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Why do we say voice in the "mask"? We say so because a very intelligent person discovered that there is one sound that is naturally placed in the facial amplifiers, it is the Latin sounding vowel "'i" (as in igloo). It is also the least tiring vowel to sing on. When we say "i" the sound is already there, forward, and correctly placed in the mask, when we say "e" (as in excellent) we notice that in respect to the "i" it is further back, as for the "a'" (as in arrive) we may as well wave good-bye, for the sound sinks completely into the throat. However when we talk we can mostly get away with this, even if many people end up having to go to specialist voice doctors (phoniatritians) because they speak badly. If we could manage to put all the sounds in the position of the "i” simply while talking, there would be no work for these doctors". The "i" vowel opens the throat "There is a real obsession in most schools of singing: that of darkening the voice. But why should I darken my voice if it is naturally clear? It is nature who decides if a voice is clear and bright or dark and rich, we cannot make it become so by artificial colouring. Many of my colleagues, (even famous ones), when they come to a latin "i" tend to sing a French "u", or when they come to a latin "c" they pronounce it "ö" (as in earth), instead of a" they say "c". This is all mistaken. It is wrong to think that this darkening of the sound helps technique and rests the voice: this method sends the voice backwards into the throat, making it lose colour and sonority. Up until a short time ago all that I am saying was mere theory (put to practical use by those singers who have a correct technique, unfortunately they are hard to come by). Now thanks to new studies, and to a video made by professor Tapia of the Santandér University in Spain, we are able to actually see the movements of the vocal chords and the surrounding area during the emission of the voice. The revelations are amazing. It can be clearly seen that the vowel that most widens the cavities (the famous "open throat") is the "i" the weakest vowel. They have also measured the sound frequencies, and the results show that the "i" has the largest number of frequencies.
How can we explain this? Simple: the "i" may seem small but it has the right resonance, it is sustained in the natural amplifiers and therefore has a larger number of frequencies, you can hear it better. Volume doesn't count. The sound must vibrate correctly and carry well arriving to every listener in an auditorium. As you can see studying singing simply becomes a matter of placing the voice in the natural position of the "i". That is all. Seems easy, doesn't it ? I am no genius, neither am I a freak: if I am able to do it so is anyone else. The problem is that very few people have talked about this until now. It has become a technique in disuse. When I debuted at the Rome Opera a Spanish friend of mine presented me to Giacomo Lauri Volpi. Lauri Volpi himself accompanied me at the piano "as I sang "Questa o quella" and "La donna è mobile". He exclaimed straight away: This is the right technique. These days nobody sings like this anymore". He also told me to be careful in my choice of repertory, because if I kept to my correct repertory I would be able to continue singing for a long time. Lauri Volpi knew what he was talking about!