Pamela Z

Pamela Z in New York.
Photo: Lori Eanes/Courtesy of Pamela Z

Pamela Z, the Bay Area experimental singer, comes to the Kitchen this week, performing her opera Voci, a multimedia exploration of bel canto, extended vocal technique, electronics, and more. She spoke with Alicia Zuckerman.

What exactly is extended vocal technique?
Using the voice in ways other than conventional Western singing. What we might think of as extended voice, a Tuvan throat singer would just think of as normal.

So why write an opera around the idea of the voice?
People think of the voice as being the essence of the person, like they’ll talk about an author’s voice. I had also heard an interview with a professor at Stanford who had done a study on vocal profiling—how people, when they hear somebody on the phone, make a decision as to race. I have a segment in the piece comparing the human voice to a cello—I found out the cello contains the entire range of the human voice.

You also use the Macintosh computer voice.
I have her reciting the lyrics to an aria—and when she says it she just sounds so sad! [Laughs] In a way, it sounds more emotional than if somebody was just reading it.

Pamela Z
The Kitchen; October 28–30, 2004, 8 P.M.

Pamela Z