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Thread: Which singer best represents each fach?

  1. #46
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    For me, Kathleen Ferrier and Waltraud Meier (particularly the former) belong in this company. And no DFD? Really? I would say Hermann Prey is by some distance second in that category.

  2. #47
    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    If we're talking about Verdi baritones, an excellent test aria is "Eri tu" from Un Ballo in Maschera. It requires everything in a baritone's arsenal but coloratura - declamatory force, smooth cantilena, range, power of emotional expression - and will show up any flaws or weaknesses in voice, technique, or style.

    Here, in my estimation, is a Verdi baritone for the ages. No one in the last 70 years, at least, can touch Riccardo Stracciari (1875-1955): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BFnMajeTA0 This has everything: a splendid vocal instrument, powerful, vibrant, secure, completely supported and evenly produced throughout a wide range; a seamless legato and an understanding of how to use it with feeling and taste; a technical freedom and quickness of movement that allows easy, spontaneous expression in every part of the voice with no need to distort the musical line with overemphatic "pointing"; and a perfect sense of style.

    Let's compare four late 20th-century baritones, moving backward in time.

    Here's Sherrill Milnes (1935- ): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxNhZW1N3PU This is, compared with Stracciari, not at all good. The vocal production is terribly inconsistent, the legato poor, the upper range pushed and splayed. He has to "apply" expression because the lack of technical freedom doesn't allow it to emerge naturally, and the effort fills his phrasing with lumps and bulges. The general effect is forced. I hope he sang this piece better on other occasions.

    Ettore Bastianini (1922-1967) isn't really much better vocally, and musically he's hopelessly crude (as usual): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbSsQfG_Txk

    Robert Merrill (1917-2004) is a little better, having at least heard of legato: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rM44_3v3Jmo

    Leonard Warren (1911-1960) is vocally still better, his voice consistently rich and with little technical adjustment needed at the top, but rather square and unimaginative: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WM8A87dHlY


    Now if we want to go back a generation, we can get closer to the real deal. Here's Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1960): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyb_7MqYxeg

    Farther back, the great Titta Ruffo (1977-1953) in 1915: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Enw3Exma3jU No difficulties at all here. A bit monochromatic, but not brutal like Bastianini. A fantastic instrument and very solid singing.

    And here is Pasquale Amato (1878-1942) in 1914: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlGRQCxxSWo This is classic. A wonderful ability to color the voice, varying the expression with no loss of tonal consistency or legato line.

    I'm not going to speculate here as to why the quality of singing tends to improve as we move backward in time, but it's hard to deny that it does.

    The best contemporary version I've found is by Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962- ): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVPNC3A-Ttg Not up to Amato or Stracciari, but actually showing some sense of good old-fashioned legato and an ability to let emotion emerge through the voice rather than distort the musical line. Ironic, isn't it, that Hvorostovsky isn't considered a "Verdi baritone" by many people?

    But let's conclude with the earliest of them all, Mattia Battistini (1856-1928). Would his brilliant, flexible, high baritone be considered a "Verdi baritone" today? Listen to his style and technique, as recorded in 1907, at age 51: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78xRDwLBdvA We are here in another world, vocally, from the likes of Milnes and Bastianini!

    Our assumptions about singing - about technique, style, and fach - are easily upset by just a bit of listening. Now who are the "Verdi baritones" of today?
    I found this interesting side-by-side video comparing Ruffo, Merrill and Hvorostovsky:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c48CoMNk7o I don't agree with you about Hvorostovsky. For me he is the male equivalent of Anna Netrebko. His clip is proof.
    The uploader (General Radames whom I suspect to be Franco Tenelli) wrote a lengthy video description and I second every word of it:

    Robert Merrill
    June 4, 1917 – October 23, 2004
    The great baritone Robert Merrill demonstrates how great singing looks and sounds like.
    Merrills voice is produced with freedom and ease. Merrills face and body are free of constrictions.
    However, there is an athleticism and physicality about his singing. The sound is efficient, big and resonant. There is an absence of noise. His larynx is low but free. All great singers sing with a low larynx. It is not exclusive to Melocchi. Hence the sound is dark (scuro) The darkness is balanced with core or clarity. (squillo)

    Dimitri Hvorostovsky.
    Born October 16, 1962 -
    There is an immediate impression of ease and control.The sound reveals something completely different. There is an evident vocal squeeze and girding of the sound.
    The sound is thick and woofy with a lack of squillo. Gasping for air indicates signs of laryngeal constriction. (closed throat)At times you get the impression that the sound comes out through the nose. His voice is actually quite small in person. His voice is not fit for Verdi.
    This recording improves his small dull sound. He has far less squillo in person.
    Monotonal sounding and incredibly boring. Note, the piano with a closed lid is competing with his sound.
    Here, he seems to be as loud or louder than the orchestra. Intonation becomes a problem.Hvorostovskys voice is collapsed.The correct functioning muscular groups are not being engaged.When he tries to engage the correct function with his faulty technique the sound gets muscled, and constricted.
    He does not know how to sing by engaging these muscles with vocal efficiency, which in itself gives vocal size.Audible gasping and breathing does indicate there is some assistance of a microphone.For recording purposes or assistance through enhancement.

    Titta Ruffo
    9 June 1877 – 5 July 1953
    The Greatest Baritone and probably the greatest singer on record.Note the sound quality of the instrumentation compared to a modern day orchestra.Fill in the gaps and you have an idea of the quality of Ruffos magnificent sound.The sound is balanced with amazing muscular coordination.
    The full robust sound is dark with squillo. (clarity)Well enunciated clear vowels.The sound is so efficient and free.It is unbelievable how such a gigantic sound could be so fluid.
    The sound is exciting and engaging. It is never boring. Incredible Intonation and vibrato.
    A truly great demonstration of how singing should be.

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  4. #48
    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
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    About time I wrote this list. These singers are not necessarily my favorites in the respective fachs.
    When necessary, I will briefly and roughly describe what represents each fach in my opinion and/or why I picked the singer.

    Soprano sfogato acuto: The key here is ease of singing above high C.
    Mado Robin: https://youtu.be/32hdZaQi4-I
    Lyric coloratura/Soprano leggiero: Flexibility, lightness of timbre, and obviously ease of tackling the crazy coloratura acrobatics.
    Natalie Dessay: https://youtu.be/8ru1SevN-Hw
    Dramatic coloratura soprano: Richness and power, ease while singing fioriture, ear-piercing explosive high notes, ease of transition between a very low and a very high register that only perfectly coexist in this kind of voice anyway.
    The one for whom the term was coined: Maria Callas: https://youtu.be/yDATV8g54YM
    Dramatic soprano: Richness and power, sheer volume, squillo, general heaviness and darkness of timbre:
    Ghena Dimitrova: https://youtu.be/YDksD0axs2w
    Spinto soprano: Beauty of timbre is supreme in this fach, morbidezza, dramatic potential
    Anita Cerquetti: https://youtu.be/gIEjoyefMaU
    Wagnerian soprano: Birgit Nilsson: https://youtu.be/AX1kHnZ9wmM
    Lyric soprano: Kiri te Kanawa: https://youtu.be/BTWBieDvZb8
    There's not much to represent in lyric fachs, though.

    Falcon: Grace Bumbry does a perfect demonstration https://youtu.be/pX95SnnshLs

    Dramatic mezzo: This fach's repertoire can be summed up in 3 roles: Amneris, Azucena and Eboli. One woman owned them all.
    Ebe Stignani: https://youtu.be/4_7U9YfezkY
    Lyric mezzo: I'm so not into lyric voices. I can't think of a single name here.
    Coloratura mezzo: i.e. Rossini Mezzo.
    Teresa Berganza: https://youtu.be/RvW9cUCuPQI
    I would say Bartoli but her repertoire is more of a Castrato's rather than a Coloratura Mezzo's, in which she is unsurpassed, regardless of what you might think of her.


    Contralto: Louise Kirkby Lunn: https://youtu.be/g2bf8waX-q0

    Countertenor: Philippe Jaroussky. You can tell he's a countertenor just by looking at him:
    https://youtu.be/gqUdla-ZsJA

    Tenore di Grazia: Tito Schipa: https://youtu.be/maZlBFdzAmM
    Lyric tenor: Pavarotti, duh: https://youtu.be/xCFEk6Y8TmM
    Spinto tenor: Franco Corelli: https://youtu.be/fhnx4YDokz4
    Dramatic tenor: Mario Del Monaco: https://youtu.be/kgTPgl0U6hk

    Lyric baritone: can't think of anything.
    Verdi baritone: A tie
    Renato Bruson: https://youtu.be/njUyJeVPhB8
    Piero Cappuccilli: https://youtu.be/TA_00WTmaU0
    Bruson in Macbeth, Cappuccilli in Trovatore. Each owned their respective roles to perfection and not only vocally. Opera's sexiest men, quoi!
    dramatic baritone: Titta Ruffo: https://youtu.be/4AzM2PyDQH8
    bass-baritone: can't think of anyone.

    Bass: (I can't tell bass fachs apart just yet)
    Samuel Ramey: https://youtu.be/7NP8w7_wEH4 (too bad he didn't act in this movie. Only voice.)


    On a side note, I'm amazed to find that many things I've been trying to say for a while (shortage of Italian singers, the correlation between older recordings and better singing, vocal beauty as a result of technical prowess..etc) have already been said, much more eloquently, on this thread by Woodduck.
    I love how Pugg is always the first to welcome us, noobs, to the forum
    Last edited by Tuoksu; Jan-12-2017 at 22:39.

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  6. #49
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuoksu View Post
    I found this interesting side-by-side video comparing Ruffo, Merrill and Hvorostovsky:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c48CoMNk7o I don't agree with you about Hvorostovsky. For me he is the male equivalent of Anna Netrebko. His clip is proof.
    The uploader (General Radames whom I suspect to be Franco Tenelli) wrote a lengthy video description and I second every word of it:

    Robert Merrill
    June 4, 1917 – October 23, 2004
    The great baritone Robert Merrill demonstrates how great singing looks and sounds like.
    Merrills voice is produced with freedom and ease. Merrills face and body are free of constrictions.
    However, there is an athleticism and physicality about his singing. The sound is efficient, big and resonant. There is an absence of noise. His larynx is low but free. All great singers sing with a low larynx. It is not exclusive to Melocchi. Hence the sound is dark (scuro) The darkness is balanced with core or clarity. (squillo)

    Dimitri Hvorostovsky.
    Born October 16, 1962 -
    There is an immediate impression of ease and control.The sound reveals something completely different. There is an evident vocal squeeze and girding of the sound.
    The sound is thick and woofy with a lack of squillo. Gasping for air indicates signs of laryngeal constriction. (closed throat)At times you get the impression that the sound comes out through the nose. His voice is actually quite small in person. His voice is not fit for Verdi.
    This recording improves his small dull sound. He has far less squillo in person.
    Monotonal sounding and incredibly boring. Note, the piano with a closed lid is competing with his sound.
    Here, he seems to be as loud or louder than the orchestra. Intonation becomes a problem.Hvorostovskys voice is collapsed.The correct functioning muscular groups are not being engaged.When he tries to engage the correct function with his faulty technique the sound gets muscled, and constricted.
    He does not know how to sing by engaging these muscles with vocal efficiency, which in itself gives vocal size.Audible gasping and breathing does indicate there is some assistance of a microphone.For recording purposes or assistance through enhancement.

    Titta Ruffo
    9 June 1877 – 5 July 1953
    The Greatest Baritone and probably the greatest singer on record.Note the sound quality of the instrumentation compared to a modern day orchestra.Fill in the gaps and you have an idea of the quality of Ruffos magnificent sound.The sound is balanced with amazing muscular coordination.
    The full robust sound is dark with squillo. (clarity)Well enunciated clear vowels.The sound is so efficient and free.It is unbelievable how such a gigantic sound could be so fluid.
    The sound is exciting and engaging. It is never boring. Incredible Intonation and vibrato.
    A truly great demonstration of how singing should be.
    Interesting stuff...funny reading Hvorostovsky fans coming to his defense in the comment section. General Radames hurt some feelings!

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  8. #50
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuoksu View Post
    On a side note, I'm amazed to find that many things I've been trying to say for a while (shortage of Italian singers, the correlation between older recordings and better singing, vocal beauty as a result of technical prowess..etc) have already been said, much more eloquently, on this thread by Woodduck.
    I'm just old. Your turn is coming.

  9. #51
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Wonderful suggestion. Many of us can't keep up with the current scene. Bellinilover pointed out Quinn Kelsey as a very promising young baritone, and there are some impressive clips of him on YouTube, such as this "Cortigiani" from Rigoletto:
    I heard Kelsey in Don Carlo at Washington National Opera earlier this month & he was outstanding...the Verdi Baritone of choice these days seems to be Zeljko Lucic, but his voice does very little for me. The Verdi Baritone just might be the single fach that has declined more than any other.
    Last edited by Bonetan; Apr-01-2018 at 06:40.

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