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Thread: Which Opera Singer Had the Biggest Voice You've Ever Heard?

  1. #16
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Leontyne Price, Birgit Nilsson and Joan Sutherland. Particularly the latter.

    Now I'm going to get lynched.
    I'm curious why you mentioned Sutherland as having a larger voice than Nilsson. That is quite a statement! I had heard that above the staff her voice was equal to Nilsson's high C in volume.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Anyone with doubts about the quality of Nilsson's voice should listen to the closing on the Bohm Tristan. The voice soars through the orchestra like a steam whistle. Amazing!

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    My mother frequently mentioned hearing Schumann-Heink in recital. Ewa Podles is one of the few true contraltos today.Supposedly having the orchestra tuned to a higher tone compared to the past has hurt contraltos a lot.
    I must be living in a bubble. Would you fill me in on this tuning question and why has it been done if it's causing problems ?
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I'm curious why you mentioned Sutherland as having a larger voice than Nilsson. That is quite a statement! I had heard that above the staff her voice was equal to Nilsson's high C in volume.
    Actually I just replied to the request to name singers I don't much like. I don't really care who had the bigger voice, as long as I don't have to hear any of them. Particularly late Sutherland singing baroque.
    Natalie

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moody View Post
    I must be living in a bubble. Would you fill me in on this tuning question and why has it been done if it's causing problems ?
    This New York Times article will do a better job than me.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I'm not a fan of the great big "hochdramatische" voices as a rule, either. Probably the largest voices I've heard in live performances were Eva Marton's Brünnhilde in the Chicago Lyric Opera's performances of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung back in the early '90s, Marisa Galvany's Turandot with the Cincinnati Opera back in the early '80s, and just this past summer, Antonello Palumbi's Radames, likewise in Cincinnati. Subtle the man is not, but his voice shook the rafters in that huge auditorium.

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    Senior Member Operafocus's Avatar
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    Of those I've heard live... if I was to pick one of each sex, then probably Maria Guleghina and Terje Stensvold. With Maria I was all the way in the back of the theatre and yet she pretty much blew my head off. With Terje I was sitting more up front and I swear I could virtually feel the skin peel off my face as he sang Wotan's Farewell. It was a little bit painful - but in a very exciting way. Then he ended the evening with "O du mein..." from Tannhäuser. Beautiful and lyrical - but f-ing huge.

    I asked a former singer (now teacher) who made his debut with Mario Del Monaco in Houston in 1962 in "Otello" exactly what his voice was like live. He said, "I've tried to write it down but it's hard to describe a sound. Del Monaco's voice was like a big metal gong about as big as a house – but made of silver."

    Then he added his recollection of what it had sounded like at the Met:
    "
    Mario Del Monaco’s delivery of “Celeste Aida” received an ovation that I have not heard since those halcyon days of super-powered phrasing and crashing high notes. His high B-flat at the end of “Celeste Aida” evoked a response from the audience that could be best described as sheer hysteria. The enormous volume and blazing brilliance of that note reached down into the viscera of the receptive listener and caused every fiber of the body to quiver with wild, erotic pleasure."

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  11. #23
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Operafocus;549008][SIZE=2][FONT=arial]Of those I've heard live... if I was to pick one of each sex, then probably Maria Guleghina and Terje Stensvold. With Maria I was all the way in the back of the theatre and yet she pretty much blew my head off. "

    I've often wondered about Guleghina. On the radio she sounds massive but one never knows. Like the massive voiced Marton her high C's are often flat sounding though. She is likely the reigning Turandot today.

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    There are certainly other things that make a great singer besides the size of their voice, but it can really add to the excitement, especially in Verdi, Wagner and Strauss.
    I missed all the Golden Age singers in their prime. The biggest I've heard were Stephanie Blythe, Ewa Podles, Alessandra Marc and Jane Eaglen. Janice Baird was our Bruinhilde once. On the whole her voice was not outstandingly large, but her high note in the Dawn Duet was jawdroppingly huge... especially from a pipsqueak of a woman.
    Tell me your experiences please. As you can see I am partial to female voices unlike some of you.
    John
    I assume that you mean live. I saw Sutherland and Horne together when I was a lad in the 80s. They were alright for a couple of old ducks.
    Big voices since would probably include Eaglen and Podles. The latter was like a foghorn on legs when I saw her.

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    Senior Member Operafocus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I've often wondered about Guleghina. On the radio she sounds massive but one never knows. Like the massive voiced Marton her high C's are often flat sounding though. She is likely the reigning Turandot today.
    Yeah, Guleghina has a voice that carries It's also utterly stunning. Her Vissi d'Arte live... Christ. I also saw a recording of her in Turandot with Licitra and she was stone-faced pretty much all the way through, until he finally got to her at the end and her whole face changed as she was warming to him. Great voice and can act. Pretty much win-win for me. I didn't notice anything flat in either of those two - but I've heard others mention similar.

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Honestly I often don't like big voices
    That's because you're all Kiri Crazy in New Zealand.

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Leontyne Price, Birgit Nilsson and Joan Sutherland. Particularly the latter.

    Now I'm going to get lynched.
    Not by me. Sutherland and Price are among my favorites (I haven't heard much Nilsson), but I want people to like someone because they genuinely like him/her and not because they feel they have to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I've often wondered about Guleghina. On the radio she sounds massive but one never knows. Like the massive voiced Marton her high C's are often flat sounding though. She is likely the reigning Turandot today.
    Rest assured, Ms. Guleghina's voice is simply huge.

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    That doesn't suprise me about Ruth Ann. I think she is often overlooked and undervalued. Every time I hear her on historic broadcasts on Sirius she impresses me. She was also very lovely. She had a warmth to her voice that was not that of your typical lyric coloratura.
    Oh, I think she was a superb singer, and it always hurt me when people made unkind comments about her. I remember reading a review of one of her CDs in some opera magazine that wasn't merely critical but downright nasty. The usual complaints were that her singing was beautiful but boring and that she was "too fat," or something. I remember so well when her 1999 or 2000 aria CD came out (I can't recall its title at the moment), sitting down and listening to the whole thing and being moved to tears several times -- and then reading a review in "Opera News" in which the critic called it "white noise." Maybe she wasn't the most viscerally exciting singer, but her voice was so lovely and warm, and she could create drama through tone color alone. This is what she does in, for instance, her recording of Lucia di Lammermoor's Act I aria and cabaletta, which is, all things considered, my favorite recording of that piece; same with her sleepwalking scene in La Sonnambula, and her "Caro nome" is one of my favorite recordings of that aria. Whatever its dramatic merits, her singing as singing was always pure joy to listen to. Surely that's a valid contribution to the art form.
    Last edited by Bellinilover; Oct-28-2013 at 16:26.

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  20. #30
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Operafocus View Post

    Then he added his recollection of what it had sounded like at the Met:
    Mario Del Monaco’s delivery of “Celeste Aida” received an ovation that I have not heard since those halcyon days of super-powered phrasing and crashing high notes. His high B-flat at the end of “Celeste Aida” evoked a response from the audience that could be best described as sheer hysteria. The enormous volume and blazing brilliance of that note reached down into the viscera of the receptive listener and caused every fiber of the body to quiver with wild, erotic pleasure."
    My point about beauty, dynamic control and phrasing is exactly here. This B flat is supposed to be sung diminuendo, so in this case I'd be anything but a receptive listener - I'd just be wondering why he's yelling. Presumably just because he has a big voice and he can.
    Last edited by mamascarlatti; Oct-28-2013 at 18:32.
    Natalie

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