Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vocal Wisdom from Elizabeth Parcells (1951-2005); a useful website to bookmark

I want to draw your attention to a website that is both a useful resource and a fitting memorial for a musician.

Elizabeth Parcells (1951-2005) was described by Richard Dyer in her obituary in the Boston Globe as "a spunky coloratura soprano who could turn daredevil cartwheels on the stages of opera houses to match the dizzying virtuosity of her singing."

Her brother Charles helped to create a website that would both document her singing career and also be a resource for young singers.

In an email to me he said that he "ripped and edited many open reel tapes and worked on the web site, with support from Elizabeth, during the last 6 months of her life, then took another 6 months to finish up with necessary assistance from several opera gurus on message boards who could give me exact names of pieces and help with spelling, etc."

Charles "wanted to preserve her artistic legacy for the family. She wanted to encourage young singers." Both goals are met and exceeded in this lovely website.

The application for this website extends beyond vocal pedagogy. It is of use to anyone learning this repertoire. For those of us who are not singers there is nothing more helpful in gaining insight into vocal repertoire than thoughtful markings and reflections on the process of performance from a singers vantage point.

As one peruses the site, one discovers recordings of repertoire that is diverse in style and idiom. There are often comments, IPA written meticulously in Elizabeth;s hand, and other pedagogical pieces of "vocal wisdom" running the gambit from advice about singing with an orchestra to daily vocal exercises.

The site is saturated with interviews, videotapes, and pictures from all stages of her career. As one spends time wandering the site, Elizabeth's personality comes sharply into focus.

This was one of the first sites, if not the first, to animate scores so that one line of a score at a time appears in the window as one hears the music itself. Charles made these animations. While this has become a common idiom in YouTube, it is not common to use a score with markings. These markings, made by Elizabeth for her own use, are actualized in the performances, and show an organized and logical mind at work.

I remain quite drawn to these markings. They reveal insights and personality.

In an interview with Jonathan Swift on "Time Out for Opera," she describes the bel canto style. Elizabeth refers to the famous book of maxims by Giovanni Battista Lamperti called "Vocal Wisdom." This website is a testament to vocal wisdom and artistry.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful and useful tribute! Thank you so much for bringing it to our attention!


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