Cher Public

Moor than expected

La Cieca guesses we will have to make these quizzes more challenging. Even the (as we thought) impossibly obscure Otello of Spas Wenkoff did not baffle Hugo Santos, who nailed every single Otello in last week’s quiz.  After the jump, though, there’s one last bit of puzzlement.  

The “magnificent phrase” was, in fact, not a Verdi original!

  • La Valkyrietta


    • perfidia

      No. Because then Cilea copied from Verdi. It sounds like Donizetti, but I can’t place it right now. Pavarotti. Now, there was a vocal god when he wanted and in the right repertoire.

  • manou

    Roméo et Juliette -- twenty years earlier.

    • perfidia

      I could have sworn it was Pavarotti. Need more caffeine and a week of listening to my records non stop.

  • Wow, so no. 10 was James King after all. Bravo Hugo Santos! Verdi had a habit of borrowing melodies from Donizetti and usually turning them into something better (or at least, giving them a better context). But I guess this one is from Gounod.

  • Thank you, La Cieca, for your kindness. When I heard that excerpt in German, the somewhat clear albeit distant sound quality made me think of 80’s recordings on. Since Wenkoff was, at that time, singing the role in German (and Italian, also) I just felt lucky so I decided to reach for my copy of his Otello “auf deutsch”.

  • Completely off topic, I recently had the following conversation concerning Reri Grist’s Caro Nome on Youtube. Tell me what you think.

    Sanford Schimel 8 months ago
    Lareto, I’ll tell you why I agree with BelcantoBr. This is beautifully sung but isn’t bel canto or Verdi. If you compare this perf with versions sung by Verdians like Anna Moffo, Callas, Sills, Sutherland, Devia, et al, you’ll notice that there is almost no portamento used here and that’s one of the characteristics of Bel Canto and Verdian style. Ms. Grist is impeccable in her placement, technique, and coloratura but it is a very Mozartian approach to the music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it isn’t stylistically correct for this rep.

    Reply · 1

    assindiastignani 2 days ago
    +Sanford Schimel In your list you have forgotte one of the greatest Gilda’s of them all: Renata Scotto in the 1960’s. Actually Ms Grist does any number of portamenti, what she eschews (and what the incomparable Verdian stylist Molinari-Pradelli abhored) are the cheesey, intensely unmusical glissandi which so many opera fans imagine are true “Verdi Style,” or even “Bel Canto.” Interestingly, if you look at the score of the work (1983 Critical Edition, U. of Chicago Press) while there are many legato markings, there are virtually no indications of portamento. Aside from Callas, I heard every one of the above mentioned singers live in this role (mostly at the MET -- I grew up in NY) and none was better than Grist, although I heard Devia do a stunning Gilda w. Santi at the MET; her “Caro Nome” (also very classically shaped) was about the most perfect bit of singing I ever heard live…EVER!

    Sanford Schimel 2 days ago
    What the score doesn’t show is standard performance practice. And bel canto has a lot of standard practices, including portamenti. In that regard, Ms. Grist, a singer I happen to love, isn’t following standard practice. When you consider the conductors that the great Verdian singers have sung with, including Toscanini, who conducted Aida in South America in 1886 and who played in the orchestra for the premiere of Otello, and Richard Bonynge, not to mention Solti, Karajan and Riccardo Muti, to name a few, they certainly knew what standard performance practices are. Grist’s voice is beautiful in Caro Nome but it certainly isn’t Verdian.

    assindiastignani 1 day ago (edited)
    +Sanford Schimel All of this is info anyone can easily read in a CD booklet. I had planned to answer you at length, but I have too many new operas to learn (and then conduct) this season and I probably should use the time to study. Still, thank you for re-enforcing one very important principal for me -- one which I know, but always forget -- namely: never engage a non-musician/opera fan in a serious discussion of music. However I do enjoy your passion, so I will steal another few minutes from Simon Boccanegra to say this to you: pour yourself a nice glass of red wine, sit down in a comfortable armchair with a good reading lamp and then open a score of a Verdi or Donizetti or Puccini opera. Read thru it carefully, paying meticulous attention to every accent, coma, sforzando, crescendo, dimiuendo, ritardando, ritenuto, allargando, tenuto, etc. in all the instruments and in all the voices (a lot of work, I know, but, there’s no other way) and try to hear the music just from that. Then go put on a recording. I promise you that you will be horrified.

    Sanford Schimel 1 day ago
    +assindiastignani I’ve been singing opera since I was 14 (I’m now 55). I’ve sung with companies in New York and Chicago and have sung recitals both in New York and Virginia. So please don’t pull that pompous stuff with me.

    assindiastignani 1 day ago (edited)
    +Sanford Schimel “Pompous.” Mercy! Nontheless, try doing what I suggest. Brahms once said that the only truly great performance of Don Giovanni he ever heard, was sitting at home in his music room, reading the score. He’s got something there. BTW, the only conductor who was truly faithful to the score was Toscanini. And now, you must excuse me, I have no more time. Please feel free to answer. I won’t respond. Bye.

    • mrsjohnclaggart

      Sanford, (remember me?) I think it’s hilarious that this fool writes: “what the incomparable Verdian stylist Molinari-Pradelli abhored--[sic]”). There’s a new biography of M-P in Italian, that finds so little anyone wrote or said (in a way that could be verified) that was good about M-P, that it’s about 230 pages with TONS of padding.

      The book mentions the notorious L’elisir rehearsal at La Scala, where Bergonzi not given to loud outbursts SCREAMED at M-P but not what he said, “and here I am working with a stupid, deaf pig like you and had to give up the L’elisir recording to that Swede (Mr. Gedda) because I didn’t want to be locked in a recording studio with a fool, it might be catching. You KNOW that. And don’t have enough sense to keep your stupid amateur mouth closed when I sing?” and he stormed offstage (he wasn’t given to storming off the stage either) and had to be talked back on by the management of La Scala though they didn’t like Carlo all that much.

      Mr. Bergonzi had not gotten over this and the subsequent performances where he deliberately stopped singing when he hated what M-P was doing until M-P changed — he told me the story himself. I asked Ms. Freni about M-P, for she was there (and is in the recording). “He stayed out of my way,” She said. I asked her if M-P who conducted like a pig as far as I heard, was ever good. “He stayed out of my way,” she responded.

      But the coup de grace was that saint, Renata Tebaldi, who never said anything unkind about anybody (except Boris Christoff, who everyone apparently agreed it was OK to slam) remarking, “Well, I work with Bohm, Karajan, Serafin Toscanini, De Sabata, Giulini, Mitropoulos, Levine, so naturally, M-P was like --oh what is that insect — a tse-tse fly in winter — a curiosity. More ice with your coke?”

      I LOVED Reri, who wasn’t as audible at the Met as some, but was amazing in Munich and she is a superb musician. Even Mr. Muti has said in my presence to a singer, who he then tried to kill (literally) because she disagreed, “you know, it is true one can abuse portamento, especially when it is merely a slide, but the Italian language itself as spoken by natives is full of portamenti. One must use judgment but NEVER ignore them when they make sense.”

      Be of good cheer.

      • Mrs. JC: Always nice to read your insights. I had no idea M-P was so despised!

      • Krunoslav

        Régine Crespin (whom I believe the Claggartessa heard at the legendary Hunter College recital) heaps disapprobation on Molinari-Pradelli in her autobiography.

  • Camille

    Ay dios!

    Is this a first? Has anyone ever correctly identified all of the singers before?

    Wow, many congratulations to Sr. Santos!! Job very well done, indeed, and that coveted Amazon gift card should be augmented in this instance.

    (Even I thought it might have been Helge Roswaenge.)

    • Krunoslav

      ‘I thought it might have been Helge Roswaenge’

      No horses neighed offstage, so…

  • la vociaccia

    lots of scary intonation happening in Turandot right now…

    • Camille

      Keep your seatbelts fastened, etc.

    • Porgy Amor

      Tell us more.

      • la vociaccia

        It’s (truly, without any parterrian irony) a matter of color and tessitura. She was able to gun it in the riddle scene (but even there her tuning was iffy a lot, especially in the big intervals during the third riddle), but ‘figlio del Cielo’ had little of the tender contrast you might desire and she seemed to struggle a lot with maintaining the very long lines. It’s a damn difficult part to sing and most of the battle is being able to effortlessly sit in that tessitura, which I just don’t think she does. She has three very different voices and Puccini isn’t the repertoire to go about navigating in and out of them. I’ve ALWAYS said here that she’s a very smart and exciting musician but the fact has always been that her singing just isn’t conducive to roles with consistently high tessitura.

        And, fuck me, she seems to agree, as she said on the radio interview that she’d be trying out dramatic mezzo roles in the future.

        • Porgy Amor

          Thanks for the report, la vociaccia. I was not able to listen tonight, but wondered how it was going.

    • Arianna a Nasso

      It’s the Altoum, isn’t it? It’s so hard to keep those exposed lines in tune.

      • la vociaccia


  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    I usually try to avoid Malpensa, but this production is delicious. Pereira keeps showing up onstage and it’s all like old home week in Zurich. The La Scala Chorus is incredily precise given the very unusual circumstances and acoustics

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Party Hardy

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Deserving of attention!