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This is difficult to judge independently, because I know that super critical @Op.123 considers Saioa Hernandez the lesser evil among contemporary singers. So I naturally think of why she might be better. The beginning of the aria and the chest voice shows a real great contrast, which I would have noticed also without this bias. In those dark parts of the aria, Hernandez is really impressive, maybe captivated me even more than the singers of good ole times. However, as the aria progresses, I notice something unpleasant in the higher notes, which I do not have the name for. There I prefer Gheorghiu, the voice is thinner but does not do that thing. Was Hernandez in her prime here ? I will vote for her due to that spectacular beginning.
 

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I would say this video represents her at her best and in her prime. The voice is strong and firm, the vibrato more controlled, and the turn more freely executed at 'volavan l'ore' than in the video I posted above. Unfortunately since then the voice has declined, become less easy and consequently less expressive. Here I think she is a very fine spinto in comparison to the rest of those singing this rep nowadays.

Indeed, this is a very beautiful and smooth Gioconda. Says a non expert. But somehow that chest voice grabbed me more in her Maddalena, even though the second half of the aria is ruined. I am glad I have heard it.
 

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I know what I liked so much about Hernandez. The recitative, saying that she is fine having sex with the baritone if that helps. It is not a regular part of the recital recordings. The aria usually starts with La mamma morta. Consequently, I am not used to this aria beginning so beautifully and darkly. But I also have a complete opera on the old tape somewhere, and I am pretty sure that singer didn't use the potential of this recitative, whoever it was.
 

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What they said.

(And I have heard better from Hernandez, but only on recordings, so would like to hear her live.)

N.
Am I imagining it, or is the vibrato less horrible in her later recording ? But also, the chest voice beginning of the aria is less georgeous.)

My experience so far is, that it gets worse with age, not better. Our singers shine, take flight to the world opera houses, and when they get older, they return to the theater of Bratislava, bleating like goats.
 
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