Cher Public

No holds Baird

This is someone we need to hear more of.

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  • Graciella Scusi

    @15 Cocky : “Based on La Cieca’s originally posted clip, I think this is hugely impressive singing.”

    Would that she sounded like that in the theater; in my experience of her, and I’ve seen her 5 times now, she hasn’t. The top is obviously the strongest part of the voice and can be forceful and impressive, but with nowhere near the resonance and amplitude that the clip suggests. The middle voice has been increasingly weak, unsteady in tone and pitch with a tremolo on the verge of a nervous wobble. I was prepared to overlook a lot if she was, in fact, a contemporary kunst diva who compensated for vocal flaws with her charismatic artistry. But, although she’s very slim and attractive, seems to be reasonably intelligent in her choices and is certainly not a bad actress, there was, for me, nothing special or compelling about her presence and acting. I know I’m in the minority here, but if Baird is the future of dramatic sopranos, we’re in trouble. I can only presume that those comparing her to Gwyneth Jones have never seen Baird in person; it’s like comparing a mouse that roared to a Lioness.

  • senti questa

    now this is an exciting voice. like our doyenne i am an acolyte of the church of gwyneth, and i can hear some of the dame’s best qualities in baird’s singing here.

  • Arianna a Nasso

    21 I don’t think anyone is implying Baird is “the future of dramatic sopranos” -- rather than she is one of the more overall satisfying exponents of those roles singing today, an admittedly meager field.

  • Capitolhillguy

    I just saw her in the Seattle d.r. of Die Got. OMG, she was fabulous. I was told and I did witness that she takes a little while to warm up, but by the time she finished the opening duet she hit the loudest, most thrilling climax note ever heard by this listener. It is an odd voice, but it works most effectively. She has a weird way of projecting in the middle of her voice whereby she is heard without making lots of volume. Her voice gets better the higher she goes. The top is the biggest I have ever heard in a dramatic soprano ( and no, I never heard Nilsson). She is a very committed actress who is always on. On top of everything else, HOW does such a huge sound come out of a movie starlet body! Her very large mouth may be the explanation. I would rather listen to Flagstad or Nilsson, surely, but she rivals Waltraud Meier for beauty on stage. She sounded like she could have sung for another hour after the Immolation Scene. The Seattle Ring rocks!

  • enzo

    “surely only pure lyrics are expected to come up with a seamless descent into the chest register at all times?”

    No, Cocky. Rosa Ponselle was expected to do that, as were Rethberg, Arangi-Lombardi, Leider and Flagstad.
    Good grief!

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    Enzo, the fact that Flagstad and Leider could do that doesn’t mean it is a requirement to sing the repertoire effectively, and it isn’t anything worth getting hung up on. The only repertoire in which an audible transition is usually out of place is the pure lyric. In anything else, it really doesn’t matter, and is not even relevant to a discussion of a singer’s technique.

  • Hans Lick

    If only she had sung like this at the Met!

    I was at the Voigt-replacement Isolde, where we were so grateful to both singers for BEING THERE that we didn’t demand much but the ability to get through the music. Then I heard an Isolde the next season with Heppner -- neither performance made me want to hear Baird’s voice again, frankly. (Or Voigt’s. Ever again.) But this clip sounds splendid (NOT as splendid as Brewer at LOC, which was Golden Age vocalism, comparisons to Flagstad appropriate), but an exciting and beautiful performance of a demanding role. I would happily hear her sing it in full … though I’m a FrOSch junkie and will go many places to catch it. As long as Eaglen isn’t in it, how bad can it be? I think it’s the ur-opera of the 20th century.

    Where was this performance, by the way? Staging does not disgust me (as the earth-half of the Met’s does), and the male voices seem very strong.

    (Have I seen a perfect FrOSch anywhere? Well, yes -- the original Met staging -- bring back O’Hearn-Merrill! But that was never filmed, ach weh, and besides it was heavily cut and transposed to permit a mezzo to sing the Wife.)

  • marshiemarkII

    26, as always agreeing with you Cocky, but I will add that Leider and Flagstad may have had seamless registers in SOME of the music but not all, everywhere and everytime. Leider plunges into the depths in Act II of Goetterdaemmerung (Covent Garden 38) with a completely raw and “unconnected” cunt-voice that provides a visceral effect -- on the words gerast and geschmertz -- but is no example of seamless register singing. I am sure it is fully on purpose, and she simply abandons all caution and “correct” singing, in the altar of dramatic expression. Of course we know of only one other singer who does it with the same abandon, and she was much criticized for doing it some 50 years later. Flagstad in the same music is much more careful and hence more even, the chest not punched-out like Leider, but she is also much less visceral and overall less interesting. I love Flagstad’s voice, but here she leaves me wanting.

    And Flagstad later in the single recording of the Elektra Recognition Scene, starts with a glorious sumptuous tone, that blows your mind, but quickly runs into severely heavy weather as she approaches the sublime “erhabenes gesicht” making a complete total mess out of the descent from the Bb, the registers coming apart at the seams, it is really sad!. Of course it is late, but still, she really cannot manage music that was being recorded for posterity. So all these generalizations about singers being untouchable, perfect technique, etc is always more fantasy than reality, in the big scheme of things. There are no absolutes really.