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Thread: Maria Callas vs. Leontyne Price

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    One of the interesting things about Callas is the way her fans flip the narrative we use for every other singer when discussing her. This is a singer who was born five years after Birgit Nilsson, but who had thoroughly destroyed her instrument by the time Nilsson started getting international attention.

    She entered her 30s with an incredibly beautiful (albeit slightly unusual) voice, and exited her 30s with permanent vocal problems--wobbles, excruciating high notes, awful runs and trills, dry uneven spots all over her range especially her top, completely separate vocal registers.

    Some blame her weight loss, but I would think the very normal and standard culprits of overwork and saying yes to every role no matter how unsuitable have to be major factors. I know her reputation is a giant voiced goddess, but when I listen to her, I hear a medium sized voice who compensates (gloriously at first, but unsuccessfully later) with her absolute commitment and artistry in roles she shouldn't be singing.

    But instead of using that as a cautionary tale for singers the way we do with anyone else who burned out by 40, Callas fans praise her for singing everything.
    I wasn't aware I was flipping any narrative. I was just questioning the whole idea of a Verdi soprano. What most people think of as a Verdi soprano is actually an Aida soprano, but the majority of great Aidas aren't much good at any early or middle period Verdi.

    By the way, this middle-sized voice that you hear, both Sutherland and Bonynge described as colossal, so maybe your ears deceive you.

    Also, she matured very early. She may have made her Italian debut in 1947, but she had already been singing major roles in Greece since 1939.

    But, thank you, you have reminded me why I left TC. You have turned my post on Verdi sopranos into an attack on Callas fans. I won't be back. I'm still trying to find a way to delete my profile, but don't seem to be able to find one.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  3. #47
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    an attack on Callas fans
    Sensitive aren't we? If my post was an attack, I wonder what you think a calm discussion looks like.

    eta - I fail to see why stating that Callas started her performance career earlier contradicts my point that she wrecked her voice most likely through overuse and inapt roles. Jussi Bjorling was born 12 years earlier than Callas, started singing professionally at the age of 5 and ,made his operatic debut at 19, and was still singing with an almost flawless voice when Callas's voice was already in precipitous decline.

    Your point appears to be that SOF pointing out the very banal fact that Price was more associated with Verdi than Callas was wrong wrong wrong because Callas sang more Verdi roles than Price, as if that creates some objective proof she's a better Verdian. Praising her for singing everything always strikes me as odd for the reasons I stated above.

    I think your overly defensive and self-righteous reaction to my post is ridiculous particularly considering how you address pretty much everyone else you disagree with. Look at how you have to answer SOP's libel about, you know, people thinking of Verdi when thinking Price versus people probably thinking of bel canto first when thinking Callas.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Jul-29-2017 at 21:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    Sensitive aren't we? If my post was an attack, I wonder what you think a calm discussion looks like.
    Not at all. But you changed the tenor of the discussion. Instead of responding to my point about whether there is such a thing as a Verdi soprano, you decided to make a little swipe at Callas fans, and then at Callas herself.

    Oh well. Some things never change, it would seem.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  5. #49
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    Not at all. But you changed the tenor of the discussion. Instead of responding to my point about whether there is such a thing as a Verdi soprano, you decided to make a little swipe at Callas fans, and then at Callas herself.

    Oh well. Some things never change, it would seem.
    Yes, my "swipe" at Callas, calling her natural singing voice incredibly beautiful and remarking on her artistry and commitment. What a hater I must be.

  6. #50
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    One of the interesting things about Callas is the way her fans flip the narrative we use for every other singer when discussing her.

    She entered her 30s with an incredibly beautiful (albeit slightly unusual) voice, and exited her 30s with permanent vocal problems--wobbles, excruciating high notes, awful runs and trills, dry uneven spots all over her range especially her top, completely separate vocal registers.

    Some blame her weight loss, but I would think the very normal and standard culprits of overwork and saying yes to every role no matter how unsuitable have to be major factors. I know her reputation is a giant voiced goddess, but when I listen to her, I hear a medium sized voice who compensates (gloriously at first, but unsuccessfully later) with her absolute commitment and artistry in roles she shouldn't be singing.

    But instead of using that as a cautionary tale for singers the way we do with anyone else who burned out by 40, Callas fans praise her for singing everything.
    Callas fans come in a variety of colors, like fans in general. Some are more insightful about what it is they're fans of. Greg Mitchell is as insightful as any I know. I don't see him as praising Callas for "singing everything," but for having the voice and technique to sing practically anything written for the soprano voice, and later on some mezzo repertoire as well. The reasons for her vocal decline are and will remain subjects of debate, but I don't see much general agreement about which of her major roles she shouldn't have been singing. It appears to me that she gave up a few less suitable roles (Turandot, maybe Wagner) early on, before her decline, and that the repertoire she continued to sing suited her vocal size and technical powers very well. I wonder which of those roles you believe she shouldn't have been singing.

    I don't hear those "awful runs and trills." Her coloratura was excellent and her trill exceptional in consisting of an alternation of distinct pitches, as opposed to the somewhat vague flutter we get from most singers.

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  8. #51
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Callas fans come in a variety of colors, like fans in general. Some are more insightful about what it is they're fans of. Greg Mitchell is as insightful as any I know. I don't see him as praising Callas for "singing everything," but for having the voice and technique to sing practically anything written for the soprano voice, and later on some mezzo repertoire as well. The reasons for her vocal decline are and will remain subjects of debate, but I don't see much general agreement about which of her major roles she shouldn't have been singing. It appears to me that she gave up a few less suitable roles (Turandot, maybe Wagner) early on, before her decline, and that the repertoire she continued to sing suited her vocal size and technical powers very well. I wonder which of those roles you believe she shouldn't have been singing.

    I don't hear those "awful runs and trills." Her coloratura was excellent and her trill exceptional in consisting of an alternation of distinct pitches, as opposed to the somewhat vague flutter we get from most singers.
    I'm not sure I see a difference between "praising Callas for 'singing everything,'" and praising her for "having the voice and technique to sing practically anything written for the soprano voice".

    Her coloratura and trill were exceptional--incomparable, really. But starting in the late 50s, that was increasingly untrue.

    I don't know what she shouldn't have been singing. But I think the dramatic and shocking vocal decline even from 1953 to 1958 or 1959 or so when she was still in her mid 30's is pretty definitive evidence she was doing things she shouldn't have been doing with her voice.

  9. #52
    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    I don't know what she shouldn't have been singing. But I think the dramatic and shocking vocal decline even from 1953 to 1958 or 1959 or so when she was still in her mid 30's is pretty definitive evidence she was doing things she shouldn't have been doing with her voice.
    Callas was still capable of great performances even in 1959-60 as evidenced by her great stereo 60 Norma, but personal issues are what really ended her opera run. By 1960 her marriage had ended and she was jet setting with Onassis and star entourage, she was tired of work and wanted to enjoy life for extended break....when she did attempt a comeback with a few performances in 1964-65 there were noticeable vocal problems and Maria recognized this and decided to retire

    I would not want Maria to change anything about her daring bravura style and swagger, the mad scences and cabalettas are unforgetable, her climatic high notes are like no other maintaining size and amplitude all the way up the scale creating a devastating thrilling effect......

    If Maria's goal was to have a long career she probably could have added years by not taking so many roles and recordings each year, it was a very tough grueling schedule, but no Callas did not play it safe.....for that we thank the opera gods

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Particularly in her first 5 years or so Price had such a gorgeous, luscious voice!!!! She had tons of stage presence but wasn't much of an actress .
    Callas sang a lot of the big Verdi roles early in her career, but was never identified with Verdi the way Price was. Price sang a marvelous Tosca, but only trotted it out early in her career. I just don't think you can compare them for the most part.
    I concede my errors in the Verdi discussion. I was blanking on Traviata completely, and thinking more of Forza, Ballo, Trovatore and Aida. Sorry. I love Callas' Trovatore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I concede my errors in the Verdi discussion. I was blanking on Traviata completely, and thinking more of Forza, Ballo, Trovatore and Aida. Sorry. I love Callas' Trovatore.
    Before I'm gone for good, I just wanted to say, gracious as always.

    Greg
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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