A somber, light, yet powerful voice soars and conquers the audience. It feeds on the silence, reinforcing the untamable precision and power that is the dramatic coloratura soprano.
Last Saturday evening, Bailey Fulginiti ‘18 performed her senior recital in Egner Chapel at 6 p.m. The recital presented a variety of genres ranging from opera to a few jazz standards. To sum up the production: it was remarkable. Fulginiti’s voice filled the chapel with a wide, embodying vibrato.
Before I continue, though, what exactly is a senior recital? It is the culminating undergraduate experience seminar that music majors with a performance concentration must complete during either the Fall or Spring semester of their senior year. It is a recital made from repertoire chosen by the students, in tandem with their performance instructors, to represent what they learned and how they grew as a performer in the music department. This includes program notes and written translations (in case the pieces are in other languages), as well as accompanists if needed.
Fulginiti’s recital was set in the Chapel, which only served to shape and engage her voice further within the audience’s minds and ears. From where she stood to far behind the last seats, you could hear her voice clear as crystal — it was truly a magnificent performance.
One of my personal favorites was “Je dis que rien ne m’epouvante.” An aria sung by a female character known as Michaela from Bizet’s Romantic opera Carmen, this piece is a fearful pronouncement of her love for an unfaithful lover, and her bravery to do all she can to see him come home. Fulginiti later revealed that this piece had a particular significance for her:
“Carmen was the very first opera I saw at the Met [Metropolitan Opera in New York City], and I remember seeing that aria and just crying … My freshman year I came and shared my love for this piece with my instructor [Christa Warda] who said ‘you can do that,’ and I was able to sing one of my favorite pieces.”
Earlier I mentioned that Fulginiti is a dramatic coloratura soprano. This title refers to both a certain voice type as well as the characteristics that may be associated with the assigned tone quality, which is the range of pitch and dynamics a voice has. For instance, characters such as Mozart’s Queen of the Night and Bizet’s Michaela require dramatic coloratura sopranos to play them.
“I have a higher voice, but it’s loud… it’s a deeper heavier voice.”
To clarify, the dramatic coloratura soprano has a very wide range pitch wise, but can maintain a heavy consistency throughout.
I was curious about the incorporation of jazz in Fulginiti’s recital and asked her to explain further about their relationship, or at least what it may mean to her:
“I definitely think they are similar. I mean, if you have solid technique you can basically sing … whatever you want to do, because the technique is there … I think Jazz and classical music are very similar in the ornamentations … and artistic freedoms [they share].”
She continues, elaborating on the personal aspect as well:
“Outside of Muhlenberg, as I sing with jazz trios … I wanted to add something that really accurately represented my time here. It’s been equally split doing classical voice and jazz.”
Fulginiti plans on continuing her vocal career. Whether she pursues it further academically or not is still in question, but music itself will always remain in her life.
“When you’re a freshman, you are a baby-baby singer, and there will be a lot that happens from then until your senior recital … and you will grow in that experience. It’s important to stick with it. Don’t be discouraged by seeing other talent because there are so many voices on this campus. Musical theatre, opera, jazz, pop, country – they are all represented here, and your voice will find its place too.”