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Thread: Your favorite assoluta voices

  1. #1
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Default Your favorite assoluta voices

    in the interests of not getting to pedantic with definitions, you can call "assoluta" any singer whose voice straddles the line between mezzo and soprano. some of my favorites include
    - Shirley Verrett
    - Fiorenza Cossotto
    - Agnes Baltsa
    - Rosa Ponselle

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Well, there's Yma Sumac...

    But you said mezzo to soprano, not euphonium to theremin, didn't you.

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    I'm not sure I understand the question. I'm going to interpret it as who is your favourite singer who sang/sings both mezzo and soprano roles.

    Maria Callas
    Magda Olivero
    Joyce DiDonato

    N.

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    Jessye Norman
    Astrid Varnay
    Leonie Rysanek

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Callas. I can think of no other singer who fulfilled the demands of so many disparate roles and composers. It's not just that she could sing Verdi and Puccini, Wagner and the bel canto, but the dramatic range of the roles she sang. Just think of the roles she sang and their various demands. In Verdi alone she sang with equal success Abigaille, Lady Macbeth, Gilda, Violetta, both the Trovatore and Forza Leonoras, Elena, Amelia and Aida, and she sang all these roles on stage, not just in the studio.

    There is hardy a bar in the whole range of nineteenth-century music for high soprano that seriously tested her powers.
    Walter Legge.

    Admittedly she never sang a mezzo role on stage and I think Dalila's low tessitura would have probably tested her on stage, but I have no doubt she'd have been able to sing such roles as Carmen and Eboli with ease.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    I also have to add Martha Modl.

    N.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    I don't like the term "assoluta" (Italian for "absolute," "total," "complete," etc.) as a name for a voice type. There's no such thing as a "complete" voice - i.e. a voice that has an effective range from contralto to high soprano and a flawless technique capable of singing anything. In my time Callas came closest, but only in her prime, and hardly anyone came close to her. There probably haven't been enough singers of such capabilities to constitute a type. Some of the singers mentioned have successfully bridged the soprano-mezzo divide, but don't exhibit extraordinary technical skill.

    Ernestine Schumann-Heink was classified as a contralto, but except for the highest soprano notes she had everything else in her vocal arsenal. Her trill alone was worth the price of admission.Try these:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVYI6KvtNsA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIoACAM1ENg

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Victoria De Los Angeles is another singer who sang both soprano and mezzo roles, and though she sang Manon and Violetta with success, she isn't entirely happy in the upper reaches of those roles. I know of at least one singing teacher who is convinced she was actually a mezzo, though I'm not sure I'd agree. That said she sang Rosina in the mezzo keys and was an appreciable Charlotte and Carmen.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Pia Tassinari's lovely voice was tricky to define and spanned soprano and mezzo roles

    - as Violetta


    - as Suzel


    -as Margherita


    - as Carmen


    -as Dalila

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    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    I'm not sure I understand the question. I'm going to interpret it as who is your favourite singer who sang/sings both mezzo and soprano roles.

    Maria Callas
    Magda Olivero
    Joyce DiDonato

    N.
    that's a valid interpretation. the question is a general one.

  13. #11
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I don't like the term "assoluta" (Italian for "absolute," "total," "complete," etc.) as a name for a voice type. There's no such thing as a "complete" voice - i.e. a voice that has an effective range from contralto to high soprano and a flawless technique capable of singing anything. In my time Callas came closest, but only in her prime, and hardly anyone came close to her. There probably haven't been enough singers of such capabilities to constitute a type. Some of the singers mentioned have successfully bridged the soprano-mezzo divide, but don't exhibit extraordinary technical skill.
    understandable. my dilemma was that my choice was otherwise between either a cumbersome phrase "singers who span between soprano and mezzo" or more hyper-specific categories like falcon, dugazon, etc and getting lost in obscure classifications that 90% of people don't even use.

    Ernestine Schumann-Heink was classified as a contralto, but except for the highest soprano notes she had everything else in her vocal arsenal. Her trill alone was worth the price of admission.Try these:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVYI6KvtNsA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIoACAM1ENg
    truly an underrated singer from a time before contraltos sang with fake, artificially swallowed placement akin to a counter-tenor (okay, maybe that's a lil extreme, but still).
    Last edited by BalalaikaBoy; Dec-02-2019 at 23:29.

  14. #12
    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
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    In modern times, only Callas qualified in 1948/49 and part of the 1950s. Listen to her, and try to contrast DiDonato, Olivero, De Los Angeles and any other soprano you can name (Verrett, Bumbry, Gencer) that even approaches the divine Maria.
    Singing soprano and mezzos roles concurrently and/or alternately alone doesn’t qualify. You need the absolute facility, ferocity, incisiveness, élan, agility, acuti, authority of style, and musicianship to be a soprano assoluto. Yes, Maria Callas, absolutely!

    CD0BDC6A-9043-41E7-BE13-3BAC32B7C593.jpeg

    Also, see previous thread:
    Https://www.talkclassical.com/44122-...its-place.html
    Last edited by MAS; Yesterday at 21:13.

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