Backing off at the right time can mean the difference between a few days of rest, surgery, or ending your career, so take this seriously.
An excellent book about how to sing with healthy vocal technique is "Belting: A Guide to Healthy, Powerful Singing" by Jeannie Gagné (Berklee Press, 2015), which also has illustrative videos.
It was the first afternoon of rehearsals for Bellini’s “La Sonnambula,” in which Dessay is to appear at the Met, in March and April.
To compensate for the opera’s famously silly and thin libretto—a woman who is about to be married sleepwalks into the room of a man who is not her intended; scandal ensues; her doubting groom discovers her sleepwalking again; her honor is restored—the director, Mary Zimmerman, had given the production a playful conceit.
Here is a roundup of some famous examples of singers who have suffered injuries and reportedly had to cancel performances due to vocal injury, strain, or related issues.
Most of these injuries were caused by the ways that these performers used their voices, and better self-care or training could have prevented them. This can include singing too long and too loudly without sufficient rest, excessive use of vocal fry, and belting.Dessay, the soprano, descended a staircase into the rehearsal room at the Metropolitan Opera with the poise of a countess entering a ballroom, dressed in skinny black pants, high heels, and a belted black jacket, her eyes shielded by enormous sunglasses of the sort favored by Paris Hilton.A bright-orange handbag swung from the crook of her arm, and she held a cell phone to her ear.Dessay says that it is her highest artistic ambition to embody a character so persuasively, and tell a story so convincingly, that the audience forgets that she is singing.“What is interesting is to have this incredible, unbelievable way of expressing ourselves vocally paired with a total controlled and quiet body,” she says.Dessay was marking the notes: singing them in a tuneful but subdued near-whisper, an octave lower than they would be heard in performance.A spectator unfamiliar with Dessay’s capabilities might have taken her not for an opera singer who can act but for an actor with a surprisingly pretty little voice—a voice that, given some training, might really turn into something.In the case of Dessay, who is tiny and has the build and carriage of a dancer, this meant stretchy pants, a yoga top from Lululemon, and—forthcoming—an elegant pair of gloves.Dessay is known for her unusual commitment to exploring the theatrical possibilities offered by opera, and she was more than happy to improvise and experiment.Most of these could have been avoided by different singing techniques.Dehydration, smoking, genetics, aging, and other factors can exacerbate the problem. Get a good coach (such as through Vocalize U), and always pay attention to how it feels to sing.