Pilate's vocal range
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Author:  Vichysois [ Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Pilate's vocal range

I've seen some conflicting listings for Pilate's range. Anybody seen or have the score? Several websites say he's a baritone and then say he needs to have a Male High B, which is unquestionably a tenor note.

Just listening to his songs, he appears to be a baritone...until you get to the final part of the Trial ("DON'T LET ME STOP YOUR GREAT SELF-DESTRUCTION!!!!"). People seem to wanna rock scream that last part, but it just sorta comes out of nowhere.

If Pilate isn't a baritone, then the only baritone role in the show with an identifiable solo is Peter. As a baritone, I feel so marginalized! There are tenors out the wazoo in this show! Thanks ever so much, ALW....

Author:  jcstar [ Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:09 pm ]
Post subject: 

Pontius Pilate is a tenor/baritone role. It can be done with either vocal range.

Barry Dennen (tenor/baritone)
Rob Fowler (high tenor)
Carl Anderson - who played the role for one night only (high tenor)
Fred Johanson (baritone)
Dennis DeYoung (tenor)

Pilate's highest note is a screaming B-flat - which comes in the death sentance. IT HAS TO BE SCREAMED. Think of what Pilate is going through.

Pilate has tried in vain to please the crowd/mob. He's tried to find a way out of the situation and is failing every single time. He tries to free Jesus, but Jesus tells Pilate that he can't change anything.

Caesar is also breathing down Pilate's neck. Pilate either crucifies an innocent man or gets nailed to a cross himself.

Pilate likes control and is unable to control himself or the situation.

The reason why Pilate screams at the end is because he has lost control of the situation, this man, the crowd, everything. He has no self-conrol anymore and loses it.

I think what a lot of people don't realize is that Pilate isn't just screaming a death sentance. He's saying "I quit, I give up. I don't care anymore." He's screaming at Jesus and everybody else. He's also probably screaming at Caesar.

There is a whole psycology to Pilate that a lot of people seem to miss. He's not an easy character to sing, but he's not easy to play, either.

And there are plenty of other baritone parts in the score. Herod, Peter, the Priests (save Caiaphas), Apostles, Lepers.


Author:  Vichysois [ Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

I should have qualified my original post better. I meant in terms of a compelling baritone role with an actual character arc. Herod's "cameo" is all well and good, but I meant more dynamic characters. Same goes with the ensemble folk.

And while your character analysis is of course interesting to read, I can't help but feel as if it was intended to be condescending or pontificating.

Yes, I understand the context and purpose of Pilate's screaming. I just thought it a bit odd that he is intended to scream in the tenor range if he is indeed a baritone role.

Author:  SomeoneLikeYou [ Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pilate's vocal range

Vichysois wrote:
There are tenors out the wazoo in this show!

This is nothing. Have you checked the vocal ranges of the males in Miss Saigon lately?

Author:  jcstar [ Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:24 am ]
Post subject: 

Vichysois wrote:
And while your character analysis is of course interesting to read, I can't help but feel as if it was intended to be condescending or pontificating.

Well, I do tend to get carried away when talking about Pilate in JCS. Simply because of the talks I've had with Mr. Dennen, the books written about Pilate and all the Biblical films that he appears in.

To be honest, I have only seen one Pilate not scream the death sentance... but still made it effective. Stephen Briethaupt from the 2002-2005 North American tour. He sang it note for note in a high baritone voice.

I think if you look at the score itself, the notes for the death sentance are written for the most part above the staff. It's the same four notes over and over again, but still are very high.

I'm sure that there are other baritones who have done it without screaming their lungs out... but I have only seen one do it.

Oh by the way... I have seen/heard some dreadful portrayals of Pilate. I won't even nbegin to tell how awful they were.

If you can find the score, read it and see what you can do and make the role your own. That's the key, I think. Find yourself in there and see what happens.


Author:  Vichysois [ Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:01 am ]
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^The more I listen to Dennen's tracks from the film, the more I appreciate his smooth operator approach. My first exposure to the character was Fred Johansen's portrayal in the 2000 film, and I thought he was a little too hysterical/manic, though I enjoy that portrayal for its outwardly aggressive and powerful vocals.

As an aside, the movie soundtrack sounds to be like everybody's singing very softly. Annas in particular sounds like a ninny. I'd love to have heard Dennen sing the role live or hear Dennen sing the role with today's technology backing him.

Author:  The Russian [ Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think that if you're a baritone with a solid A-flat (and yes, every baritone should be able to BELT up to at least that with proper training) and a strong falsetto you should be able to sing Jesus with little problems. Look at Glenn Carter. He uses his falsetto to great success.

It just takes proper training and perhaps a little bit more vocal maturity than you have (I don't know how old you are) and a lot of time and practice.

Best of luck!

Author:  Vichysois [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:08 am ]
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^ While I think a technique such as that might result in a passable Jesus, I find the role sounds better when played by a legit, rockish tenor. Glenn Carter's frequent forays into pure falsetto grew tiresome for me by the end of the leper sequence...and I didn't feel a whole lot of energy on his notes D5-G5. I wished he had more rock sensibilities. But then one runs the risk of being Sebastian Bach....

Author:  Pannic [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:59 am ]
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It's a rock musical. Of course it's going to have a lot of tenors. For someone who hates high notes, two of the three high priests are a baritone and a bass (I think the third is a tenor), and Caiaphas is a bass.

Author:  Vichysois [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:27 am ]
Post subject: 

Well, Rent is a rock musical and it only requires 2 lead tenors and a few in the ensemble....

Author:  Pannic [ Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:13 pm ]
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Rent isn't much of an exception. The male parts are all on the higher side. Roger and Angel are obvious, but Mark still goes as about high as Roger in most places, just not as often. Collins isn't an obvious tenor, but he does have parts that are very high, namely the "I'll Cover You" reprise.

Author:  Nettik [ Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:02 am ]
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Rent also is to be played more realistically than JCS. The odds are that Jesus and Judas were not rock tenors. Having all rock tenors in Rent would seem out of place and the show would lose something.

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