I want to take some time and talk about a very important thing that really counts when you want to sing opera. (sing without a microphone).
So what does resonance do?
Simply, it makes any kind of voice be heard in a hall, without a orchestra. You may be asking why only without an orchestra. Well, because having only resonance is not enough, you must also have a certain volume. This volume is the so called Fach. Dramatic singer vs lyric singers don`t have better or more resonance, but they have more volume! In most dramatic roles, the dramatic singer has to be heard above a loud orchestra. Sounding dark or light actually doesn`t give your Fach. It`s the notes that are your strongest that build your tessitura(confortable range).
What about huge volume?
Volume isn`t enough, because without resonance the sound will not propagate.
How do you know you are doing it right?
This is tricky. VERY! When I begun singing, on lower notes I did a bad thing: I opened my throat a bit and made my voice darker. This is the thing you do when your teacher says your voice is not forward enough. Since my voice sounded mature she assumed and trained me as a lyric soprano. This made me drag a lot of chest as I moved up in my range. Around E5 I would have a lot of volume… but zero penetration in a room. This was not my natural voice… I was faking my voice to be darker. Only after I got a high tessitura aria to sing, did she hear my real, natural voice which also could be heard in a hall! She shouted: Oh! I though you were a lower soprano, but you actually are a lyric coloratura!
Remember, if you have a lighter voice, after B4 go in the lightest coordination possible. I will write about this more, when I will talk about vocalises.
SO:) Now, if you want to know if you produce a “classical sound”, you can get a teacher, or look at frecvency spectres. Since the sound is a wave you can analize it with software like Spectogram16 or sing&see. If you`re doing it ok you`ll get something like this:
In order to be heard you must have harmonics above 3kHz. This is the “ring” in the voice or squillo. I marked with red that frecvency. The blue waves you see are formants. The thicker they are, the more volume you have. If you are a pure coloratura you will have less then me, if you are a full lyric you will have more. Vowels are also important.. I was singing C5 -ah- vowel. If you are interested more about this you can read more here:
How does resonance feel?
I`m not really sure if you can ‘get it’ as a beginner singer, but after 1year I think you can certainly get it!:)
The secret is that you must think you place the sound in the most forward position, in the teeth, but also create a big sound, feel the sound filling your head. (resonance+volume). I still don`t feel a lot of buzz, so you won`t necessarily feel the sound. But thinking about it like this, makes a difference. Start on a buzzing sensation near your teeth and keep it there! Then add more volume to it, fill your head with sound. Pure vowels help: try singing a- ah e-eh, u -uh and so on. Breathe out! but don`t be airy. If you can maintain the position and create a big sound then you are singing in full voice. If you are a beginning young soprano you will have full voice until E5. After some training you`ll manage to get a G5. (!in full voice!). You can go higher, but don`t try to create a big sound, just keep the forward position, near the teeth. I`m 21 and my full voice peaks at Ab5, but I sing in the so called pure head voice in vocalizes till Eb6. It`s natural that if you are young you don`t have a lot o full notes. Don`t worry! In time, your voice will grow bigger and fuller, but do not push for a sound that is not yours! By using a lighter voice quality, you will not have a lot of volume, but you can train in these years on agility. Don`t chase big sounds, your vocal chords will suffer and you will not sound as good as when you are singing with your natural voice.
I hope this helps. This isn`t an easy topic and I hear well known singers that sing out of their Fach. The majority of them developed vocal problems: nodules, loosing the voice. Tebaldi made her voice darker in her later career by singing dramatic roles. Even if her voice had a huge volume, very comparable to a dramatic soprano, her tessitura was that of a lyric. Eventually she dragged the tension to her higher notes and lost her voice. This also happened to Dessay, Netrebko, Callas. (although Callas speaks of keeping the voice in the brightest/lightest position in her youth). All of them sung better in their youth. Later, they begun dragging tension up. There are plenty of roles for every Fach:) keep your true voice healthy, do not imitate a trend, even if nowadays opera singers sing in a lot of Fachs. Remember that some opera halls have amplification to help them sing a role that is too heavy for them. Sad.. but true:(