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Why make Judas so difficult a role? 
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Tony Winner
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Post Why make Judas so difficult a role?
Just something that I find curious. Why write music for a character that is extremely dangerous and taxing to perform? Ben Vereen, Carl Anderson, et al risked serious vocal injury playing Judas night after night. Why write a role that is so dangerous?

An obvious answer is the spectacle - the impressive feat of playing the role well, but that answer feels hollow.

An alternative question is this: Did ALW purposefully make the role a suicide mission, or did he just write things that sounded good?

Bigger question is of course, how much weight does a composer give to the realities of voice types? Do they simply write things that sound good, and then look at it upon completion and say "Ah, this one's a soprano." Or do they go in saying "this character is a soprano" and write the music accordingly?


Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:54 am
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I dare say they have some idea of what range the character will be based on what works for the character, but they probably still write songs that suit, regardless of specific range.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:35 am
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I think the role of Jesus is much more demanding if you don't have the "rock " voice like Ted Neely. It gets pretty hard hard to hit the high 'C' note eight times a week...


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Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:45 am
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He said Judas, not Jesus.

As for voice parts, I don't think many musical theatre composers really pay attention to voice parts. Not since Leonard Bernstein (I looked at a copy of the score a while back, and they actually had the voice parts next to the characters' names on the character list), anyway. Pinning down the voice types seems to lie with people like Richard Walters, who try to put together those special songbooks.

I imagine Andrew Lloyd Webber just wrote a lot of music that sounds like rock and roll, and as we all know, rock and roll music tends to lie in the high tenor register. Except for Caiaphas, who is almost trying to make sure you know he's a bass.

Of course, I'm probably completely wrong, but come on. Melchior in Spring Awakening singing a low G? Che in Evita with a low F?


Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:31 pm
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Pannic wrote:
Except for Caiaphas, who is almost trying to make sure you know he's a bass.


Which means I know exactly who will be playing that part in the production where I cast myself as Mary Magdalene. Right, Pannic?

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Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:46 pm
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Post Re: Why make Judas so difficult a role?
Vichysois wrote:
An alternative question is this: Did ALW purposefully make the role a suicide mission, or did he just write things that sounded good?


It's not because Murray Head sang Judas' part the way it's known (on the concept album) that ALW wrote it that way.


the.emcee wrote:
I think the role of Jesus is much more demanding if you don't have the "rock " voice like Ted Neely. It gets pretty hard hard to hit the high 'C' note eight times a week...


Most of performers who played Jesus used their falsettos for those high notes. It makes it easy.

Judas can't use falsettos (or it sounds really bad with the emotions of the character in "Judas' Death", for example). That's why I think Judas is a lot harder.

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Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:00 pm
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SomeoneLikeYou wrote:
Pannic wrote:
Except for Caiaphas, who is almost trying to make sure you know he's a bass.


Which means I know exactly who will be playing that part in the production where I cast myself as Mary Magdalene. Right, Pannic?
Yes. You certainly know exactly who.

As per Jesus falsettos on high notes, yeah. Even I can hit those.


Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:06 pm
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Tony Winner
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Pannic wrote:
...come on...Che in Evita with a low F?


Che has a low F, and a High C? Wtf! A lot of "baritones" don't even have a low F...neverminding the "tenors" who don't have a high C...

As much as I enjoy the music....ALW really pisses me off sometimes.


But yeah. I don't think Jesus' extreme highs would be the most taxing parts of the role. Sustaining a high tessitura (G4 and above) would be the more demanding aspect.

And for the record, Jesus' highest would be a G5 (edit: see post below), not a soprano C.


Last edited by Vichysois on Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:58 am
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Che has a high C? I never heard that. Mandy Patinkin does have a falsetto high F, though. But he does have what seems to be a low F in "Peron's Latest Flame." Some low note, could be an F, F#, or G, not completely sure.

As for Jesus Falsetto, that's not actually written in the score. It says "Vocal Ad Lib," with a simple default. The highest note written in Gethsemane is an Ab. Alot of people do a high G because that's what Fenholt and Neely did.


Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:28 pm
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Tony Winner
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I had heard that Che had a high C...my post was more of a question than a statement.

And yeah, I've seen some notation where that bit of Gethsemane is written as an ad lib. I should have said "his highest would be a high G" based on the associations people have. Glenn Carter did the falsetto G like Neely also...and I've heard others (their names escape me). So I figured it was something of an accepted thingy - one of those items where a well-known performers improv or contribution becomes something of the standard.


Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:35 pm
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Ian Gillan of Deep Purple created the high G in "Gethsemane" on the original record.

Andy.

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Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:31 pm
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Tony Winner
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^ Ah, well, you would know :)


Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:53 am
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