Act 10: D.C. 8
Although other industries were the same, it was a common word for those that sang for a living. Whether it be for choruses, operas or musicals, from the perspective of the conductor who led the stage, there was nothing better than interviews for finding out which singer suited their stage the best.
After all, seeing it directly was the fastest way to tell who was a better singer, with a voice that fit the stage. Therefore, the fact that an interview would be held in this Subscription Concert wasn’t anything surprising or strange – it was an everyday event that happened everywhere in the industry.
‘Something I went through a lot as well.’
I could remember carrying my feet around and taking interviews. Singing in front of numerous interviewers, arriving late due to traffic, picking a good song by chance and getting chosen, failing and succeeding… as such experiences were added up, an opera singer called ‘me’ was born.
Well, I did fail miserably overseas but I was able to enter an ensemble which was quite famous in Korea. In any case, the point was that I had taken countless interviews, to the point I had been enlightened.
In other words, I knew a few tips and tricks that could help me succeed in the interview.
After coming to an understanding thanks to Han Dasom’s help, I dug deep into my memories for a solution with my eyes closed.
Even with all that experience, I couldn’t find any easy way for me to definitely surpass Kim Wuju but that was obvious considering the sheer difference in level between us.
No matter how many small tricks I used saying this was great for interviews, the fundamental point of interviews, in the end, was to pick good opera singers. A good first impression or wearing good clothes were small strategies that would be blown away by one good song.
Heaving out a deep sigh, I raised my head and stared forward. In front of me was Han Dasom staring at me with blinking eyes and seeing that, I made a faint smile.
Even then, if all those cheap tricks were built up, plus Han Dasom and my skill that increased exceptionally compared to the first semester…
“Our chance to win won’t be zero, I think.”
With my eyes facing Han Dasom and her tilted head, I felt my beating heart and grabbed onto her hands.
Now, it was the time to start our strategy.
When her hand was grabbed, Han Dasom stiffened as if she had been struck by a lightning but without caring about that, I shot out of my seat and walked out with light steps.
Han Dasom, who was startled from suddenly being pulled away, shouted urgently.
“W… Wait! Where are we going…?”
She suddenly turned quiet for some reason but satisfied by the absence of a refusal, I pushed the classroom door open.
According to my experience, the interview will probably be held in a certain order.
First, the conductor will give us the song we will be singing in the concert and we will prepare ourselves. Then, on the day of the interview, he will ask us about the song before telling us to sing it.
Although it was an obvious order, there was an important point. The song choice.
What song would he give us? Even with all the interviews under my belt, I had no way of knowing it, but what was certain was that he would be giving us a chorus, and it had to be sung with dozens of people.
Plus, it had to be within the capability of the students while being liked by the audience.
Skimming across the music sheets flicking inside my head, I nodded.
With that much information, we should be able to practise before we were given the song, enabling us to take a step forward compared to everyone else.
“It’s a practice room…”
Staring at Han Dasom having her lips slanted down after entering the room, I grinned while organising the room for our practice.
“What about practice rooms? They are good places right?”
When I said that, I saw Han Dasom forming a rare teary expression. I quickly turned away and coughed before changing the topic.
“Uhum. Dasom. You know we will be singing a chorus during the Subscription Concert right?”
Seeing her give a nod, I sat in front of the piano and laid my hands on the keyboard. I played a simple melody.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
Hearing the monotonous melody echoing inside the practice room, Han Dasom stared at me with blinking eyes.
“Choruses… are a little different from the songs we’ve been singing so far. The quartets, solos, and duets we did were in fact simpler in comparison. At most, there would be four melodies and there wasn’t anything too complicated either.”
In other words, they were all within the scope that could be covered and expressed by one piano. Fumbling my fingers across the keyboard, I played the songs we had sung together until now before turning towards her.
“But a chorus is a song sung by dozens of people.”
It was a huge song, on a different scale compared to the songs we had been singing so far, it couldn’t be covered by one piano. With my lips raised, I met my eyes with hers.
“So naturally, unlike certain types of songs which individuals have to sing well, it focuses more on harmony and polyphony. Teacher Ku Mingi said it last time as well that choruses and solos are different right? And the gap between them becomes increasingly large with more people. Large scale choruses are completely different from solos.”
Dozens of different voices becoming one.
That was a chorus.
“Let’s keep this in mind as we practise.”
Seeing Han Dasom in deep thought with her eyes facing the ground, I smiled. This was one of the reasons why I immediately brought Han Dasom in after hearing the story about the Subscription Concert.
When conductors looked for the male and female main vocals, their singing skills were naturally the most important but how well their voices suited the song was another important aspect.
It would be troubling to have a mosquito-like voice in a heavy song right?
Well, although it would be difficult to precisely estimate the voice type required by the song, we could still prepare for it.
Like what I had been doing just then, we could practise together with a candidate for the main vocal beforehand. That way, the conductor would be choosing from a pair of vocals with well-harmonised voices versus candidates that just sang well.
Between a well-made set menu and few singular items, there was a higher chance for the set menu to be picked right?
The reason I didn’t choose Lee Suh-ah was… although she was good at singing, she was too good and it was difficult for me to match it. It was also doubtful whether she would listen to my calls in the first place.
While I was organising my thoughts, Han Dasom looked up at me and asked with a nod.
“Harmony… Nn, I get it. Then how should we practise…?”
“Should we check our current standing first?”
We had to check where our skills were at before practising. With my words as a signal, Han Dasom immediately stood up from her seat and carried her feet carefully until she was in front of me.
Then, she started singing without a single bit of hesitation.
“Sulle, Sulle labbra, Sulle labbra–”
With a faint smile hanging on her lips, her tongue twitched softly as her voice gently seeped into the ears. Listening to her song, my eyebrows were raised as my lips formed a smile.
Il Bacio – The Kiss.
It was a rather famous Italian art song describing the emotions of a lady in love.
“Tutte ti direi le dolcezze dell’amor–”
Closing my eyes, I thought while appreciating her song.
I thought of this as well during the Prac High-achievers Concert but she really did improve a lot. Her vocalisation pouring out connected flawlessly and the soft feeling unique to Han Dasom was multiplied and was very relaxing to listen to.
Her techniques that were slightly lacking were covered by her diligent practice throughout the first semester. Plus, the song was slightly waltz-like and it was possible for her to be confused about the beat but there weren’t any signs of that either.
Compared to the first few days of school, it was as different as heaven and earth.
I watched her singing with a beautiful smile on her face before closing my eyes as a memory of the future flashed.
In an audition programme, she had sung diligently and smiled as brightly as the sun after winning. Within the audience seats that everyone loved to visit, her parents did not show up a single time.
And soon, she had disappeared from the TV.
“Non son vaga d’altro affetto–!”
As the song ended, I quietly opened my eyes to see Han Dasom breathing in and out deeply, enjoying the lingering feelings after a song.
Staring blankly at the happiness hanging in her eyes, enjoying the spotlight of the practice room, I made a smile.
The past is in the past.
Just like how she, who had been shy, could sing without an issue and just like how my casual directions had sprouted her tremendous talent, there surely would be a way to change her future.
‘Perhaps it could happen through this Subscription Concert…’
After deep thought, I nodded my head and decided to do as much as I could for the Subscription Concert. Making that decision, I clapped and welcomed her.
“Well done. You’ve seriously improved a lot.”
As her expression relaxed bashfully, I quickly went through a simulation in my head.
Before deciding how to practise, let’s imagine what the Subscription Concert would be like. First, I imagined an ensemble of first and second-grade opera students and that large group amounting to forty, sang the chorus from the back as four students sang at the front.
In front of my darkened vision, a few song titles started flickering past.
Hendel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem… to be honest, there were an enormous number of songs that could be chosen because from what I heard, we had done musical numbers as well as opera arias.
If my memory was amazing and could remember what we had sung twenty years ago, that would have been great but… otherwise, it was impossible to perfectly guess the song.
But even though I couldn’t remember it fully, there was still a memory of the melody remaining in my heart. It was a splendid melody that quaked my heart.
Matching that residue of melody, I adjusted the stage. With the mysterious orchestra accompaniment and a chorus of forty people as the basis, four voices including us would be in the lead.
Then how should Han Dasom and I sing to make the most optimum song? As I contemplated with a frown, a composition of our voices started matching itself.
‘A bit brighter? No, it’s going to be in the Seoul Arts Centre. Let’s make it darker so that it travels further.’
‘It’s a chorus of high school first and second-grade students. Then, the overall voice composition should be on the lighter side.’
‘To achieve harmony there…’
Suddenly, I remembered what happened back when I was going to an ensemble. Having the same old crooked smile, the conductor told me to kill my individuality. With a low voice, he would whisper that that was how ensembles were and that performers had to become conductor’s tools with a smile.
The memory of running away after being unable to hold back tightened my chest.
Did I have to do that again, because it was a chorus? Could harmonies only be achieved through dry and flat songs?
In an instant, various memories flashed across – entering a university after being chased out of Future Arts High, standing on various stages only to fail miserably or succeed, the memories of the days in the ensemble and Future Arts High after returning back.
I was swimming in the ocean of memories when I noticed a faint, delicate sound of a song. There, I could hear four voices leading forty members of the ensemble.
The first voice I heard was a warm timbre belonging to Han Dasom that seemed to tickle the heart. It was a soft voice that was slightly more improved than right now.
After that were the firm voices of upperclassmen. Although I couldn’t even remember their faces, I could definitely remember their voices with great foundations.
And mixing into that was my voice.
Listening to the song gently spreading across, I smiled.
This was it.
I’m alive and back. Sorry about the lack of chaps.
Number: A single song/piece inside a musical (Think of it as the musical version of arias)