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Who sang it best?

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This may be my favorite aria and these are some of my favorite interpreters. It is one of the greatest arias for showcasing the chest register and at least a couple of mezzos, including Fassbaender, sang it as there are few mezzo arias that allow them to shine down low as this aria does. I have 7 diverse contestants and Callas will compete against the winners in a multiple choice finale. I did a contest with Tebaldi and the mezzo Obratszova a while back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The mezzo Fassbaender really sounds like a soprano and she is known as a good actress. I adore Traubel's version but Rita Hunters version, new to me, just blew me away with it's excitement, beauty and passion. What thrilling high notes as well as strong low notes! I think Hunter has the best high notes of all my contestants.
 

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The mezzo Fassbaender really sounds like a soprano and she is known as a good actress. I adore Traubel's version but Rita Hunters version, new to me, just blew me away with it's excitement, beauty and passion. What thrilling high notes as well as strong low notes! I think Hunter has the best high notes of all my contestants.
I always thought she was a soprano from the get go, but she sings her rep well so, I don't think too much about it.

@OP Traubel as usual, and for the usual reasons.
 

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Traubel has a beautiful dramatic voice, and sings with passion, though her timbre sounds a little too stately for Italian opera. Well developed chest voice, though not used with the intensity of some Italian singers. Not one of my favourite versions, but clearly the best of this bunch.
 

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I found Traubel’s version a bit grande-dame and four-square and Anglo-Saxon in pronounciation (voechey, destinoe).

The Hunter version has, on the surface, everything that is needed in voice and intelligence, but I thought it curiously dissatisfying.

Only the Fassbaender version enters into the spirit of the aria and has the necessary savage tone that satisfies, though it may be too much for some people. I do find the basic timbre of the voice “wrong,” as I prefer a soprano voice for the aria.
 

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Traubel does nothing wrong. Indeed she fulfils most of the demands of the music, but where is the disprezzaione? Not even a hint. Hunter isn't much more involved and her low notes are not great.

Fassbaender surprised me. She is both more involved and more involving. I'm not convinced it's the right voice for the piece and she can't float the volavan l'ore section, but here is desperation, the sense of a woman literally at the end of her tether. There are a few bumpy vocal moments but I found her version more exciting and more dramatic. A very easy win for me here.
 

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Traubel transposes the aria down a half-step, something she apparently did frequently to accommodate her limited top. It doesn't hurt an otherwise solid reading, but a "solid reading" falls somewhat short of what one hopes for in this music. She knows how the thing goes, but does nothing with it that interests me.

I was too distracted and annoyed by Hunter's fierce vibrato to notice much what she did. I don't want to go through it again to find out.

Fassbaender's voice isn't ideal in tonal body or register mix, but she's the only one of the three who seems to be performing the aria as I know it, in a style I feel is appropriate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Traubel transposes the aria down a half-step, something she apparently did frequently to accommodate her limited top. It doesn't hurt an otherwise solid reading, but a "solid reading" falls somewhat short of what one hopes for in this music. She knows how the thing goes, but does nothing with it that interests me.

I was too distracted and annoyed by Hunter's fierce vibrato to notice much what she did. I don't want to go through it again to find out.

Fassbaender's voice isn't ideal in tonal body or register mix, but she's the only one of the three who seems to be performing the aria as I know it, in a style I feel is appropriate.
Her fierce vibrato is what I love. Different ears LOL. I never thought my beloved Traubel would win a contest but she just may. Have a good day!
 

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I tried something new. I decided not to look at who was singing and played the first one and immediately got my first impression of a voice I was not insane abut but actually could not fault her for anything at all. She sang it so perfectly (well, not Callas perfect but I don't want to bring that into this discussion I hope when I read the other reports)and her chest tones were admirable where I soon discovered the others were not. So who was that masked woman?

Next, had a prettier sound to her voice but was a bore to these ears. I didn't hear any nuance or expresisions that touched me and thought she had a pretty voice but nothing to put my finger on.
The 3rd singer's voice was my favorite and I even enjoyed her delivery sans the lack of chest tone that seems so important in this aria.
Which leaves me between the 1st and the 3rd .
I decided on the one whose voice was not my favorite but with those unforgettable chest tones was the one who ultimately got my money on her win.
Now ... who the heck did I pick?
I'll be right back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I tried something new. I decided not to look at who was singing and played the first one and immediately got my first impression of a voice I was not insane abut but actually could not fault her for anything at all. She sang it so perfectly (well, not Callas perfect but I don't want to bring that into this discussion I hope when I read the other reports)and her chest tones were admirable where I soon discovered the others were not. So who was that masked woman?

Next, had a prettier sound to her voice but was a bore to these ears. I didn't hear any nuance or expresisions that touched me and thought she had a pretty voice but nothing to put my finger on.
The 3rd singer's voice was my favorite and I even enjoyed her delivery sans the lack of chest tone that seems so important in this aria.
Which leaves me between the 1st and the 3rd .
I decided on the one whose voice was not my favorite but with those unforgettable chest tones was the one who ultimately got my money on her win.
Now ... who the heck did I pick?
I'll be right back.
I am flattered by the thoroughness you continually show when listening to the contests!!!! Thank you.
 

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I tried something new. I decided not to look at who was singing and played the first one and immediately got my first impression of a voice I was not insane abut but actually could not fault her for anything at all. She sang it so perfectly (well, not Callas perfect but I don't want to bring that into this discussion I hope when I read the other reports)and her chest tones were admirable where I soon discovered the others were not. So who was that masked woman?

Next, had a prettier sound to her voice but was a bore to these ears. I didn't hear any nuance or expresisions that touched me and thought she had a pretty voice but nothing to put my finger on.
The 3rd singer's voice was my favorite and I even enjoyed her delivery sans the lack of chest tone that seems so important in this aria.
Which leaves me between the 1st and the 3rd .
I decided on the one whose voice was not my favorite but with those unforgettable chest tones was the one who ultimately got my money on her win.
Now ... who the heck did I pick?
I'll be right back.
I almost never actually look at singers from the get go. Even in live operas, I might be looking at them maybe 1/3 or 1/2 the time, so this approach comes second nature to me.
 

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Traubel does nothing wrong. Indeed she fulfils most of the demands of the music, but where is the disprezzaione? Not even a hint. Hunter isn't much more involved and her low notes are not great.

Fassbaender surprised me. She is both more involved and more involving. I'm not convinced it's the right voice for the piece and she can't float the volavan l'ore section, but here is desperation, the sense of a woman literally at the end of her tether. There are a few bumpy vocal moments but I found her version more exciting and more dramatic. A very easy win for me here.
Listening to Rita Hunter again, I can hear a voice with some good raw material. However, the middle was unfocused and pushed, and the top was shrill, because the head and chest voice weren't making friends with each other the way you need to keep that deep "oo" in the sound without losing clarity or power. The chest voice didn't actually sound that bad. It just sounded like a soprano with a lighter voice rather than a true Wagnerian like Traubel or Lieder. In all likelihood, this resulted from giving into the temptation to push the voice to sound deeper and bigger, hence the aforementioned strange and lack of balance in the upper half of the range. In my opinion, she would have been better suited to, say, early Verdi or bigger Mozart roles like Donna Anna, but her Wagner sounds a bit strained. She reminds me a bit of Renata Scotto, with whom I have a similar contention.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Traubel can have her moment. Once she's up against the genuine article she'll be back to the movies and "What's My Line?"
Next time some serious competition, one who might even sway some listeners away from Callas ( OMG!!!!!!!) Time will tell.
Listening to Rita Hunter again, I can hear a voice with some good raw material. However, the middle was unfocused and pushed, and the top was shrill, because the head and chest voice weren't making friends with each other the way you need to keep that deep "oo" in the sound without losing clarity or power. The chest voice didn't actually sound that bad. It just sounded like a soprano with a lighter voice rather than a true Wagnerian like Traubel or Lieder. In all likelihood, this resulted from giving into the temptation to push the voice to sound deeper and bigger, hence the aforementioned strange and lack of balance in the upper half of the range. In my opinion, she would have been better suited to, say, early Verdi or bigger Mozart roles like Donna Anna, but her Wagner sounds a bit strained. She reminds me a bit of Renata Scotto, with whom I have a similar contention.
You know so much more about singing than me, but it is like we are listening to two different singers. She is one more in a list of singers that Seattle's opera public and I love that get indifferent or negative reactions from this group. If someone is loved here I should eliminate them from the competition it seems.
 

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They are not hated. Opera is good in its diversity, in its primary, less PC meaning.
I know about music much less than you, my approach is totally unscientifical, but emotional and esthetical. I wish I could hear what others hear. But I'm not sure whether it would make me happier.
 

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I almost never actually look at singers from the get go. Even in live operas, I might be looking at them maybe 1/3 or 1/2 the time, so this approach comes second nature to me.
But I went beyond that this time. I only originally knew the names of the 3 but had no idea which of the 3 names was singing till after it was all over.
 

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Much to my surprise I'm going to vote for Helen Traubel. It's a monumental voice.
I'm a big Rita Hunter fan but I feel this recording caught her too late.
Brigitte Fassbaender has never really done it for me. I always feel she that she sounds a bit hysterical. That's not a bad thing in this aria but the sound itself doesn't do much for me.
 
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