For me, singing and acting are minimally about technique and tone and fundamentally about words and feeling. Before I take on a new work, I have to accept what the text and the tune propose, and to accept the proposal, I must have an unconditionally strong feeling for it. Words are the means through which that feeling is expressed.
Every word has its own life. Every word has its unique form, line, color, sound, body and soul.
I frequently sing in languages foreign to my listeners, so I must use my body, face, mouth, and gesture to contour the mass of meaningless utterances and make something useful and real for the listener. Of course, knowing French may be helpful to one’s experience of “Je ne t’aime pas” but if I as singer am doing my part, it’s utterly unnecessary that you know French. Doing my part requires believing in words, committing to them, opening them up at the core and revealing their emotional essence, the kind that knows no language and binds every man together. The truth can always be conveyed without words.
There are songs I don’t sing because I haven’t yet experienced their meaning, or because I cannot bring anything new to them.
There are songs that are mysterious to me and to which I am powerfully drawn. Songs that beckon me to follow them into new territory and discoveries about myself. Songs that invite me to learn yet another language in which to communicate. Committing to words has required me to become multi-lingual. So far the songs that have found me have come in German, English, Spanish, French, Flemish, Portuguese, Yiddish and Latin.
I sing songs whose words mesh with my experiences and understanding of life, of love, and I believe it’s vitally important to continually broaden these in order to accommodate ever more text and more songs.
The enjoyment I get from producing sound, using vowels and consonants, is the motivation behind my diction. To have outstanding articulation and pronunciation, one has feel how words glow, and how to extinguish them by dipping them in light and shadow, how they like to be nuzzled or bitten, accentuated or concealed. One has to understand how to give everything verbal life, color and strength, and then how to let these things die. Diction is about the beginnings and endings of words and all the life in between. Majestic tones are born healthy, live strong, and have dignified deaths.