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More o’ Leonora

Since you so adroitly identified the voice of the mystery Leonora as Anja Harteros, La Cieca thought you might like to hear the soprano in the complete Act 4, Scene 1 of Il trovatore

Anja Harteros sings Leonora


  • florezrocks says:


    Who is the tenor?

    • enzo says:

      I think the tenor is Giuseppe Gipali.

      She’s a good lyric soprano, but what is a lyric soprano doing in Trovatore?

      To hear dramatic sopranos sing the aria, go to YouTube and listen to Rosa Ponselle and Emmy Destinn. Zinka Milanov might be there too.

      • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

        Wasn’t the debate settled on whether a lyric could sing Trovatore settled by “juicy lyric” Leontyne Price? What about coloratura soprano (with an admittedly dramatic edge) Joan Sutherland? And how are we classifying Scotto and Raina Kabaivnaska, as filth? In fact, doesn’t the fioritura throughout suggest that quite a few dramatic sopranos would have no business singing the role. Seems to me the role is for anyone who can sing it without doing severe damage to her voice no?

        • Could have not said it better myself. Bravo

        • louannd says:

          I am not sure a debate is ever “settled” at Parterre.

        • CwbyLA says:

          Please help ON. What is the difference between fioritura and coloratura? I can never understand the difference.

          • OpinionatedNeophyte says:

            I’m not sure I understand myself. Isn’t coloratura a word that can more easily be used as an adjective to describe a type of singing.. Whereas fioritura is a kind of musical writing or phrase?

          • armerjacquino says:

            They mean pretty much the same thing although as ON says, ‘coloratura’ is more general. You don’t hear people talk about a ‘fioratura soprano’.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            I think there is a tiny nuance, but it is inconsistently applied. To me, fioritura means any florid writing anywhere in the range, as does coloratura, but when talking specifically about sopranos (and sometimes tenors), coloratura also implies high notes in addition to the floridity. Maybe it’s just me.

      • Harteros is fairly loud. Also, she’s fabulous! You want to hear a light-voiced Leonore (and one who is stylistically, um, interesting)?:

      • luvtennis says:


        Your post is a joke right?

        Can you provide one single shred of evidence that Verdi intended any of his heroine roles for big-voiced dramatic sopranos?

        It’s not clear to me that the type of post-verismo dramatic even existed in the mid-19th century.

        To me Verdi clearly signaled that he intended those roles (Leonoras, Aida, Amelia, Elisabetta, Elvira) to be sung by a strong voiced lyric by taking the following steps:

        1) Most or all of the roles have non-optional notes above b-flat that must be sung softly and are completely exposed. Many of those high notes are Cs or higher.

        2) All of these roles are romantic heroines. Victims!!!! They dramatic soprano role in these operas goes to the antagonist or anti-heroine (Azucena, Amneris, Eboli). Those roles much more closely the type of “dramatic” soprano roles exemplified by Beethoven’s Leonore.

        (Do I still need to make that argument that Norma is NOT a dramatic soprano role?!?!?!) Hello, Amina!)

        3) Most of the music sung by these characters is lyric or reflective in nature.

        [Everyone of the roles above is part of the line stretching back to the seminal heroine role in the rep - Donna Anna. Donna Anna is a lyric-spinto role - a lyric who through weight of tone and depth of tone color is able to express strong emotions like passion, exultation, and despair.]

        4) Finally, I challenge that notion that any of the singers you mention were true dramatic sopranos. Capable of huge air displacement? Yes. But they still sang largely as lyric sopranos. In fact, I would argue that in the case of each singer forcing lead to significant vocal problems affecting tone quality (Zinka and Destinn) and longevity (Ponselle).

  • Clita del Toro says:

    OT: My NY friend, Leonora da Pin-Yenta attended two rehearsals of Lucia with Dessay. She said that she was excellent in one--and with E flats.

    Btw, Leonora will fly here to Chicago tomorrow to see Lohengrin and one other opera.

    I am looking forward to tonight’s chat.

  • Lucky Pierre says:

    OT: alexandrina pendatchanska

    is there a reason this lady has never sung at the met?

    • phillyoperalover says:

      i was thinking the same question!

    • La marquise de Merteuil says:

      AP is a very demented singer BUT her voice is on the small side when heard live.

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      Because she’s got a small voice with a whole raft of unresolved technical problems? She’s like Danielle De Niese but with dreadful repertoire choices and no dancing. Granted, some of her studio work with period orchestras is very exciting, but if she does have a Met career, it’ll be a short and problematic one.

      There is no comparison with the large scale, bona fide prima donna instrument of Harteros.

      • Lucky Pierre says:

        she does not have a small voice and you can’t compare her to deniese. AP’s voice is bigger than gheorghiu’s for sure. she does have a peculiar throb and a rather thick tone — i saw her at NYCO’s ermione and donna del lago and i don’t recall that her voice was so high and bright as in the excerpt above. but you can’t say her voice is tiny like deniese’s.

        • Cocky Kurwenal says:

          I think she has a lot in common with De Niese, so yes I can, although I didn’t use the word ‘tiny’ and I wouldn’t use it about De Niese either. But to me, the similarities between Pendatchaska and De Niese have more to do with their tension and massively pressurised vocal production, which happens to lead to a restriction in the size of the voice in both cases.

          I get very tired of comments about Gheorghiu when it comes to vocal size. However softly she chooses to sing, it always carries.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            But can AP disco dance her way through Cleopatra? Is she media-savvy and hip? Is she the ideal 2ist century singer?

  • Lucky Pierre says:

    btw, you bitches made me get the darn $20 ticket that i won for l’africaine, so i’ll be dragging my sorry ass to that 4 hour bore… it better be demented. since giordani is a known quantity, that chiara taigi better go insane in the death scene to make it worth my time…

    • brooklynpunk says:


      JUST dont fall asleep and snore and drool all over me, …PLEASE…!!!


      • Lucky Pierre says:

        BP, unless you are one of the hot security dudes at the met, i will not be drooling over you… : -- )

  • Sanford says:

    And I bet she would have sung the hell out of Di Tale Amor, The Miserere, and Mira d’acerbe lagrime.

    • SilvestriWoman says:

      Holy God, yes!!! Her recording of Nanetta’s arias contains arguably the most perfectly spun notes I’ve ever heard.

    • ilpenedelmiocor says:

      Ah, the discussion is of my namesake, I see.
      Love this album — when the hell is RCA ever gonna re-release it in a format less than 50 years old?
      Looking forward to hearing Harteros in April.

  • Sanford says:

    TO me, there is nothing inherently interesting about Anja’s voice or her interpretation of this role. She makes Verdi sound like Mozart. There’s no drama, no slancio, no chest voice to speak of, and the impression left on me is of a Master’s voice student singing her final exam. Feh.

    • Bill says:

      Sanford -- do not know why Harteros should have,need or utilize a chest voice. Although Cieca chided me once indicating that a chest voice is essential for Verdi sopranos, I do not feel that is so. If a soprano has an enviable lower register, the only reason for a soprano to revert to chest voice in Verdi roles which Hargeros might essay would be for dramatic effect and many sopranos (and Mezzos) who resort to over-utilization of the chest voice end up with terrible register breaks.
      Harteros sings Handel, Mozart and a wide range of
      roles -- getting into the chest voice alot would
      ruin her for Mozart. I will not comment on
      Hartero’s interpretation of Leonora as I have not heard her in the role -- but the excerpts we have heard now on this blog are lovely.

    • Cuban_Stallion says:

      This was recorded too close to her voice to make a proper assessment possible. But I agree with you, Sanford, she does not sound Verdian. There is something a bit wooden in her vocal production, the vibrato is “tense” and the voice does not blossom in the acuti. I heard her in the theater in Simon Boccanegra and my overall impression was “Victorian restraint”. She is not a singer void of qualities but this current craze is difficult to justify.

  • tinney says:

    A huge Harteros fan. Beautiful line, beautiful voice.

    Who IS the tenor with the wobble?

  • Cocky Kurwenal says:

    I think Harteros is just wonderful. I’m pretty sure she sung Tacea la notte either in her Cardiff programme or when she did the winners’ concert at the Barbican shortly afterwards when still in her 20s, and nobody said anything about it being inappropriate repertoire for her. That was the first time I heard her live, and I had to wait another 10 years or something to hear her agian, in her ROH debut as Amelia Grimaldi which was fantastic. Happily, she seems to have lots of plans to return to the ROH in Don Carlo and other Italian roles.

    I read an interview with her in which she cited Della Casa, Schwarzkopf, Callas, Varnay and Modl as artists she admired -- refreshingly broad tastes there! I don’t really think she resembles anybody though, she’s one of the few prima donnas around today who has the individuality and personality to really create excitement.

    • armerjacquino says:

      Woah, weird threading.

      Cocky- you’ve just posted this, right? Earlier posts are appearing as replies to yours.

      • armerjacquino says:

        And now we have two posts called 8.1

        La Cieca- something screwy is happening…

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        Yes, I was initially surprised to see myself being called an idiot (although I don’t know why, it wouldn’t be the first time on here) because I thought I’d posted something fairly uncontroversial, and then I saw what had happened. Most odd.

  • Cocky Kurwenal says:

    Anyway, favourite bits of Harteros:

    First, from the 4 Last Songs that has just been released comercially on CD:

    And some of her gorgeous Alcina from Vienna in November 2010 -- really lavish, unapologetic Handel singing:

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    I believe next season at the Bayerischen Staatsoper there will be a few performances of Don Carlos with Harteros, Kaufmann and Pape. Sounds like a great lineup to me. And there is no need for her to dip into chest voice. That is one way to loose the easy top. If you have maybe noticed she is very smart in the roles she adds to her rep over the years. If she finds a role not suited to her she will turn down offers even like the Haydn Armida at Salzburg. Flimm wanted her for that and she said that wasn’t someething for her. I guess after looking at the Ernani Elvira she decided against that as well or maybe she thought the Met wasn’t the place to try it out first. Ditto the Aida in Berlin which was only penciled in. The Angelica will come next season at the Garden and also Manon Lescaut there. Ariadne will also come one day I believe. But no rush. I have heard that she likes to have a new role in her voice two years before singing it on stage. She certainly is not one of those artists who show up at a theater unprepared when debuting a new role.

    • Bill says:

      And Feldmarschallin, Harteros herself is scheduled for HER first Viennese Feldmarschallins at the Vienna State Opera next season. Perhaps Garanca, a really fine Octavian, who is scheduled to reprise the role in Vienna, will be in the same performances. Harteros has already essayed the role elsewhere and in my opinion should be very fine in the role as Kuehmeier surely will be when she gets around to it.

      It makes sense to me that Harteros might not wish to sing Aida or Ernani. Studer came to grief with Aida and so have numnerous others.

      • peter says:

        Harteros is debuting the Marshallin in San Diego this April.

        • Feldmarschallin says:

          yes the ones in San Diego will be her first. Then later in the season she sings it in Wien and Muenchen. Makes perfect sense to get a few performances under your skin before you take THAT role to either Staatsoper since they are very spoiled in those places when it comes to Strauss. She has sung Arabella already in the past and VLL all over the place it seems. And I think I might have seen something about a concert in Berlin with Capriccio Schlussgesang but maybe I was mistaken there. I think she would be a lovely Daphne but she has no interest in that role it seems. If the voice continues to grow Kaiserin would be an option. Janowitz and Schwanewilms (perhaps) show that the right lyric can get away it if they don’t try and oversing. Varady showed us that one needn’t have a huge voice for certain roles. Varady even later on went into some of the heaviest Verdi roles and Senta as well. And Varady certainly knew what she was doing since she gave her farewell as Aida. Not many sopranos will keep that role for so long and still sing it at the end. L. Price was another one of course. All three are smart in that they don’t sing too many performances and while Price maybe have had grief with Minnie she was pretty smart when it came to her roles.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            I thought Janowitz didn’t get away with it in the end -- isn’t the only recording of her Empress a dress rehearsal, after which she pulled out and let somebody else do the performances?

          • armerjacquino says:

            Nope. She was never scheduled to do the performances- she sang the DR as a cover.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            That’s interesting, I didn’t realise that. Do you know who she was covering? Opera Depot make no mention of the scenario (which I’d read about elsewhere but got the wrong end of the stick about) on the recording they have available.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Rysanek, of course, who else? Gladys Kuchta is covering Ludwig in the same recording.

          • Bill says:

            Cocky -- Karajan conducted only two actual
            performances (both premieres) of Die Frau ohne Schatten in June of 1964 in Vienna. The first performance on June 11th was with Rysanek, Ludwig, Berry, Jess Thomas and Grace Hoffman and that performance is on a DGG CD. The second performance June 17th 1964 was in part with the second cast and included Janowitz, Kuchta, Otto Wiener as Barak, Jess Thomas and Grace Hoffman again. That performance is available on cd as well -- maybe Gala.
            Just at that time there was tremendous turmoil at the Vienna Opera and Karajan was fired.
            For over a decade there was discussion of
            reviving Frau (without Karajan) but it did not
            occur until 1977 with Boehm, Rysanek, Nilsson, Berry, Kastu, and Ruth Hesse. The production was the same as Karajan’s in 1964.
            I do not think Janowitz ever sang the Kaiserin again except in that one 1964 performance. It was Karajan’s last premiere as Director of the Vienna Opera. The CD was with Janowitz was definitely a performance -- I doubt then any dress rehearsals were ever recorded. It was actually the first leading Strauss role Janowitz sang in Vienna as previously she was only assigned Echo and the 4th Maid in Electra -- so it was a big experiment as her larger roles up til then were Barbarina, Cherubino, Pamina, Michaela, Marzelline.
            Her Ariadne, Arabella, Capriccio, Marschallin were yet to come.

  • Arianna a Nasso says:

    I don’t understand Bill’s and Feldmarschallin’s views that using chest voice in Verdi will damage Harteros’s voice or her ability to sing Mozart, etc. Yes, over-using the chest voice can cause problems, but using it tastefully and in a technically intelligent fashion, as surely Harteros is capable of doing, should not cause any harm, especially if she balances her repertoire between composers. Following the last century of singing, the vast majority of listeners expect chest voice in lirico spinto Verdi roles like Leonora and Elisabetta, and I agree that by not attemping it, one is not doing the music justice, just as when Gheorghiu for a while banished portamento from Puccini. The chest voice is part of the voice; one just needs to use it responsibly.

    • Cocky Kurwenal says:

      The thing is that Harteros *does* use chest voice in that Trov excerpt in the Miserere especially, it’s just that it isn’t hammered out alla early Callas, is very slightly mixed, and retains the beautiful, velvety colour of the rest of her excellently produced voice, which surely comes to the same thing as ‘using it tastefully and in a technically intelligent fashion’.

  • imelda says:

    I have to agree with Arianna on the use of chest voice.
    Fiordiligi, Vitellia, Elettra? Not going to get far with those ladies without responsible use of the chest register. (Does a soprano have a (audible) low g without using their chest voice?)

    • Bill says:

      Imelda -- not every Fiordiligi has had to utilize
      chest voice -- Both Seefried (the only Fiordiligi
      in Vienna and Salzburg from 1943-57) sang the low
      notes beautifully in Cosi without chest voice and
      so did Jurinac -- both had strong lower registers.
      The last really great Fiordilgi I heard on stage was Isokoski and she did not use chest voice the times I heard her. I do not recall that Miah Persson did either this autumn at the Met. Actually though, not many of the well known Mozart singers of the last 60 years
      have been singing Leonora in Trovatore -- Welitsch did, Harteros does Zylis-Gara was a wonderful Mozartian and did sing Leonora at least a few times
      but I did not hear it, and Studer and Varady were effective in Mozart and sang in some Trovatores.
      I did not much care for Leontyne Price in Cosi.
      Steber sang Verdi but I think maybe not Trovatore But most of the singers of Mozart stayed away from Trovatore -- more usual Gilda, Nanetta, Desdemona,
      Alice Ford, Violetta. and Elisabetta all of which a lyric can manage. I am sure Mrs JC could offer a countless list of sopranos who used chest voice
      extensively earlier on and ended up with shattered voices later in their careers. Some Mozartian sopranos had some difficulty with the lowest notes -- della Casa for one -- the voice was a bit scratchy very low -- and Schwarzkopf can be heard using a few chest tones as early as her 1950 Donna Elvira in Salzburg -- but I think it was more a matter of just getting some sound out for the lowest notes. Harteros has a beautiful line in the Trovatore excerpts we heard earlier on this blog. I much prefer this type of singing than something more gutteral resorting to frequent chest tones.
      I though Harteros as Alcina was truly lovely -- better actually than she was in the 4 Last Songs
      illustration where there was just a little spread in the higher notes. The new British Opera Magazine for March which just arrived has a long story about Harteros. It would appear that she does not
      particularly desire to be typecast and will continue
      with Mozart, Strauss as well as Verdi and other Italian composers. Tosca maybe upcoming -- Senta perhaps someday, Salome -- a long way in the future if ever.

  • Feldmarschallin says:

    well one can take as example Rethberg who managed the Italian roles beautifully without having to dip into the chest all the time. Her tonal beauty is a marvel and she didn’t need to resort to cheap effects to make her point. She also was very famous for her Italian roles as well as German roles and was a master in mixing up composers. Her Aida with the piano high C in the third act is one of the best versions if not they best. Harteros can certainly see how Rethberg managed and she sang some of the heaviest Italian roles, perhaps even a tad too heavy. She was a true musician who sang everthing from Handel to Wagner to Puccini to Verdi and Mozart and much more plus she was famous for her Lieder. I find her Ballo and Chenier arias some of the best versions as well and prefer her anyday over someone like Caniglia or Cigna.

    • Arianna a Nasso says:

      Feldmarschallin -- I don’t think anyone is suggesting Harteros “dip into the chest all the time” or “resort to cheap effects” simply by expecting her to use a reasonable amount of chest voice in Verdi.

      I love Rethberg’s recordings too, but she came to the Italian repertoire from the German tradition. I have a hard time accepting that the German approach to an Italian composer like Verdi is superior to the Italian one. I also think Cigna and Caniglia are rather extreme contrasts to Rethberg compared to, say, Ponselle and Muzio or Tebaldi and Stella.

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        Ponselle is of course great as well. I meant that Harteros needn’t look far (Rethberg) for how Italian opera can be sung quite well. There are some overlaps with the Ponselle and Rethberg but also certain roles which I believe Ponselle didn’t sing or at least didn’t sing much. Aida was not done very often and I don’t think Ballo was done at all by the divine Rosa. You know that some of the Verdi wasn’t done that often in those days. Desdemona is another Rethberg role and Ponselle didn’t sing Amelia Grimaldi since Mueller sang it in 32 and then Rethberg. Another reason why I mentioned Rethberg was the weight of the voice. Ponselle was a dramatic soprano from the start which Rethberg and Harteros never were nor will be. From the early start of both in Mozart to the easy top and relative agility Harteros is more similiar to Rethberg. Muzio, Tebaldi and Stella are a different matter altogether. I doubt you will find Handel, Mozart,Strauss or Weber very prominently. The word ‘German approach’ I find a bit puzzling. After all Theresa Stolz was a noted Verdi singer who sang under the composer many times. Where would someone like Zinka Milanov fit in? Varady?
        Both certainly were not Italians and if anything were perhaps closer to this ‘German approach’ you mention. For your information I find the two best versions of the Ballo aria by Callas and by Rethberg. Certainly very different but equally great IMO. But in the shaping of the line and the use of the words and rhythm but are supreme.

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        Again, Harteros *does* use chest voice in that Trov clip -- why is this debate happening?

  • daviddc says:

    Honestly, dude, you’re being an idiot. “She makes Verdi sound like Mozart.” What does that even mean? Sung in tempo and as written? Sung with precision and control, like Verdi doesn’t need that? What? “Slancio”? Are you channeling Ed Rosen? This is gorgeous singing. Your inability to hear that is your problem, not Hartertos’s. And, really, you can listen to this and type “feh”? Rather than criticize the very slow tempos (the orchestra almost goes out for a smoke several times), the best (least) you can summon is “feh”? Same to you. Not to be rude (OK, intending to be rude) but Harteros rocks, unlike tired old you. Stop listening to musicians making music, it’s clearly past you. Really, dude, I know this is harsh, but you hold yourself out on Parterre as a struggling musician, and if you can’t get this … maybe that’s the problem and explains the struggle.

  • ilpenedelmiocor says:

    Methinks myself transported to the nether regions of the youtube commentariat….

  • armerjacquino says:

    The ad hominem stuff is a bit unnecessary, but I must admit that I found myself wondering what on earth ‘She makes Verdi sound like Mozart’ could actually mean without insulting one or both of the composers.

  • m. croche says:

    I assume the “dc” in the screen-name stands for “diplomatic corps”.

  • louannd says:

    Why can’t I think of this stuff to say? I guess I just get so nonplussed that my mind goes beserk. Thanks Diplomatic David.

  • ianw2 says:

    Oh, but it sounds knowledgable, which is the main thing. I suggest that we all adopt is the standard way to discuss any singer, and the more obscure the better!

    She makes Mussorgsky sound like Paisiello. He conducts Bellini like Zemlinsky. They sing Ades like Cilea.

  • peter says:


  • peter says:

    The touché was meant for m.croche.

  • daviddc says:

    AJ, you’re right (as often), this got kinda ad hominem (my cover of “you’re being” rather than “you are” notwithstanding) and I apologize to Sanford, who has posted many interesting things on Parterre. I was just so “I live on Mars, you on some other planet” by Sanford’s comparison of Harteros to Brightman, that … I went Old Yeller. What can I say? Apologies to all.

  • louannd says:

    Really, do we know what we are talking about? I am SURE that Harteros when singing with what instrument she has IN HER LARYNX, CORRECTLY, knows how to sing. That is evident from the beauty of sound, and her ability to sing WHAT IS WRITTEN. She can no more control her “CHEST” resonators than any of us can.

    During singing in the lower register, the larynx is lowered since the muscles which connect it to the rib cage are tensed whereas the muscles above the larynx are not tensed. Consequently, a large proportion of the vibratory energy is transmitted to the thoracic area, giving singers the impression that their voice is resonating in the chest. This impression however is false. The chest by virtue of its design and location can make no significant contribution to the resonance system of the voice. The chest is on the wrong side of the vocal folds and there is nothing in the design of the lungs that could serve to reflect sound waves back toward the larynx.

    [edit] See also

  • Nerva Nelli says:

    In re: “Old Yeller”

    [img] Yeller.jpg[/img]

  • armerjacquino says:

    That’s handsomely said, dc. If it’s any help I think it was Kermes who was being compared to Brightman, not Harteros.

  • Cocky Kurwenal says:

    Not really very helpful, louannd, since whatever is going on physiologically really isn’t as important in this context as what the term ‘chest voice’ has come to mean in common usage amongst opera singers and opera lovers, ie an audible change in registers and usually a hardening of the tone.

  • louannd says:

    I would argue that perhaps among opera lovers “chest voice” is often discussed but what you are describing sounds painful to me. Here is a another tidbit about the chest voice from a pedagogical point of view:

    The term was later redefined during the bel canto period when it was identified as the lowest of three vocal registers: the chest, passaggio and head registers. This approach is still taught by some vocal pedagogists today.[3]

    However as knowledge of human physiology has increased over the past two hundred years, so has the understanding of the physical process of singing and vocal production. As a result, many vocal pedagogists have redefined or even abandoned the use of the term chest voice.[3] In particular, the use of the term chest register has become controversial since vocal registration is more commonly seen today as a product of laryngeal function that is unrelated to the physiology of the chest and lungs.

  • Cocky Kurwenal says:

    But the pedagogical point of view isn’t really relevant here -- we’re using the term ‘chest voice’ to describe a specific colour that people have come to expect on the lowest notes in dramatic singing, and how that colour results, while interesting, isn’t the point. It’s whether it is necessary for great Verdi singing, among other things. You say it sounds painful to you as if you don’t know what I’m talking about, but surely you’re being disingenuous?