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Thread: Why Must You Take Sides: Sutherland and Callas

  1. #121
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    I should add that on balance we probably have more Sutherland of better sound quality recordings than with Callas and that might bias my selection, but vocally Callas has it over Sutherland simply because Sutherland's diction was somewhat muddied. But both had beautiful voices.
    "My brothers, there's not a sinner in the world to whom the way of redemption is closed!"
    --Minne in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West.

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    I should add that on balance we probably have more Sutherland of better sound quality recordings than with Callas and that might bias my selection, but vocally Callas has it over Sutherland simply because Sutherland's diction was somewhat muddied. But both had beautiful voices.
    Since I don't understand the languages at all it doesn't matter for me at all. I listen more to Sutherland because of the beauty and security of her voice.

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  4. #123
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    I'm not sure stating a preference for one singer over another is taking sides. I prize musicality coupled with expressivity over sheer beauty, but I accept that for others the reverse is true. So if I state a firm preference for Callas over Sutherland (or Tebaldi for that matter), I don't see it as taking sides, and I don't see it as in any way a criticism of the estimable qualities of the latter singers.

    However they are very different singers, with a very different approach to their art, and it seems to me quite natural that one might prefer one to the other. Sutherland was a very great singer. I accept that absolutely, but, however beautiful her voice, however thrilling her top notes, however thrilling her coloratura, she is a singer who rarely, if ever, speaks to me and I don't see there is anything wrong in admitting that.
    Of course stating a preference isn't taking sides. We all have our preferences. Nothing wrong with that. What I am talking about is the almost bovine behaviour by certain of the clacks following singers. That is ridiculous.

  5. #124
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Was Sutherland's diction as bad as I've heard stated? If so, that's a major flaw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonetan View Post
    Was Sutherland's diction as bad as I've heard stated? If so, that's a major flaw.
    It depends what period. When she sang those famous performances of Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden in 1959, it was quite good, and it's also quite good on her first recital discs, but it soon deteriorated, and there was a time you'd be hard pressed to know just what language she was singing in. For me it's a major stumbling block, but I accept that many people don't feel the same.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  8. #126
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    It depends what period. When she sang those famous performances of Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden in 1959, it was quite good, and it's also quite good on her first recital discs, but it soon deteriorated, and there was a time you'd be hard pressed to know just what language she was singing in. For me it's a major stumbling block, but I accept that many people don't feel the same.
    I too can enjoy some of her early work but not much of her later. You can't sing with specific expression if you can't project distinct vowels and consonants. There's no use darkening a vowel if nobody can tell what it is.

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  10. #127
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    One thing I don't think Sutherland gets enough credit for is that she had the weight to sing dramatic rep, but also the ability to do so in a way which was more gentle and conveyed more femininity. Callas was all HOT emotion. Saucy, debaucherous Carmen, vengeful Norma, b@#$%y Abigaille, suicidal Gioconda, nasty Lady Macbeth, etc. she conveyed a range of intense human emotion, but there was always an abundance of spice, a sort of spitfire defiance. Sure, she deserves the credit for her complexity and intensity. If these are what I'm looking for in the moment, she'll be the first place I look, but at the same time, it was NEVER simple. There was never "just singing".

    This is a matter of tastes of course, but by and large, I actually feel like I can listen to Joan Sutherland to relax in a way which will never be true of Callas. Callas demands commitment, demands full attention, and as spectacular as she was at her peak, somethings you just want something to relax to with a cup of tea after a long day.

  11. #128
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    This is a matter of tastes of course, but by and large, I actually feel like I can listen to Joan Sutherland to relax in a way which will never be true of Callas. Callas demands commitment, demands full attention, and as spectacular as she was at her peak, somethings you just want something to relax to with a cup of tea after a long day.
    I used to have the LP of Sutherland singing operetta arias. Many were in English, so diction wasn't a concern. I wouldn't say she was the most stylish and winsome interpreter of the rep, but the sound was glorious and the whole thing was a great bubble bath.

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  13. #129
    Member RogerExcellent's Avatar
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    Both Both Both I can not choose I refuse

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Sutherland is the Woodbird on Solti's Ring Cycle. I can't remember who but someone commented that while she was no station announcer she wasn't that bad. I agree. It's a horribly difficult part to sing and still be totally comprehensible.
    No sound ever comes from the Gates of Eden.

  15. #131
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    One thing I don't think Sutherland gets enough credit for is that she had the weight to sing dramatic rep, but also the ability to do so in a way which was more gentle and conveyed more femininity. Callas was all HOT emotion. Saucy, debaucherous Carmen, vengeful Norma, b@#$%y Abigaille, suicidal Gioconda, nasty Lady Macbeth, etc. she conveyed a range of intense human emotion, but there was always an abundance of spice, a sort of spitfire defiance. Sure, she deserves the credit for her complexity and intensity. If these are what I'm looking for in the moment, she'll be the first place I look, but at the same time, it was NEVER simple. There was never "just singing".
    As a counter to what you call Callas's "spitfire defiance," one of my favorite Callas performances is actually Rosina in Barbiere. Her Una voce poco fa has almost ruined that aria for me by other performers. Too many over-sing and make Rosina sound bipolar or demented rather than sly, coy, and capable of being gently sweet but also mischievously dangerous when she doesn't get her way. Callas adds enough ornamentation so that the aria isn't dull, while also hitting that rare bulls-eye balancing act of Rosina's character that I mentioned above:

    One tiny moment to point out: how she phrases the "ma" at 3:33 (lead to from about 3:30). Ever since hearing her do this, I miss it it every other performance I've heard. There's something in that tiny moment that is just so pitch perfect for the character of Rosina that all the vocal fireworks in the world in other performances can't capture.
    Last edited by Eva Yojimbo; Jun-15-2018 at 17:24.

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  17. #132
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    But is this it? Are Callas and Sutherland the pinnacle of soprano operatic performers? I know that is not the point of this thread, but I am curious if there are other sopranos that rate as highly?
    "My brothers, there's not a sinner in the world to whom the way of redemption is closed!"
    --Minne in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    But is this it? Are Callas and Sutherland the pinnacle of soprano operatic performers? I know that is not the point of this thread, but I am curious if there are other sopranos that rate as highly?
    Flagstad and Nilsson rate as highly for me, mainly because they specialized in Wagner and Strauss, which Callas and Sutherland rarely touched. If there was a soprano that dominated in Mozart I'd mention them too, but I've yet to find one. Tebaldi, Leontyne Price, Scwarzkopf, Freni, Te Kanawa, and Tebaldi also rate about as highly.

  19. #134
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eva Yojimbo View Post
    Flagstad and Nilsson rate as highly for me, mainly because they specialized in Wagner and Strauss, which Callas and Sutherland rarely touched. If there was a soprano that dominated in Mozart I'd mention them too, but I've yet to find one. Tebaldi, Leontyne Price, Scwarzkopf, Freni, Te Kanawa, and Tebaldi also rate about as highly.
    and Edita Gruberova.
    "My brothers, there's not a sinner in the world to whom the way of redemption is closed!"
    --Minne in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West.

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    Junior Member Prat's Avatar
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    Did either of them ride Horses?

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