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Oh Had I Jubal's Lyre


One of my favorite arias is 'Oh Had I Jubal's Lyre', from Joshua, by Handel. In this particular aria, I find that the tempo has to be just right - if it's a little bit slower or a little bit faster, the rapid passagework becomes sluggish, or nearly impossible! Allan Conway, pianist, and I tried various tempo options until we found the one you hear in this video. As we experimented, vocal weight, volume, clarity of passagework, etc. shifted. Too heavy, it can get bogged down, although it can be a full blooded sound. Too light, it can fade and not have enough power. Finding the right vocal balance, air flow, and impact of articulation that make it possible to switch back and forth easily between long tones and fioratura, is key. In singing this aria, it felt like being a ballet dancer on point and an airplane pilot flying in new terrain at the same time!; or another analogy is that of being both the actor and the director - involved, yet seeing the whole picture simultaneously. Quite fun!

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