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Round 1: Habanera. Blythe and Garanca

965 Views 63 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Seattleoperafan
STEPHANIE BLYTHE sings CARMEN, live in Seattle in 2004



Carmen: "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Elina Garanca)
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Since this is all about seduction, I may as well start with that. Garanca seems more seductive to me than Blythe, but since I don't find Blythe seductive at all it's a low bar to clear, and indeed Garanca barely clears it.

So much is lacking here, despite generalIy pleasing voices. I don't know whether the recording is responsible, but Blythe is verbally indistinct, her consonants frequently inaudible. In this aria Carmen must not only enunciate but use the French language, wrapping its numerous distinctive sounds around Jose's neck like a pair of sinuous arms. We can at least hear most of Garanca's words, though she doesn't do much with them.

The art of rubato seems to have been lost in opera nowadays. Neither singer does anything notable with rhythm, which seems particularly monotonous in Blythe's case. In both performances the tempo is a lazy moderato, and if that's intended to give the singers ample room to make something of the text it fails in its purpose.

I'm a bit of a grouch about Carmen. It's an opera I prefer to avoid most of the time, and I don't find this aria holding up well without the help of an extraordinary interpreter, one who can convey, through vocal tone and the sounds of the French language, a mix of light-hearted humor, romantic dreaminess, the opposite of that, and the danger of a coiled snake.
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Garanca is a beautiful woman and should‘ve made a good Carmen, but I find her singing calculated and cold and the character is anything but calculated and should be hot !

Carmen is among my least favorite operas and it’s my luck that two of my favorite singers either recorded the role or sang many performances or both of the wretched thing.
I don’t find Blythe very remarkable in the role, either. Just because you’re a mezzo doesn’t mean you should sing Carmen. I think Blythe’s voice is remarkable, but not in this video or this role. As @Woodduck points, the character’s music should at have a rhythmic vitality and playfulness with the phrasing in both the “big” moments (we only get one here).

Garanca by default.
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Garanca is a beautiful woman and should‘ve made a good Carmen, but I find her singing calculated and cold and the character is anything but calculated and should be hot !

Carmen is among my least favorite operas and it’s my luck that two of my favorite singers either recorded the role or sang many performances or both of the wretched thing.
I don’t find Blythe very remarkable in the role, either. Just because you’re a mezzo doesn’t mean you should sing Carmen. I think Blythe’s voice is remarkable, but not in this video or this role. As @Woodduck points, the character’s music should at have a rhythmic vitality and playfulness with the phrasing in both the “big” moments (we only get one here).

Garanca by default.
Garanca's Carmen was broadcast by the Met a number of years ago and I was immensely disappointed. People apparently loved her in the theater, and I've read praise for her performance, but whatever charisma she had didn't come across in her singing.
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Garanca's Carmen was broadcast by the Met a number of years ago and I was immensely disappointed. People apparently loved her in the theater, and I've read praise for her performance, but whatever charisma she had didn't come across in her singing.
I've edited down my remaining contestants to the very best. I wanted to use some more contemporary artists, to begin with.
Elina Garanča is my favorite singer, but her voice sounds uncomfortable here at times. It was 2010 MET in HD transmission, she was 34, that is not that much. I start believing, what some others say, that the MET transmissions are done in an incredibly unflattering way. Woodduck says "microphones down their throats".

How was Stephanie Blythe recorded ? Was it raining ? Was it a bootleg ? A nice rich voice. I normally prefer brighter for Carmen, but in competition with the other recording, I can vote for her without hesitation.
Garanca's Carmen was broadcast by the Met a number of years ago and I was immensely disappointed. People apparently loved her in the theater, and I've read praise for her performance, but whatever charisma she had didn't come across in her singing.
This was that broadcast.
Elina Garanča is my favorite singer, but her voice sounds uncomfortable here at times. It was 2010 MET in HD transmission, she was 34, that is not that much. I start believing, what some others say, that the MET transmissions are done in an incredibly unflattering way. Woodduck says "microphones down their throats".

How was Stephanie Blythe recorded ? Was it raining ? Was it a bootleg ? Nice rich voice. I normally prefer brighter for Carmen, but in competition with the other recording, I can vote for her without hesitation.
Out in the audience in Seattle. In her concert version of this her voice was huge on the climax notes.
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I seem to be one of the only members who actually likes Carmen though I often don't like the performance of it.

Neither of these do much for me, I'm afraid. Garanca may look good but she does virtually nothing with the music, and Blythe is not much better. They are both rather penny plain, to be honest. Neither gets my vote.
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I seem to be one of the only members who actually likes Carmen though I often don't like the performance of it.

Neither of these do much for me, I'm afraid. Garanca may look good but she does virtually nothing with the music, and Blythe is not much better. They are both rather penny plain, to be honest. Neither gets my vote.
HIstoric will be better and SHE is in the contest.
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There are two primary requisites for a really good opera singer, a voice and an extroverted personality. It also helps if the singer is trained in how to express the subtext through the words and music, and if they can look the part (after all it is also a visual art form.) Garanča has a good (not great) voice and definitely looks the part, but she is clearly a rather introverted person and (I'm guessing here) doesn't really feel comfortable in 'letting go' on the stage, which is a shame. It also doesn't help that the Habanera comes at the start of the opera before the singer has really gotten herself into the part. I do remember that Met broadcast and while it wasn't exceptional, I do think that Garanča had gotten herself more into the character by the end of the first act, and definitely by the second act.
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Was there something wrong with Blythe's recording? If not, I never heard her voice lack distinction the way she did in this miscast role for her.
On the other hand, Garanca is sex personified and face it, that's what Carmen is all about. Garanca is simply a gorgeous women to begin with and with her bequiling eyes and smoldering looks, it's not hard not to overlook some lack of mezzo voice from others.
I happen to have seen this very production live and the chemistry between her and Alagna is red hot and, for me, there is no better live performance that even comes close to it.
(and you have to normally drag me to another Carmen.)
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Was there something wrong with Blythe's recording? If not, I never heard her voice lack distinction the way she did in this miscast role for her.
On the other hand, Garanca is sex personified and face it, that's what Carmen is all about. Garanca is simply a gorgeous women to begin with and with her bequiling eyes and smoldering looks, it's not hard not to overlook some lack of mezzo voice from others.
I happen to have seen this very production live and the chemistry between her and Alagna is red hot and, for me, there is no better live performance that even comes close to it.
(and you have to normally drag me to another Carmen.)
She is supposed to have something extra that one gets from her live and your experience attests to that. She is so gorgeous and if she can get into the character one might not notice any lack of vocal distinctiveness. Was she blond or brunette?
I was at this production of Blythe as Carmen. Some balked at her over ripe voluptuousness for the role, but her voice was so big, rich and wonderful that i didn't care. I think she sounded better live than she sounded here. I am not Tsaraslondon or Woodduck so I would not have picked up on any lack of nuance.
HIstoric will be better and SHE is in the contest.
there are various SHEs in this case
there are various SHEs in this case
NOT if you are Tsarascallaslondon 😜 😜 😜 😜 I have Callas, Resnak ( sp) and the two most famous Carmen's: Supervia and Rise Stevens.
On the other hand, Garanca is sex personified and face it, that's what Carmen is all about. Garanca is simply a gorgeous women to begin with and with her bequiling eyes and smoldering looks, it's not hard not to overlook some lack of mezzo voice from others.
She has the ability to look attractive as both Carmen and Octavian. Not many can claim that.
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NOT if you are Tsarascallaslondon
you know she is my SHE too, but there are some historical performers... and I don't mean that SHE, that so often pops up around here.
you know she is my SHE too, but there are some historical performers... and I don't mean that SHE, that so often pops up around here.
Read my revised post. You are too quick for me. I go back and edit posts.
Read my revised post. You are too quick for me. I go back and edit posts.
Yes, I meant Supervia. But you unveiled the mystery!
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NOT if you are Tsarascallaslondon 😜 😜 😜 😜 I have Callas, Resnak ( sp) and the two most famous Carmen's: Supervia and Rise Stevens.
No Berganza nor Vicky from L.A.?? No Gheorghiu either?
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