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Thread: Favorite opera singers in each voice type

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    Default Favorite opera singers in each voice type

    I´m personally only going to name my favorite sopranos, mezzos as I haven´t looked into male voices enough to make a good judgement about them, so I´d rather not until I know more. I´m curious to hear which combinations of singers are favored by other people, because I´m interested in other people´s tastes aswell.

    Soprano:
    Joan sutherland - By far my absolute favorite singer ever. I love everything about her singing, the fast coleratura, the beautiful voice, the sweet sound in the middle and high notes with that incredible weight of voice. Perfection in a human voice.
    Angela Gheorghui - Probably my favorite ´recent´ soprano, I just like the sound of her voice. I´m also a big fan of her interpretations, she makes the best out of a lot of aria´s.
    Renata Tebaldi - She just has a lovely voice, one of the more beautiful sounds, somewhat average but never boring, a tone like that can keep me interested.
    Christina Deutekom - Her voice sounds freezing cold, I like that, her queen of the night is actually the only one I like, so freezing cold, my singing teacher had a masterclass from her!

    Mezzo:
    Marilyn Horne - Again another absolute favorite. I like how her low notes sound nearly male, and very deep, and I like the strength it has, plus I like to hear a real deep mezzo with a big voice.
    Teresa Berganza - I´m not sure what I like of her voice, I guess the sharp sounding quality it can have, it adds something.
    Jennifer Larmore - Found her carmen once, she also has a deep tone. I like the deep sounding mezzo´s because I could never sound like that.

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I could produce a sensible list that's so coherent as yours, partly because my opera-listening, though enthusiastic, is very patchy, and partly because I have absolutely no understanding of the technical aspects, as you do - but I'll have a go (these are in no particular order):

    Soprano

    Natalie Dessay Her Manon on the recently issued DVD is astounding, both musically and dramatically, and the CDs she's made of collections of French arias are ravishingly French.

    Angela Gheorghiu Her audio recording of Manon (with Alagna) is just as stunning as, though very different from, Dessay's.

    Mirella Freni Her recently issued 4CD box set is like a box of sheer treasure; her Mimi, in La Boheme (with Pavarotti) is close to being unbeatable; and her smile makes me dissolve.

    Teresa Cahill Her performance in Elgar's The Spirit of England, recorded with Sir Alexander Gibson and the Scottish National Orchestra & Chorus, is the most profoundly moving piece of singing I know, and offers insight into the music that no one else can bring.

    Mezzo

    Frederica von Stade Her voice is immediately recognisable and like no one else's. I love her recording of Massenet's Cendrillon, which, together with Ruth Welting's amazing performance as the Fairy, brings me to tears unfailingly.

    Vesselina Kasarova There's an almost masculine richness to her voice even though it retains its powerful feminity. Her recorded collection of French arias is beyond words, and her performance on DVD as Marguerite in Berlioz's Damnation of Faust is one of the half-dozen finest performances of anything that I've ever encountered.

    Susan Graham It was through her CDs of French songs and arias that I first encountered the seductive music of Reynaldo Hahn - which she sings exquisitely well in a beguiling fin-de-siecle sort of way.

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    Renata Tebaldi was always my late mother's favorite, and I understand why. And she was clever enough to retire in time, unlike Renata Scotto.
    Angela Gheorghiu is high on my list, though I have no really recent recordings of her. Lovely to look at.
    I once thought of Mirella Freni as "reliable", but I have a DVD of Boheme with her and Pavarotti that I shall use as a coffee table coaster.
    Marilyn Horne - always loved her rich tones.
    Frederica von Stade - Great to listen to as well as look at.
    Somehow I have thought of Joan Sutherland as more power than warmth, but I may have heard her when she was past her prime.

    Just the thoughts of an opera dubber.....

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    Member Alnitak's Avatar
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    as for me:

    Sopranos:
    Maria Callas, as Tosca;
    Renata Tebaldi, as well;
    Nathalie Dessay, as Manom;
    Bianca Castafiore, as Marguerite (Faust);
    Felicity Lott, in French songs.


    Mezzos:
    Teresa Berganza
    Maria Callas, as Carmen
    La Malibran in Rossini.


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    Newbies Lestris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alnitak View Post
    Bianca Castafiore...
    I peg your pardon?

    Bianca Castafiore? The Castafiore? you mean, “The Milanese Nightingale”?


    http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=K48qSWDnwlE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lestris View Post
    Bianca Castafiore? The Castafiore? you mean, “The Milanese Nightingale”?






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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    To mention a few sopranos that others have already cited, I enjoy Freni, Tebaldi and Gheorhgiu (although here I'll have to add that, in spite of her obvious gifts, I hope Angela doesn't go 'Kathleen Battle' on us and ruin it with her on-again/off again discipline and work ethic issues).

    Here's a name that's less well-known, a comet from the past... Dorothy Maynor, who in her brief career certainly had the measure of some fine French operatic soprano repertoire.

    Now, for the sopranos in whose company I can more normally be found (speaking from an audio standpoint, of course)- Frida Leider, Kirsten Flagstad, Birgit Nilsson and Astrid Varnay. Love them all, hate to have to choose one- but if impelled, I'd have to say Flagstad. Post on mezzos to follow...
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

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    Senior Member xuantu's Avatar
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    Here I provide a list of very confined dimension (although I try to cover all the major voice types)--since I have just opened up my ears to the art of opera, the singers who I know and love are mostly those I knew from their performances of art songs.

    Sopranos: Let me start from the exceptions. Maria Callas--isn't her voice the most iconic symbol of opera? Isn't her acting the most intense characterization on records? She might be the only reason why I started listening to Italian operas. Her first studio "Lucia Di Lammermoor" made with Tullio Serafin is among my favorite recordings of the genre.

    Birgit Nilsson--she is much more than a strong voice. In her Brünnhilde for Solti, one observes the heroine's gradual transformation from a boyishly brisk Valkyrie to a knowing and loving visionary. Her Bayreuth Isolde, however, is a suffering woman in liquid form. She is a great artist who understand her characters well.

    Régine Crespin--although the size of her voice is remarkable, she has no lack of subtlety or color. Her numerous art song recordings showcase her sensitive diction and mesmerizing music-making. Her Sieglinde (for Solti) is one of the most fresh-sounding interpretations on record.

    Lucia Popp--her tone is clear and warm; her touch full of sympathy and good will. I can only regret that I don't have more of her opera recordings. Her Rusalka aria is unmatched in purity and sensationally touching.

    Felicity Lott--she has a bright, colorful voice, which perhaps suits Richard Strauss' lyric roles (what a pity! I have not yet learned to love R.S.). But it is the song repertory that she loves the most (despite being English, she is a major exponent of French song). She can be quite a comedian too; her performances in "La Belle Hélène" and "La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein" turned me into an Offenbach fan.


    Mezzo-sopranos: Christa Ludwig--such versatility and plasticity in voice may rarely be observed: Christa Ludwig can produce a whole spectrum of facial expressions through her singing! Whether the message being a mischievous smile or an implied frustration, she is never less than convincing. She excels in dramatic roles such as Judith in Bartók's "Bluebeard" and Fricka in "Die Walküre". Her wide vocal range also makes her a famous Leonore!

    Janet Baker--This is a most intelligent singer equipped with a voice in full bloom. Unlike Christa Ludwig's song performances that are sometimes overblown by her big tone and dominated by drama, Janet Baker is always able to find in her voice the right size for lovely miniatures like "Der Musensohn" or "Heidenröslein". She captures the joyful spirit in lieder singing. Her Dido in Purcell's opera, on the other hand, is much grander in scale.

    Lorraine Hunt Lieberson--I am being sentimental in including her on this list, for I have only heard one of her recordings, the Neruda songs (dedicated to her by her composer husband Peter Lieberson) made shortly before she died of breast cancer. Voice and soul has truly become one in this heartfelt performance. Within 30 minutes or so, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson expresses joys and losses of a life time.

    Another mezzo-soprano who struck me with a single performance is Elena Obraztsova, whose achingly moving account of "Field of the dead" in Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky" cantata completely won me over. She brought to this piece an authentic Russian tang.


    Tenors: Peter Pears

    John Mark Ainsley

    Plácido Domingo


    Baritones/bass-baritones: François Le Roux

    Thomas Allen

    Walter Berry


    Counter-tenor: David Daniels
    Last edited by xuantu; Jul-29-2009 at 04:21.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xuantu View Post
    Régine Crespin--Her Sieglinde (for Solti) is one of the most fresh-sounding interpretations on record.
    Some critics seem to think that Solti's Die Walküre is half-a-step back from his other three "Ring cycle" opera recordings, but Regine Crespin's contribution has much to do with why I can't share that opinion!
    Quote Originally Posted by xuantu View Post
    Mezzo-sopranos: Christa Ludwig--such versatility and plasticity in voice may rarely be observed: Christa Ludwig can produce a whole spectrum of facial expressions through her singing! Whether the message being a mischievous smile or an implied frustration, she is never less than convincing. She excels in dramatic roles such as Judith in Bartók's "Bluebeard" and Fricka in "Die Walküre". Her wide vocal range also makes her a famous Leonore!
    For me, any discussion of mezzos has to begin with the 'hearty perennial,' Christa Ludwig! Perhaps if I ever embark on some Wagner historical recordings, I'll evaluate whether or not Kirstin Thorberg deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.

    Let's see if I can extract, from memory, all of the Christa Ludwig renditions I have on CD: Brangäne in Karajan's (and Böhm's!) Tristan und Isolde, Venus in Solti's Tannhäuser, Waltraute & Fricka, in Solti's "Ring Cycle," and the contralto part in Klemperer's Mahler Das Lied von der Erde. I'm probably leaving out a couple... ah- :sigh:

    And, speaking of Das Lied von der Erde, there is Kathleen Ferrier, who otherwise owns that part!
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Sopranos: Barbara Hendricks (the gorgeous warmth of her voice is awe-inspiring to me, as heard in Bernstein's last recording of Mahler's 2nd)
    Mezzos/Contraltos: Christa Ludwig (just crazy), Janet Baker (warm and beautiful tone), Maureen Forrester (spectacularly understated drama), Kathleen Ferrier (just thinking about her voice puts a lump in my throat)
    Tenors: Fritz Wunderlich (need I say anything?), Jerry Hadley (see Wunderlich)
    Baritones: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (amazing, period)
    Basses: Martti Talvela (humongous bass voice; I love it)
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member xuantu's Avatar
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    Just got to write more on one of my favorite male voices:

    Tenors: Peter Pears--his voice may sound pale and unpleasantly edgy, but being a man with wide culture and a compassionate mind, he is absolutely free in "story-telling". His Britten recordings are legendary. His Schubert is, nevertheless, highly unconventional and almost has an expressionistic feel. Still, I generally find his readings more intuitive and enduring than those of his modern counterpart, Ian Bostridge, who now seems to have a tendency to sound calculated and philosophical.

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    I really like Maria Callas (esp. as Turandot & Lady Macbeth). & Birgit Nilsson as Aida. & I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.

    & Christa Ludwig, as mentioned. She was one of the few singers who could sing both as a soprano & a mezzo soprano. A truly unique talent, not many people can do that!

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    Junior Member Library Bob's Avatar
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    Tenors:

    Enrico Caruso - King of 'em all!
    Placido Domingo
    Luciano Pavarotti
    Jussi Bjoerling
    Roberto Alagna
    Richard Tucker

    Sopranos:

    Joan Sutherland
    Maria Callas
    Renee Fleming
    Anna Moffo
    Leontyne Price
    Natalie Dessay

    Mezzos/Contraltos:

    Rosalind Elias
    Marilyn Horne
    Febora Barbieri
    Maureen Forrester
    Marian Anderson
    Louise Homer


    Baritones:

    Sherrill Milnes
    Robert Merrill
    Leo Nucci
    Pasquale Amato
    Cornell MacNeill
    Tito Gobbi


    Basses:

    James Morris
    Boris Christoff
    Martti Talvela
    Jerome Hines
    Nicolai Ghiourov

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Interesting, Library Bob...

    Your list is a "German-free-zone."

    Indeed, it would even be a 'Teuton-free-zone," were it not for the presence of Björling.

    (Hopefully, this is more to do with your preferences in repertoire than anything else...)

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    Senior Member kg4fxg's Avatar
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    Default Fach

    So what is your favorite Fach? (Singers are often grouped by Fach)

    The German Fach (pl. Fächer, literally "compartment") (German pronunciation: [ˈfax, ˈfɛçəɐ]) system is a method of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, according to the range, weight, and color of their voices.

    Often you will see the Fach types for each part in a opera and the opera classifies them as such.

    1 Soprano Fächer
    1.1 Lyrischer Koloratursopran / Koloratursoubrette
    1.2 Dramatischer Koloratursopran
    1.3 Deutsche Soubrette / Charaktersopran
    1.4 Lyrischer Sopran
    1.5 Jugendlich Dramatischer Sopran
    1.6 Dramatischer Sopran
    1.7 Hochdramatischer Sopran
    2 Mezzo-soprano and Contralto Fächer
    2.1 Koloratur-Mezzosopran
    2.2 Lyrischer Mezzosopran / Spielalt
    2.3 Dramatischer Mezzosopran
    2.4 Dramatischer Alt
    2.5 Tiefer Alt
    3 Tenor Fächer
    3.1 Spieltenor / Tenor Buffo
    3.2 Charaktertenor
    3.3 Lyrischer Tenor
    3.4 Jugendlicher Heldentenor
    3.5 Heldentenor
    4 Baritone Fächer
    4.1 Lyrischer Bariton / Spielbariton
    4.2 Kavalierbariton
    4.3 Charakterbariton
    4.4 Heldenbariton
    4.5 Lyric Bassbariton/Low Lyric Baritone
    4.6 Dramatic Bassbariton/Low DramaticBaritone
    5 Bass Fächer
    5.1 Basso Cantante/Lyric Bassbariton/High Lyric Bass
    5.2 Hoherbass/Dramatic Bassbariton/High Dramatic Bass
    5.3 Jugendlicher Bass
    5.4 Spielbass/Bassbuffo/Lyric Buffo
    5.5 Schwerer Spielbass/Dramatic Buffo
    5.6 Lyric Seriöser Bass
    5.7 Dramatic Seriöser Bass


    My favorite is the coloratura soprano. Some examples are:
    Marie Callas
    Montserrat Caballe

    Another favorite is Lirico Spinto and some examples are:
    Aprile Millo
    Susan Dunn
    Deborah Voigt
    Sharon Sweet

    Some roles of the Spinto are:
    Elisabeth di Valois in Don Carlo
    Amelia in Lady Macbeth
    Sieglinde in Die Walkure
    No, it's a Bb. It looks wrong and it sounds wrong, but it's right - Vaughan Williams.

    Bill Carter, CPA

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