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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
I inherited a pristine LP of Farrell doing it. Callas of course is peerless, but Farrell is on fire, sings with great beauty and is very effective in the role. Her voice is like a volcano at times. It really requires a real dramatic soprano to do the part justice. It is like Norma without the coloratura. There is a lot of beautiful music in it and that "De tuoi figli" ( sp?) that Medea sings early on is so beautifully written- I could listen to it over and over. Farrell handles the low passages well, though I am sure Callas takes them to another level. You must be secure down low for maximum impact in this role I think. It just doesn't appear to be done much at all after Maria sang it.
 

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I inherited a pristine LP of Farrell doing it. Callas of course is peerless, but Farrell is on fire, sings with great beauty and is very effective in the role. Her voice is like a volcano at times. It really requires a real dramatic soprano to do the part justice. It is like Norma without the coloratura. There is a lot of beautiful music in it and that "De tuoi figli" ( sp?) that Medea sings early on is so beautifully written- I could listen to it over and over. Farrell handles the low passages well, though I am sure Callas takes them to another level. You must be secure down low for maximum impact in this role I think. It just doesn't appear to be done much at all after Maria sang it.
There's a complete (?) Farrell performance on YT:


Someon says Callas was in attendance. Should be worth a listen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
There's a complete (?) Farrell performance on YT:


Someon says Callas was in attendance. Should be worth a listen.
I have excerpts from a studio recording centering just on Medea. I really love the music. I'll check this out. That was a good year.... I was born that year! Callas was very impressed with Farrell. To hear her on vinyl is a revelation.
 

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Radvanovsky has never been a favourite but I've never hated her either. That said, after seeing some clips of her Medea on YouTube... it's truly horrible. In fairness, it's an exceptionally difficult role and few have sung it well, and only one has sung it masterfully, but Radvanovsky's voice is uncentered and unclear in the middle and practically inaudible at the bottom. How can anyone think to sing Medea without chest voice? Hard pass on this one.
!

I just watched a clip of her sing the last few moments of the finale and whew. She-who-must-not-be-named sounded more focused and solid down low even when her voice was in shreds in 1961. What bothers me even more than the lack of chest voice though is the pervasive gnattish (her words) quality of Sondra's voice that utterly destroys any sort of grace, elegance, and vocal coloring she might otherwise have access to. In an effort to shed some positivity, I will say she's the best we can hope for in this role nowadays.
 

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!

I just watched a clip of her sing the last few moments of the finale and whew. She-who-must-not-be-named sounded more focused and solid down low even when her voice was in shreds in 1961. What bothers me even more than the lack of chest voice though is the pervasive gnattish (her words) quality of Sondra's voice that utterly destroys any sort of grace, elegance, and vocal coloring she might otherwise have access to. In an effort to shed some positivity, I will say she's the best we can hope for in this role nowadays.
I would say that she is not suited to this role, nor to Macbeth, which she’s recently attempted - it’s just not (yet?) in her voice. But given her weak lower register, it may never get there.
 

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While I still think she sounds good as Medea, I do agree that there are several noticeable problems.

We also have to remember that this isn't exactly her strong suit. Give her Aida, Leonora, Amelia, Tosca, Elvira, Norma, the Three Queens, etc. and she is amazing. I saw her in Tosca at the Met in December, and she was divine. She has a precedent of incredible performances and absolutely superb singing. I've seen some people say that recordings don't capture her voice well. I've only seen her once, so I can't say that with certainty, but I believe it. She probably sounded at least slightly better than this in person.

Also, like you said, she's aging. She's 53. There have been few sopranos who still sound amazing at that age. Even Callas (famously) didn't. When I think of sopranos who sounded truly exquisite at that age, only two come to mind: Leontyne Price and Joan Sutherland.
I don't think she sounds even close to good here, but then again I certainly wouldn't say Price and Sutherland sounded divine at 53. Price was hooty and Sutherland beginning to wobble in the middle. But, really, how many do sound divine at 53? Flagstad and Melchior maybe, Simionato was still going strong. Although records from the first 30 years of the 20th century suggest it wasn't that uncommon for singers to sound wonderful into their 50s and 60s back then.
 

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There's a complete (?) Farrell performance on YT:


Someon says Callas was in attendance. Should be worth a listen.
What was the actual date? If this is an American issue then it would have been August. If it's British then it's November. Callas was recording in Milan throughout August. In fact sessions for Aida started on August 10th. If it's November she was singing Leonora in Il Trovatore on the 8th in Chicago. In other words, not possible.
 

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What was the actual date? If this is an American issue then it would have been August. If it's British then it's November. Callas was recording in Milan throughout August. In fact sessions for Aida started on August 10th. If it's November she was singing Leonora in Il Trovatore on the 8th in Chicago. In other words, not possible.
It’s November :)
 

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I wonder when Callas heard Farrell. I doubt she would have praised her had she not actually heard her.
It turns out that Callas was definitely a champion of Farrell.
One time was when Callas, Tebaldi and Milanov all saw her in a blockbuster performance of Oxenburg's American Opera Society in NY Town Hall of "Medea".
"People were leaning over the balcony, screaming and cheering. The press went nuts too. " (Winthrop Sargeant's review in the 1958 New Yorker who gave reasons why Farrell's performance was better than all 3 of the divas mentioned above). (pp. 146-7 Farrell's "Can't Help Singing".)
In 1959 when Bing and Callas' famous brouhaha made headlines, "A reporter asked Callas about the whole flap with Bing and she answered, 'Who needs the Met? They don't have any big names. They haven't got Farrell, have they?'"
(p. 152 Farrell's "Can't Help Singing")
By 1960 Bing was on the phone and engaaged Farrell for "Alceste."
That same summer of 1959 Farrell was having lunch at the Savoy while performing with Schippers at the Albert Hall when she noticed that Callas, who was appearing in "Medea" at the same time, was sitting at a table near her. She approached Callas' table and introduced herself -- to which Callas enthusiastically jumped up, embraced her and told her that "of all my colleagues, you have been the nicest to me." (p. 131 Farrell's "Can't Help Singing)
 

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Radvanovsky and Goerke are the only two sopranos today I would get excited to hear. I did hear Goerke as Norma years ago but before her voice really got big. Her high D in the trio was jaw dropping, though. You would have to pay ME to hear Netrebko today, although she was delight 25 years ago.
I'd give my right arm to hear Lise Davidsen.
 

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Why? In the recent broadcast of Tannhäuser from this summer’s Bayreuth Fest, which was utterly dreadful, to put it mildly, her Elisabeth was not that much better than the worst in the cast.
Because people who have heard her live say she's amazing. Her recording of Fidelio is wonderful. Here aria CD is pretty good as is the Grieg CD. By all accounts it's an extraordinary voice.
 

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Because people who have heard her live say she's amazing. Her recording of Fidelio is wonderful. Here aria CD is pretty good as is the Grieg CD. By all accounts it's an extraordinary voice.
I almost got to hear her as Leonore, but COVID got in the way and the performances were cancelled.

The jury's still out for me. I don't like her recording of Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder at all, and I wasn't that impressed with the Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi album either.
 

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Because people who have heard her live say she's amazing.
The “because people say” thing means very little, particularly today when there is so much despair in the ever-declining business of opera, not to mention opera singing which is on a steep nosedive. For instance, if you were to go by “it” and didn’t bother digging in a bit deeper on your own, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Radvanovsky’s Medea is the finest thing since sliced bread. It isn’t.
 
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