Cher Public

Forse, forse

Number TenWell done, you listeners to Mozart tidbits and participants in the “Non mi dir” competition. Your many guesses at the 24 sopranos briefly heard warbling a fragment of “Non mi dir” went much better than La Cieca might have hoped, with the sharpest-eared among you garnering a total of 20 correct answers. His identity—and those of the various divas—follows the jump.

Congratulations to Stevey, who identified the round score of sopranos: his coveted Amazon Gift Card will soon be on its way.

And who were all these ladies, you ask? La Cieca is happy to lift the veil.

  1. Eleanor Steber
  2. Montserrat Caballé
  3. Zinka Milanov
  4. Margaret Price
  5. Gwyneth Jones
  6. Anna Netrebko
  7. Gladys Kuchta
  8. Elisabeth Rethberg
  9. Gundula Janowitz
  10. Eva Marton
  11. Sondra Radvanovsky
  12. Birgit Nilsson
  13. Beverly Sills
  14. Ljuba Welitsch
  15. Patrizia Ciofi
  16. Leontyne Price
  17. Carol Vaness
  18. Cristina Deutekom
  19. Karita Mattila
  20. Simone Kermes
  21. Joan Sutherland
  22. Claire Watson
  23. Regina Resnik
  24. Teresa Stich-Randall
  • I knew no. 14 was Wellitsch!!! (Small victories)

    Congratulations, Stevey!

  • luvtennis


    It is sooooo obvious that this contest was fixed (has anyone seen Stevey and La Cieca together in the same room????)

    I mean Gladys Kuchta????? How would you even know to guess that? Regina Resnik? Inside job.

    And yes, these grapes are indeed sour!!!

    • peter

      I wish I could get just a small consolation prize for coming up with Gladys Kuchta. It was me! :-)

      Congratulations Stevey, you worked hard on this and you deserve it!

  • Have you ever seen Stevey and Gladys Kuchta together in the same room?

  • Camille

    Dear steven! Seligster Tag! You must feel as if you are Elektra at the moment of recognizing Orest!

    It is a great satisfaction to see that you have, once more, won your heart’s delight, and ,any congratulations to you! Your extra merit badge for the extra lengths to which you go to determine the proper suspects is also in the mail.

    Betting you will keep this one in your in-box for a long time and now you may file the old one away.

    Yours cordially --

    • Camille

      that’s MANY congratulations!!! and here are a hundred MORE!

      • stevey

        Camille, you ALWAYS make me smile when I hear from you. Thank you!!! :-)

  • stevey

    Wow, thanks La Cieca, DeCaffarelli, and everybody! I absolutely LOVE these things… and luvtennis, I hope the grapes aren’t too sour- if it makes you feel any better I have an appallingly pathetic social life! (lol) Anyway, that, coupled with what-I-can-only-assume MUST be a mild case of OCD means that whiling away the time listening and re-listening ad nauseum to whatever clips of singers I can find whilst scribbling away furiously at an ever-changing list of ‘possibilities’ is like nirvana to me (just add wine! :-) )

    Gladys Kuchta first came into my radar when I first got wind of an old recording that sounded almost mythical to me- Herbert von Karajan in his last collaboration with the Vienna State Opera as Artistic Director- conducting Die Frau Ohne Schatten, with a 27 year old Gundula Janowitz singing the Empress (Kuchta was the Dyer’s Wife). I had never heard of her. I must confess that I kinda fell in love with her name (so ‘unglamorous’! Also for some reason I’ve always had this strange affinity for what I used to call ‘old lady names’- my kingdom for more Hortenses and Berthas out there, and I think if I ever met an ‘Ermyntrude’ I’d immediately die of rapture). A little subsequent research revealed to me that not only had Ms. Kuchta (an American) quite a full career (one based overwhelmingly in Europe), but that she also sang all the roles that get my proverbial motor going (Elektra, Abigaille, Lady Macbeth, Isolde, Senta, etc.). I then tried to find whatever audial evidence I could of Ms. Kuchta’s singing. There wasn’t much… but there was some stuff, most notably a television production of Elektra featuring Ms. Kuchta as Elektra and Regina Resnik chewing up the scenery, spitting it out, and then eating it up again, as Klytemnestra (Bjoner was the Chrysothemis). And HERE I was hoping to share with you a video excerpt or two of that filmed performance- there used to be a bunch on YouTube- but, alas, I just went to go and retrieve them and I guess whoever posted them decided to take them down as they’re not there anymore…. :-(
    Happily, I do recall that our dear ol’ Zinka posted the soundtrack from said performance on one of his wonderful podcasts so if you’re interested in at least hearing the performance you’ll be able there.

    But here’s an excerpt of Kuchta’s Elektra to sample… my favorite part! (‘Was bluten muBt?’):

    And here’s her Turandot (‘In questa reggia’):

    Her Brunnhilde (Immolation scene ending):

    And finally, here’s her ‘Non mi dir’: ;-)

    Hope you enjoy her! And my best wishes to you! :-)

    • Krunoslav

      There was a 1957 Kuchta FIDELIO recording with the aging Julius Patzak, Heinz Rehfuss and Melitta Muszely under Carl Bamberger. Nonesuch reissued it late in the LP era. Some of the reviews of her Berlin work in old issues of OPERA and OPERA NEWS are spectacular. I think her virtues would be more appreciated in today’s market, though maybe not by the people who “lookscast” the Michael creature in her Fach.

  • adina

    Congratulations Stevey -- and everyone else who guessed! This was a fun, yet difficult competition, for me.

    The first time listening, I barely recognized about five of the singers. So, I invented my own competition -- the second time listening, I wrote down my first impressions of each voice. Then, patiently awaited the outcome.

    Well, was I ever surprised. I would never have guessed Ciofi, but I had a very good first impression of her voice. I pretty much knew that I liked Steber, Netrebko, Janowitz, and Sutherland. But I was also struck very favorably by the overall vocal quality of M. Price, Kuchta, and Mattila -- never would have suspected that. My first impression of #13, Sills, was that the vibrato was too wild, and IMO, ugly. And my first impression of #11, Radvanovsky, was that it was a modern singer who reminded me a little of Callas.

    Thanks, LaCieca, and DeCaffarelli, for a very enlightening experience.

    • doktorlehar

      Yes, I had some similar responses. These quizzes force me to listen to voices without predisposed opinions, just to listen and make an assessment on that basis alone, and I usually learn something. Caballé is a dear favorite of mine, but the clip catches her somewhere near her worst: sloppy, sludgy, hoist-y and unfocused. I didn’t immediately identify it as her.

      Two surprises for me. Mattila sings the notes more accurately than a lot of the singers here, and does so while projecting big (I’m assuming that this is from the Chicago run a few years back), and it’s quite impressive. The tone itself is a little scratchy and matte, but as live singing is impressive. I was sure Watson had to be in there somewhere--I thought maybe #10--so I went online and listened to a bunch of clips of her in various parts, the first time I’ve sought her out in ages. One forgets that she had quite a voice back in the 60s: big, pure-toned, lyrical yet powerful and very forwardly projected, and again quite impressive.

      And who knew that Marton could sound as elegant as she does here? Presumably this is from before her assumption of Turandot?

  • Operngasse

    Great contest. Once provided with the answers I started to categorize some of them according to the types of roles I’m familiar with them generally singing (a very rough grouping):


    I didn’t know where to put Resnik

    Is it this aria, or something about the genius of Mozart, to produce such a range of singers?

    • Indiana Loiterer III

      I think it’s something about Mozart. You see, our concepts of Fach considerably post-date Mozart, so anyone who can sing the notes is likely to be acceptable in the part--we’re less likely to fuss as much over whether such-and-such a Mozart singer is really a dramatic soprano or a mezzo or a cheeseburger or whatever. Also, Mozartean orchestras are generally less massive, which means that a wider range of singers can sing a given part without seeming swamped.

    • adina

      Another case in point -- Donna Elvira, who is sung by sopranos of all fachs, and mezzos. You could make another category -- who has sung Anna and Elvira…and Zerlina!

  • doktorlehar

    Congratulations, Stevey! And thanks everyone for a lot of fun.

    NEVER in a million years would I have identified #10 as Eva Marton. Or #12 as Nilsson for that matter. Maybe it’s time to retire from these queizzes once and for all.

    That said, a Donna Elvira quiz would be a nice follow up. :)

  • bassoprofundo

    why are there never any of these competitions with male voices?

  • DeCaffarrelli

    For those who are curious:

    1. Eleanor Steber--MET 1957
    2. Montserrat Caballé--Barcelona 1975
    3. Zinka Milanov--MET 1943
    4. Margaret Price--Paris 1975
    5. Gwyneth Jones--Vienna 1974
    6. Anna Netrebko --Salzburg 2002
    7. Gladys Kuchta--MET 1963
    8. Elisabeth Rethberg--Salzburg 1937
    9. Gundula Janowitz--Salzburg 1970
    10. Eva Marton--Vienna 1973
    11. Sondra Radvanovsky--MET 2003
    12. Birgit Nilsson--Naples 1956
    13. Beverly Sills--Lausanne 1967
    14. Ljuba Welitsch--Salzburg 1951
    15. Patrizia Ciofi--Modena 1991
    16. Leontyne Price--MET 1974
    17. Carol Vaness--NYCO 1980
    18. Cristina Deutekom--MET 1974
    19. Karita Mattila--Salzburg 1999
    20. Simone Kermes--Moscow 2006
    21. Joan Sutherland--London 1959
    22. Claire Watson--Chicago 1969
    23. Regina Resnik--MET 1947
    24. Teresa Stich-Randall--Buenos Aires 1966

    A quiz with male voices is one of the several that are currrently simmering on the back burner, a couple by Verdi and one by Wagner. Personally, I find male voices more difficult to recognize/distinguish and by and large I prefer to listen to female voices in any case.

    • Thanks for these details. I’m going to re-listen to the quiz now armed with this list.

      I hope we get more vocal ID quizzes in this format — a bunch of singers singing the same passage.

  • luvtennis


  • luvtennis


    You sell yourself short. You need more than just free time to get it right the way you did.

    That said, I must confess that I find it very challenging to fit activities like this quiz into the erotic and glamorous lifestyle that I have earned and so richly deserve… (Guess the movie reference, guys!)

    Still, I think choice of excerpt is often telling. I might have recognized more singers if some of the excerpts chosen had been more representative of their efforts -- he said huffily….

    I even had a hard time recognizing Lee! SHould have used this excerpt.

  • FaustinaHasse

    I love you, i haven’t heard of Gladys Kuchta in years. You are also the first to mention Melitta Muszely . Way back, in the 1960s, German and Austrian television stations actually made opera movies for television, imagine! And I will never forget Melitta Muszely as Colombina/Nedda in Pagliacci. On youtube You will find Marcel Cordes, now barely remembered, in the prologue from the movie.
    Another great movie was a German version of Eugene Onegin with Hermann Prey. They actually used some of Pushkin’s verses as a prologue.