The voice is an instrument that is used every day.
It is defined as “the sounds that are made when people speak or sing”; “an
important quality or opinion that someone expresses”. Speaking and singing uses
the same mechanisms but in different ways; changes in resonance, the amount of
breath used, articulation, diction, phonation and overall technique.
Robert Cuccioli (Born May 3rd, 1958) is an American Italian
actor and director. As a student, he majored in Finance at St John’s
University. His specialities are stage and screen performances. He didn’t study
performance, instead, he built up his career by starting out as part of the
chorus in shows, slowly building up his reputation. This led to his debut on
Broadway in ‘Les Miserable’ as ‘Javert'(Ankeny, J, 2018). In 1995, Cuccioli debuted the lead
duel role in ‘Jekyll and Hyde’.
Anthony Warlow (Born November 18th, 1961) is an Australian
stage actor and singer (Baritone). He has classical training and began working
in Opera at the age of 19. He studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. On
the ‘Complete Album’ of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, he sang the lead dual role but never
performed the role on stage.
The song “This Is the Moment” was composed by Frank Wildham and lyrics by
Leslie Bricusse as part of the musical ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ first performed in
1990. It is a song performed by the male lead in the first half of the show.
The piece is about Dr. Jekyll’s excitement on a breakthrough in his
experiments, doing the impossible. It’s the final step before he puts his life
in the hands of his scientific knowledge and uses his findings on himself.
The original key of the piece is E major, with a range from B3-G#5.
Robert Cuccioli’s range is from around C3 to C5 and he sings the piece in Eb major,
Anthony Warlow’s range is C#2 to G5 and he sings this piece in its
original key of E major. This means that Robert Cuccioli would struggle more
with the higher end of the piece as he doesn’t have the support needed to
sustain the notes and uses vibrato to aid him whereas Anthony Warlow is comfortable
throughout the whole piece.
The differences between the technique of the performers are clearly evident.
Robert Cuccioli, though having a clear strength to his voice and incorporating
natural voice breaks, he lacks the support to hold notes steady especially
mid-way through a phrase, resulting in wavering pitch on longer notes. This
takes something away from the performance as a whole. He has a strong vibrato
but overuses it. On the other hand, Anthony Warlow has incredible breath
control and clear articulation, the pronunciation of vowels isn’t harsh. They
both portray a story of their emotions throughout the piece.
Musical phrasing incorporates both the structure and expression of the music
(CITING HERE). Phrasing is an important part of a vocal performance as it helps
provide shape and continuity to the piece as a whole. Robert Cuccioli adds
shape to his phrasing with the use of crescendo and diminuendo, helping to also
portray his emotion. He embellishes the key change with pauses on the words ‘is’
as a triumphant moment, a theme developed throughout. One of the disadvantages
of this performance is that phrases are broken up by breaths after longer
notes. This adds to the emotion but breaks up the flow and continuity thus
reducing the value of the notes. In contrast to this, Anthony Warlow’s
performance doesn’t do this, his use of his breath control and use of his
diaphragm allows him to support every note and still have the continuity that
is valuable for this emotional performance
Intonation is important as it is “the degree to which notes of a piece of music
are played or sung exactly in tune” – if the pitching of a part is not accurate
then it can ruin a piece, for example, through the clashing of harmonies.
Robert Cuccioli’s intonation is not the greatest in terms of his moment between
some intervals, he slides between them making some sound unstable however when
he rises and falls on the variations of ‘moment’, he supports it. The more he
crescendos through the pieces the more vibrato is used. Anthony Warlow also
uses vibrato on longer phrases but due to his classical training, he can
comfortably support it to sustain the pitch of the notes. The power behind
Warlow’s notes helps to convey his emotions clearly making it a believable
performance; conveying a story. Diction is important as every word needs to be
understood, “the words create an image, feeling or emotion to which they can
relate.” Without proper pronunciation, a word can be misunderstood and could
result in the whole meaning of the song being lost. Robert Cuccioli’s diction
is strong in terms of the consonants at the beginning and ends of words.
However, he occasionally exaggerates the ends of words that do not need to be
exaggerated. On the other hand, Anthony Warlow’s extensive classical training
enables him to have the tools to give an accurate performance while still
making the piece his own.
Phonation is the “rapid, periodic opening and closing of the glottis through
separation and apposition of the vocal chords that, accompanied by breath under
lung pressure, constitutes a source of vocal sound.” It is important as singers
use the regulation of breath to hold phrases and vocalise speech sounds to give
an accurate pronunciation of the lyrics they are using. During Robert
Cuccioli’s performance, some of his vowel sounds appear harsh, showing his lack
of professional training in terms of technique and word formation. Whereas
Anthony Warlow’s training allows him to concentrate on the story, projection
and overall performance of the piece as the technique of this is natural to
The overall performances are effective in terms of
the overall story. Robert Cuccioli, as the original ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde’
shows feeling and emotion. His use of the crescendo develops throughout,
parallel to the emotions felt; excitement, enjoyment, being rejoiceful of his
findings in his experiments. He uses enunciation and some support to
proclaim the ‘moment’ of overwhelming emotion. He is one of the most loved
actors to have performed in the leading dual role. Anthony Warlow’s
performances are successful as he makes it his own, whilst still portraying the
character. His endings of phrases aren’t over exaggerated and his abides by the
composer’s score and directions, whilst incorporating his own dynamic changes.
His use of power and expression develops throughout and his use of pauses are
valuable. His performance is in a concert venue rather than on stage in a
theatre production giving a different feel to the song. Having not performed
the role a production, it can be seen to be difficult to portray an accurate
representation of the character without the rest of the show but having
successfully incorporated all these aspects he has been able to achieve a
strong believable performance in a concert setting
Jessye Norman (Born 15th September
1945) is an American singer, who performed from a young age wherever she could.
She gained her undergraduate degree at Howard University with a BM (cum Laude),
completed a summer course at Peabody Conservatory and then an MMus at the
University of Michigan. Elisabeth Kulman is an Austrian singer, whom
began by studying linguistics before beginning her musical career. She studied
Voice at the University of Performing Arts with Helena Lazarska. Norman’s
repertoire covers music from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary
Jessye Norman’s range cannot be classified as it spans a vast number of octaves.
She said, “As for my voice, it cannot be categorised-and I like it that way,
because I sing things that would be considered in the dramatic mezzo or spinto
range.” She sings the piece in its original key of G minor which sits
comfortably for her voice. On the other hand, Elisabeth Kulman is a Mezzo
Soprano/Contralto who sings the piece in E minor meaning the piece is at the
higher end of her register.
Franz Schubert’s Opus I D.328, “Elkönig” was composed in 1815, based on the
poem of the same name, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1783). The poem
based on a legend from Danish ballad “Elveskud” about a father and son. The
four different characters are represented by their own ‘rhythmic nuances’ which
is portrayed clearly through the performer’s technique.
Singing in German involves techniques not used in English and takes influence
from Italian and French styles. The use of the diaphragm is important. People
that teach German music “recognise the importance of the breath mechanisms as
lungs, intercostal and diaphragm.” They say that the jaw should be in a “low
position”, that within the mouth and pharynx there should be “little change”
and there should be a “deep tonal production”