Cher Public

E d’ogni re maggior il Trubadur!

UPDATE: A sleep-deprived La Cieca and DeCaffarrelli unanimously hail has reviewed the results once more and, in a revised ruling, declares a tie between Trubadur (pictured) and Giasone at 27 all as winners of the “Ladies in the Dark” vocal ID competition.

The complete list of singers is as follows:

  1. Maria Callas – Mexico 1950
  2. Julia Varady – Hamburg 1993
  3. Gina Cigna – Covent Garden 1939
  4. Aprile Millo – MET 1989
  5. Gré Brouwenstijn – Amsterdam 1953
  6. Antonietta Stella – MET 1960
  7. Anita Cerquetti – Mexico 1957
  8. Sylvia Sass – Hamburg 1977
  9. Angela Meade – Peralada 2012
  10. Astrid Varnay – New Orleans 1952
  11. Stella Roman & Jussi Bjoerling – MET 1947
  12. Jonas Kaufmann & Anna Netrebko – Berlin 2011
  13. Zinka Milanov – MET 1945
  14. Ljiljana Molnar-Talajic & Carlo Bergonzi  — Vienna 1973
  15. Franco Bonisolli & Joan Sutherland – Covent Garden 1981
  16. Leontyne Price & Luciano Pavarotti – Vienna 1977
  17. Renata Scotto – Paris 1975
  18. Martina Arroyo – MET 1966
  19. Anna Tomowa-Sintow – Chicago 1987
  20. Teresa Zylis-Gara – Radio France 1983
  21. Carmen Giannattasio – MET 2012
  22. Marina Poplavskaya – Brussels 2012
  23. Krassimira Stoyanova  — Barcelona 2009
  24. June Anderson  — MET 1998
  25. Lucia Aliberti – Washington, DC 2000

The shared haul for this win includes a brand new 16GB iPod Touch and a gift certificate for downloads of 20 complete operas, all provided by our good friends at Opera Depot.

  • Hats off, that quizz was a bitch

  • New Free Download and Opera Depot! Falstaff with Geraint Evans, Mirella Freni, Luigi Alva, Mariella Angioletti, Regina Resnik, Josephine Veasey, John Shaw
    Carlo Maria Giulini


  • Feldmarschallin


  • scifisci

    Giasone might want to demand a recount….quickly glancing at both their lists I see the same three incorrect in both, though my eyes could be playing tricks on me. Either way, bravo to both, that one was hard.

    • You are in fact correct: each had three misses, though they guessed different wrong names. La Cieca hates making mistakes. The revised results may be seen in the posting above.

  • Feldmarschallin

    When I read recount I remember a very bad time in Florida which ended with an even worse outcome for the world when Bush was put into office by the Supreme Court and they all decided to stop counting when Bush was ahead.

  • Interesting that no. 8 (the one who sang the high D-flat as written) is Sass. Like most, I thought it was Sills but only because of the high notes. The low notes sounded different and left a bit of doubt… Mind you I would’ve never been able to guess Sass as she’s only a name to me.

    Bravo, Trubador.

    • I can fix that. You let me know.

      Sass was one of those cases. She was extremely talented, impossibly beautiful, great actress and Callas was missing. The voice was not unattractive, though some technical issues were there from the beginning, including some habits at screechy high notes.

      Ultimately, she burned out rather quickly. Some of her recordings are good and some are just jokes. I do not actively listen to her recordings, but get Four Last Songs I found bearable, at least vocally. My German is not that good, so I do not know how she handles the text.

      • Can’t say I was crazy about the “Frühling”. If she was the kind of Callas-ish singer that people hailed, the Four Last Songs which require a lot of beautiful singing and not a lot of fiery temperament aren’t exactly the right fit. And goodness knows, that “Sempre libera” did nothing for me.

      • 98rsd

        Her Mozart album is gorgeous. Try the Ch’io mi scordi di te.

        At one point she was quite wonderful, although the Met Tosca was truly underwhelming.

    • marshiemarkII

      She was extremely talented, impossibly beautiful, great actress

      Impossibly beautiful? that’s if think Baba the Turk is impossibly beautiful, she had a mustache!!!!

      I was at her Met debut as Tosca, with the impossibly beautiful Jose Carreras (he looked like and angel at that time!!!!), and saw her from very close, and she had kind of very coarse skin, and lots of pelo en la cara. Not pretty at all, in pictures she looks sort of exotic in a Callas sort of way, but not in real life, sorry. Impossibly beautiful is Anna Netrebko, from far, from close, from anywhere and everywhere, gorgeous woman :-)

      • marshiemarkII

        that’s if YOU think … uggggh

      • Gualtier M

        Sass had been touted as the next Callas and even met Callas in Paris. She had some successes in a “Traviata” in Paris and in “I Lombardi” in London. Terry McEwen at Decca got to work on promoting her.

        At the time of Sass’ Met debut, it got out that while she was in town she got into a fight with her then lover and trashed her hotel suite. All the opera queens were salivating over this new Callas with the tempestuous temperament. Well she made her debut and supposedly the voice was tremulous and thin and she had no stage presence. Remembered to this day as one of the big disappointment debuts. Never returned to the Met though she did sing some Medeas in Boston with Rita Gorr that were more impressive.

        She has a page on Facebook and even friended Our Own Sanford there.

        • Hippolyte

          Actually, the Sass Traviata break-through was at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and was televised; she was 25:

          • THIS was a breakthrough? Oy!

            • Gualtier M

              Well Kashie, maybe you will like her in this better:

              Her disco album resurfaced on Youtube about three or four years ago but disappeared.

              I think she is quite beautiful. Maybe the lights or makeup job at the Met in 1977 did her an injustice.

            • Porgy Amor

              Here is the complete Bluebeard studio film with Sass and Solti.

              I also like her Lina opposite Carreras on the Gardelli recording of Stiffelio.

            • marshiemarkII

              OK Gualtier, not to belabor the point, especially since it upset Blue, whom I actually like, but these are my points:
              In this clip you looks absolutely stunning, fantastic figure, and the whole do is oh so Maria, with the big hair in a loose bun (or chignon if you will), etc. As Tosca she looked equally stunning, slim and very elegant, the dress was black if I remember correctly, she moved very well, and it was also very Maria, hence MMII’s wild excitement :-)
              But the problem was that MMII was friendly with Carreras (and Ricciarelli at the time) and hence of course went backstage, and Madame eventually exited, not terribly happy from the look of it, and that’s when I saw her very very close, and could see that she exhibited the features earlier described, capisce? but yes she does/did have a nice figure, and beautiful bone structure.

            • Thank you, gentleman. I’ll take a listen. I do think she is beautiful.

        • Krunoslav

          What a shame her Magyar “Flashdance” has been taken off Youtube.

          But here is another Silvia, another Leonora:

      • bluecabochon

        Wow, Marshie, that’s harsh. If you find Anna impossibly beautiful, good for you, but there is no reason to trash another person’s idea of beauty. Layla, Emalie, Leonie, Hildegarde and Anna are not the only divas worth admiring.

        • marshiemarkII

          Sorry blue, I guess I woke up this morning particularly queeny :-)

      • marshiemarkII

        Yes indeed Gualtier, just as you say, there was huge buzz over that Traviata, and we queens here desperate for a little excitement came down from Boston for the much-touted debut. Since you always believe what you want to believe, I was ready to embrace the new Callas whole hog. As it turned out that I had a second row seat in the orchestra, from that vantage point I thought the second act was the rebirth of the Only Maria, she sang a nice Vissi d’arte, and I expected the house to erupt, and with MMII herself leading the cheering, alas there was no cheering at all, just about 5 seconds of tepid applause. At the end of the act not much more, so in consternation talked to my confederates in the intermission, and alas, she had been inaudible to all but those sitting in the first two rows :-(

        So much for the new Callas! Jose C of course was more than worth the trip from Boston, what heavenly voice he had back the,n and how gorgeous he was in person!!!!. No trace of what later would become Jose Lija :-) :-) :-)

      • Krunoslav

        I recall my parents coming home in disgust after two acts of one of the Sass post-debut performances with Cecchele (no Carreras after show #1) and saying, “Amateur Hour”. They had seen and heard most of the major Toscas since Welitsch ( though Maria in that only in the televised Act Twos) and had seen Maria *dal vivo* in NORMA, LUCIA and PIRATA. They found Sass provincial and way unready for the exposure. My father said Wixell was the only point of quality and he saw no reason to stay after Scarpia was dead.

      • Regina delle fate

        Haha Marshie -- that’s made my day. I saw her as Elisabetta di Valois (opposite late Boris Christoff) and Norma with Baltsa as Adalgisa (who rather outsang her). She was widely derided -- I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that she was HATED, especially by the RO’s Callas widows -- in London, but I have to say I don’t find her recordings too bad. The Stiffelio with Carreras is not to be sniffed at. No she wasn’t Callas Mk II, and probably would have had a distinguished career if Decca hadn’t traded her as “the new Callas”. I remember a Wigmore Hall recital (!) in which she appeared in a blue version of Callas’s famous pleated Lucia frock. In the sense that she played along with the Callas comparisons, she probably only had herself to blame. But the Decca recital disc is worth seeking out.

        • marshiemarkII

          Mille grazie carisssima Regi, it was a nice trip into memory lane, remembering all of that, and the youthful ardor we had back then, as young queens, right? You know I also did own that Decca recital disk, but as an LP, never as a CD. I remember particularly the una macchia è qui tuttora with that sfogato quality that was oh so Maria, but the rest was rather nice too. Did that come out before or after the Met debut? it seems after, which would mean I still had an interest in her, even after the Met debacle. I also have the Stiffelio, because I have every utterance Carreras did back then, but haven’t heard it in years (decades). You she even attempted to do the Liebestod in later years!!!!. Gee I wonder if we ever met back in those days, you were at Bayreuth in 1983, right? and I was in 1984, and so many other places there might have been a common touch-point.

    • stevey

      Interestingly, Sylvia Sass was also the Turandot at the very-first, big-time, world premiere of the extended (very difficult, with those high B’s & C’s over chorus and orchestra at the end), Alfano ‘Turandot’, when it happened.
      Just FYI!! :-)

      And congrats to our winners of this latest quiz! I was chomping at the bit to enter… and anxiously await the next (soprano/mezzo) one!

      Best wishes to all…

  • peter

    I’d like to put in a word for Enzo Bordello. He usually comes in pretty early on in these quizzes (he also chose Zylis-Gara correctly) with the majority of the correct answers and then other people sort of confirm his list, more or less, and then add the missing singers.

    This would be a far more difficult (almost impossible) quiz if the answers were submitted privately. Of course, then it wouldn’t be as much fun.

    • This is true.

    • damekenneth

      Here, here!

      • Batty Masetto

        And even hear, hear! (Which, all pedantry aside, is also just so much more appropriate given the context.)

        • damekenneth

          Yes, one of our most reliably good spellers yesterday wrote something about “hope and prey,” which at least leaves me feeling I’m in good company in making such an obvious mistake. It must be all the vacation drinking and attempts to speak a foreign language (Danish) that, while close to English -- well old English in any case -- is near impossible to learn.

          • oedipe


            The “hope and prey” was my oeuvre. I noticed the error when I got up in the morning, but didn’t bother to write a P.S. because, contrary to what you say (and I feel VERY flattered, thank you), I make a ton of mistakes, which I no longer bother to correct when I notice them (I used to, but I have given up).

            • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

              Quite right, too. I enjoy the typos -- Orturd being another luminous addition this week.

              Damekenneth, enjoy Denmark from Mols to Skagen, and do be sure to pop along to Frederiksborg Palace en route from Copenhagen to Elsinore/Helsingborg. Come to think of it, I need to avoid typos right now, as they also have a Frederiksberg Palace.

            • Regina delle fate

              Hehe @ Orturd -- I’ve heard a few that sounded like that.

  • DeCaffarrelli

    Alas, I do not do the judging--just the back-breaking work of assembling these damned things! Although I’ll confess that LaC did require a couple of substitutions up front: Seta Del Grande (a really lovely clip) and Lotte Rysanek (whom I’m sure some would have guessed) were banished.

    Congratulations to our two winners who both did stalwart jobs on this tough ear-teaser.

    An all-baritone (!) Verdi follow-up quiz is ready whenever LaC is ready to unleash it.

    • peter

      Thank you DeCaffarrelli! I love your quizzes.

    • Can’t wait for the all-baritone quiz. Hoping to see if I can guess more than five or six singers. Your quizzes are always greatly appreciated, DeCaffarrelli!

      • DeCaffarrelli

        I LOVE doing them and only hope that others get half the kick out of them that I do.

    • Feldmarschallin

      Seta del Grande is someone whom I heard as Aida in the early 80’s. I always loved that name. Another great name is Fiamma d’Izzo D’Amico whom I heard as Mimi opposite Pavarotti in Paris. But the highlight of that trip was Fille with Kraus and Anderson and the infamous Salome with Edda Moser.

      • armerjacquino

        Izzo, not D’Izzo

        (which now feels as if it should be sung to the tune of ‘Lucy and Jessie’)

      • Krunoslav

        Can anyone remind us of Seta’s real name? ( NOT Myra Beth Haggis.) Her teacher, one of Rasponi’s Last Prima Donnas, could not even recall it: “some unpronounceable Armenian name:.

        • manou

          Silk of the Big?

        • In the early part of her career, she billed herself as Seta Paloulian.

    • Basso must be salivating.

    • rysanekfreak

      Poor Lotte Rysanek….never could catch a break. The Lorna Luft (or is it Rosalind Kind?) of the opera world. And now she doesn’t even get to be heard in a vocal identification quiz.

      Just saw the news crawl the Bartoli is retiring! Turns out it’s the tennis player Bartoli.

  • grimoaldo

    The only ones I knew for sure were #s 1,15 and 16, and 24. I considered guessing wildly about the others, I am glad I didn’t, I would have made a fool out of myself.
    Congrats to the winner, most impressive!

  • spiderman

    Too difficult -- am a Child of the (19)90ies. Those singers are too Old.
    Funny enough on my Last run i had two competitions in that scene:

    Anderson vs Harteros and Varady (who has sung Tu vedrai only once in her life!) vs Dessì

  • Giasone


    Many thanks for all the congratulations!

    Special thanks to scifisci, for without your acute observation, I would have been deprived of the win.

    Trubadur, it is especially rewarding to share the win with you.

    In celebrating opera as the most collaborative of arts, it was great to build upon each other’s answers in order to submit the most complete entry possible.

    Therefore, thanks are also in order to all other parterrians who provided insight for identifying many of the singers.

    • Regina delle fate

      Well done, Giasone. That was a difficult list to crack.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Adding two tickets to Carmen to the prize:

  • Trubadur

    My sincere thanks to everyone, especially to La Cieca and DeCaffarrelli for providing us with a great, fun and challenging quiz (and great prizes!), and to Giasone and Enzo Bordello whose skills in identifying artists are far superior to my own. I’m sure that all together we can get the perfect score on the next quiz.

    Much more rewarding than winning is the realization that I am not alone in appreciating 25 wonderful Leonoras who in their different ways sing to us about love, loss and the beauty of being a human being.

    And I can’t believe I missed Ljiljana Molnar Talajic, who lived and worked in my home country and whom I saw and heard several times as a child!

  • FomalHaut

    Great contest! I was surprised some great Leonora’s were left out of the contest; perhaps their voices were to distinct and it would have been an easy catch? Gencer, Radvanovsky, Moffo, Deutekom, Gheorghiu, etc.

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      And Jones of course.

      • DeCaffarrelli

        As my quizzes (rather than those done by others) eschew commercial recordings in favor of live performances, it wouldn’t have been possible to include performers like Moffo or Gheorghiu who as far as I know never sang the music in public. I believe Gencer did Trovatore on stage but I’ve never seen any live recordings of her Leonora--just the famous RAI film, which was, of course, recorded in a studio.

        • Cocky Kurwenal

          There are at least 2 live performances with Jones available, from Covent Garden and Vienna, but then of course you can’t include everybody -- probably a very good thing to include all these lesser-known accounts, even if it does put the quiz beyond the reach of the likes of me!

        • Regarding Gencer’s Leonora, there are some excerpts floating around from a 1957 Trieste performance with Mario Filippeschi and Ettore Bastianini.

  • La Valkyrietta

    Congratulations again!

  • tannengrin

    I couldn’t even begin to dissemble all those ladies! How many years and hours of intense listening does it take !?

    Slightly OT: I just saw on Alex Ross’ site that the tradition of troubadouring is alive and well and even Eric Clapton wins by adding some Scottish garb and lovely voices: