We performers need to trust the music and text we’re given.
The point is not that the audience must get “my version” of the art. The listener gets the art itself, and in the process of your delivering it honestly, after good preparation, reflection and personal connection, the performance will reflect your unique and valued artistry. See Advice to Artists…
I am weary of eager yet misguided students, some professionals, and some conductors, who seem to think that everything must be deep/profound – even “spiritual,” to use that abused word. The performer does not need to have catharsis or feel-good experience each time. In fact, such a bonus may be experienced rarely if ever, and when least expected.
Don’t try to stir up those emotions for yourself; rather, learn what good acting and communication are all about. When we examine a score, certain truth presents itself to us. This essential content may be musical (in which case, “words fail.” That’s why it’s music.) It may lie in the text – although in the case of art song, the unique hybridization of word, pitch, and rhythm is what we deal with.
The job of a performer is to find that truth, which is in some ways relatively easy to see, right there on the page. Next, they must “buy into” that presented truth sincerely, with no self-conscious effort to draw attention to their own feelings.
Profound performances may result.