Bel canto training in Niccolo Porpora's England with a twentieth century rationale
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Beverly J. Ogdon
BEVERLY OGDON, soprano, teacher of singing, scholar, and wife of Will Ogdon, founder of UCSD’s innovative, contemporary-oriented music department, has had a lively career punctuated by many first performances of works of prominent twentieth-century composers such as Robert Erickson, Luciano Berio, Nicolo Castiglioni, Bernard Rands, Roger Reynolds and of course, Will Ogdon. She performed and recorded Ernst Krenek’s Wechselrahmen with the composer and also performed his Quintina , Nachtigall, and An Instant Remembered with orchestra. Her repertoire includes twentieth-century classics such as Schoenberg’s Herzgewachse and Pierrot Lunaire, most of the songs of Webern, extensive Baroque chamber and standard recital works. In addition to two roles created for her in Ogdon’s Sappho and Erickson’s Cardinitas she has sung The Queen of the Night, Pasatieri’s La Divina, and Satie’s Socrate.
Trying to develop a technique to make these disjunct vocal lines as gesturally honest as speech and as Webern hoped, ‛so simple children would sing them’, she researched the old bel canto treatises, first at UCSD and later at the Frank de Bellis Private Collection at San Francisco State University. Her theory of why it worked in the Golden Age is indebted to current voice research, especially as it relates to laryngeal innervation from emotional centers of the brain. It owes much also to students, age ten to eighty, dilettante to graduate student and professional, who faithfully have applied the messa di voce to every aspect of technique in all styles of music