Marlene_Dietrich_Stage_FrightMonsters and Critics reveals: “Although acclaimed mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli has achieved almost everything there is to achieve in the world of classical music, she says she is still anxious ahead of every performance. In an interview with the German Press Agency dpa this week, the 44-year-old Italian opera star said a certain dose of stage fright is important to her career.” Now, about the cum-blog, after the jump.

Cher Pube Remko Jas whispers:

Roberta Alexander‘s Dress, Hair and Make-Up Class was the unmissable event of the 48th International Vocal Competion that is taking place in ‘s-Hertogenbosch right now….

It came as no surpise, therefore, that Miss Alexander herself is a regular visitor to She asked her audience yesterday who read it – one hand up! – after which she warmly recommended the site to all the participants in the workshop, and to the audience.  She added a small warning that parterre can be brutal sometimes, but it was great to hear a style icon like Miss Alexander expressing her love for La Cieca and her site….

Miss Alexander is genuinely funny, with the talent of a stand-up comédienne. Since she is not afraid to laugh at herself, students feel at ease, and open up to her immediately. Their discussions on what must be a very difficult aspect of the profession were candid, funny, and highly informative.

Well, you all know that La Cieca is a sucker (suckress?) for makeover advice, so she’ll go on to quote a few brani scelti from Remko’s roundup.

Not every lump and bump on your body needs to be seen! So don’t wear clothes that are too tight, and always wear “shape wear”(TM) underneath, which will cover up, among other things, those little rolls on your back. Also, beware of any panty line, and undergarment patterns (always flowers) coming through.

Don’t wear anything spandex or very short skirts, unless you have great legs. Bare legs never look pulled together on stage. There is no need for Amish type, thick black stockings, but a hint of dark is nice to set off the dress and the shoes.

Think about the character you sing, and dress accordingly. If you sing pants roles a lot, it is hard, but do try to think a little about variation. Always a pair of black slacks is boring – try combining them with an a-symetrical top, or with a nice, long jacket.

If you sing a Mass, don’t wear a strapless dress. Strapless dresses are tricky anyhow, because even skinny arms can look flabby in it. You need really good shoulders for a strapless dress.

If the skirt is too long, never lift it, just let it drop and walk. Picking it up is only permitted when you have to climb and descend stairs.

What is the best length of dress if you are overweight? That depends on the material, but a skirt onto the floor without stripes at all is best. Vertical stripes will stretch, and look messy. Horizontal ones will make you look like the Michelin Man.

Never ever wear jeans to an audition.

Invest in a good pair of shoes. Bronze colored sandals are best, but gold or silver ones are great too. The thinner, the better. Never forget that most of the audience is at feet height.

One good piece of jewellery is better than a lot of less good ones. Less is more. Not too much stuff going on, please. Don’t use boas and stoles unless you are a real pro in working them.  Most singers just fiddlle with them, which won’t do.

Never go to a theatre with just one dress – you can always tear it while putting on your shoes, you really need another outfit for emergencies.

Hair: Miss Alexander once went to an audition with an Angela Davis afro, and afterwards, an agent came to her, squashed her hair back, and exclaimed: “There is your face! There is your face!”

Make-up: Lip gloss is very difficult when you are singing. Miss Alexander once put some on. The first line she had to sing on stage started with “Ma che.” but her lips got stuck. And always use plenty, plenty of mascara.

A few tips for the men: Don’t combine a black suit with brown shoes. The shoes become way too prominent on stage. Remeber that most of the audience, sits at about the same height where your shoes are. It is better to wear no jacket at all than a jacket that is too big, or a jacket with sleeves that are too long. A short jacket makes you look like you are waiting tables in an Italian restaurant.

Comportment: Start by asking yourself the question: “what would you think of yourself when you saw yourself walking onto a stage?” On stage you need self-love, but it must never be over the top. You have to be honest, there is nothing worse than fake. Remember that the first thing the audience sees is you – so no ambling. You always need to smile too.How do you take bows? Preferably nice, gracefully, and normal looking. Always acknowledge your accompanist first before taking your bow.

Lanky László Pálfi from Hungary (Roberta Alexander “your language goes into the mouth, right?”) gave an excellent bowing demonstration. After a little practice, the ladies in the audience all expressed their admiration over his newly learned bow, with one hand on the piano, instead of grabbing his thighs. Very elegant!

Never try to keep eye contact with the public during your bow – that just looks silly. Good demonstration of this by La Alexander. Grabbing the piano is ok, although  Alexander was trained by her mother never to do this. Don’t give it a death grip, though. Find the light! Some singers seem to move to the one spot on stage where there is no light.  Hand gestures? Annoying and meaningless ones are not admitted. If you start the gesture, you have to finish it. Lieder for a long time were considered holier than holy. Nobody moved at all while singing them. If you watch old clips on youtube it is almost as if you look at a ventriloquist. It is admissible now to be a little more free, and move. You can have a little fun while telling the story.