“The talent is not only in the conditions of the larynx, but in the sensitivity, intelligence and learning ability”

Pedro Clarós, full academician and vice-president of the Royal European Academy of Doctors-Barcelona 1914 (RAED), will pronounce the next 16 of October, at 19.00 in the Palau de la Música Catalana of Barcelona the conference “Los secretos de la voz en la ópera” (The secrets of the voice in the opera). A renowned otolaryngologist and consultant doctor at the Gran Teatro del Liceo, Clarós will explain how the singer’s voice is formed and exercised, as well as the common pathologies and circumstances that affect it.

“The human larynx is both a wind and string musical instrument with excellent resonators. It is the only musical instrument that combines string and wind at the same time and can emit words and melodies”, explains the academician, who characterizes the human voice by its tone, its sonority and its prosody. “The quality of the voice depends on three essential conditions of the vocal cords -he continues-. Vibration, closure and lubrication”.

For Clarós, just as fingerprints serve to identify a person, the voice prints his personality and reveals his emotional state. Although it can also reveal its age and some physiological aspects, being very influenced by the hormonal alterations. “There are three hormones that influence the voice: androgens, estrogens and progesterone -he says-. In one third of women, the voice changes during the menstrual cycle. Another symptom of the premenstrual syndrome of the singer is tiredness and loss of pianissimo, alteration of some harmonics in the highest register with loss of voice quality, being more veiled”.

Dr. Pedro Claros Blanch

Dr. Pedro Claros Blanch

“During the pregnancy the voice is less bright and there is even loss of treble, since estrogens and progestogens increase -he continues-. During the menopause there are new situations that can affect the conduction of the recurrent nerve of the singers, modifying the vibrato, which is transformed into tremolo, that is to say it passes from seven to four vibrations per second”. On the other hand are the pathologies that affect the voice. Clarós summarizes them in two: those that suffer the rest of the people and those of his professional vocal activity, such as the environment and technical changes. “What most harms his voice is the air conditioning, both the theaters and the means of transport, especially the plane, which is very dry”.

Fruit of the age occurs the presbyophonia, that is the natural phenomenon of the aging that affects to the vocal cords. “Over the years the woman masculinizes her voice and the man feminizes it”, explains the otorrino, who finishes dismantling a legend: “It’s false that the great Maria Callas lost its voice for having become thin. Maria Callas lost her extraordinary capacity and finally his voice, for much more complex reasons”. “The talent of a person to sing doesn’t lie exclusively in the conditions of his larynx, but in the sensitivity, intelligence and learning ability”, he concludes.