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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I always hear that she started out as a lyric coloratura and moved into heavier rep. Mostly wondering how and about the size of her voice because on record it sounds... sufficient? Her voice sounds a bit lighter than what I'd expect of a soprano who tackles her later rep (Gioconda, Amelia, Adriana, Leonora).

Anyone who's familiar with her voice? Thanks!
 

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I only heard her once live - at the Barbican Hall in London, already quite late in her career. She was singing a Mozart programme, which is repertoire not usually associated with her. I think it would have been Vitellia's Non piu di fiori (she sang the role at the Met in 1984) and Exsultate Jubilate, as well as maybe some concert arias. I can't quite remember. I do remember that the voice sounded quite large in the hall, but this might have been more down to the fact that it had great penetration and sounded as if it would cut through much heavier orchestration.
 

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What an interesting question. So used to mentioning size slightly more generally but not quite this specifically. But it caught my eye because as she got older I can remember being struck by how much sound she made. I heard her four times, all I'm sure, in the 70's....possibly early 80's. Both roles in Boheme, Adrianna and Don Carlo. The voice seemed to feel larger as the years went by, in a way out of proportion to any sort of natural growth, to whatever degree that actually happens. She wasn't young when I first heard her.The best sound was earlier, Mimi. In Don Carlo I remember being quite struck by just how big the voice sounded and it was still attractive and, of course, well used dramatically. At the end, it seemed she couldn't buy a NY review, in terms of the sound, so this sense of bigger - not laser-like, fairly round - has always been associated in my mind by a less than successful approach.
 

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I think you can make a voice big by pushing it, like Netrebko has with consequences. Eaglen, Podles and Blythe all had voices that were default full and easy to hear over an orchestra always. Renee Fleming could make a big sound, but was sparing with that gear and it served her well as she ended her career with a still healthy voice just recently after a long career.
 

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I think you can make a voice big by pushing it, like Netrebko has with consequences. Eaglen, Podles and Blythe all had voices that were default full and easy to hear over an orchestra always. Renee Fleming could make a big sound, but was sparing with that gear and it served her well as she ended her career with a still healthy voice just recently after a long career.
Well that is the problem. Push too hard and you end up ruining your voice. Schwarzkopf talks about how to make an essentially small voice, which is what she had, project over a large orchestra. I can't remember her exact words but it certainly didn't involve pushing the voice. She was very wise in her choices of course. She never sang Ariadne on stage for example, but she did sing the Verdi Requiem as well as the Marschallin and Countess Madeleine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I only heard her once live - at the Barbican Hall in London, already quite late in her career. She was singing a Mozart programme, which is repertoire not usually associated with her. I think it would have been Vitellia's Non piu di fiori (she sang the role at the Met in 1984) and Exsultate Jubilate, as well as maybe some concert arias. I can't quite remember. I do remember that the voice sounded quite large in the hall, but this might have been more down to the fact that it had great penetration and sounded as if it would cut through much heavier orchestration.
That sounds like it was an incredible experience! I would have liked to see her live. The other part of this question is that Scotto doesn't seem to possess a lot of physical qualities typical of dramatic/spinto sopranos - as far as I'm aware most of the physically short sopranos are the coloraturas. Scotto I think was 5'2 or shorter, and she did start her career doing coloratura rep.

Currently listening to her Trovatore - what a voice! There's definitely depth to her sound and I think her strength was her ability to produce a distinct sound from the orchestra. I also think that maybe some of the roles she chose didn't require strict "loud" voices but voices that had a sort of dark sound. I don't know if I'm right in my hypothesis though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think you can make a voice big by pushing it, like Netrebko has with consequences. Eaglen, Podles and Blythe all had voices that were default full and easy to hear over an orchestra always. Renee Fleming could make a big sound, but was sparing with that gear and it served her well as she ended her career with a still healthy voice just recently after a long career.
What kind of soprano would you consider Netrebko to be? I'm also curious to if you've heard her live because I've only heard her on recordings so far, and that probably distorts things quite a bit.

And Stephanie Blythe is absolutely a powerhouse!
 

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What kind of soprano would you consider Netrebko to be? I'm also curious to if you've heard her live because I've only heard her on recordings so far, and that probably distorts things quite a bit.

And Stephanie Blythe is absolutely a powerhouse!
Blythe had the biggest voice I ever heard when she did Amneris. She did a lot of Handel which was restrained.
Netrebko had a lovely lyric voice. I think it grew some but not enough for many of the roles she is doing. It is not beautiful like it was when she was in her heyday 20 years ago.
 

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Blythe had the biggest voice I ever heard when she did Amneris. She did a lot of Handel which was restrained.
Netrebko had a lovely lyric voice. I think it grew some but not enough for many of the roles she is doing. It is not beautiful like it was when she was in her heyday 20 years ago.
I've definitely heard from a lot of people that Blythe's voice is absolutely huge - I need to see her live at least once (argh covid!)

Any recording of Netrebko's that you'd absolutely recommend? I actually don't listen to her much sooo but I guess I liked her Musetta.
 

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I've definitely heard from a lot of people that Blythe's voice is absolutely huge - I need to see her live at least once (argh covid!)

Any recording of Netrebko's that you'd absolutely recommend? I actually don't listen to her much sooo but I guess I liked her Musetta.
Blythe is no longer a mezzo. She is a tenor and does one woman shows as a male drag character. Her voice is still gorgeous and healthy but she has lost all the upper register and gained an octave below
Pick an early video of Netrebko where you can see how gorgeous she was.
 

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Such as this one?
I have this one - and 'Don Pasquale'. She is absolutely brilliant in both. Light lyric soprano at the time. In addition to her voice she has an electrifying stage presence. Has she moved into heavier roles they have taken a toll on the voice I think and you really need to see her act as well as hear her. Of course at the moment she is persona non grata. But of course she only did what other light Sopranos like Scotto and Freni have done
 

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I have this one - and 'Don Pasquale'. She is absolutely brilliant in both. Light lyric soprano at the time. In addition to her voice she has an electrifying stage presence. Has she moved into heavier roles they have taken a toll on the voice I think and you really need to see her act as well as hear her. Of course at the moment she is persona non grata. But of course she only did what other light Sopranos like Scotto and Freni have done
Singers have always eyed heavier roles, wishing they had the equipment for them, and often trying them on for size. Nellie Melba famously attempted the Siegfried Brunnhilde, promptly lost her voice (temporarily), and admitted she'd been a fool. Beverly Sills joked that she was born with the voice of Beverly Sills and the mind of Birgit Nilsson, and although it shortened her career to take on Donizetti's queens and other dramatically satisfying parts, she and her audiences had no regrets. Netrebko's audiences seem happy too; those who can't tolerate what she's done to her voice are probably not paying to sit in those audiences. All of which leads up to pointing out that, although Freni and Scotto moved into what's considered spinto roles with essentially lyric voices, they had a better sense of their limits than Netrebko, who seems not to acknowledge any limits when she takes on Turandot and Isolde (I'm not sure whether she's sung the whole of Isolde yet, but her dreadful Liebestod is on YouTube). Scotto's voice gradually became strident on top, but she had the artistic sense not to turn herself into a wobbling foghorn like Netrebko.
 

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Singers have always eyed heavier roles, wishing they had the equipment for them, and often trying them on for size. Nellie Melba famously attempted the Siegfried Brunnhilde, promptly lost her voice (temporarily), and admitted she'd been a fool. Beverly Sills joked that she was born with the voice of Beverly Sills and the mind of Birgit Nilsson, and although it shortened her career to take on Donizetti's queens and other dramatically satisfying parts, she and her audiences had no regrets. Netrebko's audiences seem happy too; those who can't tolerate what she's done to her voice are probably not paying to sit in those audiences. All of which leads up to pointing out that, although Freni and Scotto moved into what's considered spinto roles with essentially lyric voices, they had a better sense of their limits than Netrebko, who seems not to acknowledge any limits when she takes on Turandot and Isolde (I'm not sure whether she's sung the whole of Isolde yet, but her dreadful Liebestod is on YouTube). Scotto's voice gradually became strident on top, but she had the artistic sense not to turn herself into a wobbling foghorn like Netrebko.
Quick question - would for Sills, say, the challenge be projecting over denser orchestra or just conveying the dramatic intensity? I'm inclined to think it's a combination of both, but I've also heard slightly, slightly different things from pros.

Would you say between Elena (Vespri), Maria Stuarda, and Norma, how would they be ordered in terms of heaviness? I'm trying to get a sense of how these work since I've never heard any of it live, so I just have to make do with recordings and other things for now. Fingers crossed that I'll get to see live opera soon!

I agree though - I'm not partial to Netrebko's Turandot or Isolde (I don't think she's done any productions of Isolde yet). Or her husband. I quite liked her Musetta and Mimi as well as some of the other lyric stuff she's done, but not the Turandot or the dramatic stuff. Would her vibrato now be a wobble? (Hesitant to call it so but it sounds like it to me)
 

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Quick question - would for Sills, say, the challenge be projecting over denser orchestra or just conveying the dramatic intensity? I'm inclined to think it's a combination of both, but I've also heard slightly, slightly different things from pros.

Would you say between Elena (Vespri), Maria Stuarda, and Norma, how would they be ordered in terms of heaviness? I'm trying to get a sense of how these work since I've never heard any of it live, so I just have to make do with recordings and other things for now. Fingers crossed that I'll get to see live opera soon!

I agree though - I'm not partial to Netrebko's Turandot or Isolde (I don't think she's done any productions of Isolde yet). Or her husband. I quite liked her Musetta and Mimi as well as some of the other lyric stuff she's done, but not the Turandot or the dramatic stuff. Would her vibrato now be a wobble? (Hesitant to call it so but it sounds like it to me)
Sills could always convey strong emotion but it would get lost over a big orchestra or singing high notes over a chorus. Netrebko has a wobble now.
 

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I have this one - and 'Don Pasquale'. She is absolutely brilliant in both. Light lyric soprano at the time. In addition to her voice she has an electrifying stage presence. Has she moved into heavier roles they have taken a toll on the voice I think and you really need to see her act as well as hear her. Of course at the moment she is persona non grata. But of course she only did what other light Sopranos like Scotto and Freni have done
I have heard a lot about Netrebko's superior acting skills, but I'm not sure I'd agree. Admittedly I've only seen her on video, but in much of what I've seen, I find her a tad vulgar. She moves well, to be sure, and in opera that goes a long way, but I don't always think what she does is right for the character she is playing. Her Anna in Anna Bolena has no royal bearing, her Violetta no vulnerability. I once read a review about how she tried to make her Violetta more modern and assertive, which just reveals to me a lack of real understanding of the music and the character Verdi created with his music.
 

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I have heard a lot about Netrebko's superior acting skills, but I'm not sure I'd agree. Admittedly I've only seen her on video, but in much of what I've seen, I find her a tad vulgar. She moves well, to be sure, and in opera that goes a long way, but I don't always think what she does is right for the character she is playing. Her Anna in Anna Bolena has no royal bearing, her Violetta no vulnerability. I once read a review about how she tried to make her Violetta more modern and assertive, which just reveals to me a lack of real understanding of the music and the character Verdi created with his music.
I can't comment much here, but I enjoyed Netrebko immensely in the Met's Don Pasquale. She's definitely a stage animal and in comedy she's clever and fun to watch. In the famous "clock Traviata" from Salzburg we had a regie revision of Verdi which I found annoying in several respects and don't blame Netrebko for. She never appeared in anything but good health, and how do you die in bed when there is no bed? In both productions she was still singing properly and hadn't succumbed to the lure of becoming Astrid Varnay. I haven't had the privilege of watching her roll around on the floor as Lady Macbeth, but I think I'll settle for second-hand accounts. I don't envision much Netrebko in my future, unless it's to review something from her best years.
 

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Quick question - would for Sills, say, the challenge be projecting over denser orchestra or just conveying the dramatic intensity? I'm inclined to think it's a combination of both, but I've also heard slightly, slightly different things from pros.
I never heard Sills live, so I don't know how audible she was.

Would you say between Elena (Vespri), Maria Stuarda, and Norma, how would they be ordered in terms of heaviness? I'm trying to get a sense of how these work since I've never heard any of it live, so I just have to make do with recordings and other things for now. Fingers crossed that I'll get to see live opera soon!
What do you mean by "heaviness"?

I agree though - I'm not partial to Netrebko's Turandot or Isolde (I don't think she's done any productions of Isolde yet). Or her husband. I quite liked her Musetta and Mimi as well as some of the other lyric stuff she's done, but not the Turandot or the dramatic stuff. Would her vibrato now be a wobble? (Hesitant to call it so but it sounds like it to me)
Yes, Netrebko is now a wobbling foghorn.
 

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I always hear that she started out as a lyric coloratura and moved into heavier rep. Mostly wondering how and about the size of her voice because on record it sounds... sufficient? Her voice sounds a bit lighter than what I'd expect of a soprano who tackles her later rep (Gioconda, Amelia, Adriana, Leonora).

Anyone who's familiar with her voice? Thanks!
SCOTTO
I've seen her a few times (Madama Butterfly, Adriana Lecouvreur, La Gioconda) and she was audible at all times, her voice being penetrating instead of "big." She was strident at the top and pushed to make a big sound whenever her own caliber was insufficient. Her stage deportment was good and, once she slimmed, attractive. To focus her voice, she started projecting out of the side of her mouth and she could be plenty loud and sometimes delicate.

SILLS
I've heard Sills often in San Francisco in the '70s, in Manon, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata, La Fille du Régiment , Thaïs, and I Puritani and she was always audible. In fact, she found out she could be heard clearly with her back to the audience, and she used that trick as much as she could. Though I've never been a fan of her tremulous tone, she was a huge star when I first heard her. In her early days, she even sang Aida and in the '50s, she sang some Wagner (Gerhilde), no doubt singing very high notes (ho jo to!)
 
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