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

  1. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    live? I don't have a lot of experience therein, but I do remember attending a performance of The Mikado in Kansas City and the singers were kinda wimpy....but then Denyce Graves showed up and kicked everyone's arses
    That must have been fun!

  2. #122
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    No question - Nilsson

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    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    The biggest voice I ever heard live was Gwyneth Jones, though it could be an unwieldy instrument. Agnes Baltsa's voice was a lot bigger than you might imagine too.

    To be honest, though, I haven't heard that many huge voices, possibly because the operas I like most don't really require massive voices; well projected voices, voices that can be heard perfectly when singing pianissimo (Baker was certainly one of those), but not necessarily massive. And big is not always beautiful.
    I'm very fascinated with this topic & found this excerpt digging on Google a while back concerning the size of Jones' voice:

    My very first opera at the MET was ELEKTRA with Birgit Nilsson and Leonie Rysanek in the 1979-1980 season. Enough to shake ANYONE in their boots! :-) I also heard Nilsson's alternate in that run of ELEKTRA named Brenda Roberts (who also had a huge voice but kind of disappeared into obscurity, albeit that I hear she still occasionally sings). I then heard Nilsson and Rysanek in all of their subsequent operas at the MET and in New York until their retirement (Nilsson) and passing (Rysanek: my G-d, I will never forget the enormity of her sound in the close of Act II of JENUFA or in Act II of PARSIFAL). Then there was Dame Gwyneth Jones, who truly broke the mold when it came to gargantuan sound. Where this elegant, slim woman found that colossal organ of a voice I will never know. Her ELEKTRA almost surpassed Nilsson for me... almost... I'd call them neck-and-neck. I felt as though she blew away the entire back wall of the MET when she cried "Orest!" Deborah Voigt, who sounded quite large---not to mention beautiful!---as Chrysothemis to Hildegard Behrens' earnest, admirable, yet of course, small-voiced Elektra, dominating both her and Levine's huge, surging orchestra, sounded like a light lyric soprano when pitted against Jones's all-powerful sound. It was kind of like: "Okay, here's a big voice (Voigt)... here's that big voice with some really interesting vocal problems, yet with complete command of that crazy sound as Elektra, who swallowed an erupting volcano and is pouring lava all over anything that other singers or orchestra can throw at her (Jones)!" Lol!

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    Default Large Voices: Birgit Nilsson and Giangiacomo Guelfi

    Birgit Nilsson who I heard live in Woolsey Hall, New Haven, CT, 1968. She deafened me and my friend for half an hour with her high C at the end of "Ozean, du Ungeheuer" from Weber's Oberon. Here she is in that, courtesy of YouTube:


    The largest male voice I ever heard was the Verdi baritone Giangiacomo Guelfi, whom I heard at the Dallas Opera in maybe 1974 or so. He just had an incredible focus and "point" to his voice. Here he is singing an aria and cabaletta from Luisa Miller:




    Kind regards,

    George

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  6. #125
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    Dame Clara's voice was past it's best in the recordings that are around. The Enchantress is a great piece, written for her, and shows off her big voice. Find me a contralto that can sing the top notes as well as the lowest. Modern, quality, contralto voices are very rare but to listen to are the best by far. i'm very fortunate, my wife is a coloratura contralto and sings The Enchantress too.

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    Default Dame Clara Butt Sings The Enchantress

    Quote Originally Posted by Bargee View Post
    Dame Clara's voice was past it's best in the recordings that are around. The Enchantress is a great piece, written for her, and shows off her big voice. Find me a contralto that can sing the top notes as well as the lowest. Modern, quality, contralto voices are very rare but to listen to are the best by far. i'm very fortunate, my wife is a coloratura contralto and sings The Enchantress too.
    Sorry Bargee but after hearing this I couldn't help but post it anyway! I assume the fact that Dame Clara has her, ahem, rather prominent derriere backed up to the audience in the photo is not intended as a wonderful visual pun. If it is, I like her even more than merely for her incredible voice -- because she has a great sense of humor too!




    Kind regards,

    George

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    The biggest sound I ever heard a human make was Jamie Barton performing in a 300 seat theater. I have no idea what she sounds like at the Met, but in this context it was absolutely overwhelming. And gorgeous to boot. She is perfectly built to produce a huge sound. She is not gobby fat, but built like a tank with no neck and a barrell chest. She has a very pretty face. A real baby face.
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Feb-07-2017 at 01:57.

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  10. #128
    Member Morton's Avatar
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    Nilsson, who I saw near the end of her career sing a commanding performance of Elektra at ROH Covent Garden, & John Vickers as Tristan who I also saw at the ROH, back in May 1980.
    I would also mention Kurt Moll who I saw a couple of times as Gurnemanz at Covent Garden, a big man with a voice to match.

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  12. #129
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Those of you that have heard Goerke live, where does her voice rank in size when compared to Hochdramatisch sopranos who came before?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonetan View Post
    Those of you that have heard Goerke live, where does her voice rank in size when compared to Hochdramatisch sopranos who came before?
    That could be hard to judge, since Nilsson retired nearly forty years ago and arguably there hasn't been a real hochdramatische sopran since. Varnay had a huge voice, but who here would have heard her live? Flagstad and Traubel we know only from recordings.

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    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    That could be hard to judge, since Nilsson retired nearly forty years ago and arguably there hasn't been a real hochdramatische sopran since. Varnay had a huge voice, but who here would have heard her live? Flagstad and Traubel we know only from recordings.
    Good point Woodduck. Maybe as compared to the more recent contenders like Jones, Marton, Eaglen, Stemme etc then? Jones & Marton certainly had power to rival Nilsson.
    Last edited by Bonetan; Mar-28-2017 at 20:33.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonetan View Post
    Good point Woodduck. Maybe as compared to the more recent contenders like Jones, Marton, Eaglen, Stemme etc then? Jones & Marton certainly had power to rival Nilsson.
    Yes, some say that Jones had as big a voice as any of them. Eaglen sounds plenty loud on recordings. It's obvious even on recordings that Flagstad at full intensity could be awesome; listen to her "Isolde's narrative and curse" from 1948 (start at around 9:19):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owtgjBFHBf8

    It's worth noting that Flagstad here was 50 years old, and there's no trace of a Jones/Marton/Varnay wobble. Power was never achieved by forcing her voice, and so the voice served her well to the end.

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  17. #133
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Yes, some say that Jones had as big a voice as any of them. Eaglen sounds plenty loud on recordings. It's obvious even on recordings that Flagstad at full intensity could be awesome; listen to her "Isolde's narrative and curse" from 1948 (start at around 9:19):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owtgjBFHBf8

    It's worth noting that Flagstad here was 50 years old, and there's no trace of a Jones/Marton/Varnay wobble. Power was never achieved by forcing her voice, and so the voice served her well to the end.
    What a voice! Flagstad is in a league of her own...Jones certainly had a lot of variables in her singing. The scooping, the wobble etc. I was told that part of what lead to those issues was a refusal to take criticism once she was established...she sure was gifted though.

  18. #134
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Those of you who have heard Radvanovsky live, is her's regarded as the biggest voice in opera today? Could her voice be suited for Wagner?
    Last edited by Bonetan; Feb-10-2018 at 17:13.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonetan View Post
    Those of you who have heard Radvanovsky live, is her's regarded as the biggest voice in opera today? Could her voice be suited for Wagner?
    It's not the biggest voice I've heard. (Although I'm not sure who would be.)

    N.

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