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Thread: Zinka Milanov tries a new Maria Callas record

  1. #46
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VitellioScarpia View Post
    You make an interesting observation. However, I do not hear male voices sound more differentiated than female ones among characters in any significant way be it Corelli, MDM, Gigli, Windgassen. Let's take Gobbi, a great vocal actor, his differentiation is interpretive more than the basic sound of his voice. That is not the case with Callas: she achieves sounding unrecognizable at first listen as Butterfly, Amina or Mimì if you had in your mind her sound of Lucia (which she made more dramatic in sound than was the norm at the time), Medea or Norma (let alone Macbeth or Gioconda!).

    DFD in lieder, especially in recordings, is a different animal because he used the microphone cleverly to support lightening his sound to a tenor quality sometimes which would be a challenge in a larger venue. If you listen DFD in opera (records) the sound is less varied. Back to my point in 42, his basic sound does not speak to me. I admire him and have many of his recordings, but I do not love him.
    That's actually a fair point - they do not sound different but they interpret differently. Even when it comes to character tenors like Stolze. I listened to his Walther (Sawallisch Tannhäuser) which is absolutely wonderful but he still sounds like Stolze. What makes his Mime different from his Walther is the way he uses legato, lyricism and phrasing but yes, as you say, even tenors don't necessarily change the way they sound.

    DFD was my intro into lieder and I am quite fond of him but not in heavy bass-baritone rep (he maybe shouldn't have sung Wotan...). But when he sang roles which where fit to his voice, like Wolfram, he could be very marvellous!
    Last edited by annaw; Jul-03-2020 at 18:10.

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  3. #47
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    Talking about liking to be surprised by a singer challenging my expectations, one case is Joan Sutherland. I became indifferent to Sutherland, however great she might be in Bel Canto roles because of her basic sound which does not speak to me and lack of variety/characterization. Then comes her Turandot. Even if a studio confection, she nailed that role wonderfully well. None of the technical (coloratura, trills, etc.) that were he calling card could be called in. Dame Joan took a tremendous artistic risk and she succeeded. She made Turandot a real character and bettered, in some aspects, more naturally suited singers. I think that her Turandot is more effective to me than Inge Borkh's rendition of the role (again, a matter of taste), however much I like Borkh's Turandot recording.

    The other surprise from her was Esclarmonde. Although it requires more coloratura than Turandot, she sounds like Valkyrie and totally projects the immensely passionate music written in the role. Her studio recording in 1975 and especially the live performances in SF, 1974, attest how passionate Dame Joan could really be.
    Last edited by VitellioScarpia; Jul-03-2020 at 19:25.

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  5. #48
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VitellioScarpia View Post
    Talking about liking to be surprised by a singer challenging my expectations, one case is Joan Sutherland. I became indifferent to Sutherland, however great she might be in Bel Canto roles because of her basic sound which does not speak to me and lack of variety/characterization. Then comes her Turandot. Even if a studio confection, she nailed that role wonderfully well. None of the technical (coloratura, trills, etc.) that were he calling card could be called in. Dame Joan took a tremendous artistic risk and she succeeded. She made Turandot a real character and bettered, in some aspects, more naturally suited singers. I think that her Turandot is more effective to me than Inge Borkh's rendition of the role (again, a matter of taste), however much I like Borkh's Turandot recording.

    The other surprise from her was Esclarmonde. Although it requires more coloratura than Turandot, she sounds like Valkyrie and totally projects the immensely passionate music written in the role. Her studio recording in 1975 and especially the live performances in SF, 1974, attest how passionate Dame Joan could really be.
    Sutherland's Turandot was a surprise for me also, and still one of the few roles I really like her in. I did have Esclarmonde on LP, but never replaced it when I moved to CD. I didn't really like the opera enough and can't remember that much about it.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    I always say 1955 was Callas's annus mirabilis, the year that voice and art were at their truest equilibrium, and fortunately many performances from this year have been preserved in sound. The weight loss had freed her as a performing artist and the voice, though probably slightly reduced in volume, was still a firm and powerful instrument. According to Giulini, after the weight loss, "She became another woman and a new world of expression opened to her. Potentials held in the shadows emerged. In every sense, she had been transformed."

    The year had started inauspiciously with her learning the role of Maddalena in a few days, as Del Monaco had declared himself too unwell to sing Manrico, but felt he could sing Chénier. (Who knows the vicissitudes of tenors?). Her Maddalena, as can be heard from the recording, is rather interesting, but the opera is emphatically a tenor vehicle and one wonders why she bothered.

    However her next production at La Scala was a triumph. This was the Visconti/Bernstein La Sonnambula. She followed this with a Zeffirelli production of Il Turco in Italia (unfortunately not recorded), but then topped even these successes with the famous Visconti/Giulini La Traviata, one of the most famous productions in La Scala's history, and also mercifully preserved in sound.. Next up was a Rome radio broadcast of Norma under Serafin, in which she is in terrific voice.

    Summer recording sessions produced the Karajan conducted Madama Butterfly, the Serafin Rigoletto with Gobbi, and the Serafin Aida.

    Early in September La Scala took the Karajan production of Lucia di Lammermoor to Berlin, where she had a stupendous success. Maybe prophetically, the critic Desmond Shawe-Taylor said of these performances, "I dare say she will never sing better than she does now; there is Greek resin in her voice which will never be quite strained away; she will never charm us with the full round ductile tone of Muzio or [Rosa] Raisa or Ponselle. But she has sudden flights, dramatic outbursts of rocketing virtuosity, of which even those more richly endowed singers were hardly capable."

    After that, she went to Chicago for the second time, where her roles were Elvira in I Puritani, Leonora in Il Trovatore with Bjoerling, and Butterfly (the only time she sang the role on stage). None of these peformances were recorded but Bjoerling called her Leonora "perfection". The final performance of Butterfly was also the scene for the first big scandal of her career, when a process server stuffed a summons into the sash of her kimono as she exited the stage and she went mad. Paparazzi just happened to be on hand to capture the moment and the rest is history.

    She finished the year by opening the La Scala season with what many believe to be her finest performances ever of Norma with Simionato and Del Monaco. Fortunately the opening night was recorded too. It is, without any doubt, the performance of Norma I would take to that proverbial desert island.

    There were still some great performances to come in the future, but no other year would be as spectaular as 1955. I'm tempted to say no other singer in history has had a year filled with such success, She was at the absolute apex of her career and I suppose there is only one way to go from there.
    When I think of Callas in 1955 and how great she was I'm reminded of a quote I love - "The sun begins it's descent at midday". One of my all time favourite Callas moments is the last 5 minutes of Act 1 of Gioconda in the 1959 recording. For me it has everything I love most about her. Other than Norma I'm not much of a fan of bel canto so some of her most famous roles don't do much for me. In terms of studio recordings another favourite of mine is her Forza Leonora. I deeply regret there isn't a live recording of her in that role. I think it's one of her best roles. It was also one of Tebaldi's best roles so maybe she didn't want the comparison.

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  8. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by VitellioScarpia View Post
    Talking about liking to be surprised by a singer challenging my expectations, one case is Joan Sutherland. I became indifferent to Sutherland, however great she might be in Bel Canto roles because of her basic sound which does not speak to me and lack of variety/characterization. Then comes her Turandot. Even if a studio confection, she nailed that role wonderfully well. None of the technical (coloratura, trills, etc.) that were he calling card could be called in. Dame Joan took a tremendous artistic risk and she succeeded. She made Turandot a real character and bettered, in some aspects, more naturally suited singers. I think that her Turandot is more effective to me than Inge Borkh's rendition of the role (again, a matter of taste), however much I like Borkh's Turandot recording.

    The other surprise from her was Esclarmonde. Although it requires more coloratura than Turandot, she sounds like Valkyrie and totally projects the immensely passionate music written in the role. Her studio recording in 1975 and especially the live performances in SF, 1974, attest how passionate Dame Joan could really be.
    I wonder if being conducted by someone other than her husband had something to do with how great that Turandot is. I also think she had the ideal voice for the role. A big voice with a very easy top. The same reason Netrebko is having such success with the role. I don't think Wagnerian sopranos are the right voice for the role because (other than Nilsson) they often don't have that ease at the top.
    Last edited by damianjb1; Jul-03-2020 at 22:40.

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