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Thread: Verdi baritones

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    Senior Member Sieglinde's Avatar
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    Default Verdi baritones

    (If there is a thread about this already, please merge!)

    So, as someone who is a wee bit obsessed with Verdi (understatement), I thought it would be fun to discuss baritones, past and present, who tackled these roles.

    Nowadays many baritones more on the lyric side try their luck - some roles work better than others. I'd say Rodrigo is a fairly safe gambit, but in most cases a lyric baritone trying Verdi is like a dps character trying to solo a powerful boss. Doable if they are very careful, but it's easily to get one-hit killed by something a more tanky voice could endure easily.

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    I admit to not being a huge fan of Verdi for a long time, but rediscovering his works through the great old singers has recently increased my appreciation of his work substantially.

    I've become a big fan of Gino Bechi. He kind of defines the "Verdi baritone" voice to me. Very rich voice, and strong declamation, but lovely phrasing. He displays all these qualities in this aria.


    Amazing Lawrence Tibbett. He knocks every aspect of this aria out of the park. Powerful cry of "Cortigiani, vil razza" (what really gets to me is the way he sounds like he is yelling, but it's still beautiful sound), but his "Ebbene... piango" is melting, and the rest of the aria is sensitive. This kind of singing has really made me realize how wonderfully dramatic and full of character Verdi's music is.


    A touch more lyrical and less well known, but I have always warmed to Mario Sereni's warm and smooth timbre.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Large, thrilling, dramatic baritone voices with extended tops and plenty of squillo as well as firm legato seem either scarce as hens' teeth or extinct as hens with teeth (archaeopteryx, for example). Who, I wonder, is a current representative of the species? When I was young (in the 50s and 60s) we had Warren, Merrill, MacNeil, Gobbi, Panerai, Bastianini, Cappuccilli and Herlea, just to name those who come immediately to mind. The real golden age of the Verdi baritone seems to have been earlier, before WW I, when Italy was producing a superabundance of great singers: there were Kaschmann, Magini-Coletti, Pacini, Campanari, Ancona, Bellantoni, Sammarco, Battistini, Amato, Scotti, Ruffo, Stracciari, Viglione-Borghese...whew! Those are just the Italians, and all of them were superb compared to anyone I know of currently on the scene, as their recordings will attest.

    I really don't know what to say about the current crop of baritones singing the big fat Verdi roles. Hvorostovsky is gone, Keenleyside may not be huge-voiced but he sounds almost as good as he looks (), Mattei is a lyric who can do certain roles well, Finley likewise. Kelsey seems to have the basic equipment; don't know what he's doing with it. Whose Rigoletto is knockin' 'em dead in the provinces? It hasn't been happening at the Met, if my radio doesn't lie.

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    To fill in some missed above: Hvorostovsky/Pape/Ramey/London/Quilico/Lucic/Kweicen/Owens/Van Horn

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    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Large, thrilling, dramatic baritone voices with extended tops and plenty of squillo as well as firm legato seem either scarce as hens' teeth or extinct as hens with teeth (archaeopteryx, for example). Who, I wonder, is a current representative of the species? When I was young (in the 50s and 60s) we had Warren, Merrill, MacNeil, Gobbi, Panerai, Bastianini, Cappuccilli and Herlea, just to name those who come immediately to mind. The real golden age of the Verdi baritone seems to have been earlier, before WW I, when Italy was producing a superabundance of great singers: there were Kaschmann, Magini-Coletti, Pacini, Campanari, Ancona, Bellantoni, Sammarco, Battistini, Amato, Scotti, Ruffo, Stracciari, Viglione-Borghese...whew! Those are just the Italians, and all of them were superb compared to anyone I know of currently on the scene, as their recordings will attest.

    I really don't know what to say about the current crop of baritones singing the big fat Verdi roles. Hvorostovsky is gone, Keenleyside may not be huge-voiced but he sounds almost as good as he looks (), Mattei is a lyric who can do certain roles well, Finley likewise. Kelsey seems to have the basic equipment; don't know what he's doing with it. Whose Rigoletto is knockin' 'em dead in the provinces? It hasn't been happening at the Met, if my radio doesn't lie.
    I thought I was the only person to make this reference

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    I thought I was the only person to make this reference
    Are you a paleontologist?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    To fill in some missed above: Hvorostovsky/Pape/Ramey/London/Quilico/Lucic/Kweicen/Owens/Van Horn
    Hvorostovsky was mentioned. Pape, Ramey, London, Owens and Van Horn were/are all basses or bass-baritones. Lucic and Kweicen are the right vocal category but neither of them is among the greats (I don't know what they sounded like at the beginning of their careers). I'd put only Quilico, of the singers you mention, in the company of Warren, Merrill, and others of his time. Thank you for reminding me of him. Sherrill Milnes came along in the late 60s and was first-rate for a while till his high notes went weird.

    My question still stands: who is a first-class "Verdi baritone" right now?

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    I wasn't wearing my glasses, and I thought this thread was called "Verdi ringtones."
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Hvorostovsky was mentioned. Pape, Ramey, London, Owens and Van Horn were/are all basses or bass-baritones. Lucic and Kweicen are the right vocal category but neither of them is among the greats (I don't know what they sounded like at the beginning of their careers). I'd put only Quilico, of the singers you mention, in the company of Warren, Merrill, and others of his time. Thank you for reminding me of him. Sherrill Milnes came along in the late 60s and was first-rate for a while till his high notes went weird.

    My question still stands: who is a first-class "Verdi baritone" right now?
    I do agree. I admit I was stretching it a bit.
    True answer: Dere ain't one! (is this PC?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I wasn't wearing my glasses, and I thought this thread was called "Verdi ringtones."
    Great idea for a thread!

    N.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    OK let me just take you through the Rigolettos I have:

    Gobbi - not such a wonderful voice but what an actor. And singing with the best Duke (Di Stefano) and Callas' Gilda
    McNeil - get his first recording with Sutherland to hear his superb voice at his best despite some lethargic conducting.
    Merrill - Absolutely first rate with Solti. Can't understand anyone saying he was 'faceless' - he is superb despite Solti's haste.
    Bruson - yes he can roar with the best
    Zancanaro - absolutely superb on Muti's flawed set. Worth having for him alone. Great Verdi baritone.
    Milnes - outstanding in every way - wounded, roaring, spitting
    Cappuccilli - just listening as only just acquired the set - but sounds good from what I hear
    D F-D - acquired taste but highly intelligent. Whether that is appropriate for Verdi's jester a matter of opinion.
    Warren - haven't got round to hearing him with Cellini yet so the pleasure awaits but have heard the excerpts with Toscanini so nuff said!
    So take your pick! Why go to the ancient and crackling recordings when we have such riches decently recorded? Like the excerpt with Tibbett - gives one an idea of the great singer - really outstanding he was but oh how one longs for a more modern recording to do it justice. Thanks for posting it anyway. One of the greats!
    Last edited by DavidA; Oct-08-2019 at 17:01.

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    Senior Member Sieglinde's Avatar
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    For fun: Tibbett vs. Warren curse scene!


    For today, I'd say Ludovic Tézier is probably the best Verdi baritone - his voice really matured into it, his legato is fantastic, and he has that noble beauty in his sound.



    I'd also link his Rodrigue because it's something ethereal when he does it in French, but that Paris staging makes me aggro XD Let Carlos hold him you b@stards!



    Carlos Álvarez is also a great one, and Artur Ruciński is growing into Verdi.

    Of course, Alexandru Agache is also still active, but he settled in Hungary (we are lucky in that department) so you don't see him abroad that often.

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    Keenlyside, Kwiecien and Hampson, despite being more lyric, make up for it with excellent acting. Haven't heard Mattei in Verdi yet, but his Amfortas was a revelation and left me crying.

    Kelsey has a pretty sound but lacks the bite or the charisma. Seen him as Paolo where he was luxury casting, however.

    A singer friend in the UK says Maltman has matured into Verdi surprisingly well (he's seen him in the recent Forza). Wish they filmed him in something because I'm curious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sieglinde View Post
    Haven't heard Mattei in Verdi yet, but his Amfortas was a revelation and left me crying.
    I don't think that he's sung much Verdi, but he did record a superb Posa:

    dc_naxos.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    OK let me just take you through the Rigolettos I have:
    You're missing a couple of great ones - Nicolae Herlea and Hugo Hasslo. Andrei Ivanov, in Russian, is a bit bland, but it's an impressive voice. It's a shame that neither Pavel Lisitsian or Matteo Manuguerra made a complete recording of the role.

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