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Thread: Verdi baritones

  1. #256
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonetan View Post
    From the book Leonard Warren: American Baritone

    "Warren used this technique religiously. His cover was quite far back which we call "hooking" and his upper voice from F to A just became bigger and more beautiful. And miraculously, it could achieve a decrease on these top notes. The problem is to disguise this change in production so that it doesn't sound like two different voices. Warren solved this problem by singing everything in the covering position. This, some think, cost him a measure of clarity in his middle range and may have contributed to the eventual wobble. Warren's voice sounded deeper than it was because of its weight and dark color, but it was a high baritone, the Verdi baritone. Other great baries, like Ruffo, have simply thrown away the low notes. Warren insisted on singing them fully, and I think this is what cost him."
    I find this rather odd. I would have thought that 'covering' all the way down wouldn't have helped with singing the low notes fully. Nor am I sure that the 'miracle' Ruffo 'simply threw them away'. If I get time in between listening to everybody else's favourite sopranos singing Suor Angelica, I'll give both baritones a listen and report back.

    N.

  2. #257
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    I find this rather odd. I would have thought that 'covering' all the way down wouldn't have helped with singing the low notes fully. Nor am I sure that the 'miracle' Ruffo 'simply threw them away'. If I get time in between listening to everybody else's favourite sopranos singing Suor Angelica, I'll give both baritones a listen and report back.

    N.
    I think they're saying that Warren's insistence on singing the low notes fully with the covered technique did damage to his voice, and that if he had eschewed the low notes like Ruffo does in the video below (at :45) he would have been better off.


  3. #258
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonetan View Post
    I think they're saying that Warren's insistence on singing the low notes fully with the covered technique did damage to his voice, and that if he had eschewed the low notes like Ruffo does in the video below (at :45) he would have been better off.

    We should hear Warren sing "Eri tu" in the opera house, where he brings a little more passion and imagination to it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoTtUH8XG3Y

    Warren may be superior to any present-day baritone in this repertoire, but I have to say that Ruffo mops the floor with him. And Ruffo wasn't alone, as several other baritones from the prewar years demonstrate. There's Amato:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g62tHv0IzM

    and that paragon of baritonal bel canto, Battistini:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFsV-1tRzjg

    I never tire of listening to the way those old-timers could play with the voice and the music. The total coordination, the quickness with which the voice can move, the natural, effortless legato, the ability to swell and diminish, to shift the resonance from chest to head and to cover and open the tone at will... Almost every Battistini recording has those spine-tingling moments when he opens the vowel and drives slightly sharp, even adding an ornament to heighten the emotion, an effect we'd listen for in vain from any present-day singer of any voice type.

    I just sit silently after such singing, my eyes moist, wondering where it all went.

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  5. #259
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    We should hear Warren sing "Eri tu" in the opera house, where he brings a little more passion and imagination to it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoTtUH8XG3Y
    Wow. His low A here can't be heard (2:35). He's got a tenor's range with a bass baritone color. I will never comprehend this voice lol

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    I made sure Santa Claus was good to me this year by buying a new 2019 auto that has a three-month free trial to Sirius XM radio. There are only two strictly classical stations, one "Symphony" and one "Met Opera." I tuned in yesterday while tooling around and they were doing a La Gioconda from 1957, conducted by Fausto Cleva. Warren's voice was instantly recognizable, massive, superb high notes, it struck me again how much better he sounds when he is truly acting and singing at the same time and interacting with other singers. There is no way that voice didn't carry well in the old Met building. The tenor was good but the voice was undistinctive, probably someone I've never heard of. Ah, well that didn't take long, sure enough, found him with Mr Google: A guy named Gianni Poggi.

    I agree with Bonetan that I too will never understand Warren's vocal production but I love it nonetheless, kind of like eating dark chocolate compared with the bland Hershey's kisses so many other bland singers give us. I do agree with Woodduck that I wish Warren would be more graceful and play with shaping the lines and interpret phrases better. I think he had all the gifts vocally, but he can come off as somewhat stolid and wooden-sounding at times. I guess part of the mythos surrounding him also comprises his incredible death on stage at the Met in 1960, age 48, after singing "Morir! Tremenda cosa ... Urna fatale" during La Forza del Destino and literally pitching face-forward onto the stage, instantly dead from all accounts, before the vengeance cabaletta that follows.

    I dunno, perhaps somehow his voice imprinted on my brain back during that era. I don't recall consciously listening to Met radio broadcasts from that era, but I was a child and the timing is right. At any rate, I just have to say again, I have never heard a baritone voice that thrills me more overall. (I do wish we had a documented performance of him singing "Di quella pira." That still sounds apocryphal to me. Yeah, I can sing it too, as long as I leave out the high Cs.)

    Kind regards,

    George
    Last edited by Barelytenor; Jan-10-2020 at 13:53.

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  8. #261
    Senior Member Sieglinde's Avatar
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    Salsi is decent, but his voice is more or less lyric. Definitely not how I like Rigoletto to sound. There is no "bite". (Also, this aria out of context? So weird.)

    Also, I feel like he's best suited to kind and friendly characters. I've seen him in a few bad guy roles and he just seems too much like a huggable teddy bear to be believeable as evil.

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  10. #262
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    What a wonderful thread! Threads like this are what makes our little corner of the internet THE best place to discuss opera.

    As to Milnes- I admit to being a fan as his compilation LP was one of the 3 opera discs I had that introduced me to opera as a youth (the others were Domingo Sings Caruso and Karajan Ring Highlights) so his voice was stamped onto my DNA. Having said that, I never liked the affected nasal snarl and now, doing the comparison suggested infra I agree that he is overdoing it. I’ll always be a fan but this thread got me listening deeper to Ruffo and the others suggested here …thanks to all for those comparisons
    I'll call you Doctor if you call me Admiral

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  12. #263
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral View Post
    As to Milnes- I admit to being a fan as his compilation LP was one of the 3 opera discs I had that introduced me to opera as a youth (the others were Domingo Sings Caruso and Karajan Ring Highlights) so his voice was stamped onto my DNA. Having said that, I never liked the affected nasal snarl and now, doing the comparison suggested infra I agree that he is overdoing it. I’ll always be a fan but this thread got me listening deeper to Ruffo and the others suggested here …thanks to all for those comparisons
    I had the same experience! There are operas that I was introduced to with Milnes as the baritone so I've always held him in high regard, but after comparing him to other singers here its pretty clear to me that he's not in the top tier vocally.

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  14. #264
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Here's some more love for beastly baritone Giangiacomo Guelfi. When speaking of Ruffo, J.B. Steane said "the only baritone whom I can think of as having given anything at all comparable in the theatre is Giangiacomo Guelfi in the late fifties". Quite the compliment! What are everyone's thoughts on him?


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  16. #265
    Senior Member vivalagentenuova's Avatar
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    Despite having perhaps an almost ideal, cavernous baritone sound, I actually like Guelfi better in Puccini than Verdi. His biting voice just works so perfectly for Rance and Scarpia, and despite the incredible sound I don't really respond as much to him in Verdi roles. In Verdi I prefer a Battistini, who contrary to what is sometimes said, had a huge voice, but also had better high notes and better facility with the long Verdi lines. Puccini's vocal music is what I think of as "acted", mainly a kind of amplified, declamatory, highly expressive speech that sometimes breaks out into gushing melody. His famous melodic talent aside, Puccini is often more concerned with tying each moment in the vocal line to the characterization, drama, and psychology than he is in creating long, flowing, Bel Canto lines. He can do that when he wants to, as in his famous arias, but it's acutally not so much his style during the scenes in between the famous bits, which are often where the best stuff is.

    This aria of Rance, though melodic, is for the voice mostly broken up into short phrases, each one tied intimately to the text. Guelfi's highly expressive but not particularly agile voice is perfect. He is snarly and conflicted and big, but no long arc is required. (As an aside, the accompaniment for this aria is so wonderfully expressive.)


    This aria from La forza del destino just seems kind of labored, though. He's fine in the recitative, but the aria just seems heavy (the tempo is kind of slow, though). I don't like it very much compared with Battistini or Schlusnus.

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  18. #266
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivalagentenuova View Post
    Despite having perhaps an almost ideal, cavernous baritone sound, I actually like Guelfi better in Puccini than Verdi. His biting voice just works so perfectly for Rance and Scarpia, and despite the incredible sound I don't really respond as much to him in Verdi roles. In Verdi I prefer a Battistini, who contrary to what is sometimes said, had a huge voice, but also had better high notes and better facility with the long Verdi lines. Puccini's vocal music is what I think of as "acted", mainly a kind of amplified, declamatory, highly expressive speech that sometimes breaks out into gushing melody. His famous melodic talent aside, Puccini is often more concerned with tying each moment in the vocal line to the characterization, drama, and psychology than he is in creating long, flowing, Bel Canto lines. He can do that when he wants to, as in his famous arias, but it's acutally not so much his style during the scenes in between the famous bits, which are often where the best stuff is.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Guelfi was a real tonsil-tosser, wasn't he? Must've driven the crowd wild. I can live without it.

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    I disagree on "cavernous" since the cavern tends to collapse with some frequency. Interesting version of the last aria Leonard Warren ever sang ... part of, as we discussed again recently. Guelfi in the flesh had the largest voice I have ever heard in a man, massive, but there is not any subtlety and he pays for his curious production. I think many singers try to keep "space" in the vocal cavity (or cavern, okay) above what is being used for the actual singing, which helps to consistently produce a beautiful tone. There are several places in the recitative where you can hear that vocal space disappear, and his vowels sound like they are bumping up against the roof of his mouth. Where, more specifically? Listen, for example, to the ornamented second-time-around short notes of "mal pensiero, il-l-l-l mal-l-l-l pensiero." Then when he gets to some longer melodic notes, he again resumes singing with a different production to make the voice sound covered and more pleasing. This is a notable inconsistency of his voice, and clear sign of a flawed technique. And I have to say, the sustained high F-sharp on "pensie-e-e-ro" is just brutally ugly--for the same reason, there is no vocal space above that which he is using to produce the sound. It sounds like a bass fire engine.

    This is can belto, not bel canto.

    Kind regards,

    George

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  22. #269
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonetan View Post
    I had the same experience! There are operas that I was introduced to with Milnes as the baritone so I've always held him in high regard, but after comparing him to other singers here its pretty clear to me that he's not in the top tier vocally.
    You can also say that about Gobbi but he made up for it in other ways

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  24. #270
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    You can also say that about Gobbi but he made up for it in other ways
    Yes I totally agree

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