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Thread: Callas the Greatest Operatic Actor... BUT there are other great talents. Name them.

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Default Callas the Greatest Operatic Actor... BUT there are other great talents. Name them.

    I will not quibble that Callas was likely the gold standard in operatic acting. Varnay, Rysenek and Jones were also riveting actresses. Who gets your vote for today... or any other time if moved?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Don't forget the men. Gobbi was phenomenal.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Stratas was a great actress even if she hadn't the greatest voice.

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Don't forget the men. Gobbi was phenomenal.
    I don't know the men as well and that is where you guys can "edumacate" me as they say down South where I hail from.
    I've been impressed with Greer Grimsley on stage. Kauffmann is supposed to be an impressive actor.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I don't know the men as well and that is where you guys can "edumacate" me as they say down South where I hail from.
    I've been impressed with Greer Grimsley on stage. Kauffmann is supposed to be an impressive actor.

    Kauffmann is a fine actor as well as singer. Of course, Domingo was a great actor with tons of stage presence. And of course, Jon Vickers in the right role.
    Last edited by DavidA; Feb-14-2016 at 21:11.

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    Senior Member Adair's Avatar
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    My vote is for Sena Jurinac.

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    Tito Gobbi. Best Scarpia ever.

    He could make your blood curdle!

    Perfectly partnered with Maria Callas.
    Last edited by hpowders; Feb-15-2016 at 01:34.

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    Actors in opera:
    Shicoff is a stand-out.
    Racette is superb.
    Kaufmann is a winner.
    Olivero is a consummate actress.

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    Here are my votes:

    Salomea Kruszelnicka
    Claudia Muzio
    Meta Seinemeyer
    Frida Leider
    Lotte Lehmann
    Marjorie Lawrence
    Ljuba Welitsch
    Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Eleanor Steber
    Renata Scotto
    Anna Moffo (in her prime)
    Beverly Sills
    Rosalind Plowright
    Teresa Stratas
    Waltraud Meier
    Patrizia Ciofi
    Patricia Petibon (not so much of a voice)

    Many of the "oldie" ladies left no video, but their vocal acting abilities are well-preserved by their recordings, and their stage presence is well-documented.
    Last edited by silentio; Feb-14-2016 at 21:51.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentio View Post
    Here are my votes:

    Salomea Kruszelnicka
    Claudia Muzio
    Meta Seinemeyer
    Frida Leider
    Lotte Lehmann
    Marjorie Lawrence
    Ljuba Welitsch
    Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
    Eleanor Steber
    Renata Scotto
    Anna Moffo (in her prime)
    Beverly Sills
    Rosalind Plowright
    Teresa Stratas
    Waltraud Meier
    Patrizia Ciofi
    Patricia Petibon (not so much of a voice)

    Many of the "oldie" ladies left no video, but their vocal acting abilities are well-preserved by their recordings, and their stage presence is well-documented.
    Still photos tell us something too. I'm thinking of Lehmann's Sieglinde and Leider's Isolde: they simply are those characters. Some photos of Leider can be seen on this remarkable Liebestod from 1933, for my money the greatest performance of it ever caught by a microphone:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbK1fDAy_jA

    Whatever happened to portamento?

    Thank goodness we have huge numbers of Callas photos as partial compensation for the historical tragedy that we have only one substantial piece of her acting on film.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Still photos tell us something too. I'm thinking of Lehmann's Sieglinde and Leider's Isolde: they simply are those characters. Some photos of Leider can be seen on this remarkable Liebestod from 1933, for my money the greatest performance of it ever caught by a microphone:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbK1fDAy_jA

    Whatever happened to portamento?

    Thank goodness we have huge numbers of Callas photos as partial compensation for the historical tragedy that we have only one substantial piece of her acting on film.
    Woodduck, you may have had it already, but I really enjoy Frida Leider Society's cleaning and remastering for that 1933 Tristan:


    Btw, speaking of an Italianate and feminine Isolde-the Irish princess (not Isolde-the matronly grandmother of Tristan, as many sopranos make her sound like), Giuseppina Cobelli, the reigning diva at La Scala in the late 1920s, may be a good candidate. Unfortunately, too little of her Isolde is left, and it is in even poorer sound than Leider's:


    We may go back even further to Johanna Gadski, who was also known for her great acting:

    Last edited by silentio; Feb-14-2016 at 23:54.

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if we're talking in this thread about vocal acting, physical acting, or both. If we're talking about vocal acting -- i.e. "interpretation" -- then a soprano who comes to mind is Cheryl Studer. A year ago I discovered her recorded Salome (Strauss), and as I listen to it while following along with the libretto I find her interpretation remarkably detailed -- even (dare I say it?) Callas-like.

    Edited to add: As for physical acting, it's my experience that most opera singers are good actors provided they have proper direction. I do, however, think that Jonas Kaufmann is an extraordinarily good actor.
    Last edited by Bellinilover; Feb-14-2016 at 23:51.

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    I saw Waltraud M.'s Isolde on DVD and she blew me away... totally. She looked the part as well.In G. Jone's league.
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Feb-15-2016 at 00:04.

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bellinilover;1021023

    Edited to add: As for physical acting, it's my experience that most opera singers are good actors provided they have proper direction. I do, however, think that Jonas Kaufmann is an [I
    extraordinarily[/I] good actor.
    Sutherland was not a great actress but became so in Lucia thanks to Zeffirelli.

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    Sutherland was not a great actress but became so in Lucia thanks to Zeffirelli.
    Yes, from what I've seen of the Met production from the early 1980's (I'm not sure who directed it), she did "become" Lucia. I tend to think that most opera singers need a good director; if left to their own devices they'd probably tend to "stand and sing." It's understandable, of course, because opera singers are essentially musicians, not actors.

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