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Who sings it best?

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
It is one of the most famous arias but I decided in the first part to have three good singers who you don't normally associate with the aria. If you don't know the fabulous Yma Sumac, she was a vocally self taught allegedly " Peruvian princess" with a staggering 4 and a half octave range. She was the most famous mid century exotica singer but made some impressive opera aria recordings as well. The next part of this contest will pit Callas against Callas as no one can compete against her with this group;-)
 

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It is one of the most famous arias but I decided in the first part to have three good singers who you don't normally associate with the aria. If you don't know the fabulous Yma Sumac, she was a vocally self taught Peruvian princess with a staggering 4 and a half octave range. She was the most famous mid century exotica singer but made some impressive opera aria recordings as well. The next part of this contest will pit Callas against Callas as no one can compete against her with this group;-)
Sumac was not a Peruvian princess - that was an invention “by Hollywood” according to Wikipedia (who also report the Peruvian government supported her claim), Wikipedia also report her parents were mestizos (of mixed race). Nevertheless, her vocal ability is not in doubt as there are recordings to prove it (but not this one).
 

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I'll confess right off that hardly anyone satisfies me in this aria, which gives every soprano an opportunity to display her personal brand of emotional signaling and to expose her own level of taste. Given the prevailing hysteria of the scene that precedes and follows it, I want to hear this sung with the cleanest, most classical line, the emotion within the vocal tone rather than applied like stage makeup. It is, after all, a prayer.

Raisa, the first Turandot, was considered a dramatic soprano, and quite an exciting one in the theater. Only some of that comes across in recordings I've heard, where the voice sounds thin and, to me, not especially attractive. Her Italian isn't quite right either (she was a Polish-born Russian Jew). Her "Vissi d'arte" is cleanly sung, and once I adjust to the sound of the voice as recorded I find her presentation pleasingly pure and unaffected. Giannini is juicier of tone and more emotionally extraverted, only at the end becoming really excessive. Sumac is always fun to listen to, even if a little odd in this. What is that strange chest-voice attack at the beginning?

This might be easier if the recordings, especially Raisa's, were better. As it is I can't decide between her and Giannini.
 

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It is unfanthomable to have included Sumac here or any any round for that matter. She is the definition of camp and cannot be taken seriously in any way, shape or form. My vote goes to Giannini even if she seems past her best. The Raisa track seems poorly pitched.
 

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This was a no brainer for me. First off, Podles sounds like a mezzo but I liked her expressiveness and I give her points for that.
Raisa's voice is lighter than Giannini's but, oh man, does she ever grasp the nuance and sensitivity of the aria and run with it. Hers was simply a gorgeous rendition and it blew the rest away IMO.
 

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This is an easy one as far as I'm concerned. I agree with Woodduck when it comes to Raisa and Sumac. Sumac's odd (for opera) glottal attacks were part of the exotic music she sang, but they disturb the line without adding anything and her take isn't particularly memorable either. It's a superb instrument, to be sure, though.

Raisa sounds thin, as if she had a small, sweet voice, but we know that can't be the case considering she was the first Turandot, despite something of the white, lazerlike sound needed for that role can be heard at times here and there.

Giannini sounds fuller and more importantly is more involved than the other two, she got my vote (although I would like to note that Raisa is obviously compromised by the recording technology of the time).

N.
 

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When i finally heard the videos, I didn’t “like” any of them though they can all sing the piece. Giannini, to me sounds more into the music than the others while Raisa curious pronunciation of some words distracts. Sumac in this repertoire is impressive only in her unsuitability.
 

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I don't think Raisa's voice sounds light or thin at all. It sounds strong and expressive, maybe not in the dramatic vein of Fagstad or Traubel but in an appealingly Italianate way. That said, I also find her odd pronunciations distracting. Giannini's vissi d'arte is beautiful and expressive, I have admired the recording for some time and found it easy to vote for her here. Sumac was okay but nothing special.
 

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Not sure what Sumac is doing, but her vocal production is very odd and I simply don't like it, so she goes out first.

Despite Raisa's slightly odd pronunciation, I had no problem picking her though. As Woodduck says, this is a prayer and Raisa addresses her God, whilst Giannini is definitely singing to the gallery. I actually also preferred her silvery timbre to Giannini's richer sound too. Raisa gets my vote.
 

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Not sure what Sumac is doing, but her vocal production is very odd and I simply don't like it, so she goes out first.

Despite Raisa's slightly odd pronunciation, I had no problem picking her though. As Woodduck says, this is a prayer and Raisa addresses her God, whilst Giannini is definitely singing to the gallery. I actually also preferred her silvery timbre to Giannini's richer sound too. Raisa gets my vote.
Although it seems silvery and somewhat light on records, those who heard her live speak of exceptional power. Raisa was considered a dramatic soprano, while Giannini a spinto. I have also read that Raisa declined by the 1930s, which is when this recording is from. That may account for the issues with diction. She was at her best in the 1910s and 1920s.
 
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