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The Soprano Assoluta and its place in the world of Opera today

36150 Views 108 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  MAS
Hello everyone. it's your neighborhood Baritone, BaritoneAssoluto here and I've got a great deal to talk about. Today's topic might be something a few of us may know and a lot of us may not understand just in-depth what truly is the cause of said topic. Today's topic I will be examining will be the Soprano Assoluta voice also known as the Soprano Sfogato and its place in the world of Opera today. I'm going to start this conversation off with a video from a youtuber by the name of Primohomme. He released three videos on the "in-between" Soprano voices: Assoluta, Falcon, and the Dugazon (which is just a Mezzo-Soprano Soubrette). I started the video within 00:22 seconds of the video so we can skip the filler.

Historically, this term was given to the past "divas" of Opera's yesteryear such as Giuditta Pasta, Maria Malibran, Giulia Grisi, Adelina Patti, and Henriette Sontag. More commonly, the term has been used to describe the Greek-American Soprano of the 20th century, Maria Callas. Here's a brief history behind the usage of the name and how it was applied
inoperasofit's day:

assoluta's heyday was the first four of five decades of the nineteenth century, the period which coincides with the flourishing of Romanticism all over Europe, and she represented the artistic emancipation from the neo-Aristotelian proprieties of character: consistency, suitability to station, trueness to type, appropriateness of behavior, and so forth, along with the Romantic interest in human heroism, the defiance of the gods, the extremes of human character, of situtation and behavior, and a total unpredictability." (Source: The Assoluta Voice in opera: 1797-1847, by Geoffrey S. Riggs)

Here's a few characteristics of the assoluta/Soprano Sfogato voice:

It possesses a dark timbre with a rich and strong low register, as well as the high notes of a soprano and occasionally a coloratura soprano. Those voices are typically strong, dramatic and agile, supported by an excellent bel canto technique and an ability to sing in the soprano tessitura as well as in the contralto tessitura with great ease.
The common requirements for the roles associated with this voice type are:

  • widely varied tessitura throughout the role, extended segments lying well into the low mezzo or contralto tessitura and segments lying in high soprano tessitura
  • a range extending down to at least low B and at least up to high B with at least one whole tone required at either end
  • fioratura (coloratura) singing in the most intricate bel canto style
  • florid singing combined with heroic weight
  • a heavy or dense sound in the lower range
  • vocal power over energetic orchestral accompaniment.

With that being said, the Assoluta voice is more than rare in the Opera world today. We have been forced to accept the notion that only canaries can sing Lucia di Lammermoor, Roberto Deveraux and that only dramatic/
spintos can sing Aid, Leonora from Destino and Trovatore, Medea, and Norma. In the days of the Assoluta, you were REQUIRED to sing Norma, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Medea, Tosca, Kundry, Aida, Norma, Gioconda, Countess, Armida, Armina, Elisabetta, Leonora (destino and Trovatore), Mimi. We must eliminate that notion once again and bring back the good old singing... where those singers gave it their all and didn't regret it.

The Assoluta of today is nowhere to be found (and please don't say
Devia or Gruberova because those two queens are horrible.) Angela Meade is the only one who is close to an actual dramatic coloratura soprano but she doesn't have that extra "it" to be an Assoluta (unless she retrains her entire instrument like they did back in the 19th and 18th centuries.)

Please discuss guys, I'm always ready! Once again this is your neighborhood Baritone, BaritoneAssoluta speaking and saying "Out"!
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Horne was in the backwaters of Germany most of her soprano career. She made no recordings that I know of. Wozzeck put her on the map in the States.. Ponselle's Senza Mamma was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Actually I have a 2-CD set, Gala GL100.568, where she sings soprano quite convincingly, including a 1959 recording of the complete Bach Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, all four movements. She also sings Brünnhilde's Immolation quite well and does not sound at all like a mezzo, although it is undated ... And she sings Marie's monologue from Wozzeck, 1966.

Kind regards, :tiphat:

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