life of a badge

Unlike the tie, which remained attached cozily to the undershirt, the badge was given free rein and took every opportunity to demonstrate the beauty of the balance of momentum.


life of a badge: illustration of momentum balance (clik on image to view gif).

Edit: back with commentary.
I’ve always been fascinated by the amount of energy/momentum singers generated while singing. The first time I really noticed it was when Vesselina Kasarova sang Sta nell’ircana in Wien with the sword sticking out by her side. We all know she moves around a lot when singing, and has given interviews mentioning she can not do recording standing still because it is part of the feeling/expression. In any case, I think singers don’t generally have too many things hanging by their side with free rein of motion so we are often deprived of seeing this in full.. so I’m mesmerized by the badge’s action here! (until after this aria actually, then Myrtò Papatanasiu also tucked it inside and it only came out freely swinging again during “Lungi da te”, which is the subject of Anik’s upcoming post I believe.) Also note that I kept the gif going forward even though the badge’s motion came to a halt: the badge and her upper body has become one but the swivel chair has joined the action and inherited the counter-balance! Momentum conservation is a beautiful thing!

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

14 Responses to life of a badge

  1. Anik LaChev says:

    you are such a scientist (you could probably put that into an equation, couldn’t you? 😉 angle plus emoting equals momentum, or something like that?)

    …I wasn’t even conscious of the badge. Clearly, I must watch that scene yet again.

    (but on a side note: I just had to reread Barba (one of my students wanted him for an exam topic) and so much of what he says about generating “scenic bios”, as in a “heightened state of energy that qualifies a movement as a stage movement”, starts from the body balance.)

    • thả diều says:

      Any excuse for me to see movement in such a fine fine suit 😉

      but yes, “starts from the body balance” : i’m impressed the amount of swinging the badge picked up! she generated a lot of power. This clip also provides great insights into how she does the “male” movement: big stride keeping shoulder + hip all rotating, and because the stride is bigger than the shoulder, it created the first momentum for the badge swing as soon as she arrived onto front foot using push off back foot . quite fascinating to watch, reminds me a lot of dancing where you need to figure out where the center of the body is and how to move it so that the follower (the badge) knows which way it “should” go 🙂

      The rest of the movements are also very fascinating to watch as it’s all emanating from the core center of the body out to the limbs, channeling a lot of power (rather than weak waving of outer limbs with no energy connection).

      Barba? I don’t know who that is, but perhaps I should read up, generating “scenic bios” sounds quite enticing, as well as “heightened state of energy that qualifies a movement as a stage movement” !

      • Anik LaChev says:

        Whenever I read your science/athletics analysis, I feel like such a boring Ivory Tower theorist with no link to what actually matters! 😉 I only ever say “stride length”, but you actually figure out the mechanics! (must study more)

        Eugenio Barba is a theatre director/theorist who wrote about universal principles of performance and asked “what is acting? What happens, on mechanic/motoric/energetic level to create the energy to make something a performance?”, and he always starts with the body (not a mindset), with equilibrum, with shifting balance – blocking hips or not, where you put your axis/gravity center, etc.

        Dancing is a really good analogy when it comes to shifting your center of gravity while in motion! (e.g. Slow Waltz, with the axis shift rises?)

        • thả diều says:

          whenever I see something hanging at the end of a string my head goes into “pendulum” mode 🙂
          “stride” was indeed a term I stole from you, at least now i figure out how to use it.. but the rest actually came from my very brief 2-yr training on how to move center-of-body + create momentum + clear space for partner to move through in dancing.. And it’s very interesting to see how MP is using that, i think she had a dance teacher coming along.. or she has had dancing lessons.. I was curious about how she moved (if you contrast her walk throughout with her run during curtain call!) and this slow-mo turns out a really cool step-by-step visual analysis!
          Some other minor things she did I greatly enjoyed as well: the tipping both feet onto the toes while Arbate talked to the news right after (or before) she addressed the reporters, the postures while sitting, and that “No?” while shaking head during acting-like-a-jerk that you mentioned

          I think Barba is exactly what my brain will register with! perhaps a book for the Arctic (in good weather).

  2. Agathe says:

    …like the badge thing, this looks impressive in slow motion. She does move very well, indeed. And I’m looking forward to check out VK and the Sta nell’ircana as well.

  3. Agathe says:

    …Stal nell’ircana: Gosh, I’d love to go ahead and analyse this under aspects of movement and balance (yes, I can see she does a lot of movement from the core) but am still trying to close my mouth. Is she mocking us? I also love the reactions of the other people on stage….
    Oh, and I know someone else who moves well with a sword, will try to link it here without embedding, let’s see if it works. I’m only posting this because of Haim conducting of course…
    click here

    • thả diều says:

      🙂 , S.Prina as Orlando! i want to see more!
      I’d love to hear your analysis of movement and balance on VK’s clip! But why do you think she’s mocking us? I must admit this version was my *first* ever experience hearing Sta nell’ircana so I simply took it as is.. then I read the libretto, and Ruggiero is of course pulling out all stops acting bravado, so i thought it fitted fine.. I never quite really paid attention fully to the rest of the people on stage, this theater within theater thing, which I simply ignored rather than attempting to analyze I must admit. Her singing and acting is of course an acquired taste i think.. and there’re quite some passionate reviews during their tour to the Barbican that same year: review1 , review2, review3 , just to name a few, there was an avalanche of them at the time!
      ps- i heard her sing this twice sitting *front row* 2 years ago, quite a sight and it was impressive the amount of energy she generated/used.

      • Agathe says:

        Oh I think I just expressed myself very badly with that ‘mocking’. What I meant was, I’m quite blown away by her performance, being totally attracted to her way of „showing-off“ here, and I wonder if she is aware of her effect, she must be, that’s why I thought about mocking in the sense of ‘pushing someones buttons’.
        I don’t know much about the theory of dancing, stances and so on, but her way of moving here reminds me of a fighter, so fitting the content of the aria. Maybe she has also developed this character bit from the costume, which leaves lots of freedom to move and looks a bit martial-arts-like (didn’t she say something like that in the interview you posted)? Part of her posture/movements may also just be a natural requirement for the fast coloratura she has to sing here, with her core section very strong but flexible, knees slightly bent, a posture optimal for singing.
        The reactions of the ‘audience’ people around I liked because they underline her charismatic appearance so well, everybody is ready to jump up at her sign and everybody, even Bradamante is looking a bit sheepish in comparison to her.
        Orlando: I’ve been trying to find more of this for a while, but there’s nothing to be found, maybe it was not even filmed in total? A pity because I love the trailer, it’s so much fun and my little son admires the background fighters/dancers.

        • thả diều says:

          a quick note, speaking of S.Prina, i think you might like this, i saw it last year during all my discovery of L’incoronazione di Poppea videos… (ACA also sang Nerone in this) — I *reallly* like her in this role! the music fits her voice so well!

          • Agathe says:

            Yes, I like it very much, thanks! I knew it before but this is a good opportunity to watch it again 🙂 L’incoronazione di Poppea is in general something I want to listen to more carefully since I know it less well then Orfeo or the Marian Vespers. The Enescu recording is very good but I have only made it through parts of it so far because the Brussels Mitridate came in between…

        • thả diều says:

          i’m not sure if she’s putting a lot of weight on how her effect is on fans, and I mean it in a simplest sense, in that I think she does what makes sense to her, regardless of how others feel… But you can read the little interview she gave precisely for this role back in Wien in 2010 when was asked how she approached it.
          However, she feeds off the crowd A LOT! and interact with the people sitting near the front rows + front balcony, winking, smiling, having a HUGE ball when i saw her live singing Octavian, as well as winking to us at front row in Mannheim, and there are occasions Cat described where she even asked the audience what they wanted to hear for the encore 🙂 . As Dehggi said in her post: nobody sings Händel’s bravura arias like VK.

          But you know, this was my first true experience seeing her live in trouser roles, and for some reserved reason i was “worried” that that’s how she sings/acts *all* her trouser roles… because there were so much negative press / all these people babbling about her register break + “manners”.., until 2012 when I saw her in the 5-part series of Capuleti live, followed immediately by radio broadcast La Mort de Cléopâtre, followed by the deeply moving TV broadcast Il Pianto di Maria, that I truly appreciated her arts and felt she changed my view of how to listen to music, in term of seeking its deepest meaning and seeing how it can be expressed instead of merely just listening.

          I know it’s a long reply with a lot of links.. but just to mention also back then I was so new to opera and Händel I booked the ticket to Wien without really knowing anything about Alcina/Händel/Harteros.. but based on my gut feeling after reading this incredible review by Purity, still one of my absolute favorites.

          • Agathe says:

            Thank you thadieu, I see I’m at the right place to get to know VK’s art better! I will take my time to digest all your links. That Ferrandini really is a beautiful piece of music isn’t it? I recently heard this broadcast, performed by M. Crebassa, and love to now hear VK’s take on it. Extracts of her Romeo are on YT as well as I just see (was that the one with your preferred duet outcome?).

          • thả diều says:

            ps- i should mention i (we the WS all) have a high-res copy of the full capuleti in munich stream broadcast in case you ever would like to watch 🙂

          • Agathe says:

            Yes please, it seems like a very interesting production! Could you dropbox it, that would be great!

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