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 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 52

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

  1. #1
    Senior Member Bonetan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    1,332
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default SOPRANO TOURNAMENT (By Request): Spani vs Callas

    Hina Spani, Argentina, 1896-1969



    Maria Callas, Greece/USA, 1923-1977



    'D'amor sull'ali rosee' from Verd's Il Trovatore.

    Who's singing did you prefer and why?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,593
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    This will scandalize some but I think these are close. I gave the edge to Callas because she has perfect trills, which the music calls for and is one coloratura skill that eludes Spani. Callas is vocally at her peak here and is truly spectacular, but Spani impresses me more because of the supernatural beauty of her high notes. She has tremendous vocal beauty and a very sensitive interpretation of the aria. Would that both of these ladies were on the opera scene today.

  3. Likes Woodduck, Concertantek364 liked this post
  4. #3
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    18,453
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    These are singers who make us listen and reward us for doing so. As in other matchups here, we have to consider the cramped sound and the limitations on interpretive freedom imposed on the earlier singer by the primitive recording medium, especially by the notorious 78 side problem. I'm sure Spani would have given a bit more in tempo - more lingering on certain notes, more space between phrases - in actual performance, as Callas does. In fact there's a bit of exaggeration toward the end of the latter's performance which strikes me as uncharacteristically vulgar and which she would probably have avoided in the recording studio, or later in her career. On the whole, given what we have here, I'll award the palm to Callas, but with the usual sneaking suspicion that Spani in performance might have been equally compelling. (Spani does seem to lack a trill - she does an odd sort of shake instead - while Callas displays one of the best trills in the business.)`

  5. #4
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Spani continues to impress. The voice is beautiful, she communicates the text and she creates the right nocturnal atmosphere, but (and it is rather a big but) where are the trills? They are there in the printed score, as you can see, by watching the Callas video, but Spani appears not to have a trill in her armoury. It's no suprise to find that some critics said Callas's singing of Leonora's music was like seeing an old master restored and brought lovingly back to life. Much as I love Spani's beautiful voice and stylish phrasing, I'm afraid I find the lack of a trill a serious blot on the performance.

    The Callas performance was early in her traversal of the role, in fact the second time she was singing it. She had first sung it in Mexico and had asked Serafin to help her prepare, but he refused because she would be singing with a different conductor. Here at last she has Serafin conducting for her. She never could quite make up her mind about the ending and every recorded pefromance, right up to the final one in the Karajan recording of 1956, differs slightly in some way. By the time she sings it again at La Scala in 1953, she has dispensed with the top Db and finishes the aria more in the mood it started. (It was at this performance that Visconti, sitting in the same box at La Scala, overheard Schwarzkopf mutter, tears streaming down her face, "That woman is a miracle.")
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-22-2021 at 16:04.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  6. Likes Concertantek364, Woodduck, MAS and 1 others liked this post
  7. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    29
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Despite all her virtues, Spani's apparent inability to produce the trills demanded by Verdi in the score rules her version out for me. Almost by default my palm goes to the 1951 pre-diet Callas, though I have to say in all honesty, musically and interpretively this isn't her best rendition of the aria even though she was in her vocal prime and vocally resplendent. Her 1956 EMI studio recording is in a totally different class altogether. She has only herself to compare.

    In mid-1956, her voice was still in good shape. More importantly, she achieved a poignant sense of tragic inevitability entirely through musical illumination from within the score. There is hardly any reliance on external or superhuman effect as she tended to at times in her 1950 role debut in Mexico City, the 1951 Naples performance and even the 1953 La Scala performance. The 1956 recording gives us her most moving and musically nuanced and sophisticated rendition of the aria. Whereas all other sopranos sing Leonora (and however beautifully and ravishingly some have done so), Callas simply *is* Leonora.

    Last edited by Concertantek364; Sep-22-2021 at 13:58.

  8. Likes Tsaraslondon, nina foresti, Woodduck and 3 others liked this post
  9. #6
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Concertantek364 View Post
    In mid-1956, her voice was still in good shape. More importantly, she achieved a poignant sense of tragic inevitability entirely through musical illumination from within the score. There is hardly any reliance on external or superhuman effect as she tended to at times in her 1950 role debut in Mexico City, the 1951 Naples performance and even the 1953 La Scala performance. The 1956 recording gives us her most moving and musically nuanced and sophisticated rendition of the aria. Whereas all other sopranos sing Leonora (and however beautifully and ravishingly some have done so), Callas simply *is* Leonora.

    I completely agree with you re the 1956 studio recording. Throughout the score, and especially in this aria, I have always considered it a perfect example of Callas, the musician. She doesn't just accurately execute the trills, but somehow manages to bind them into the musical fabric of the aria without once disturbing her legato. The cadenza is not just a moment of vocal display tacked on at the end, but becomes the logical conclusion of the aria, as if her voice was flying out to Manrico in the tower. Throughout she is wonderfully supported by Karajan, who seems, as always in their encounters, to breathe with her, the rubato they adopt totally natural. Pure genius.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-22-2021 at 16:20.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  10. Likes Woodduck, Concertantek364, MAS and 1 others liked this post
  11. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    2,472
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Although both choices of recordings are sad musically, there is no contest with this one because any singer who cannot effect a decent trill in this aria cannot possibly be thought to have a vote in the contest.
    Callas by a mile.
    Frankly, I think it would be more exciting to hear a Callas-Radvanovsky pairing.

  12. Likes Seattleoperafan liked this post
  13. #8
    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    2,593
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Concertantek364 View Post
    Despite all her virtues, Spani's apparent inability to produce the trills demanded by Verdi in the score rules her version out for me. Almost by default my palm goes to the 1951 pre-diet Callas, though I have to say in all honesty, musically and interpretively this isn't her best rendition of the aria even though she was in her vocal prime and vocally resplendent. Her 1956 EMI studio recording is in a totally different class altogether. She has only herself to compare.

    In mid-1956, her voice was still in good shape. More importantly, she achieved a poignant sense of tragic inevitability entirely through musical illumination from within the score. There is hardly any reliance on external or superhuman effect as she tended to at times in her 1950 role debut in Mexico City, the 1951 Naples performance and even the 1953 La Scala performance. The 1956 recording gives us her most moving and musically nuanced and sophisticated rendition of the aria. Whereas all other sopranos sing Leonora (and however beautifully and ravishingly some have done so), Callas simply *is* Leonora.

    I asked for this contest and while your video from 56 has advantages over the one I asked for, the earlier had compromised sound which put it on more equal footing with Spani. In 56 her voice was in optimal condition for this aria. I am pleased to see others blown away by Spani here and she is one of the very few who it is not laughable to compete with Maria. I think some singers just can't trill. Sills had a great trill BUT only on certain notes. The great Caballe had inferior trills. There is currently a well known bel canto singer who's trill sound like the rest of her voice. I spoke with my sister who taught singers from all over Germany for 50 years. She said trilling is something you are born with the ability to do and some just lack that ability. Maria was born with it and then some!
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Sep-22-2021 at 16:09.

  14. Likes Woodduck liked this post
  15. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Posts
    29
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I asked for this contest and while your video from 56 has advantages over the one I asked for, the earlier had compromised sound which put it on more equal footing with Spani. In 56 her voice was in optimal condition for this aria. I am pleased to see others blown away by Spani here and she is one of the very few who it is not laughable to compete with Maria. I think some singers just can't trill. Sills had a great trill BUT only on certain notes. The great Caballe had inferior trills. There is currently a well known bel canto singer who's trill sound like the rest of her voice.
    It would probably have been 'fairer' to Spani to compare hers with Claudia Muzio's 1920 rendition instead of any of Callas'. Sonically their versions are not too far apart. Moreover, Muzio, for all her well-known poignancy of expression, also sadly lacks a trill.

    Last edited by Concertantek364; Sep-22-2021 at 16:21.

  16. Likes Woodduck, Seattleoperafan liked this post
  17. #10
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    I asked for this contest and while your video from 56 has advantages over the one I asked for, the earlier had compromised sound which put it on more equal footing with Spani. In 56 her voice was in optimal condition for this aria. I am pleased to see others blown away by Spani here and she is one of the very few who it is not laughable to compete with Maria. I think some singers just can't trill. Sills had a great trill BUT only on certain notes. The great Caballe had inferior trills. There is currently a well known bel canto singer who's trill sound like the rest of her voice.
    Caballé's trills weren't great, as you say, but sometimes she could manage what at least sounds like the approximation of a trill. What surprised me about Spani was that she didn't even appear to attempt them and the line sounds bald without them. They aren't optional. Verdi wrote them and if you can't sing them, then maybe you shouldn't be singing the aria. As Callas once said,

    You see, a musician is a musician. A singer is no different from an instrumentalist except that we have words. You don't excuse things in a singer you would not dream of excusing in a violinist or pianist. There is no excuse for not having a trill, for not doing the acciaccatura, for not having good scales. Look at your scores! There are technical things written there to be performed, and they must be performed whether you like it or not. How will you get out of a trill? How will you get out of scales when they are written there, staring you in the face? It is not enough to have a beautiful voice.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-22-2021 at 16:15.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  18. Likes Concertantek364 liked this post
  19. #11
    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    2,112
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    One of my favorite “Callas roles.” No one approached what she achieves in this aria, even in her early forays in the role. I will brook no others.

  20. Likes Tsaraslondon, Seattleoperafan liked this post
  21. #12
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    18,453
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    The trills are certainly important in this particular aria, but if all singers who lack trills avoided all roles calling for them we'd be deprived of some fine performances. Surely there are worse faults we put up with than the lack of a trill in an otherwise great singer.

    Joan Sutherland said that the ability to trill is inborn, and as a former singer of no great technical accomplishment who could trill easily I'm inclined to agree.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-22-2021 at 16:31.

  22. Likes MAS, Tsaraslondon, nina foresti and 1 others liked this post
  23. #13
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    8,308
    Post Thanks / Like
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    The trills are certainly important in this particular aria, but if all singers who lack trills avoided all roles calling for them we'd be deprived of some fine performances. Surely there are worse faults we put up with than the lack of a trill in an otherwise great singer.
    Maybe, but there are times when the trill is intrinsic to the melodic line. We may not miss them in Brünnhilde's Ho jo to ho but in D'amor sul'ali rosee I find the missing trills jarring. Some singers who don't have good trills will at least provide us with a bit of a shake. We didn't even get that from Spani. Maybe I missed it more in her case because everything else was so good.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

  24. Likes Woodduck, Seattleoperafan liked this post
  25. #14
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ashland, OR
    Posts
    18,453
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    If you listen closely through the foggy acoustic of the recording you can hear Spani do a slower shake in place of a true trill. It isn't entirely convincing, but it does at least show that she knew she had to do something.

  26. Likes Tsaraslondon, Seattleoperafan liked this post
  27. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    2,472
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    The trills are certainly important in this particular aria, but if all singers who lack trills avoided all roles calling for them we'd be deprived of some fine performances. Surely there are worse faults we put up with than the lack of a trill in an otherwise great singer.

    Joan Sutherland said that the ability to trill is inborn, and as a former singer of no great technical accomplishment who could trill easily I'm inclined to agree.
    The differences between a natural trill one is born with and one that is worked on and developed to a high degree like Marilyn Horne's is that most likely the person with a natural born trill can easily distinguish the difference in the two but the vast majority of audiences likely wouldn't notice the difference.
    It's the same with regional accents and dialects. It's one thing to talk Brooklynese and another to copy it to a fine degree. Brooklyn babies will know the difference!

  28. Likes Seattleoperafan 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
  •