It’s a long road toward an ideal performance. What makes a performance academically ideal could be defined and listed (in fact it is defined and listed). One may argue that it can be reached through analysis, practice, interpretation, etc., and of course it takes time. Therefore, it is not a mystery! But what makes a performance unique? What makes it stand out from a million other versions? Other versions which are also academically ideal! It really doesn’t matter what instrument it is or even if it’s about voice.
It seems there needs to be something beyond the defined path toward the art of performance that only some recognize it and can use it. For instance, watch the top video (Vesti la giubba) from “Pagaliacci” opera, performed by Luciano Pavarotti. I prefer not to compare it here with other versions for obvious reasons but you feel free to do so to see the difference.
So why Pavarotti is Pavarotti? I seek the reason beyond his great musicianship skills and technical abilities. Because I am sure there are many singers out there that have these great skills and abilities but yet they can’t communicate so well with music and so with their audience.
The music comes out from the heart and mind of the composer, so the performer needs to use his heart and mind to be able to perform it well. Therefore it can pass through the heart and mind of the audience and be understood. It’s needless to say that music is mostly about emotions and feelings. Emotions and feelings that the composer of a piece/song has felt or/and went through. He expresses these emotions and feelings through music, actually, with notes. Obviously, whoever can read music whether amateur or professional is able to play that piece. But what if the performer never felt what the composer is trying to express? Does the knowledge of music and technical abilities make him capable of expressing anything? And if not, can he express what is to be expressed? So there needs to be an understanding between the composer and the performer. This understanding can lead to a better communication with the audience.
The ultimate level of feeling something is to experience it aware. If the performer be able to really feel what he is going to express, he has a secret unlocked. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the performer needs to experience exactly the similar things that the composer did. But at least, he needs to be very familiar with that feeling and how it’s like to deal with it. Clearly, without very secure theoretical and practical knowledge, one can’t have an extraordinary performance either.
By Arash A.
Here is the “Vesti la giubba” translation (translated by anonymous):
Act! While I’m going mad,
I don’t know what I’m saying anymore,
Or what I’m doing!
Yet I must, force yourself!
Bah! Might you be a man?
You are Pagliaccio (clown)!
Put on the jacket,
And the powdered face.
The people pay, and they want to laugh here.
And if the harlequin flies to you Colombina,
Laugh, Pagliaccio, and everyone will applaud!
Transform the spasms and the crying into jokes
The hiccups and the pain into a smirk, Ah!
At your shattered love!
Laugh at the sorrow that poisons your heart!
Note: Colombina is the singer’s (clown) wife who betrayed him.