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 4 of 4 FirstFirst 1234
Results 46 to 52 of 52

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

  1. #46
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,321
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    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;-)
    Has anyone ever doubted Spani's place in the pantheon of great singers? I seem to remember some years ago a reissue of her old 78 recordings (I can't remember now whether this was on LP or CD) being rapturously received in Gramophone magazine. It certianly sparked my interest.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-23-2021 at 17:02.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  2. Likes Seattleoperafan liked this post
  3. #47
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    18,469
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I find myself pleasantly embracing both sides of the "fidelity to the score" argument. I agree that the trills in this particular aria are important enough that if all else is roughly equal between two singers the ability to execute them gives that singer the edge. Callas had a rather strict philosophy about adhering to a composer's instructions as indicated in the score, and as Tsaraslondon points out she had both the technique and the musical intelligence to be extremely precise about this while giving the impression of spontaneity. We shouldn't forget, though, the long tradition of improvisation in opera (and in other music as well) which applied particularly to embellishments but sometimes extended to more substantial alterations of the melodic line. That tradition largely died out by the mid-20th century; it was revived in the performance of Baroque music as part of the HIP phenomenon, but has never really caught on in music of the Romantic era despite the fact that we have many examples of performance practice by singers trained in the 19th century that show the sometimes surprising - and, to our ears, not always pleasing - freedom with which singers of that era approached the written notes. To an appreciable extent, performers in earlier eras seem to have been regarded as co-creators along with the composers; score markings were taken more as strong suggestions for expressive effect than as absolute constraints on the expressive impulses of singers, who were expected to respond to the written music in a personal way and put a unique stamp on their performances. Absolute fidelity to the text, with nothing added, subtracted or altered, isn't something which 19th-century composers expected or insisted upon so long as a performer's improvisations seemed plausible in style and expression, and the appropriateness of their choices would have been governed mainly by the style of the music.

    For me, Callas is a magnificent example of what a supremely musical singer can achieve operating on the premises of a modern aesthetic of performance practice. But there are delights to be had in the work of earlier singers working on different assumptions, bringing us things the composers never thought of but would probably have been happy to hear from human beings responding to their music in personal ways.

    I realize these musings go beyond what the mere presence or absence of a few trills requires. I'm pretty sure that if Spani could have trilled as precisely as Callas, she would have done so, and that Verdi would have applauded her for it.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-23-2021 at 17:47.

  4. Likes MAS, niknik, Tsaraslondon and 1 others liked this post
  5. #48
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,321
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I find myself pleasantly embracing both sides of the "fidelity to the score" argument. I agree that the trills in this particular aria are important enough that if all else is roughly equal between two singers the ability to execute them gives that singer the edge. Callas had a rather strict philosophy about adhering to a composer's instructions as indicated in the score, and as Tsaraslondon points out she had both the technique and the musical intelligence to be extremely precise about this while giving the impression of spontaneity. We shouldn't forget, though, the long tradition of improvisation in opera (and in other music as well) which applied particularly to embellishments but sometimes extended to more substantial alterations of the melodic line. That tradition largely died out by the mid-20th century; it was revived in the performance of Baroque music as part of the HIP phenomenon, but has never really caught on in music of the Romantic era despite the fact that we have many examples of performance practice by singers trained in the 19th century that show the sometimes surprising - and, to our ears, not always pleasing - freedom with which singers of that era approached the written notes. To an appreciable extent, performers in earlier eras seem to have been regarded as co-creators along with the composers; score markings were taken more as strong suggestions for expressive effect than as absolute constraints on the expressive impulses of singers, who were expected to respond to the written music in a personal way and put a unique stamp on their performances. Absolute fidelity to the text, with nothing added, subtracted or altered, isn't something which 19th-century composers expected or insisted upon so long as a performer's improvisations seemed plausible in style and expression, and the appropriateness of their choices would have been governed mainly by the style of the music.

    For me, Callas is a magnificent example of what a supremely musical singer can achieve operating on the premises of a modern aesthetic of performance practice. But there are delights to be had in the work of earlier singers working on different assumptions, bringing us things the composers never thought of but would probably have been happy to hear from human beings responding to their music in personal ways.

    I realize these musings go beyond what the mere presence or absence of a few trills requires. I'm pretty sure that if Spani could have trilled as precisely as Callas, she would have done so, and that Verdi would have applauded her for it.
    Following on from this, it's interesting to note that in the Si pel ciel duet from Otello, Verdi marks it to be sung senza appogiature, which perhaps suggests singers normally used them. His instructions in his later scores became ever more detailed.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  6. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  7. #49
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    18,469
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Following on from this, it's interesting to note that in the Si pel ciel duet from Otello, Verdi marks it to be sung senza appogiature, which perhaps suggests singers normally used them. His instructions in his later scores became ever more detailed.
    There was clearly a trend toward greater specificity and strictness. I think this follows logically from the change in the musical style of opera, in which the singer's line became less self-sufficient and more a part of the larger musical texture. It's hard to think of many places in the operas of Wagner, Puccini, Mussorgsky, Debussy, late Verdi or Massenet where the singer could reasonably alter or embellish the score to any positive effect. An instance that occurs to me is in Act 3 of Die Walkure, where Birgit Nilsson used to hold a long note over a couple of measures beyond the written cutoff, and it made such a nice effect that I was surprised and disappointed to learn that it wasn't written that way. (And then there are the tenors who hold "Walse! Walse!" until they're blue in the face or somebody shoots them...)
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-23-2021 at 19:48.

  8. Likes Tsaraslondon, Seattleoperafan liked this post
  9. #50
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,321
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    There was clearly a trend toward greater specificity and strictness. I think this follows logically from the change in the musical style of opera, in which the singer's line became less self-sufficient and more a part of the larger musical texture. It's hard to think of many places in the operas of Wagner, Puccini, Mussorgsky, Debussy, late Verdi or Massenet where the singer could reasonably alter or embellish the score to any positive effect. An instance that occurs to me is in Act 3 of Die Walkure, where Birgit Nilsson used to hold a long note over a couple of measures beyond the written cutoff, and it made such a nice effect that I was surprised and disappointed to learn that it wasn't written that way. (And then there are the tenors who hold "Walse! Walse!" until they're blue in the face or somebody shoots them...)
    Hahaha! In her masterclass on the duet between Radames and Amneris, Callas advises the Amneris to make sure she has plenty of breath for the final measures, “as the tenor will probably bawl his head off. This is not very nicely put, but it is unfortunately true.” She must have been remembering all those Aidas with Kurt Baum and Del Monaco.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  10. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  11. #51
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    1,593
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    oof, tough call.

    I'm going to give it to Hina Spani by a slight margin. Her voice is just more even: exactly the right balance from top to bottom. In another contest, Callas's superior phrasing and portamento may have pushed her over the edge. This match up is close enough to where it would largely depend on the specific aria.

  12. Likes Seattleoperafan liked this post
  13. #52
    Senior Member Azol's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    1,691
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I thought it would be a closer call, but it was surprisingly easy to cast my vote for Callas, even though earlier I voted for Spani consistently.
    In my opinion, Callas was able to fulfill all the technical demands of the aria while not sacrificing any of the emotional aspects of the music and text - the reason she rules supreme in my opera world.
    Last edited by Azol; Sep-24-2021 at 21:29.

  14. Likes Tsaraslondon, niknik, Woodduck and 3 others liked this post
Page 4 of 4 FirstFirst 1234

Posting Permissions

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