As a result, they often learned destructive habits that eventually resulted in injury.
However, even trained singers can sustain a vocal injury, particularly if they sing too often.
This is, she admits, very hard to achieve, not only because of the implausibility of many opera plots but also because of the physical demands of the art.
“It’s almost impossible to sing and really act at the same time,” she says.
“La Sonnambula” is rarely played for humor, but Dessay was finding a new way into the work, and Zimmerman bounced on the balls of her feet in apparent delight, offering her celebrated star only the gentlest of guidance as to how to play a celebrated star. A week earlier, after concluding a short run of “Pelléas et Mélisande,” by Debussy, at the Theater an der Wien, in Vienna, she’d been struck with laryngitis.
While she could still speak—her conversational voice, surprisingly low, was only slightly husky—she could not use her operatic voice, which is prodigiously high and supple.
She seemed irritated by the words of her interlocutor—her agent in France, perhaps.
She also seemed largely oblivious of the ministrations of a pair of company operatives who had rushed to disencumber her and were removing jacket, scarf, and—as Dessay carelessly extended each limp, queenly hand—an imaginary pair of gloves.
Most of these could have been avoided by different singing techniques.
Dehydration, smoking, genetics, aging, and other factors can exacerbate the problem. Get a good coach (such as through Vocalize U), and always pay attention to how it feels to sing.