Dr. Mark R. Clark, head of the Division of Music at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, recently had his book, “Guide to the Aria Repertoire,” reviewed in the December edition of Opera News magazine.
Clark, who directs opera and musical theater at the university, recommends more than 400 arias as study pieces and audition material, organized by voice type, and within voice type by Fach, with appendices that cross-reference the selections by opera, language and period.
As stated in the review by Joanne Sydney Lessner, “Each aria's main entry lists its complete range, tessitura and duration, as well as a brief dramatic setup and character description. Clark reminds the reader that the notion of Fach, for all its presumed restrictions, has its squishy contours, and he urges singers to experiment with arias that could be classed in more than one way.
“Some of the entries include translated sections and, even more helpful, guidance from established singers, teachers and, where possible, the aria's composer. Unfortunately, not every aria gets this special treatment. The arias span the 17th century to the 20th and run the gamut from expected warhorses such as ‘La donna è mobile’ to recent works such as ‘I want magic!’ from André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire. By providing examples for all voice types, Clark is limited in what he can include, but for every missing aria that provokes indignation, there will be one included that prompts delighted surprise.
“Clark seems to understand that including unknown gems in an audition handbook puts them at risk of instant overexposure. With a few exceptions, Clark bets on those high-profile contemporary works most likely to find enduring acceptance with or without inclusion in a book like this…This book will be particularly helpful for teachers who may not be fully tuned into the expectations of the audition circuit, but any singer or coach looking for fresh ideas will find this a useful reference.”
Clark’s book may be obtained through www.amazon.com or the Indiana Press Web site