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Thread: Why Must You Take Sides: Sutherland and Callas

  1. #151
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidglasgow View Post
    I like the triptych you suggest for judging musical & dramatic insight, and technical achievement.

    However, I'm wary of the way you allocate these achievements to Callas in perpetuity - i.e. "Callas inhabits" - but to Sutherland as context-dependent and time-bound attributes, atrophying sometime around 1961

    It would be sad to miss out on the times in Sutherland's career when great musical, dramatic and technical accomplishments are most evident in her work e.g. the aria from Attila, her recordings of Turandot and Esclarmonde, the live records of Lucia and Ugonotti, and much else besides, because of a technical limitation - her diction - which was more or less evident depending on the circumstances.

    We also know that the aforementioned trio of accomplishments did not run constant in Callas' career: she was too volatile an artist for that to be the case. Conceding the tame or even wayward nights - Barbiere, some of the choices in Mexico, a lot of technical problems in her later work - helps contextualise nights like Lucia in Berlin, Norma at La Scala, Medea in Dallas for what they are: not only stand outs compared to other singers, but in Callas' own career/discography.
    But my dear Mr. Glasgow! I said nothing about perpetuity!

    Still and all, I find all but the most feeble final efforts of Mme. Callas (some of which, out of respect, I have refused even to listen to) more interesting than anything the estimable Mme. Sutherland ever did, even when the former's high notes grate like fingernails on chalkboard. Which is not to say that the best things the great Aussie nightingale did are not most impressive and enjoyable as what they are.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-03-2018 at 22:21.

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  3. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    But my dear Mr. Glasgow! I said nothing about perpetuity!

    Still and all, I find all but the most feeble final efforts of Mme. Callas (some of which, out of respect, I have refused even to listen to) more interesting than anything the estimable Mme. Sutherland ever did, even when the former's high notes grate like fingernails on chalkboard. Which is not say that the best things the great Aussie nightingale did are not most impressive and enjoyable as what they are.
    Well I'm glad we cleared that up Mr. Duck we'll make a convert out of you yet

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  5. #153
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    As I have aged my take on Callas has changed. I still only for the most part like early Callas before the mid 1950's.. No one "sings" the way she does. Her heart and mind are in everything she does. Her coloratura is not only astonishing but often surprising. What keeps me from listening to her more or becoming a dyed in the wool fan is that after short listening spells I tire of her voice because it is not really all that beautiful. She can make her voice beautiful, but the basic sound is rather odd to me. I listen to Sutherland more because of the beauty as well as the skill of her voice.
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Jul-04-2018 at 14:26.

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  7. #154
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    As I have aged my take on Callas has changed. I still only for the most part like early Callas before the mid 1950's.. No one "sings" the way she does. Her heart and mind are in everything she does. Her coloratura is not only astonishing but often surprising. What keeps me from listening to her more or becoming a dyed in the wool fan is that after short listening spells I tire of her voice because it is not really all that beautiful. She can make her voice beautiful, but the basic sound is rather odd to me. I listen to Sutherland more because of the beauty as well as the skill of her voice.
    Callas' voice to me sounds as if she is singing with a wad of chaw in her cheek. Sorry Callas fans, but that is the image that comes to mind when I listen to her. Similar for Lucia Aliberti who superficially sounds like Callas.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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  9. #155
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    As I have aged my take on Callas has changed. I still only for the most part like early Callas before the mid 1950's.. No one "sings" the way she does. Her heart and mind are in everything she does. Her coloratura is not only astonishing but often surprising. What keeps me from listening to her more or becoming a dyed in the wool fan is that after short listening spells I tire of her voice because it is not really all that beautiful. She can make her voice beautiful, but the basic sound is rather odd to me. I listen to Sutherland more because of the beauty as well as the skill of her voice.
    Funny how we all have different reactions. What first attracted me to Callas was the sound of the voice itself and the way it emotionally connected to me. It was later that I started to appreciate her fantastic musicality and superior musicianship. I don't really think about whether t's beautiful or not, as long as it's beautifully expressed.

    On the other hand, I hardly ever listen to Sutherland, because, for all the beauty of the voice and the technical skill, she never really "speaks" to me, and I quickly tire of just listening to beautiful sounds. Even in those very early records, when her diction was a great deal better, there is never a moment when a phrase, or even a word within a phrase, will light up in a way it constantly does with Callas.

    Callas can do this even when singing an uncharacteristic role or an aria she only learned for the gramophone. One example that always stands out for me is the way she sings the single word Dorme?in Act III of La Bohème, with its gentle upward portamento, so full of love and concern for Rodolfo. It never fails to bring a lump to my throat, though it usually goes unnoticed when sung by other singers.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  11. #156
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    In my own case, mood and context are factors that come into play in appreciating Callas and Sutherland.

    Where Callas is concerned, Abigaille in Nabucco (1949), Lady Macbeth (1952), Armida (1952), Medea (Florence, Scala 1953, Dallas 1958), Norma (Scala 1955) and Anna Bolena (Scala 1957) are amazing and dramatically and musically deeply satisfying (aural) experiences. The 1958 CG Traviata, despite flu and by-then pronounced perilous top and thinner tone, is truly heartbreaking and moving. But to be honest, these are not stuff that I would listen to everyday or all the time, in fact only on occasions when I am in the mood and context to experience the fuller to the fullest emotional impact opera can bring.

    Coming to Sutherland, very often, such as in the morning, when one just wishes to bathe in the sheer gorgeous, heroic ring of her sound in pieces such as "Let the bright Seraphim" from Handel's Samson, or Odabella's aria from Attila, to have oneself brightened up and energised, she is the one to listen to. Sutherland may not have Callas' inimitable ability to light up a key word, phrase or moment and leave a deep imprint on one's mind, but it's the overall impact of her voice that impresses, especially when one's mood or context desire to hear and enjoy that sound.
    Last edited by CJC; Jul-04-2018 at 18:11.

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  13. #157
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJC View Post
    Where Callas is concerned, Abigaille in Nabucco (1949), Lady Macbeth (1952), Armida (1952), Medea (Florence, Scala 1953, Dallas 1958), Norma (Scala 1955) and Anna Bolena (Scala 1957) are amazing and dramatically and musically deeply satisfying (aural) experiences. The 1958 CG Traviata, despite flu and by-then pronounced perilous top and thinner tone, is truly heartbreaking and moving. But to be honest, these are not stuff that I would listen to everyday or all the time, in fact only on occasions when I am in the mood and context to experience the fuller to the fullest emotional impact opera can bring.
    But having the flu and a perilous top and thinner tone bring a level of realism to this tragedy, making her sound just like the consumptive character she is trying to portray. But I guess it is not aesthetically pleasing as a full bodied and full lunged voice.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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  15. #158
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    Callas' voice to me sounds as if she is singing with a wad of chaw in her cheek. Sorry Callas fans, but that is the image that comes to mind when I listen to her. Similar for Lucia Aliberti who superficially sounds like Callas.
    Someone is going to ban you from this forum;-) OMG

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Someone is going to ban you from this forum;-) OMG
    What I know Fritz Kobus like Callas.

  18. #160
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Someone is going to ban you from this forum;-) OMG
    .......................
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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  20. #161
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sloe View Post
    What I know Fritz Kobus like Callas.
    I went nuts on Callas, bought about 30 CD sets in a month's time, played nothing but, and burned out. I acknowledge that she is among the greatest and regret that some of her best voice (pre weight loss particularly) is on poor recording quality because of the time frame.

    But it is not that I am anti-Callas. I burn out on most any soprano that I start buying up fistfuls of aria CDs for. My best bet is leave the aria sets alone and focus on complete operas.
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Jul-04-2018 at 22:31.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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  22. #162
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    There are singers for relaxed, easy listening and singers for a more intense, concentrated experience. I do find that Sutherland and Callas occupy the extreme ends of that spectrum.

    With Sutherland, I always know what to expect and can just sit back or putter around while enjoying the sound and technical brilliance. This can be either delightful or boring, depending on her performance and my mood. With Callas, I never seem quite prepared for what she puts forth even if I've heard the recording before. She keeps me on edge in two ways, one desirable and one not: the musical specificity and dramatic creativity make me listen, fascinated, to every nuance, while the sometimes wiry, wavery high notes make me tense (as a former singer I have an unfortunately strong sympathetic response to vocal tension in others).

    When I try to think of singers who are musically and dramatically arresting but who also have a consistent, easy-to-listen-to vocal quality, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Lotte Lehmann and Claudia Muzio come immediately to mind.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-05-2018 at 08:32.

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  24. #163
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    How many roles did Callas and Sutherland record in common? If I want to listen to Gioconda I would choose one of the two Callas versions, if I'm in the mood for Lakme then it's the Sutherland recording I go for. It's only where the two both recorded an opera where side picking applies.


    Even where they both recorded a role often the Sutherland recording is more complete. Therefore if I want to listen to a performance of the role of Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor I will go with one of the Callas versions. If I want to listen to the opera Lucia without cuts as Donizetti wrote it then I might put on the second Sutherland recording.

    N.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    There are singers for relaxed, easy listening and singers for a more intense, concentrated experience. I do find that Sutherland and Callas occupy the extreme ends of that spectrum.

    With Sutherland, I always know what to expect and can just sit back or putter around while enjoying the sound and technical brilliance. This can be either delightful or boring, depending on her performance and my mood. With Callas, I never seem quite prepared for what she puts forth even if I've heard the recording before. She keeps me on edge in two ways, one desirable and one not: the musical specificity and dramatic creativity make me listen, fascinated, to every nuance, while the sometimes wiry, wavery high notes make me tense (as a former singer I have an unfortunately strong sympathetic response to vocal tension in others).

    When I try to think of singers who are musically and dramatically arresting but who also have a consistent, easy-to-listen-to vocal quality, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Lotte Lehmann and Claudia Muzio come immediately to mind.
    Yes, Callas is never the singer to put on whilst you get on with the washing up or the dusting. She demands attention, where Sutherland settles more comfortably into her frame. She can thrill of course, though in a different way, and I have a few Sutherland arias I pull down from the shelves (Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim, Rossini’s Bel Raggio) when I want to be thrilled by sheer exuberance and virtuosity, but when it comes to sitting a listening with full attention and involvement, it is always Callas I will turn to.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  27. #165
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    Yes, Callas is never the singer to put on whilst you get on with the washing up or the dusting. She demands attention, where Sutherland settles more comfortably into her frame. She can thrill of course, though in a different way, and I have a few Sutherland arias I pull down from the shelves (Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim, Rossini’s Bel Raggio) when I want to be thrilled by sheer exuberance and virtuosity, but when it comes to sitting a listening with full attention and involvement, it is always Callas I will turn to.
    They both recorded the Bell Song as well as the Mad Scene from Hamlet and both are absolutely stellar. I would say that these arias also exemplifies the differing strengths of each in telling ways. Check them out. Your insights were marvelous. Sutherland did the Mad Scene from Hamlet on video and she was very impressive in emoting the feelings on camera. She was also young and lovely. On Youtube.
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Jul-05-2018 at 15:47.

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