View Poll Results: Milnes' Best

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  • Enrico

    1 5.26%
  • Rigoletto

    7 36.84%
  • Giorgio Germont

    0 0%
  • Count di Luna

    3 15.79%
  • Marquis di Posa

    2 10.53%
  • Baron Scarpia

    4 21.05%
  • Amonasro

    1 5.26%
  • Don Carlo (Forza del Destino)

    2 10.53%
  • Tonio (Pagliacci)

    1 5.26%
  • Figaro

    0 0%
  • Iago

    3 15.79%
  • Macbeth

    2 10.53%
  • Montfort (Vespri Siciliani)

    1 5.26%
  • Jochanaan

    1 5.26%
  • Marcello (Boheme)

    0 0%
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Thread: Milnes' Best

  1. #46
    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by katdad View Post
    Yes, greg, that Largo is amazing.

    It was definitely the most difficult aria I learned, and never really got it nailed down, as you can easily appreciate. Worst thing is if you screw up you'll get tangled and the whole aria falls apart. Eeek!
    On the website for Opera News is an audio discussion in which commentator Louise T. Guinther discusses several Milnes recordings, including the "Largo al factotum." Among the things she notes are that Milnes has a lot of fun with the purely technical aspects of the aria, like the high notes and the falsetto, and that his diction is very clean, probably the result of his having "tongued" the words (repeated them over and over again with exaggerated diction) beforehand in order to "get his mouth operating correctly."

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  3. #47
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    for me it's either Rigoletto or il Barbiere di Siviglia just for his largo al factotum interpretation. I'd listen to any of his recordings, tho i do prefer the 70s period for obvious reasons. he was still good after anyway

  4. #48
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    How can I vote when this is missing?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGTIGNZbDZw

    So I was forced to vote for my next favorite: Count di Luna (Il balen)
    Last edited by nina foresti; Jul-25-2021 at 16:44.

  5. #49
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Good thread. Which years do you think were his peak years? I don't care so much for his later offerings but he is wonderful early on up to his middle years. Do you think he holds his own with the glorious baritones before the 33 era?
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Jul-26-2021 at 15:42.

  6. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Good thread. Which years do you think were his peak years? I don't care so much for his later offerings but he is wonderful early on up to his middle years. Do you think he holds his own with the glorious baritones before the 33 era?
    Yes. I think I choose by role and taste for the color it needs. Milnes voice was (young) bright and clean, and of course he relished that upper extension. But the roles that most sent me over the top with his singing were the Enrico with Sutherland and Pavarotti and Iago. I might revisit that Iago opinion since I imprinted on him with Domingo and Scotto and might find other things in a singer like Gobbi now. When I was younger I wouldn't give two cents for Gobbi because the voice is definitely not beautiful. Now I cannot find another Rigoletto like him, so maybe his art would replace the beauty of Milnes' voice in a role with so much character required.
    Milnes lets his vibrato roll with the rhythm at the end of the first scene of Lucia, gorgeous sound and that rhythmic quality is hypnotizing. For sheer singing, hard to match it.
    I can't recall his Figaro, sure I heard it long ago.
    He's wonderful too, in a live Met Puritani with Sutherland, Pavarotti and James Morris. SInce I think this opera stands or falls more on its lower voices than on the starry highs, this is a favorite recording for me.

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  8. #51
    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
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    I saw Milnes live in his youth, in the 1970s, as a powerhouse Rigoletto, and a sexy thigh-baring Athanael in Thaïs , as well as many telecasts from the Metropolitan Opera (or simulcasts as they styled them). Later on, he seemed to be chewing his vowels as he distorted the sound for vocal comfort and it became a mannerism. See the Simon Boccanegra above for an example of this.

    The voice at its best could be volcanic and rousing, high notes hit squarely on and flung out to the audience. Later they became more nasal and strange sounds were in evidence (in the 1980s) as the voice started to decay.

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  10. #52
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAS View Post
    Later on, he seemed to be chewing his vowels as he distorted the sound for vocal comfort and it became a mannerism.
    I think that was a problem pretty early. I find his Iago with Domingo, Scotto, and Levine objectionable for exactly that reason - you can practically hear him twirling his mustache.

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  12. #53
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    I think that was a problem pretty early. I find his Iago with Domingo, Scotto, and Levine objectionable for exactly that reason - you can practically hear him twirling his mustache.
    I agree that the problems are in evidence early on. The passaggio between his middle and upper registers lost its freedom, and the notes above the staff took on a stiff-jawed, yawning, forced, unresonant quality, unpleasant in itself and different from the rest of his voice. I tend to avoid him for that reason. I wouldn't deny, though, that the basic voice was handsome and that he could be an effective performer.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-30-2021 at 02:46.

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  14. #54
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    Excerpts from an article written by John Von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune on September 29. 1985 -

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...066-story.html

    "One critic has dubbed him opera`s Incredible Hunk, an apt title for the athletically built, 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound singer. His sex appeal derives as much from his bright, burnished sound--complete with a powerful upper range that allows him to trumpet glorious high A-flats, A naturals and even B-flats like a dramatic tenor--as from his good looks and physique."

    In many respects he finds it the most fascinating and complex of the 13 Verdi parts in his present repertory. ''Musically and vocally, it`s Otello`s opera,'' he explained. ''But it`s very hard for an Otello to be great without an Iago to drive and push him. Singing Iago is not as punishing for the voice as singing Rigoletto, because it`s not as sustained. The one dangerous thing about Iago is that you are always having to punch the voice in the top third of your range; you cannot do it with just a beautiful legato line.

    Milnes offered capsule portraits of two of his favorite Otellos. ''Placido is a more sensitive and vulnerable Otello than some of his predecessors. Therefore I can be more offhanded, less obvious.'' Jon Vickers: ''A tower of strength, but graceful and stylized. With Jon you feel as if you are chopping down a mighty oak.''

    A major vocal crisis threatened Milnes four years ago, just about the time his career had gathered real momentum. He dropped out of sight at the Met because of what were officially called ''health problems.'' Nobody feeds on gossip more voraciously than opera fans, and Milnes` fans devoured every tidbit. Wild rumors flew that Milnes had cancer of the larynx, that he had permanently damaged his vocal apparatus, even that he had severed a vocal cord when a dentist accidentally dropped an instrument down his throat.

    ''When that one reached me,'' said Milnes, smiling ruefully, ''I didn`t know whether to laugh or swear. It was so ludicrous.''

    Actually, Milnes had developed a rupture at the base of one of his vocal cords that went unnoticed by his doctors for months. As he continued to sing, without giving the injured tissue a chance to heal, the inflammation and hoarseness grew worse, until he could hardly talk, let alone sing.

    After several months of blood tests and physical exams, his condition was diagnosed as a burst capillary caused by an allergic reaction to aspirin. ''It was an enormous relief to learn that the problem was fixable and not some mystical thing out of left field,'' the baritone said. It took a full year of ''good singing''--at first only recitals, then a gradual re-entry into opera--for the fear to subside and confidence to return."

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