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28 Days to Diva: Day 28 – Always Have an Encore (#28daystodiva)

February 28, 2013

Photo credit: Renata Pavam Photography

An encore is like dessert: pleasurable, sweet, and enjoyable. It makes your heart light and causes a smile to emerge. The dessert at the end of a meal is not just about sweetness, for delicious desserts can also be savory, but rather the sequence or essence of the meal. What is dessert? A surprise? A fanfare? An embrace? The dessert is an affirmation of how we want to end the meal. Likewise, an encore is how we want to close the experience between audience and performers. Day 28 has arrived at last. It is your final challenge of 28 Days to Diva to always have an encore.

Since Day 5 you have been planning, programming, and preparing a recital. You carved out time to practice as well as research. The many layers of interpretation are starting to come together. That stack of music staring you down was starting to look a little less ominous. Some of you probably started perspiring immediately at the thought of more music to learn. Honestly, the world is so full of music. There will never be another moment in your life when you do not have an ocean of new works to learn and perform. One of the blessings of the encore piece is that it is often a signature that you can perform for recital after recital. It can, but does not need to, match your program repertoire. Rather, your encore piece can be something you sing superbly that you share with special audiences. Feel free to take liberties with humor and schmaltz for your encore. Live your life.

On the sweet side of encores you might try something in the vein of famous songbirds like Flagstad or Sutherland:


“The encores are usually a well-known opera aria or two or another work by a composer who had been represented earlier.” … “With accompaniment by David Zobel on the piano, DiDonato’s repertory was essentially by the book, with a nod to her expertise in Italian opera.. Encores included more Rossini, an aria from Massenet’s Chérubin and that crossover favorite, ‘Over the Rainbow.'”  Erick Neher. “The Art Song Recital In Review”

Since most art song recitals avoid opera arias during the course of the program, many artists will add a flashy aria to flaunt their chops. Perhaps one of the arias that you have been working on for auditions or competition would be a perfect show-stopper at the end of your recital. Purely from its position in the recital, the encore will be one of the most memorable moments of the program. If you plan on singing a hefty, hour-long recital, make sure you have enough gas left in the tank to take on a firecracker of an aria.

Finally, too often, art song recitals turn into a somber affair. While I strongly encourage you to program humorous pieces throughout, the encore can also be a place to show off your comedic skills. For example (unfortunately I couldn’t find a decent YouTube), Lori Laitman‘s “Dreaming” is a terrific piece in which the dreaming, from the title, is for a great review. Whether farcical or not, the encore is also the place where singers like to include a bit of cross-over repertoire. If you can sing the bejeezus out of a musical theatre piece go ahead and show it off in the encore.

Take your cue from the glorious Susan Graham:

Or, the consummate artist Elly Ameling with her own crossover pick:

How we end our recital is a very important question and a natural end for 28 Days to Diva for this year. We have explored some very important topics and barely scratched the surface of other controversial subjects. It is my sincere hope that you have found inspiration, motivation, and occasionally a few points of wisdom to help you along your journey. We have made it through this whole month and I cannot wait to see what the rest of 2013 brings us. In the words of John Keats, “Nothing ever becomes real till experienced – even a proverb is no proverb until your life has illustrated it.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2013 6:22 pm

    This is an awesome series and an awesome title for a series … just sayin’…

    • March 28, 2013 10:55 am

      Thanks for taking the time to read the series, Charity! I just stumbled my way over to your blog and LOVED it. Cannot get enough.

  2. October 6, 2013 1:28 pm

    I’ve just been rereading all your Diva posts. For all divas reading this, may I suggest a funny crossover piece? Four years ago I made ‘Art is Calling for Me’ (also known as ‘The Prima Donna Song’) by Vicotr Herbert, my staple encore piece and the audience (everywhere!) loves it! It’s also a funny piece to make small tweaks and improvisations, so even when I have people who heard it before, they are always looking forward to hear this one again.

    • October 6, 2013 3:57 pm

      Such a great suggestion! That’s definitely a favorite encore piece. Thanks!

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