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Thread: Verdi baritones

  1. #181
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Yes, sadly Bastianini became best known for getting fired from Decca's Otello when he hadn't allegedly learned the part of Iago properly.
    That's certainly not the first thing that I think of when someone mentions Bastianini....

  2. #182
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    That's certainly not the first thing that I think of when someone mentions Bastianini....
    Maybe because I read Culshaw's 'Putting the Record Straight' years ago and it made an impression. He had a fine voice which is why Culshaw chose him to play Iago. I did have his recording of Rigoletto once but let it go. He appeared to be a fine voice but not overmuch character acting.

  3. #183
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Yes, sadly Bastianini became best known for getting fired from Decca's Otello when he hadn't allegedly learned the part of Iago properly. Pity about that.
    I think he is "best known" for the many brilliant recordings he did make... 77 opera recordings by one count: https://www.operadis-opera-discograp...k/CLSIBAST.HTM

    Bastianini was no Ernst Kozub: his short career was brilliant and he arguably did realise a lot of his promise despite his career being tragically cut short. Iago would have been nice but there were a ton of important gigs and luckily a lot were recorded.

    Lets think about it, Callas isn't "best known" for the Macbeths at the Met she didn't sing, Corelli isn't just the-guy-who-didn't-sing-Otello and Bjorling's posthumous reputation is going just fine despite not recording Ballo with Solti.
    Last edited by Revitalized Classics; Oct-29-2019 at 20:16.

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  5. #184
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revitalized Classics View Post
    I think he is "best known" for the many brilliant recordings he did make... 77 opera recordings by one count: https://www.operadis-opera-discograp...k/CLSIBAST.HTM

    Bastianini was no Ernst Kozub: his short career was brilliant and he arguably did realise a lot of his promise despite his career being tragically cut short. Iago would have been nice but there were a ton of important gigs and luckily a lot were recorded.

    Lets think about it, Callas isn't "best known" for the Macbeths at the Met she didn't sing, Corelli isn't just the-guy-who-didn't-sing-Otello and Bjorling's posthumous reputation is going just fine despite not recording Ballo with Solti.
    You're probably right. I was speaking personally not having had much contact with his recordings. Bjorling's posthumous reputation would have been enhanced had he recorded Ballo, however. Culshaw reckoned it to be 'one of the great performances of our time' and it was his reason for recording Ballo in the first place. Pity it didn't work out.

  6. #185
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Yes this is the point I am making. You do have to use a lot of imagination to get past the old recording. I often wonder it's what we hear or whether it's what we imagine we hear. I do respect people who obviously know more about singing than me and I do hear some of the things you mention. Just that as recorded the voice does not give me (my personal view) an awful lot of pleasure in repeated listening. Of course what he was like in the theatre we can only imagine.
    And the point OTHERS are making is that there are things one can actually HEAR - not "imagine" - in singers recorded before the era of modern recording. For the most part, the only thing one can't hear - to a variable extent - is the exact timbre of the voice. The baritone range, as it happens, was generally the best match for the frequencies which acoustic recordings were able to register, and we therefore have a closer approximation to the actual sound of baritone voices than to the sound of higher or lower voices. Caruso, a tenor with a baritonal timbre, is said to have recorded particularly well, but of course his voice would have been even more impressive heard live (hard as that is to get one's head around!). Women, in general, recorded less well, with sopranos suffering the most, their voices losing both depth and brilliance. Here's a good illustration of what happened to them, and in this example we're not even talking about acoustic recordings but rather comparing a live recording from 1937 with an electrical studio recording from 1928:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF5AU3yXbr8

    We could be listening to a different singer, though we can hear that the vibrato action and the musical approach are the same.

    With baritones we're much better off. Riccardo Stracciari sounded like this on a (very early) 1904 acoustical

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB3YNqOg59s

    this on a 1917 acoustical

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R00rQFyC_xA

    and this on a 1930 electrical

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSVI-rM898Y

    Not only is he recognizably the same singer, but we can hear that his voice shows little decline in quality over the years (he was 55 in 1930). 1930 is still not very recent as recordings go, but there's very little we can't tell about the superb baritone that he was.

    It may be difficult or impossible to imagine the true timbre and impact of singers recorded in the prewar era, but it's what we can actually HEAR, not what we have to imagine, that enables us to make judgments about their capabilities, and that gives those who appreciate the fine points of vocal technique and style a great deal of pleasure. Speaking for myself, what I get from hearing a master singer such as Battistini or Caruso is often something beyond pleasure. It's a glimpse into a wonderful musical and cultural milieu otherwise inaccessible, and very precious.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-29-2019 at 21:35.

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  8. #186
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    You're probably right. I was speaking personally not having had much contact with his recordings.
    Bastianini is great as Carlo in Forza, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, Di Luna in Trovatore. He tends to sound a little bored in the Dad baritone roles like Germont, he tends to be best in stirring and heroic or antiheroic roles like Rodrigo and Carlo. I like his Rigoletto a little more than you do--I think there's loads of good singing on that disc, although I'll concede there are times when he's under-emotive.

    His technique is less than stellar at times, but he also possessed a uniquely beautiful voice. He started his career as a bass before retraining as a baritone when he was around 30, in the early 1950s, and his voice retained a certain atypical resonance and richness. Over the next decade, he performed on stage in dozens of newly learned baritone roles, which is one of the reasons Culshaw's contention that he simply couldn't learn a role for a studio recording (a far easier task than learning a role for the stage) is extremely implausible.

    His reputation was diminished in the 60s when he continued singing after contracting a throat tumor in 1962, which led to some very uneven performances in the last few years of his life before succumbing to his illness in 1967. Since no one knew of his illness, the assumption was just that he had lost it early before his shocking death at 45 years old made his illness a matter of public knowledge.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Nov-07-2019 at 19:47.

  9. #187
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    Bastianini is great as Carlo in Forza, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, Di Luna in Trovatore. He tends to sound a little bored in the Dad baritone roles like Germont, he tends to be best in stirring and heroic or antiheroic roles like Rodrigo and Carlo. I like his Rigoletto a little more than you do--I think there's loads of good singing on that disc, although I'll concede there are times when he's under-emotive.

    His technique is less than stellar at times, but he also possessed a uniquely beautiful voice. He started his career as a bass before retraining as a baritone when he was around 30, in the early 1950s, and his voice retained a certain atypical resonance and richness. Over the next decade, he performed on stage in dozens of newly learned baritone roles, which is one of the reasons Culshaw's contention that he simply couldn't learn a role for a studio recording (a far easier task than learning a role for the stage) is extremely implausible.

    His reputation was diminished in the 60s when he continued singing after contracting a throat tumor in 1962, which led to some very uneven performances in the last few years of his life before succumbing to his illness in 1967. Since no one knew of his illness, the assumption was just that he had lost it early before his shocking death at 45 years old made his illness a matter of public knowledge.
    What do you think, then, was the reason for hiring Protti (who Culshaw admits no-one wanted as he had been inadequate in the previous Decca Otello) instead of Bastianini?
    Last edited by DavidA; Nov-07-2019 at 22:00.

  10. #188
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    What do you think, then, was the reason for hiring Protti (who Cuylshaw admits no-one wanted as he had been inadequate in the previous Decca Otello) instead of Bastianini?
    Karajan being Karajan, I would guess. Perhaps Karajan and Bastianini had a difference of opinion about how the role should be performed, or perhaps Bastianini hit on Karajan's lady friend, or perhaps Bastianini said something rude about Austrians. Who knows. The only implausible story is the one that Culshaw offered.

  11. #189
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    One of the great Verdi baritones on a slightly offbeat topic

  12. #190
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Another interview with Merrill. Sorry about the po-faced interviewer!
    Last edited by DavidA; Nov-07-2019 at 22:50.

  13. #191
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    Karajan being Karajan, I would guess. Perhaps Karajan and Bastianini had a difference of opinion about how the role should be performed, or perhaps Bastianini hit on Karajan's lady friend, or perhaps Bastianini said something rude about Austrians. Who knows. The only implausible story is the one that Culshaw offered.
    Why implausible? Of course, Karajan had a habit of asking singers to perform without scores which may have been the problem but I doubt it at that stage. Karajan was not then quite the absolute master of the world he later became. I just can't think of why he would have wanted Bastianini out of the way. Your explanations about Karajan's lady friends are highly implausible as Karajan had recently married his third wife and was smitten at the time.

  14. #192
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Why implausible? Of course, Karajan had a habit of asking singers to perform without scores which may have been the problem but I doubt it at that stage. Karajan was not then quite the absolute master of the world he later became. I just can't think of why he would have wanted Bastianini out of the way. Your explanations about Karajan's lady friends are highly implausible as Karajan had recently married his third wife and was smitten at the time.
    As I explained in my original post, it's extremely implausible since Bastianini learned dozens of baritone roles including most of the major Verdi roles for live stage performance in the decade before the Otello recording. It's far easier to learn a role for studio recording than for the stage, and there's nothing particularly difficult about memorizing the Iago role, no more so than Di Luna or Rodrigo--both roles by the way that he performed live under Karajan's baton at Salzburg. Saying that a world famous Verdi baritone was unable to learn a Verdi role for studio performance is almost insultingly implausible, a gossamer thin cover story.

  15. #193
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    As I explained in my original post, it's extremely implausible since Bastianini learned dozens of baritone roles including most of the major Verdi roles for live stage performance in the decade before the Otello recording. It's far easier to learn a role for studio recording than for the stage, and there's nothing particularly difficult about memorizing the Iago role, no more so than Di Luna or Rodrigo--both roles by the way that he performed live under Karajan's baton at Salzburg. Saying that a world famous Verdi baritone was unable to learn a Verdi role for studio performance is almost insultingly implausible, a gossamer thin cover story.
    The problem is that your theories are implausible - he appeared under Karajan in Trovatore in 1962 just a year after Otello so any suggestion of a 'fall out' appears to be implausible. Karajan was not the sort to re-engage a singer he had taken a dislike to. Bastinianini was a singer in demand at the time of Otello so my theory is that he was just too busy to learn his part properly - as Culshaw says 'surprising for a man of his intelligence'. I admit the whole thing is a puzzle but that to me is the most likely explanation. There were other examples like Kozub not learning Siegfried.

  16. #194
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post


    Another interview with Merrill. Sorry about the po-faced interviewer!
    Love this quote: "You're a human being first, then an artist. If you try it the other way round you get into trouble."

  17. #195
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Hi family could sing too! Dreadfully corny show though!

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