Stage deportment in singing may be defined as the actions of a singer before an audience, between entrance and exit. Good stage deportment depends on common sense and good manners.
Common Sense - Before making an appearance a singer should plan his entrances and exits. Common sense will dictate whether he should enter from the side, down stage right or left, or from the back - that is, upstage, right, left, or center. If the entrance is to be made through a divided curtain, he should in some way mark the entrance and exit spot.
The singer and accompanist should have a good, well-tuned instrument with which to work. It is preferable not to make an appearance at all unless conditions are reasonably good.
In the matter of solo appearances with a choral group or an orchestra, the position of the soloist is usually a matter of convention: Down center to right or left of the conductor, slightly ahead, so as not to block the conductor's contact with, or view of, the orchestra.
The underlying principle of a good entrance should be: Make Friends. The soloist must reflect good spirits and a friendly attitude. Too little reserve will be as unfavorable as too much reserve. Good Taste should govern one's presence. If a guest were to enter a room filled with people, the first impulse would be to look around for the host, for some familiar face, some acquaintance, and to nod the head slightly in greeting.
The same procedure holds on confronting an audience. Without giving off an air of boldness, too much confidence or familiarity, the soloist looks over the audience and bows slightly or nods as if to acknowledge acquaintances.
Posture - The singer's attitude should reflect good health, good spirits and friendliness. The position should not be a military one, with shoulders thrown back, chin up, heels together. The body position should be a comfortable one, feet slightly apart for balance, either one foot or the other slightly forward, with weight resting on heel of one or ball of the other.
The conventional position of the hands for a woman singer is the back of one hand in the palm of the other, held in a comfortable position about the waist line.
The conventional position of the hands for a man singer is about the same, except that it looks more manly for him to hold a book or program. Hands at the side or back usually look awkward. Hand in pocket, or hand on piano, or leaning on piano - all these create an unfavorable reaction.
Distractions - An underlying principle of good deportment: Avoid distractions. A distraction may be defined as anything that takes the attention of the audience from the intent of the song material. The singer is in effect trying to cast a spell or create a mood. A distraction will break the spell, or destroy the mood.
Unusual or unconventional dress. Peculiar facial expressions
Clearing of throat
In the case of character or comedy material, distractions may be in order.
The actions of an accompanist should not attract the attention of an audience away from the content or interpretation of the song material. Hand or body movements which might be in place in a piano solo are obvious distractions in accompanying.
Extreme care should be exercised in dynamics not to cover the singer's voice or to leave him without sufficient support. An accompanist can cue or prompt the singer when help is needed, but such assistance must be given carefully to avoid distraction.
An underlying principle in concert singing should be: Avoid movement.
More can be learnt of stage deportment, but these guidelines will get you off on the right foot.
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