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Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
School of Music
Mary Jean Speare
The voice type or ‘fach’ baryton-Martin was named for Nicolas Jean-Blaise Martin (1768–1837), a French baritone celebrated for his agile voice, brilliant timbre, and extensive range. Historical accounts described his voice as having the depth of a bass-baritone with a tenorial upper range. Unfortunately, with the departure of Martin and the evolution of voice types during the bel canto era, this particular voice category fell out of favor. However, there is a voice type that successfully evolved and survived the bel canto era: the modern lyric tenor. The manner in which we have grown accustomed to hearing singers of this fach on today’s stages is largely due to the groundwork laid by the French Grand Opera tenors of the nineteenth century. The transformation of this fach, from the refined vocal sound of the tenore di grazia to the heroic sound of the tenore di forza, was inspired by many influences but was primarily made using the vocal techniques practiced in Italy, now known as the International Italian School of Singing.
This document proposes that a transformation similar to that made by these French Grand Opera tenors could be undertaken by modern singers of the baryton-Martin fach in order to establish a legitimate lyric voice fach between lyric baritone and dramatic tenor. A reinvestigation of the attributes and reputation of Martin’s voice will be made concerning Richard Weidlich’s thesis, “Jean-Blaise Martin and the Opéra-Comique: a Study of Selected Airs by the Original baryton-Martin,” as well as Dr. Matthew Hoch’s current research on one of Martin’s successors, Pierre Bernac. This reinvestigation will hopefully define further the distinct qualities of the baryton-Martin voice and determine why this voice category has not established itself as a definitive voice type by today’s standards.
The second half of this document discusses a pedagogical solution for the promotion of the International Italian School of Singing to ‘modernize’ baryton-Martin singers by adopting the trusted concepts of passaggi, appoggio, and copertura. Also, selections of arias from operetta, oratorio, and musical theater, currently associated with other voice types which have similar passaggi to those of the baryton-Martin, will be explored using the tenets of the International Italian School of Singing. The logic of the baryton-Martin adopting arias and roles like these will hopefully be displayed. The main goal of this author is to encourage this evolution of technique, to secure the place of the baryton-Martin fach in the operatic world again, and to cultivate a new repertoire and utility for a ‘modernized’ baryton-Martin.
Agulay, Aaron D., "Finding Jean-Blaise Martin: An Italianate Approach for a Modernized baryton-Martin Fach" (2016). Dissertations. 107.