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I think one has to admire all three of these singers. It’s instructive to see the score provided by the Melchior version and look at the repeated notes to which the tenors are supposed to observe, That said, it’s easier to follow it on Melchior’s than the other, but I think they all follow it.

But only Vinay breaks my heart.
 

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Well all three of these are superb and all are a great deal better than any of the tenors in the first round. Del Monaco wouldn't have got a look in against them. All three of them, I think, stick pretty well to the written notes and just go to show that you can't actually improve on what Verdi wrote (take note, Del Monaco).

With three such magnificent performances, choice will no doubt come down to a preference for one of the tenors and my vote goes to Vickers, who has always been my favourite Otello. This recording was made before he had had stage experience in the role, but I still find it very fine, though he's even more moving in the live Met performance from 1978.
 

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Here's the 1978 performance. The picture quality is pretty bad (and I don't much like the Afro wig) but Vickers is amazing.

 

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This has always been one of my favorite moments from any opera, and Jon Vickers has been my favorite Otello of the LP era. A supremely musical artist, he finds the meaning of this passage entirely within the notes. His subtlety pulls us into Otello's emotions, as opposed to throwing them out at us. Vinay, I think, verges on the latter, but not excessively as many Otellos do. Vickers' subtlety may slightly get the better of him at times, the bottom dropping out of his tone, but I'm not inclined to carp.

I've long been familiar with Melchior's German version, and have considered it virtually ideal as both vocalism and interpretation, but this performance in Italian need not take second place to any. As in the role of Siegmund, Melchior and Vickers compete for my esteem as Otello, and I don't want my experience of Vickers in the complete role to bias me in his favor. Performances such as Melchior gives here make me sympathetic to vivalagentenuova's estimate of Melchior as "the greatest tenor not named Caruso." I have to give him my vote.
 

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The argument here is about whose voice suits to the part. Those who can read the score would answer the question most exactly. All the others including me can do is to choose what seems to them "better". And it's Melchior whom I vote for. It's just the voice that seems perfect in all senses. I've repeated "seem" twice, and it's not a limit. 🙂
But Vinay's voice is one of the most interesting ones I've heard and probably impossible nowadays.
And Vickers is remarkable. One of the first impressions of opera, which I've experienced if not in my childhood but in virginity, was that "Norma" from Provence. I decided then that opera singers should look like and sing exactly as Caballe, Veasey and Vickers did. So, voting against him is a little unfair.
 

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I just find Vickers's tone on Ma, o pianto, o duol! m'han rapito il mirraggio too vulgar and sentimental. One place where he's unforgettably sensational is on the word menzogna. I'm talking about the studio recording, the first youtube clip.
 

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Vickers being my "Otello man" was certain to get the crown ... but wait! Who was that masked man on #2 recording? Well bless my soul. Vinay ran away with the prize. He projected such despair that he almost brought me to tears.
I feel I have a singular problem. I so love the Italian sound that when I hear the same aria in another language, and being as familiar as I am with the aria just knocks me off my kilter. Melchoir's presentation was beautiful but I never got to hear certain words that are mandatory to the passion of the aria for me so I had to put him at #3.
Vickers, as usual, did a fine job but sounded more frustrated than desperate to me.

Stop the presses: I just discovered a 4th aria with Melchoir doing the Italian version and frankly I was actually turned off by his presentation which I thought sounded like a lot of pushing and straining. I actually preferred his German version. (McCracken's version might have garnered some interest)
So Vinay still wins clearly for me.
 

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From all the old time recordings I know, Vinay’s with Toscanini is the one I ended up enjoying the most often. Vickers with Karajan was the way I got to know the opera, and I still remember being gobsmacked, astounded, the first time I heard it. And even now, I would say that the Act 3 in that recording is amazing. When Vickers sings a terra . . . e piangi, it’s scary!

When José Cura first appeared on the international scene, it was just the time when I was starting to lose interest in 19th century music, but I remember thinking that he was very good - I have no idea what happened to him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't think we need a final round of this as I don't think anyone can beat Melchior and his competition seemed stronger than the guys in the first round ( Vickers and Vinay). I can have a final contest if people want it.
 

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I don't think we need a final round of this as I don't think anyone can beat Melchior and his competition seemed stronger than the guys in the first round ( Vickers and Vinay). I can have a final contest if people want it.
I think the three here were all much stronger than the three in the first round, so it doesn't seem really fair to have a final with Melchior and Del Monaco, especially when both Vickers and Vinay were much better.
 

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From all the old time recordings I know, Vinay’s with Toscanini is the one I ended up enjoying the most often. Vickers with Karajan was the way I got to know the opera, and I still remember being gobsmacked, astounded, the first time I heard it. And even now, I would say that the Act 3 in that recording is amazing. When Vickers sings a terra . . . e piangi, it’s scary!

When José Cura first appeared on the international scene, it was just the time when I was starting to lose interest in 19th century music, but I remember thinking that he was very good - I have no idea what happened to him.
I actually heard Cura sing Otello in a concert performance in 1999. He looked set to have a great career back then, but he did just seem to fade away.
 
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