatics, it’s usually a crowd favorite. Kristen Chenoweth has sort claimed this piece in recent years, and while I think she overacts at times, it’s the best performance of this piece that I could find online. Here it is.