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A time to weep

Don’t let the headline worry you, cher public, what’s coming up after the jump is meant to be good clean fun, with a prize even. In fact, it’s a return of one of parterre’s most beloved classic features, the vocal ID quiz.

Though the generous assistance of Our Own DeCaffarrelli, following is a composite performance of Cleopatra’s great lament from Giulio Cesare “Piangerò la sorte mia.” He has assembled fifteen (15) artists performing bits of the aria, and it is your task to identify as many of them as you can. The commenter with the greatest number of correct answers as of midnight on Sunday, June 24 will be awarded a coveted gift card from amazon.com.

Listen carefully, and off you go: Piangerò la sorte mia

131 comments

  • javier says:

    fleming’s piangero is not included in this, but she did record the aria many years ago. it is on youtube.

  • doktorlehar says:

    I don’t think Number 3 is Auger.

    Could it be Barbara Schlick?

    • No. It is definitely Piau -- check on the tube.

      She’s a sometimes uneven singer, the tone can get hard and intonation may suffer but not here.

      • doktorlehar says:

        Aha, you’re right! It definitely wasn’t Auger--that much I knew.

        • Well Auger could sometimes sing with a bigger tone and occasionally her A vowels turned breathy and grainy but when she downscaled the instrument for baroque performances -- not the awful Mozart C minor under Hogwood -- she might’ve sounded like Piau here. But again, the voice in 3 is lighter. What misled me is the shading on the word ‘mio’, an Auger speciality.

      • So I daresay that I and Cesare had got all right. Schafer and Roschmann are quite similar anyway, but I do think that Cesare is right and it is the former for 12. I’d love it to have been Solberg, a lovely singer.

        • Cesare15 says:

          For me Schafer and Roschmann sound completely different. There a very specific “smoky” character around Schafer’s singing (that is obvious in 12) that is quite different from Roschmann’s coloring. Perhaps they sound similar too you because both are German?
          Additionally, I’d like to mention, that Roschmann to my knowledge never sang Cleopatra, but there might by recordings of some arias that I am currently not aware of. Having written this: Somehow the 12 does not sound like real Schafer. I guess that the recording is running slightly too fast, but this is only an assumption. At least I do not know any other voice that could sing like this.

          • The main thing, I think, is that we’re both very similar in using these mental constructs, also I think we’re very similar in catalogizing voices and, involuntarily or not, use some hierarchy

            There are major differences between Schafer and Roschmann but in the Cleopatra role, give or take some eight years ago, they would have sounded quite similar.

            Yes thete is something smokey in 12 which i cannot attribute to either of yhem, some “Hendricksness” but I think Roschmann could have pulled it off once, being a kind of a timbre virtuosa.

          • Cesare15 says:

            Corretion: May comment from on June 19, 2012 at 11:50 AM relates to the 11. The 12 is Invernizzi (This is unquestionable, I hope.)

          • Cesare15 says:

            One more comment on the 11: I am not aware that Roschmann ever sang Cleopatra. The Schafer recording is without doubt the A cast broadcast with Minkowski from Amsterdam (Nov 24,2001).

          • Yes of course I meant 11.

  • Bill says:

    I have not listened to these but Seefried was one of the
    first to record excerpts on DGG with Boehm conducting and
    Fischer-Dieskau as Caesar -- very beautifully sung -- but
    very plain. When Sills first sang the role at the NYCO
    with all the ornamentation it came as something of a shock
    as the Boehm excerpts pretty much stayed to the
    written vocal line without embellishment. Boehm
    first directed the opera in Vienna in 1954 with Seefried,
    Hoengen, Schoeffler, Dermota, Frick, Berry -- later Waechter
    took over the role of Caesar. Believe della Casa also
    sang Cleopatra around this time in Munich -- and Tebaldi
    tackled it in Italy -- all lyrics -- not coloraturas.
    The opera was produced occasionally from the early 1920s
    in various European capitals and cities including Goettingen where a revival took place in 1922, thereafter in Berlin, Kopenhagen, Zuerich, Basel, 2 houses in Vienna including the Staatsoper (1928), London Foundling Hospital(1927) , NY (1931), Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Pozan and then after the war as mentioned above in Vienna (1954) and in Halle. For Americans the Rudel Sills/Treigle production at the City opera was a revelation and bolstered Sills’ reputation enormously. Of recordings there was a 1950 Vox production from Vienna conducted by Hans Sarowsky, the 1959 DGG Boehm excerpts from Berlin (Seefried,Fischer-Dieskau), then a complete DGG Archive recording conducted in Munich by Richter again with Fischer-Dieskau, plus Troyanos, Schreier, Hamari in 1969 which followed the 1967 NYCO recording on RCA and a later one on EMI Mackerras with Janet Baker. I recall listening to a della Casa recording of arias from the opera as well -- so Cleopatra has been sung by a variety of coloraturas, lyric sopranos, a few spintos, and Mezzos -- since 1954. Probably few of the
    pre-war or post-war productions included all 8 of
    Cleopatras arias until Bartoli recently sang all of them
    just recently in Salzburg.

    • Krunoslav says:

      A German-born musicologist named Werner Josten sparked a baroque mini-revival in the late 20s in Northampton, Massachusetts (ya know), home of Smith College, where erstwhile (1914-1921) Met coloratura Mabel Garrison (a very able singer often used to ‘spell’ bigger stars, like Frieda Hempel) was teaching. Garrison took part in the POPPEA and SERSE (with *future* Met tenor Charles Kullmann)-- not sure about the CESARE in 1931, which was the performance brought to NYC you mention.

    • Hippolyte says:

      Other than Susan Larson in the Peter Sellars production, I’m not familiar with others besides Bartoli who have sung all eight arias--and Larson actually sings an alternative to “Tu la mia stella sei.” (I haven’t had the courage to watch the Glyndebourne DVD so perhaps that Cleopatra does too but I just can’t.) All eight are also sung by Schlick, Dawson and Galli on recordings but Kozena omits “Tu la mia stella sei” for some reason.

      In the Mackerras edition used at the ENO/MET and in SF, Masterson and Battle sang 7 complete--I think Swenson didn’t do some repeats--only omitting “Tutto puo,” whereas Dessay in Paris last year also did 7 but left out “Tu la mia stella sei.” By comparison, Sills sang only 5 in her celebrated portrayal but got to sing “Venere bella” when it was inserted into the “Ariodante” she sang in DC with Troyanos!

      I believe the first complete performance since the 1724 premiere was in 1977 with Felcity Lott as Cleopatra. I remember the Sellars production started at 7:15 and finished around midnight with just two short intermissions. The Salzburg with Bartoli was complete except for a da capo repeat omitted by Scholl (probably just as well). I remember listening to the old Richter version but it was so dark and heavy and unornamented that I can’t listen to it again to check if Troyanos sang all eight. Perhaps Popp sings them all in the “complete” Leitner version but I haven’t heard it.

      I’m sorry that I’ve never heard the Seefried or Della Casa recordings as I suspect they might be quite appealing. I wonder if Fischer-Dieskau is better than he is on the Richter where he is truly awful--and it’s not just because he’s singing it an octave down--I find Treigle outstanding in similar circumstances.

      • Cocky Kurwenal says:

        De Niese is really well worth watching on the Glyndebourne DVD -- I think it’s an admirable performance from all points of view.

        • armerjacquino says:

          Yes, I agree. You’re wasting your time though; she occasionally sings Despina at the Met so she’s firmly on the antichrist list.

          • Hippolyte says:

            Well I happen to have attended performances of De Niese’s Cleopatra, Euridice, Despina and Ariel at the MET. in addition to having heard parts of the Glyndebourne/Proms broadcasst of Cesare, therefore my aversion derives not from any received Parterre animus.

          • Hmm. I saw the 2010 Poppea / Pizzi / Christie and I have to say that I was very impressed with DeNiese as Poppea, I guess Christie was working her to death. The tone is well supported and almost never spreads as usual. It is light years ahead of her previous Poppea with Haim / Glyndebourne.

            Her Glynd Cleo had its merits and the fast arias were well excecuted on the whole, to be fair. But she couldn’t deal with the long line needed for Piangero and Se pieta.

            Her DECCA recitals are all kinds of awful IMO.

          • Nerva Nelli says:

            De Niese was made the focus of the Met ENCHANTED ISLAND with lighting effects, despite the presence of superior artists, and is doing a major premiere at Chicago next year and is putting out major label recordings. New roles this year in Vienna and San Diego and Brussels. And then there is the considerable “coolest diva ever” publicity, which you may have been spared full force in Britain.

            Isn’t it time to drop this little gambit about her having no career, so that PB’s complaints are too too silly?

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            I think Se pieta and Piangero are less successful, but only somewhat -- I wouldn’t say she flat out couldn’t deal with them.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Talking of the lighter-voiced gals and Enchanted Island, my limited exposure to Lisette Oropesa suggests she is a delightful singer with an attractive touch of plaintiveness in her tone. Is she going places?

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Yes -- she’s going to Munich, Phoenix, Tucson and New York.

          • MontyNostry says:

            … I just took a look on Operabase too, Cocky! Thanks for that. Good to see she has a Met Gilda coming up (even if I prefer something more like a full lyric in the role …)

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Gilda was one of her first big professional successes at New Orleans opera after she left university in Baton Rouge.

            I think it’s safe to say she’s going places -- my own (highly subjective) impression is that she’s experiencing a more even and rapid career progression than La Meade, but of course that’s always going to be slightly easier to achieve for a lyric coloratura than a whatever it is Meade thinks she is (I wish she’d go with heavy lyric becoming a spinto and ditch these dramatic coloratura bel canto aspirations).

          • kashania says:

            Cocky:

            I wish she’d [Meade] go with heavy lyric becoming a spinto and ditch these dramatic coloratura bel canto aspirations.

            I’m interested in your thoughts on this. What is that you feel she lacks to fulfil her dramatic coloratura aspiration?

          • MontyNostry says:

            My issue with Meade, though I am pleased she is doing well, is that she just doesn’t make a particularly lovely or even sound. She gets round the notes well, and is impressive in the (conventional) top register, but she doesn’t exactly make me tingle with pleasure.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Kashania- it’s just a sense I get when listening to her that nothing is quite settled, the breath and the resonance is a bit shallow, and the vibrato somehow isn’t an integrated part of the sound, or I can’t hear much of a foundation to the sound beneath it. I think that if she were to sing rep just a bit bigger with more of a focus on long lines, she’d quite naturally let go a bit more, resolve the slight hole in her timbre, and generally display herself to far better advantage. I’d love to hear a Desdemona from her, stuff like that, heading towards Ballo Amelia, Forza Leonora and Aida.

          • louannd says:

            Let me add that Oropresa singing in Munich and New York, in between with Phoenix and Tucson doesn’t sound that impressive (Phoenix-Tucson are actually the same gig with one company). I do think it is a wonderful voice, and, I will be one of the lucky ones who will hear her sing Luciain Arizona this fall.

  • armerjacquino says:

    DeCaffarrelli, thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been meaning to get round to learning how to use the music editing software included on my laptop for, literally, years, and thanks to this quiz and a long train journey, I’ve spent the last three hours teaching myself.

    All of which means, la cieca, that the next time the cher public clamours for a vocal ID quiz, I have one cued up and waiting…

  • rysanekfreak says:

    No matter what the final results, I want to congratulate and thank the parterre folk who actually found names for all 15 singers. There were only 7 that I was sure of. If all 15 have already been correctly identified by one person, I am very impressed!