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Elphaba's vocals 
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Post Elphaba's vocals
I have a theory. It would seem (to me) that Elphaba might just be the most vocally demanding part in recent/ever musical history. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a belter role that is harder. Comments?

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Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:57 am
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I totally agree . . . no other role incorporates THREE power-belt songs, along with countless other numbers in the show . . . it has to be a vocal strain to who ever plays the role.

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Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:47 pm
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yes i do concur with that statement but i also believe G(a)linda is also a major demanding role. seriously have you seen the notes she has to sing for like no one mourns the wicked and several other songs. hell i know my throat would be killing if i had to sing that high every night 6-8 times a week.

but yes elphaba is a major powerhouse vocal i know i cant sing her vocals without warming up and i really cant be sick at all. if im sick im screwed.

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Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:07 pm
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Either way, once this is all done, it'll be rough to put together a revival of "Wicked" without robots who can hit the notes.

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Tue Feb 21, 2006 7:19 am
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Tony Winner
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Again, I know I said I was gone...but I was directed to this thread and told to post.

This is kinda a rediculous comment and um...I'm pretty sure those making the statements arn't extremely familiar with roles in musicals (I don't claim to be either, but I do know I don't agree with the statement just the same).

While elphaba as performed by Menzel was a vocal strain, this is because she did not belt properly. She screamed many of the notes and it ruined her voice over time. Because of this, many girls have gotten the idea thats the "right" way to sound while performing...to most trained singers it sounds very strained and not good (because it is in fact strained and bad for your voice). Elphaba is the cause of many girls messing up there voices...but it is because of the way they are belting. If properly trained, the range should not be impossible for a person with the right starting range to perform (not everyone has this, but many people who don't would like to think they do...hence people thinking this part is harder than it is).

Range is not the only thing that makes a part hard by any means, but if you want to stick to vocally demanding range as a requirement then there are still better examples. As I am male I'm much more familiar with the male voice and what it is that's difficult to sing. By far the most testing parts to my knowledge are Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Freddie in Chess. Both parts requires a rock sound, which means straining your voice (Elphaba does NOT required a strained sound, I have heard it sung well, belted, and still not screamy sounding in a few recordings...however most I have heard were...pretty screamy). Both parts require streching to a range that is hard for anyone with hte proper sound for the part to do. Both parts would sound silly if the person singing them had too light a voice and hit the notes too effortly as they are in a rock style. Judas hits a high E flat at one point if I remember correctly, and this note is basically meant to just be screamed out. Few people have managed to play these parts in a proffesional production (meaning many performances for a conciderable length of time) without having serious vocal problems. I do not know how long people stay in these parts on average compared to most other lead roles, but I have the feeling if one looked at the data it would be quite a significant difference.

Also, it is important to realize that acting is important. It is theatre that is musical, not music that is ...theatre...ized. The acting and presentation of the character are fundamental, the singing should bring across this character. Elphaba is by no means a challenging part to act, many of her lines are very cliche and interpretation is not really required at all.

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Tue Feb 28, 2006 1:23 pm
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Quote:
It is theatre that is musical, not music that is ...theatre...ized. The acting and presentation of the character are fundamental, the singing should bring across this character.


too right =D> !! i can hardley on the difficultly of the vocals as i am hardley a fantastic singer, however i think that lots of people forget that musicals are not conerts, it is a form of acting, and so the vocals over take the acting and detract from the performance than the actor/ actress needs to assess their work.

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Tue Feb 28, 2006 3:01 pm
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In agreement male singers (in my opinion) are much more aware of their range, in terms of the song. More often thna not i will hear a woman screching to reach said high notes! However correct posture and breathing would enable a competent singer to achieve these notes. I know that when i first started singing (after my voice broke) i was a low bass, and now my vocal range has risen to that of the baritone whilst retaining the low bass portion and the development of a falestto voice. I think this shows that the proper training will allow anyone to achievce the range. And frankly elphaba is no acting challenge, yes her range may be huge but any professional actor should be able to train themsleves to repeat it night after night without damaging their voice.

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Tue Feb 28, 2006 3:13 pm
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LW took the words right out of my mouth. Bravo!

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Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:32 pm
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I don't think I could disagree more. True, training is almost a necessity but the part of Elphaba is a more or less speech-level singing (SLS) role. That's why it doesn't sound "correct" to many classically trained people. I agree that Idina probably did ruin her voice in that role (tragic really) but I have heard others (Shoshana Bean and Saycon Sengbloh in particular) who belt the role healthily and it sounds just as powerful without "screaming" it. I do not think it would sound correct at all if the last portion of the song (the confirmation of Elphaba's new view on life which is a HUGE emotional turning point for the character) was done in head voice or mixed voice. It is possible to belt healthily in chest voice for the character of Elphaba and that is why I am saying it is a vocally challenging role. And to say that I am unfamiliar with many musical theatre roles is a completely unfounded statement (I'm not getting catty here I just don't see where you got that impression). If you look through musical history, Elphaba seems to me to be the most challenging role to take on vocally. And to say that not a lot of acting is required in Elphaba's character, is also a rather unfair statement. There is so much one can do with that character it is ridiculous. That's like saying Eponine in Les Miserables doesn't require a lot of acting. In comparison, I think that Elphaba is an even more challenging role acting-wise. There is so much inner-conflict there it's not even funny. First, she arrives at Shiz to take care of Nessa and someone (Madame Morrible) finally takes notice of her and sees something valuable in her. All Elphaba really wants is to be accepted but human (or munchkin) nature shuts out anyone who is different. There are so many examples buzzing around in my poor little mind right now it is driving me crazy. Sorry, I love this character and I think it is one of the juciest roles (vocally and acting-wise) out there and I'm a guy! Peace.

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Tue Feb 28, 2006 6:43 pm
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Alrighty...did you read my post? Yes, it's belty, but you can belt properly and if you do so it is not vocally challenging. Sung properly does not mean sung lightly, it can still be aggressive and loud without being bad for your voice. I don't understand how this sentance works:

Quote:
It is possible to belt healthily in chest voice for the character of Elphaba and that is why I am saying it is a vocally challenging role.


Sounds to me like a reason why the role isn't as challenging as people give it credit for...

I wouldn't call the assumption that you arn't familiar with many musicals unfounded...in fact, the fact that your only reference to a non-wicked musical in this thread has been Les Mis...especially when trying to say what role is challenging to act (eponine is a fairly easy part to act actually...it's very clear what she's thinking...no deep reading, you can read her lyrics once and say "alright, so this is how she feels", I don't know any actors who concider that one of the more challenging roles to act). You want a challenge both in singing and acting? Find a Sondheim musical (no I'm not a theatre snob...heck I like wildhorn!...I just can recognize whats challenging, and sondheim is it). So from this I take it when you say "if you look through musical history" you arn't really looking at a whole lot of musicals. Care to explain to me what musicals you're comparing this to?

As far as the supposed deep emotion of elphaba...having an emo character doesn't make it difficult to act or deep. She has issues...the issues are presented up front and in a very cliched manner. No real acting needs to be done to bring these things through because of the horrible structure of the script...it's like a soap opera but with somehow even more blatant emotion.

~The Lone Wanderer

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Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:46 pm
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Post Re: Elphaba's vocals
The_Wicked wrote:
I have a theory. It would seem (to me) that Elphaba might just be the most vocally demanding part in recent/ever musical history


Caroline or Change has two difficult roles. Caroline is much more difficult than elphaba, mainly because you actually need to use emotion.

Rose from "Gypsy" is ten times as hard. Kim from "Miss Saigon" is a more difficult role.


Tue Feb 28, 2006 9:47 pm
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I did read your post but I disagree with your statement. Elphaba's notes are quite high and quite difficult to sing (properly or otherwise) no matter how trained you are. Belting healthily and belting easily are two wildly different things. Kim is another very juicy role, TRC. However, vocally I think that she is easier to handle. It is a different style but I think it is possible to compare the two. Anyway, LoneWanderer, do you have an example of belting properly among Broadway singers? I am not trying to be snotty here or anything I am just wondering who you think belts properly. I am absolutely astonished though, as to how many people think you don't need to have a strong acting ability to play Elphaba. I have always thought there was so much background there and so much to do with the part... And if you want me to list my ENTIRE musical repetoire I guess I'll give it a shot. Off the top of my head... Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, The Wild Party, The Lion King, Elton John's Aida, Fiddler on the Roof, Crazy for You, Annie, Miss Saigon, The Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, Avenue Q, The Fantasticks, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Joseph..., The Secret Garden, A New Brain, Little shop of Horrors, The Producers, Cabaret, Forever Plaid, Ragtime, Chicago, RENT, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Hot Mikado, Bat Boy, Wonderful Town, Cats, Copacabana, The King and I, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Hairspray, Suessical, Once Upon a Mattress, Jekyll and Hyde, Children of Eden, Godspell, A Chorus Line, Pippin, Spamalot, The Last 5 Years, Tick Tick Boom, The Wiz, The Wizard of Oz, Thouroghly Modern Millie, Hello Dolly, Grease, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Snoopy, and if you wanna talk Sondheim: Sweeney Todd? (Johanna, the Beggar Woman, or Mrs. Lovett while both fun parts are not nearly as vocally demanding and as hard to act as Elphaba. Although Mrs. Lovett still has her inner desire for Sweeney all the while knowing his wife is dead, playing insane isn't particularly hard I have found.) Into The Woods? (Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red, and the Baker's Wife just don't grap me as ridiculously challenging parts vocally or otherwise. The Witch is a nice role but still her emotions are pretty standard and none of her songs are ridiculously tricky.) West Side Story? (Maria is a good role but Anita is better and neither has to be amazing vocally. Anita is more dancing and Maria is your sterotypical ingenue who falls for her Romeo and screws everything up for herself). Company? The list goes on. I haven't had a chance to listen to Caroline or Change but I will ask my friend to burn it for me. I just think that to be sung properly, Elphaba needs a very very talented person to pull off the emotions behind the songs and convey the true meaning of Stephen Schwartz's beautiful lyrics. Defying Gravity is just such a powerful turning point in Elphaba's life that to have a poor actress portraying her breaking free of the bonds of society, would not do justice to such a heroine as Elphaba.

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Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:21 pm
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