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Thread: Favorite Figaro?/Bass or Bass-Baritone?

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    Senior Member Posie's Avatar
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    Default Favorite Figaro?/Bass or Bass-Baritone?

    There has been a debate on the Wikipedia page for Le nozze di Figaro over whether Figaro's voice type should be listed as bass or bass-baritone. It made me wonder if any of you have a preference.

    I prefer a baritone, which may be wrong, but I am used to the version with Knut Skram (baritone) as Figaro and Benjamin Luxon (baritone) as Almaviva.

    Since the voice type usually correlates with the character, would it make sense to make Almaviva the only true bass?

    Just curious as to what any of you may think.

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    My brother is a musician, and he told me that Rossini's Figaro was the first opera role actually listed in the score as a baritone and that before that, every low-voiced male role was called "bass."

    I'm not sure it matters much what the role of Mozart's Figaro is called, but I think it does matter very much what voice-type sings it. It seems a bass-baritone would have more versatility -- i.e. would be able to hit the high notes more easily -- than would a bass. (For me personally, Mozart's Figaro "is" either Bryn Terfel or the young Samuel Ramey -- both bass-baritones.) But one thing is for sure: it shouldn't be sung by what we today would call a baritone. Baritones should sing the role of the Count.
    Last edited by Bellinilover; Nov-11-2013 at 03:16.

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marinasabina View Post
    There has been a debate on the Wikipedia page for Le nozze di Figaro over whether Figaro's voice type should be listed as bass or bass-baritone. It made me wonder if any of you have a preference.

    I prefer a baritone, which may be wrong, but I am used to the version with Knut Skram (baritone) as Figaro and Benjamin Luxon (baritone) as Almaviva.

    Since the voice type usually correlates with the character, would it make sense to make Almaviva the only true bass?

    Just curious as to what any of you may think.
    Almaviva is sung by baritones and was obviously meant to be.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Some famous bass-baritone Figaros. : Geraint Evans,Erich Kunz, Walter Berry, Sesto Bruscantini.
    bass : Ezio Pinza.
    Baritones : Giuseppe de Luca, Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender,Hermann Prey.
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    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I think Bruscantini was actually a baritone. I have recordings with him and Hermann Prey, another baritone. The one with Prey also has a baritone Almaviva, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    I think Bruscantini was actually a baritone. I have recordings with him and Hermann Prey, another baritone. The one with Prey also has a baritone Almaviva, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
    Bruscantini was certainly a bass -baritone.
    His obituary from the Independent. "Sympathetic bass-baritone with a long career and an enormous repertory".
    His obituary from the Guardian. "Sesto Bruscantini baritone and bass ,born December 10th, 1919, died May 4th, 2003.
    Also he sings Dulcamara on a DVD of "L'Elisir D'Amore" that I have.
    Last edited by moody; Nov-11-2013 at 21:52.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Bruscantini is my fav.
    His Figaro with Gui on EMI cant be beat imho.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Apparently, opinion was divided on Bruscantini's Fach, becuse the BBC and Naxos both list him as a baritone.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/c...f-6e35bf38f29a
    http://www.naxos.com/person/Sesto_Bruscantini/13410.htm

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    Bass-baritone definitely. It's softer than "true bass" and much better for parts like Figaro.

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    Bruscantini also sang Germont, which would make him a baritone in my book.

    One of my favourite Figaros (Mozart's) is Guiseppe Taddei on the Giulini set. The count there is Eberhard Wachter. Though both are baritones, they have distinctly different timbres. The pairing works well on Giulini's Don Giovanni too, Taddei as Leporello if you remember, and Wachter as the Don.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Bass-baritone definitely

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Whatever Ezio Pinza was. Whatever Cesare Siepi was. Whatever Sam Ramey is.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant View Post
    Whatever Ezio Pinza was. Whatever Cesare Siepi was. Whatever Sam Ramey is.
    Evidently your preference is for darker voices then. All singers I like (particularly Pinza and Siepi), but I had to check that they had indeed sung Figaro, which of course they had. I more readily associate them though with the Don.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    Evidently your preference is for darker voices then. All singers I like (particularly Pinza and Siepi), but I had to check that they had indeed sung Figaro, which of course they had. I more readily associate them though with the Don.
    They were the great Figaros of their day. Which was my day, and we must never underestimate or dismiss the biographical factor in the imprinting of musical preferences. It was Pinza's oft-stated favorite role. And yes, I do prefer darker voices, or what was deemed a true bass-baritone back in the day.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    I think that range is now likely to be described as "basso cantante" - bass range, but a "bright" top register. There is considerable overlap between the bass-baritone and basso cantante ranges, but the bass-baritones will struggle on the bass low notes and (most of) the bassos cantante on the baritone high notes. Occasionally you get someone with a really wide range who doesn't have trouble with either, and then you have trouble placing them.

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