An evening recital with Jay Bitner : an honors project
The concept of my senior recital as a honors project began in the fall of 1993. It was at that time my voice teacher, Mary Hagopian, and I began choosing the repertoire that I would sing on April 29th. After much discussion regarding having a balanced and complete program, we settled on two arias from Bach cantatas, Schumann's Dichterliebe, Finzi's Let Us Garlands Bring, and Prince Gremin's aria from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin as a suitable program. In the ensuing months of work, it became evident that singing the Russian would prove too difficult a challenge at this point. Due to the deletion of this selection and in the maintenance of balance another aria needed to be inserted. We decided that Ah! un loco insolito would be a good solid aria to close the program with, also adding a different emotion compared with the serious and somber nature of the program's previous material. Now with the absence of the Russian language, we felt we needed to add some French songs to round out the recital. We came across some pieces by Saint-Saens and decided upon Danse Macabre and LAttente. Now we thought we were set. We had a run through of the program in February and it ran about 7 minutes too long. So we decided to cut one of the Bach arias. This was to be the final program.My practice routine also increased. I had two voice lessons a week the entire semester. In addition I spent from five to eight hours a week in the practice rooms working on my material. In April, following the opera production of Menthe's The Consul, I began to increase the intensity of my rehearsal time. I lived and breathed my recital. Recordings of the works by other artists, and recordings of my voice lessons were the only music I listened to for the rest of the month. I watched no television, read no books for pleasure, and devoted almost every waking hour to my recital. In the end the result convinced me I should have begun this routine earlier, but I was impaired by my role in the opera. This is a lesson that I will apply to future recitals.It was in February as well that I decided upon what to do regarding the publicity of my recital. I spoke briefly on the phone with my sister, Carol-Margaret, an artist, and asked if she would be interested in designing my posters for me. She graciously agreed. Over spring break I decided that in addition to the posters I would run off, I could have T-shirts made out of the poster design. This would allow me yet another avenue of getting the word out. Also over the break I designed some invitations with my mothers, which were sent out in early April to selected faculty and friends. By the time April rolled around, I had the T-shirts and matching posters on order, to be delivered on April 15th, a full two weeks prior to the performance. It was the following week when I realized that fifty posters were not going to be enough to gain the desired audience size of 100+. So with the help of my friend Steve Lidy, a graphics arts design major, I designed a new poster from the original concept. We decided to incorporate a black and white photograph of myself into the design. This decision was made because we both thought it was I who would draw people to the performance. After we finished I enlarged it to 11 "X14" and ran off two hundred fifty posters at a village copy outlet. That evening of the 23rd I personally went to every residence hall on campus dropping of 8-12 posters at each hall or complex to be distributed throughout the building. The following day I posted the remaining posters throughout the campus in every academic building. This method of publicity had the desired effect, as there was a head count of 193 people at my recital. Also I sold approximately two dozen T-shirts to friends and another two dozen to family members.