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Thread: The Met's Music Director, Vocal "Expert"

  1. #46
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revitalized Classics View Post
    Its possible to make it fairer - play a modern recording on old equipment and see if they sound half as good
    I have no intention of doing so. What is the point? The objective is to make a recording sound as good as possible not to make it sound as bad as possible. What strange idea! I have a recording of Callas' Lady Macbeth in lousy sound and I just wish the sound was better not worse. We're not talking about a competition old vs new. We're just questioning how these guys really sounded which is sadly impossible to tell on primitive recordings.
    Last edited by DavidA; Sep-24-2019 at 20:47.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IgorS View Post
    Again, "cherry pick" one name of modern singer that you think is on level with singers of "Golden Age".
    Just listening to Freddy von Stade as Cherubino. Put her against any golden age singer

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    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Load of rubbish if you ask me. Of course, if you take excerpts like this out of context you can prove anything you like. Then when they play the real 'oldies' who are supposed to have such marvellous voices they always sound really thin to me but whether that is due to the ancient recording or the voice I don't know. But we are supposed to say they are marvellous. The guy obviously has an axe to grind and has chosen his out-of-context excerpts to try and illustrate his own prejudices. No doubt we could prove the same points if we listened in to suitably doctored excerpts from Tebaldi's or Callas' rehearsals. I can remember critics going on about them when they were alive. Of course, now they are dead, they are like the angels! I was talking to a voice coach the other week and am sure he would take an exception to this sort of thing. Bit of an insult on the intelligence I call it.
    you don't have to take examples out of context to see his point. listen to the chest register of any of the examples he uses. they are consistently powerful and on point in a way I almost never see today.

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    I have no intention of doing so. What is the point? The objective is to make a recording sound as good as possible not to make it sound as bad as possible. What strange idea! I have a recording of Callas' Lady Macbeth in lousy sound and I just wish the sound was better not worse. We're not talking about a competition old vs new. We're just questioning how these guys really sounded which is sadly impossible to tell on primitive recordings.
    Originally Posted by IgorS
    Again, "cherry pick" one name of modern singer that you think is on level with singers of "Golden Age"
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Just listening to Freddy von Stade as Cherubino. Put her against any golden age singer
    Frederica von Stade made her first recording of Cherubino in 1972 and her last in 1981...

    Just checking that 38 to 47 years is "modern"?

    Shame that the thirty-eight-year-old-recording is too primitive to tell "how these guys really sounded", no?

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  6. #50
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    Sticking to singers both living and active, Peter Mattei.
    he has a nice voice. it's smooth, elegant, capable of expressing a great deal of playfulness and mischief. I would pay to here him life and believe I would come away feeling it was worth the money...but he has nothing of the mighty, patriarchal gravitas of a MacNeil, Warren or Merrill. For top tier baritones, I need more masculinity.

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    Broadly speaking I agree with 'This is opera'. He can be polemical and often deals in exaggeration. However, the general points he makes are sound.

    N.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revitalized Classics View Post
    Frederica von Stade made her first recording of Cherubino in 1972 and her last in 1981...

    Just checking that 38 to 47 years is "modern"?

    Shame that the thirty-eight-year-old-recording is too primitive to tell "how these guys really sounded", no?
    It is interesting, isn't it, that when people compare "modern" singers with "golden age" singers they often take anyone who recorded on vinyl LPs as "modern," as if sound reproduction defined the category. It's certain that the WW II period initiated the fading away of some older traditions in singing (along with the fading away of much else in the culture), but the career of "modern" Leontyne Price (b1927) is closer in time to the career of "golden age" Rosa Ponselle (b1897) than it is to that of "contemporary" Anna Netrebko (b1971). It's also worth noting that most people's favorite recordings of the standard operatic repertoire still tend to come from the approximate period 1950-1980, a period often regarded (at least by old-timers) as a final "golden age" of great voices and traditional values in operatic performance. Perhaps some of us are so desperate to claim distinction for the singers of today that we half-unconsciously need to smuggle in singers from a generation or two ago.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-24-2019 at 23:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    It is interesting, isn't it, that when people compare "modern" singers with "golden age" singers they often take anyone who recorded on vinyl LPs as "modern," as if sound reproduction defined the category. It's certain that the WW II period initiated the fading away of some older traditions in singing (along with the fading away of much else in the culture), but the career of "modern" Leontyne Price (b1927) is closer in time to the career of "golden age" Rosa Ponselle (b1897) than it is to that of "contemporary" Anna Netrebko (b1971). It's also worth noting that most people's favorite recordings of the standard operatic repertoire still tend to come from the approximate period 1950-1980, a period often regarded (at least by old-timers) as a final "golden age" of great voices and traditional values in operatic performance. Perhaps some of us are so desperate to claim distinction for the singers of today that we half-unconsciously need to smuggle in singers from a generation or two ago.
    This does happen a lot! I saw a review for Aida recordings in 'modern sound' which suggested the 60-year-old Karajan set

    I think one of the reasons that 'This is opera!' has traction is the growing frustration that we've been fobbed off with second-best for quite so long.

    The constant reissuing and remastering of old recordings has obscured this decline a little. Another (sociological) factor I've thought about is that for the first time in history a lot of singers have lived well into old age and this can mean that they feel current even though their best years were ages away.

    Happily, singers like Giuseppe Taddei, Carlo Bergonzi, Madga Olivero, Giulietta Simionato, Licia Albanese were with us until the 2010s and others like Rolando Panerai, Fiorenza Cossotto, Leontyne Price and Mirella Freni are still with us.

    However, if we start scrutinising the discographies it starts to raise concerns.

    If we pick out one of the youngest - Freni - her first records of Elisabetta in Don Carlo start in 1975 … making it 44 years ago.
    If we want a soprano with the requisite weight of voice you might try Tebaldi … in the studio 54 years ago.
    For a soprano with the right weight of voice and who sang it on stage try … Cerquetti 63 years ago.
    If you want a singer of the verismo school perhaps Caniglia … just 68 years ago. aka 50 years after the death of the composer.

    Despite accusations that critics - and channels like 'This is opera!' - advocate that there is only one way of singing and that there actually needs to be a variety of approaches, I think we can all agree that a few more barnstorming performances in those 68 years would not be out of order.

    Even when I think of more recent candidates, I thought Alessandra Marc (1992) and (less successfully) Galina Gorchakova (1996). Is 23 years 'modern'?

    I remember reading record guides from the 1950s and they talked about 15-year-old 'elderly' recordings sounding dim and 'ancient' sets from the late 1930s. The thought of making do with antique recordings would not have crossed their minds - except for curiosity value
    Last edited by Revitalized Classics; Sep-25-2019 at 01:29.

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  12. #54
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    Broadly speaking I agree with 'This is opera'. He can be polemical and often deals in exaggeration. However, the general points he makes are sound.

    N.
    The problem is they just deal in negatives. Why I have a feeling they are 'has beens' or 'never was' people who are just trying to get their voice heard having never made it themselves. I'd sooner they identified themselves as actual practitioners. Else they are pseuds in my book. Like certain of the the lecturers at teacher training college - claiming to tell everyone else how to teach yet not being able in the life of them to hold the attention of a class of students themselves.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revitalized Classics View Post
    Frederica von Stade made her first recording of Cherubino in 1972 and her last in 1981...

    Just checking that 38 to 47 years is "modern"?

    Shame that the thirty-eight-year-old-recording is too primitive to tell "how these guys really sounded", no?

    I just assumed she was after your so-called 'golden age'? I can't see why on earth you are banging on about the recording which is a modern Decca recording either under Karajan or Solti.
    Last edited by DavidA; Sep-25-2019 at 08:45.

  14. #56
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    The problem is they just deal in negatives. Why I have a feeling they are 'has beens' or 'never was' people who are just trying to get their voice heard having never made it themselves. I'd sooner they identified themselves as actual practitioners. Else they are pseuds in my book. Like certain of the the lecturers at teacher training college - claiming to tell everyone else how to teach yet not being able in the life of them to hold the attention of a class of students themselves.
    This all sounds suspiciously like Michael Gove's "Britain's had enough of experts." I see where you're coming from now.

    PS That is not the same as saying I agree with you.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    The problem is they just deal in negatives. Why I have a feeling they are 'has beens' or 'never was' people who are just trying to get their voice heard having never made it themselves. I'd sooner they identified themselves as actual practitioners. Else they are pseuds in my book. Like certain of the the lecturers at teacher training college - claiming to tell everyone else how to teach yet not being able in the life of them to hold the attention of a class of students themselves.
    It's not like they don't cite positive examples...

    In the video, they dislike the performances of
    Westbrock
    Monastyrska
    (Santuzza?)
    Blue
    Opolais

    + the advice of
    Pappano
    Nezet-Seguin
    Fleming + Thielemann

    The video celebrates and promotes as role models (sometimes multiple times)
    Boninsegna
    Bruna Rasa
    Caballe
    Callas
    Caniglia
    di Giulio
    de Hidalgo
    Melba
    Muzio
    Raisa
    Tebaldi
    Zeani

    + endorses the advice of
    Tebaldi's comments and class
    Callas' masterclass
    Mancini
    Zacconi
    Caccini

    I like that they provide positive examples and I notice that they did not criticise the actual students at all.

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  17. #58
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    This all sounds suspiciously like Michael Gove's "Britain's had enough of experts." I see where you're coming from now.

    PS That is not the same as saying I agree with you.
    Frankly I couldn't care less whether you agree with me or not.
    Just I never trust the motive of self-proclaimed 'experts'. Be good to know what experience they have had apart from sitting in an armchair making value judgments. I don't trust people who glory in the 'good old days' because having experienced some of them I know they weren't always so good. I mean, these 'experts' - what qualifications do they have? Are they chorus masters? Voice teachers? Whatever? I do tend to ask how someone is qualified to talk about the subject before giving them a hearing else we are gullible.
    Last edited by DavidA; Sep-25-2019 at 11:41.

  18. #59
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revitalized Classics View Post
    It's not like they don't cite positive examples...

    In the video, they dislike the performances of
    Westbrock
    Monastyrska
    (Santuzza?)
    Blue
    Opolais

    + the advice of
    Pappano
    Nezet-Seguin
    Fleming + Thielemann

    The video celebrates and promotes as role models (sometimes multiple times)
    Boninsegna
    Bruna Rasa
    Caballe
    Callas
    Caniglia
    di Giulio
    de Hidalgo
    Melba
    Muzio
    Raisa
    Tebaldi
    Zeani

    + endorses the advice of
    Tebaldi's comments and class
    Callas' masterclass
    Mancini
    Zacconi
    Caccini

    I like that they provide positive examples and I notice that they did not criticise the actual students at all.
    Exactly! The old rhyme:

    "If it's old it's gold
    If it's new, it can't be true!"

    Just like the guys who reckon Rinaldo would never get into the third team in 1935

  19. #60
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Frankly I couldn't care less whether you agree with me or not.
    Just I never trust the motive of self-proclaimed 'experts'. Be good to know what experience they have had apart from sitting in an armchair making value judgments. I don't trust people who glory in the 'good old days' because having experienced some of them I know they weren't always so good. I mean, these 'experts' - what qualifications do they have? Are they chorus masters? Voice teachers? Whatever? I do tend to ask how someone is qualified to talk about the subject before giving them a hearing else we are gullible.
    You don't trust people who glory in the "good old days", but you do it yourself. Or do the "Good old days" only refer to pre Second World War? I mean that's 80 years ago now. Almost all the recordings you, and I admit I, enjoy were made in the 1950s through to the around the 1980s at most. How many that were made in the last 10 years improve on them? If you were to pick your favourite recording of any of the core works by Verdi, Mozart, Puccini and Wagner, how many of them would actually have been recorded in this century? Probably none.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-25-2019 at 11:54.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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