If Elena Zoubareva had the nerve to admonish boisterous fans outside Fenway Park, she’d offer, calmly, “Don’t scream like that — you’ll strain your vocal cords!”
The Moscow-trained opera singer is a firm believer in protecting one’s voice no matter the circumstances, including publicly quarreling with your lover or speaking at weekly work meetings. But it is the Fenway faithful cheering for the Red Sox that most concern her. In fact, Zoubareva, who lives in the shadow of the ball park, was so perturbed by the hoarse voices of those exiting games that it prompted her to create a vocal class, called Fit Voice.
Last Sunday’s class — held in a naturally lit room in the corner of Page Music on Mass Ave — consisted of fewer than a dozen people, half of whom were in Sox regalia. Once the lesson began, however, the bellows from the small group sounded like they could have come from an arena. “Let’s go Pa-pi!” offers Vinny, a Norwood resident, whose voice boomed. “Papi’s a big gentleman, right?”, Zoubareva responded, beaming in her blue-green floral dress.
Though her musical background is impressive (including a degree from Berklee), it’s Zoubareva’s Russian sensibilities that direct the class. Her personality is as loud as her voice, her expectations high and unwavering, and when she wants to make a point, she puts American niceties aside. She informs the class that Americans — particularly women — misuse their voices, probably for sexiness’ sake. It’s an actual condition, known as Bogart-Bacall syndrome, named after the deep-voiced Hollywood pair whose sultry, raspy way of speaking led to nodules on their vocal cords.
Zoubareva’s exercises improve the participants’ vocal abilities almost immediately, but she concedes that some of the bizarre mouth movements and posturing required may look odd to onlookers. “If someone asks, tell them that a sick person is making you do it as a . . . ” she paused, looking for the word.
“Bet,” someone offered.
Fit Voice classes are held at 93 Mass Ave, in Boston, on Sundays at 11:30 am. For more information, call 617.267.7243 or go to pagemusiclessons.com