Following the jump, snippets of all the tracks on the new “Verismo” album, as performed by America’s Soprano.
Sorry, 78. Pieczonka sang her San Fran Tosca in a healthy voice but was no Tosca interpretively or stylistically. And she’s not exactly known for bel canto, French rep or Handel.
I agree Steber and Zeani both sang a wide variety of repertoire and sang it well. I would also add Monserrat Caballe to that list.
I said it a long time ago and I will say it again. Fleming had a voice that could do just about anything. Her Mozart was phenomenal, she had the voice for some beautifully sung Verdi and her coloratura technique was fluid enough for belcanto. Her problem was that she didn’t have someone who kept her in her toes.
If she had taken the time to really understand the belcanto repertoire, as opposed to thinking that she HAD to make her mark in belcanto it would have been a very different story. The woman had the voice and the technique to do it almost all, but what she didn’t have was an idea of what to do with it, nor the affinity for the rep. I wish her teacher or someone would have sent her to Caballe to study with her for 6-8 months and coach with her all the belcanto roles they share. We would’ve has us one knock out Violetta, Amelia Bocanegra, Bolenna (at this point), Leonora (at this point), Stuarda and Lucrezia Borgia; among several others that could’ve happen.
’twas not to be ahime!
And add me to the list of Steber worshipers. her Mozart in my oppinion was better than betty Blachead and in the same level as Jurinac and Teresa Stich-Randall.
The greatest American soprano ever? Surely that’s Rosa Ponselle?
I’m sorry but I still have to “get” Eleanor Steber. Something there sounds bland to my ears. Maybe I’ll get her in later in life. Steber, Moffo (yes I know there’s a difference but to me its the same kind of blandness) just leave me totally cold.
What got me hooked into Steber besides the color of the voice was her mastery of the Mozart style. When i heard her I just started understanding Mozart.
She was recording Mozart at a time when Germans were dominating the field and singing Mozart as if they were singing Schubert or church music. Steber sang it with the proper appogiaturas and brought such drama to Mozart that very few of the german Interpreters brought at the time.
As far as i am concerned, any soprano who wants to make a specialty of Mozart better listen to Steber a LOT.
Include me among the Steber lovers. There’s such an immediacy to her singing.
And while we’re talking about singers who sang a wide range of roles, dare I mention Studer?
BTW, inhabiting a chosen style needs so much more than technique and voice. It implies, for example, the assuption that the singer must understand that in Italian music phrases have to be planned like a graph, whereas French music must be sung closer to speech, as if there’s no peak at all within the phrases. It means that in German declamation the consonants must be sounded from “above” whereas in Italian music the consonants are supported lower than the speaking voice, nearer the chest. There’s also a difference between Gemran pronunciation in Bach vs Wagner, for example. Or even within a composer: Elettra (Mozart) is a very “Italian” role, given the Metastasian (and tragedie-lyrique) origins of the part. Therefore, as in Italian declamatory music (i.e. Spontini, Cherubini, the great drammatico d’agilita roles), recitative has always to be sung “from the bottom up”. And Fiordiligi, while having a similar range, is a very “german” role because the voice often operates as a clarinet or oboe.
Therefore singing the “O Sdegno, O Smanie, O Duol” in Elettra has to be sung with a lot more colour and differentiation within the consonants (the Sd spat out, the D in duol the tongue goes further back, it’s a softer sound yet no less intense -- I’m still waiting for the Elettra to really point the differences with the vividness and dramatic bone the role requires) while with Fiordiligi the same section (E smania, affanno, rimorso, pentimento, leggerezza, perfidia e tradimento) calls for similar differentiation, yet more inward and more “enjoyment” of the sound of the vowels, a rounded approach. Singing in any given language comes with a given tradition of how certain syllables and words must be pronounced, and it has nothing to do with pure diction.
So few people today really care about all of this and are willing to invest the energy and time in that kind of musical separation. Bartoli is one, Harteros possibly another. Studer, obviously a very intelligent and gifted artist, used to be a real expert in this, but it didn’t last long, too much pressure on the voice)
Cerquetti Farrell (70#)Those EMI recordings focused on the singer primarily. EMI ‘dragged their legs’ as far as the then newer stereophonic recording technology was concerned. To hell with the orchestra, or the acoustic in when the music was been performed. As well yhe frequency range was closed in, and proper dynamic sound levels went out the window. Every thing was generally ‘vague, intimate and nice’. Legge was besotted with primarily presenting ‘a la Blackhead’ (his missus).
Decca was into ‘realism’ as if one was in an opera house, in the best seat. Using their famous ‘Decca tree’ of micro-phoning.
If one still wants a demonstration of Decca ‘plotting a believable visual 4- direction perspective of the action’ try the 1958 Tebaldi Girl of the Golden West- ‘storm & card game’ or the 1961 Von Karajan Del Monaco/ Tebaldi Otello in Act 1. By the very early part of the 70′s Decca were even using 24 channel micro phoning (on Solti’s Der Rosenkavalier. Bumping up from 16 channels for their Solti Gotterdammerung.
Growing up, one considered that EMI Legge- directed opera recordings comfortably best suited old folk: those, with troublesome hearing aids that could not handle real sonic dynamics.
Sorry, the Steber clip, wonderful sound but out of sorts stylistically.
Did nobody tell her that in baroque / classical rep the stress is ALWAYS on the leading note and not on the resolve? I’m talking about 00:58-01:00. It’s mia FE-e and not mia Fe-E. And I want the Tormento to be different: rolled R, popped sound on the M (like callas in barbiere and “ma” and a round, full E). Tormento is a very potent word in italian 18th century litterature and in this context its all about sexual frustration. Yet there are some gorgeous things there. I still prefer Jurinac in Anna. And, amazingly enough, Gencer with Solti, is totally sublime.
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