View Poll Results: Who sang it better?

Voters
23. You may not vote on this poll
  • Spani

    6 26.09%
  • Callas

    17 73.91%
Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 31 to 45 of 52

Thread: SOPRANO TOURNAMENT (By Request): Spani vs Callas

  1. #31
    New Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    3
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Spani captures the nocturnal mood of the aria perfectly and communicates Leonora's inner anguish and private musing superbly. The pre-weight loss Callas was at the peak of her vocal powers in 1951, yet I find her in this Naples performance (as well as the 1950 Mexico City role debut and even the 1953 Scala performance) rather too heroic in voice for the aria and there isn't a lot of frailty and sense of tragedy. The live occasion gave rise to an element of playing to the gallery in her singing. So, Spani it is for me in this contest.

    If Callas' 1956 EMI studio recording has been chosen instead of the 1951 live Naples performance, my voting will be the other way round. In 1956, Callas' post-weight loss voice hasn't yet developed the problems that marked her premature vocal decline and it actually worked to her advantage in imparting a sense of deeply moving frailty and poignancy to her portrayal.

    Coming to the trill question, Spani actually COULD trill and she produced excellent fast trills in the aria Fanciullina by Italian Baroque composer Vincenzo L. Ciampi:



    Contrary to many who post here, I think she intentionally favoured slow trills in the Trovatore aria to bind them more closely to the melodic lines.

  2. Likes Tietjens Stolz, Seattleoperafan liked this post
  3. #32
    Senior Member Tietjens Stolz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    277
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Initially I was undecided. By now I'm inclined to agree with Kumachan (and Concertante regarding the musical superiority of Callas' 1956 EMI recording over her other recorded Leonoras). My vote goes to Spani.

  4. Likes Seattleoperafan liked this post
  5. #33
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    18,453
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumachan View Post
    Spani captures the nocturnal mood of the aria perfectly and communicates Leonora's inner anguish and private musing superbly. The pre-weight loss Callas was at the peak of her vocal powers in 1951, yet I find her in this Naples performance (as well as the 1950 Mexico City role debut and even the 1953 Scala performance) rather too heroic in voice for the aria and there isn't a lot of frailty and sense of tragedy. The live occasion gave rise to an element of playing to the gallery in her singing. So, Spani it is for me in this contest.

    If Callas' 1956 EMI studio recording has been chosen instead of the 1951 live Naples performance, my voting will be the other way round. In 1956, Callas' post-weight loss voice hasn't yet developed the problems that marked her premature vocal decline and it actually worked to her advantage in imparting a sense of deeply moving frailty and poignancy to her portrayal.

    Coming to the trill question, Spani actually COULD trill and she produced excellent fast trills in the aria Fanciullina by Italian Baroque composer Vincenzo L. Ciampi:



    Contrary to many who post here, I think she intentionally favoured slow trills in the Trovatore aria to bind them more closely to the melodic lines.
    Unfortunately that video says it isn't available, and I can't find the performance on YouTube. I'd like to have heard it.

    I don't understand what it means to say that a slow alternation of notes is "bound more closely to the melodic line" than a trill. In any case the idea seems not to have occurred to Verdi. Shorter trills might reasonably be done in a modified way - sometimes a turn can be effective - but the long one really can't be replaced by a different embellishment.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-23-2021 at 07:04.

  6. Likes Seattleoperafan liked this post
  7. #34
    Senior Member Tietjens Stolz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    277
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Unfortunately that video says it isn't available, and I can't find the performance on YouTube. I'd like to have heard it.

    The video is available. At least I can access it.

    Try to open up this link instead:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ri--vts7JbQ

    If it still cannot be opened, try doing so in a different browser.
    Last edited by Tietjens Stolz; Sep-23-2021 at 07:13.

  8. #35
    Senior Member Tietjens Stolz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    277
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Unfortunately that video says it isn't available, and I can't find the performance on YouTube. I'd like to have heard it.
    Alternatively, try open up this video and then jump to 06:19:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YbNRGFe7xY

  9. Likes Seattleoperafan, Woodduck liked this post
  10. #36
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    18,453
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tietjens Stolz View Post
    Alternatively, try open up this video and then jump to 06:19:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YbNRGFe7xY
    Thanks. This one worked. I've noticed that some YouTube videos are unavailable in some places, but I don't know the reason for it.

    Having listened, I have to say that the supposed trills in the aria at 6:19 don't sound like true trills to me but rather slight intensifications of vibrato. Ideally a trill is a rapid alternation of two distinct notes. Many singers' trills only approximate this, and many fail to do even that. Spani, on the evidence presented so far, didn't have a real trill. Her performance of this little aria is very nice though.

    I'm finding it hard to tear myself away from this Spani collection. She does an exquisite "In quelle trine morbide" that's interesting to hear right after yesterday's competition between Scotto and Te Kanawa.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-23-2021 at 08:28.

  11. Likes Concertantek364, Tsaraslondon liked this post
  12. #37
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    You're talking about a few seconds in a nearly 5 minute performance. I mean, give it a rest with the trill complaint. Her performance of this aria is really, really, good.
    Indeed it is. It's just not AS good as the Callas performance, because she doesn't perform the music as it is written, and the trills really are quite important in this aria. Verdi presumably thought so or he'd have left them out. They are not there just for vocal display, but to express Leonora's anxiety. Callas not only sings them but binds them into the musical line. They amount to more than just a few seconds too. They occur on rosee, dolente, speranza, la stanza, and a long one on the word le pene, where Spani does at least do a minor shake, but it isn't really a trill.

    You will note that most of us here have commented on the beauty of Spani's voice, her phrasing, her musicality, communication of the text and creation of the right atmosphere. If she did have a proper trill, she might well have won the round. As it is, Callas takes the palm for more fully fulfilling the composer's intentions.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-23-2021 at 08:44.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  13. Likes Concertantek364, Viardots, Woodduck liked this post
  14. #38
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    68
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Thanks. This one worked. I've noticed that some YouTube videos are unavailable in some places, but I don't know the reason for it.

    Having listened, I have to say that the supposed trills in the aria at 6:19 don't sound like true trills to me but rather slight intensifications of vibrato. Ideally a trill is a rapid alternation of two distinct notes. Many singers' trills only approximate this, and many fail to do even that. Spani, on the evidence presented so far, didn't have a real trill. Her performance of this little aria is very nice though.

    I'm finding it hard to tear myself away from this Spani collection. She does an exquisite "In quelle trine morbide" that's interesting to hear right after yesterday's competition between Scotto and Te Kanawa.
    I hear a trill in that selection starting at 06:19. Lovely singing, too.

  15. #39
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ALT View Post
    I hear a trill in that selection starting at 06:19. Lovely singing, too.
    Delightful singing, yes, but If you are hearing trills, you have a very loose definition of what a trill is. I hear what Woodduck hears, a slight intensification of vibrato.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-23-2021 at 12:41.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  16. Likes Seattleoperafan, Woodduck liked this post
  17. #40
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    401
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Concertantek364 View Post
    Critic and writer Tully Porter produced an excellent feature article on Spani for the Autumn 2008 issue of Classic Record Collector (now out of print). Based on the recording logs he found at the EMI/HMV archives it appears that the HMV engineers went through a lot of troubles to capture her voice satisfyingly on 78 rpm records. It was more often than not in her case that for a particular aria several attempts were made and many takes had to be abandoned before a successful take was finally achieved.
    Spani apparently has a wide dynamic range, with ample reserves of power. It was very difficult for the acoustic recording horn and the early electrical recording microphone to capture such voice satisfyingly. One can imagine how viscerally thrilling it could be to hear her in an opera house.

  18. Likes Seattleoperafan, Woodduck liked this post
  19. #41
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    8,654
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Indeed it is. It's just not AS good as the Callas performance, because she doesn't perform the music as it is written, and the trills really are quite important in this aria. Verdi presumably thought so or he'd have left them out. They are not there just for vocal display, but to express Leonora's anxiety. Callas not only sings them but binds them into the musical line. They amount to more than just a few seconds too. They occur on rosee, dolente, speranza, la stanza, and a long one on the word le pene, where Spani does at least do a minor shake, but it isn't really a trill.

    You will note that most of us here have commented on the beauty of Spani's voice, her phrasing, her musicality, communication of the text and creation of the right atmosphere. If she did have a proper trill, she might well have won the round. As it is, Callas takes the palm for more fully fulfilling the composer's intentions.
    I appreciate you argument and take your points. Still, these are singers from different generations, and there may have been a difference in singing styles regarding trills. Then again, Spani may have been unable to execute a convincing trill at this stage in her career (or ever for that matter), or to have her trill captured with the existing recording technology.

    But I feel that you and others are making a bit much of Verdi's intentions concerning the trill (but I could be all wrong thinking that, Verdi was an exacting craftsman and knew what he wanted). However, for me, the aria stands on its own with or without making much of the trill. To be honest I didn't even notice it when I first listened to it and had to go back and listen again, only after seeing the comments.

    What I take away from this exercise is that I am more of a big picture listener, and I loved her singing.
    Last edited by SanAntone; Sep-23-2021 at 12:57.

  20. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  21. #42
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    But I feel that you and others are making a bit much of Verdi's intentions concerning the trill (but I could be all wrong thinking that, Verdi was an exacting craftsman and knew what he wanted). However, for me, the aria stands on its own with or without making much of the trill. To be honest I didn't even notice it when I first listened to it and had to go back and listen again, only after seeing the comments.

    What I take away from this exercise is that I am more of a big picture listener, and I loved her singing.
    Well we do know that Verdi was quite an exacting craftsman, and his scores are littered with quite detailed expression marks, though they are not always observed. Indeed, except for the lack of a trill, Spani is keenly responsive to his instructions. I'm repeating myself here I know, but I find those opening measures rather plain and bald without the trill Verdi wrote. I started listening to the Spani version prepared to find it exemplary, as I have been so impressed by her singing in other pieces, and was rather surprised to find it was not quite in this case.

    You say you are a big picture listener. Does this also apply to instrumental works? Were a pianist or violinist to omit or gloss over the parts in a virtuoso piece that they hadn't mastered, would you be happy with their playing if the general impression was pleasing?

    Like the majority of us here, John Steane, in his wonderful book The Grand Tradition is very appreciative of Spani, but he has this specifically to say about D'amor su'ali rosee.

    Her peformance is an exciting one, certainly. She brings to the opening bars a subdued lilt and buyoancy answering to the motion of wings in the night air, which Leonora has just invoked, and the new hopefulness which overcomes the fear she has also expressed in the recitative. But this aria does need a good trill, and her substitute offering is not satisfactory. Nor does she observe Verdi's markings of dolce over the first high B flat, or, in the great phrases of the climax, the fact that it is the note before the highest in the curve that is marked for accentuation.
    Callas doesn't observe the dolce mark on the Bb either for that matter but she does soften her tone for the following Ab, which makes a lovely contrast with the previous Bb. As Kumahcan has pointed out, this may have had something to do with her playing to the gallery in Naples (the performance had been a somewhat tempestuous occasion with some of the audience protesting the ageing Lauri-Vopli).
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-23-2021 at 14:40.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  22. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  23. #43
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    8,654
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    You say you are a big picture listener. Does this also apply to instrumental works? Were a pianist or violinist to omit or gloss over the parts in a virtuoso piece that they hadn't mastered, would you be happy with their playing if the general impression was pleasing?
    I would say so. I hardly ever listen with a score anymore, so unless I know the work well I won't catch mistakes unless they are glaring. But, for me it is the totality of a performance which I listen to, and won't pick it apart measure by measure (I am a trained musician so I have the skills to do that but prefer to turn off my analytical brain when listening for pleasure).

    If the artist puts the work across so that it moves me, that's all I ask for. I've heard note-perfect performances which fell short of that standard, so for me it is not about accuracy with the written score as much as more intangible aspects.
    Last edited by SanAntone; Sep-23-2021 at 15:07.

  24. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  25. #44
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,593
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I am exited with the heated debate this pairing fostered. Spani even had a number in her camp. For me she is one of the greatest singers of the golden age these contests made me aware of. The fact that ANYONE can get 5 people liking her over the great Callas is validation of my estimation of her sound. I listen to others from this era so the poor sound doesn't keep me from hearing what a great artist she must have been. If I were her manager I would have changed her name like Sills did, though;-)

  26. Likes Woodduck, Tsaraslondon liked this post
  27. #45
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SanAntone View Post
    I would say so. I hardly ever listen with a score anymore, so unless I know the work well I won't catch mistakes unless they are glaring. But, for me it is the totality of a performance which I listen to, and won't pick it apart measure by measure (I am a trained musician so I have the skills to do that but prefer to turn off my analytical brain when listening for pleasure).

    If the artist puts the work across so that it moves me, that's all I ask for. I've heard note-perfect performances which fell short of that standard, so for me it is not about accuracy with the written score as much as more intangible aspects.
    Now you make it sound as if Callas were just a technical singing machine, which couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is that she had this uncanny ability to execute accurately all the markings and technical demands of the score, whilst making us feel her peformances were totally spontaneous. Especially in bel canto works it can almost sound as if she is extemporising on the spot, but close examination of the score shows that she is just carrying out the composer's instructions. Grace Bumbry once said of her that if you wrote down in musical notation what Callas was singing you would exactly reproduce what was written in the score.

    Oddly enough I feel that Spani has this quality too. She just doesn't have a trill, necessary in this aria, in her armoury.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-23-2021 at 16:59.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  28. Likes Woodduck liked this post
Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 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
  •