Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 60

Thread: Rank these Mezzosoprani: Barbieri, Simionato, Stignani

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    526
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Rank these Mezzosoprani: Barbieri, Simionato, Stignani

    These three are the most comparable singers I can think of. Please rank these three powerhouse mezzos from best to worst.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,512
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    I would rank them in the order Simionato, Barbieri, Stignani, but only because I know Stignani's work less well, and then mostly from towards the end of her career - the Adalgisas with Callas, for instance. I much prefer Simionato in this role. She's terrific in the La Scala Trovatore of 1953 with Callas and does what she can with the role of the Gran Vestale in the 1954 Callas La Vestale, but these are all I really know. I know much more of Simionato's and Barbieri's work.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    3,291
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    I would rank them in the order Simionato, Barbieri, Stignani, but only because I know Stignani's work less well, and then mostly from towards the end of her career - the Adalgisas with Callas, for instance. I much prefer Simionato in this role. She's terrific in the La Scala Trovatore of 1953 with Callas and does what she can with the role of the Gran Vestale in the 1954 Callas La Vestale, but these are all I really know. I know much more of Simionato's and Barbieri's work.
    SNAP! I would add that I would distinguish between Simionato after 1960 and before, she tended to sing with more abandon in the same roles at the end of her career (although I prefer her earlier Rossini recordings to her later ones).

    N.

  4. Likes Tsaraslondon, Tuoksu liked this post
  5. #4
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    1,447
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    barbieri > simionato >>>>>> stignani
    Last edited by howlingfantods; May-26-2020 at 17:37.

  6. Likes Tuoksu liked this post
  7. #5
    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    951
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Stignani had a great voice, but it does nothing for me. When she sang Adalgisa in London in 1952, she was singled out for praise; for her even voice, her style (!), though not her stage deportment. One critic cited her “abbreviated figure,” and further pronounced that few people would believe “so phlegmatic a virgin.” (Oh, the English!). But the voice is solid, smooth, though it has no distinguishing characteristic that makes it memorable. Her voice has more beauty to it than the other two singers.

    Barbieri has a more interesting voice, cruder, and a more recognizable timbre. I think I can pick her voice out in a blind test.
    Interestingly, she denies ever singing in chest voice (to Stefan Zucker in an interview), though recordings show she does it liberally, especially in late career. I saw her in San Francisco as Zita in Il trittico; the voice was blowsy, but she made a great impression.

    Simionato is the most familiar to me, though I have never seen her live - my impression of her is that she had a lighter voice than the other two, but she could hold her own in a competition of whom could sing louder, deeper, wilder. She astonishes as Santuzza, Carmen (albeit in Italian), Principessa de Bouillon, Adalgisa (the most fluid of the three), Azucena, Amneris.

    I have to say, though, that my opinions here are strictly impressions of these singers, from recordings heard over a wide period, and not with the intention of comparing and contrasting.
    Last edited by MAS; May-26-2020 at 18:11.

  8. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Cambridge, MA
    Posts
    390
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MAS View Post
    Stignani had a great voice, but it does nothing for me. When she sang Adalgisa in London in 1952, she was singled out for praise; for her even voice, her style (!), though not her stage deportment. One critic cited her “abbreviated figure,” and further pronounced that few people would believe “so phlegmatic a virgin.” (Oh, the English!). But the voice is solid, smooth, though it has no distinguishing characteristic that makes it memorable. Her voice has more beauty to it than the other two singers.

    Barbieri has a more interesting voice, cruder, and a more recognizable timbre. I think I can pick her voice out in a blind test.
    Interestingly, she denies ever singing in chest voice (to Stefan Zucker in an interview), though recordings show she does it liberally, especially in late career. I saw her in San Francisco as Zita in Il trittico; the voice was blowsy, but she made a great impression.

    Simionato is the most familiar to me, though I have never seen her live - my impression of her is that she had a lighter voice than the other two, but she could hold her own in a competition of whom could sing louder, deeper, wilder. She astonishes as Santuzza, Carmen (albeit in Italian), Principessa de Bouillon, Adalgisa (the most fluid of the three), Azucena, Amneris.

    I have to say, though, that my opinions here are strictly impressions of these singers, from recordings heard over a wide period, and not with the intention of comparing and contrasting.
    Both Simionato and Stignani in the Zucker interview denied ever using chest voice. Gencer in the same documentary says comically Si vede che hanno la memoria corta! or "Obviously they have short memories!"...

    My ranking: Simionato >>> Barbieri >>> Stignani.

    They are all great singers but I gravitate to Simionato was vocally more secure than Barbieri, and the more exciting and intelligent to me. Barbieri and Stignani were forces of nature. Barbieri could be a bit hammy sometimes and her high notes were always a tad flat. Stignani had the best vocal endowment of the three but she could a bit detached where more fuoco would have been welcome (for example, Amneris). Interestingly, Stignani lamented that she did not have the pep that Gianna Pederzini had.

  9. Likes Tsaraslondon, Tuoksu liked this post
  10. #7
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,512
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Another point in Simionato's favour is her impressive top register. Callas once said it annoyed her that the critics never remarked that with Simionato, she sang the Norma/Adalgisa in the correct keys. With Stignani downward transpositions were made and Stignani still altered the vocal line so as to duck the high notes.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  11. Likes VitellioScarpia liked this post
  12. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Cambridge, MA
    Posts
    390
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Another point in Simionato's favour is her impressive top register. Callas once said it annoyed her that the critics never remarked that with Simionato, she sang the Norma/Adalgisa in the correct keys. With Stignani downward transpositions were made and Stignani still altered the vocal line so as to duck the high notes.
    There's a funny accident in their Norma of 1950 in Mexico. Simionato forgets her music and at the end of their duo they both end on the High C at the end.

  13. Likes Tsaraslondon, Tuoksu liked this post
  14. #9
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    1,447
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    simionato definitely has a better top than barbieri--sometimes I think of barbieri as an contralto, not a mezzo. it makes barbieri more imposing for the more witchy characters--azucena, ulrica, and the like. i do like simionato more when the character is supposed to be sexy, not spooky.

  15. #10
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,683
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    As Amneris the combination of Simionato's Hollywod figure, her soaring voice and great acting and involvement would have been unbeatable. I like Barbieri in witchy roles. Both she and Stignani had humongous voices. Stignani wasn't sexy enough for Dalilah.
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; May-27-2020 at 01:17.

  16. Likes Tuoksu liked this post
  17. #11
    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    526
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by VitellioScarpia View Post
    Both Simionato and Stignani in the Zucker interview denied ever using chest voice. Gencer in the same documentary says comically Si vede che hanno la memoria corta! or "Obviously they have short memories!"...

    My ranking: Simionato >>> Barbieri >>> Stignani.

    They are all great singers but I gravitate to Simionato was vocally more secure than Barbieri, and the more exciting and intelligent to me. Barbieri and Stignani were forces of nature. Barbieri could be a bit hammy sometimes and her high notes were always a tad flat. Stignani had the best vocal endowment of the three but she could a bit detached where more fuoco would have been welcome (for example, Amneris). Interestingly, Stignani lamented that she did not have the pep that Gianna Pederzini had.
    You mean Barbieri.

    I think all the singers on the Zucker interview just had a very different definition of what they call chest voice. Everyone from Magda Olivero, Barbieri, Pobbe, Simionato, Gavazzi, etc they all denied it and said it's vulgar. They are referring to what "dramatic" singers today sound like: Voce Ingolata. When they tried to demonstrate, they mimicked a depressed larynx and a very constricted throaty vomit-y sound which is what we hear in today's lower/bigger voices.
    Last edited by Tuoksu; May-27-2020 at 01:23.

  18. Likes VitellioScarpia, IgorS, Tsaraslondon and 1 others liked this post
  19. #12
    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    526
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I tried, but it's still impossible for me to rank them.

    Stignani has the most beautiful voice of the three, and the most balanced. She can be really thrilling when she wants to (listen to her "il figlio mio! mio figlio avea bruciato!") but I don't know what exactly is wrong with her than doesn't exactly grip me.

    Simionato is the one I enjoy the most. Her chest voice is magnificent, cavernous, effortlessly huge. But sometimes the top and middle can be clearly smaller and less squillante than her lower half.

    I remember talking to an italian friend and he said about Barbieri "troppo sguaiata" (very vulgar) which kind of stuck with me. I think that makes her perfect for Azucena and Ulrica, but from what I've seen, I'm assuming he's not just referring to her singing. Her voice is incredibly rich, the epitome of Verdi Mezzo, but like many of you said, her acuti are squeezed and small compared to the rest of her voice, and she can be flat indeed. But none of that bothers me, really. She's incredibly thrilling and fun and to be honest the acuti of a mezzo and a "vulgar Azucena" are the least of my concerns.

    I think I should make this even more challenging and add Bruna Castagna, Cloé Elmo and a very underrated non-italian: Oralia Dominguez! And no, Cossotto is a smaller voice overall and doesn't really fit with these.

  20. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Posts
    203
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default

    I've enjoyed all three mezzo's recordings - particularly Stignani in the Forza del Destino with Marinuzzi, Barbieri in Gioconda with Callas and Simionato in Aida (especially the Cetra recording with Gui).

    Having said that, Simionato's contribution in Gli Ugonotti is outstanding: I don't think many other mezzos have ever sounded like that


  21. Likes VitellioScarpia, Tuoksu, The Conte liked this post
  22. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Cambridge, MA
    Posts
    390
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuoksu View Post
    I tried, but it's still impossible for me to rank them.

    Stignani has the most beautiful voice of the three, and the most balanced. She can be really thrilling when she wants to (listen to her "il figlio mio! mio figlio avea bruciato!") but I don't know what exactly is wrong with her than doesn't exactly grip me.

    Simionato is the one I enjoy the most. Her chest voice is magnificent, cavernous, effortlessly huge. But sometimes the top and middle can be clearly smaller and less squillante than her lower half.

    I remember talking to an italian friend and he said about Barbieri "troppo sguaiata" (very vulgar) which kind of stuck with me. I think that makes her perfect for Azucena and Ulrica, but from what I've seen, I'm assuming he's not just referring to her singing. Her voice is incredibly rich, the epitome of Verdi Mezzo, but like many of you said, her acuti are squeezed and small compared to the rest of her voice, and she can be flat indeed. But none of that bothers me, really. She's incredibly thrilling and fun and to be honest the acuti of a mezzo and a "vulgar Azucena" are the least of my concerns.

    I think I should make this even more challenging and add Bruna Castagna, Cloé Elmo and a very underrated non-italian: Oralia Dominguez! And no, Cossotto is a smaller voice overall and doesn't really fit with these.
    (Yes, I had meant Barbieri in #11.)

    If you add Castagna, Elmo, and Dominguez it would be really hard. I am glad to see that I am not the only one that thinks Cossotto is not in the same league!

  23. Likes Tsaraslondon, Tuoksu, The Conte liked this post
  24. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    3,291
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuoksu View Post
    You mean Barbieri.

    I think all the singers on the Zucker interview just had a very different definition of what they call chest voice. Everyone from Magda Olivero, Barbieri, Pobbe, Simionato, Gavazzi, etc they all denied it and said it's vulgar. They are referring to what "dramatic" singers today sound like: Voce Ingolata. When they tried to demonstrate, they mimicked a depressed larynx and a very constricted throaty vomit-y sound which is what we hear in today's lower/bigger voices.
    This must be the case. In fact, if by 'chest voice' you mean the chest register, then all singers use it! When people talk about chest voice in this context they generally mean low notes that have a full, resonant, fruity quality to them. The divas on the Zucker video are correct, the secret to singing the low notes (where the chest voice is more prevalent naturally in all voices) is not to exaggerate the chest register, but to make sure there is a huge amount of head register in the mix, thus giving the tones a full, complete bloom.

    N.

  25. Likes VitellioScarpia, Tuoksu liked this post
Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •