the summer of 1979, I had the life-altering experience of studying with the
great voice teacher, Alan Lindquest, in Santa Barbara, California. It was then
that he began to verbalize his work with vocal pedagogue William Vennard. In
1993, I located Ms. Martha Lindquest (Lindquest's widow) and she clarified the
exact time and place that Lindquest and Vennard connected.
It was during
the year of 1955 that William Vennard asked to sit in Lindquest's voice studio
and study his teaching. This led to Vennard actually having lessons with Lindquest.
Both men were members of the elite group called the American Academy of Teachers
of Singing. In order to be a member, one had to be a published researcher,
which both men were. The primary focus of the work between the two was on the
"balancing of the registers", a concept which was widely acclaimed except by
a few who did not believe in registers. This work was the basis of creating
some spectacular singers. Lindquest's primary group of professional singers
was in Europe, and many are still singing in that area of the world. Of course,
Vennard's most famous student is the noted mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne.
Vennard published his book, Singing; the Mechanism and the Technique.
Included in the book is an exercise which he studied with Lindquest, the cuperto
exercise in the single-octave version. This exercise is the basis of the blending
of the registers and it is one on which I focus with great concentration in
my teaching. When a singer can accomplish this exercise, the voice sounds like
"one voice". Lindquest used the two-octave version to separate the registers
totally and then to blend them from the high range downward. The result is amazing;
the singer no longer has "breaks" in the voice, but rather has a smooth transition
from register to register, creating the impression of "one voice".
It is important
to note that the original source of the cuperto exercise was Manuel Garcia,
and it was later taught by Flagstad's teacher, Dr. Gillis Bratt. This kind of
work is responsible for helping to create some of the greatest singers of the
century. Set Svanholm, Birgit Nilsson, Karin Branzell, Jussi Bjoerling, Birgitta
Svenden, and of course, Flagstad, were singers who pursued these concepts.
made it his life work to instruct singers and teachers in this Old World technique,
which really goes back to the Garcia training. Many of the vocal exercises used
by Lindquest were originally designed by Garcia himself. Many however, were
not published in Garcia's book.