Pollard noticed and commented, after we ran through exercises, that my voice seemed just a bit, "five percent or so," less than my best. Halfway through the lesson, though, he remarked that I seemed to have recovered and was singing at my top level.
He gave me the choice of what to sing first. I wasn't brave enough to attempt the Mozart from memory, so I chose "Gute Nacht." Pollard stopped me after the first verse to comment on how well I was singing before allowing me to continue. Afterwards he told me this was the best I had sung that song. Then we continued with "Die Wetterfahne," which I didn't feel I sang well because of a few brain farts. But Pollard did like my soft high notes and remarked that this song is at a stage where it could be great in short order. He instructed me to learn the next song in the cycle, "Gefrorne Tränen." (I wonder if it's his goal to have me learn the entire Winterreise cycle.)
At one point, he praised the expressiveness of my singing. He said that I've improved dramatically in my ability to produce the same note in different ways depending on what I'm communicating. When I first came to him, he felt I produced my sound the same way whether I was singing a Verdi aria or a Schubert lied Now he feels I am far more expressive and nuanced. As frustrating as all my work on the soft singing has been at times, it is clearly paying dividends.
We also discussed what I need to do to prepare for Guildhall auditions. For now, I just need to keep up what I'm doing. In a few months he will recommend a regimen I need to follow, including some night classes. He also says he is going to use his considerable influence to delay my audition so that I am better prepared and don't hurt my chances of getting into the opera course by a less than impressive Masters audition. ("They're not stupid enough to disallow a late audition when a respected faculty member says he has a student who shows a lot of promise.") Of course, I want to settle everything now, but I need to trust that he knows what he's doing and has my best career interests in mind.