Gearing up for Glass

William Blake saw a world in a grain of sand. As soprano Madison Leonard prepares for the role of Madeline in Philip Glass’s The Fall of the House of Usher, she sketches an entire character in a single vowel.


I’ve been learning more about Philip Glass while learning my roles for Fall of the House of Usher and The Juniper Tree – what a fascinating individual. I was familiar with his writing style before receiving these role assignments, but I decided to immerse myself in his music for a better understanding. So I’ve been listening to it while driving, flying, cleaning my apartment, etc… and my appreciation for it is growing and growing. The repetitive structure of his writing creates such a unique sound world for the listener.

This is especially true for me in singing Madeline in The Fall of the House of Usher — who only sings on an “ah” vowel for the entirety of the opera. As a singer, it is really challenging to keep the repeating phrases straight, but at the same time it is almost liberating to sing these bits of interesting melodic fragments over and over. It’s almost like I’m given several opportunities to express the musical idea, with different colors or emotional perspectives each time.


More in this series:

Alexandra Loutsion – Tosca in Her Own Words

Alasdair Kent Gets Ready for Rossini

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