Cher Public

Ice ice baby

Now, understand, this is the snippiest of snippets, but it is indeed the first hint of Anna Netrebko‘s Turandot!  

  • CwbyLA

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Such a good find La Cieca.

  • Ooh!

  • phillyoperalover

    omg… she’s really going to do it! *goes towards the liquor cabinet

  • Makes me want MORE. I think the size and morbidezza of her voice will render her a perfect Turandot@

  • danpatter

    I like Trebs pretty well, but I think this is a bad move for her. Of course, I was raised on Nilsson, and no one since has ever quite measured up, though I have certainly enjoyed some others. (Especially Gwyneth Jones).

    • LT

      Nilsson is so overrated.

      *running for cover*

      • danpatter

        Yes, run for cover. I’m guessing you didn’t see her in her prime.

        I saw her in performance, recital, and concert a number of times from the 1960s till her retirement. She was definitely NOT overrated. Look up her reviews sometime. Also, I don’t believe more than a couple of recordings fully “captured” Nilsson’s incredible voice. You had to be there, maybe. Her last years were perhaps ill-advised (pitch got iffy) but she was so beloved that her fans always welcomed her. There’s certainly been no one to touch her in the last thirty years.

        • Bill

          Dan Patter -- I saw Nilsson in most of her major roles
          save for Lady Macbeth including her first Vienna Elektra
          in 1965 and her debut Isolde at the Met and virtually
          all she did in New York and Vienna and sometimes elsewhere. When she came on the scene there were some
          who compared her somewhat steelier voice unfavorably with
          Flagstad or other predecessors. But in her younger days the voice was extraordinarily secure and she overshadowed
          most of her rivals completely as Isolde, Bruennhilde,
          Turandot and Elektra both in volume and her ability to
          hit notes dead on -- One could quibble about her
          Donna Anna not being completely Mozartian, or her Tosca
          sounding colder than some of her rivals or her Salome not being as nuanced vocally as some others. She stayed true to her repertoire in later years (or was so much in demand for her best roles that there was not time for her to experiment with others). Her Turandot was simply thrilling particularly with Corelli or McCracken
          and while one may not nowadays be able to compare her Turandot with that of Grob-Prandl or Rysanek or some others (certainly not Cebatori) Nilsson’s was THE
          Turandot during her prime and she seldom had a bad
          performance though as mentioned above, in the last years
          pitch was sometimes problematic on some notes -- her voice was also amazingly distinctive, instantly recognizable. Most of the leading conductors of her
          day wanted to utilize her -- that often says a lot in itself. In Vienna she was so beloved that they made
          her Ehrenmitglieder (honorary member -- the highest
          distinction) even before she claimed the title of
          Kammersaengerin -- unheard of in Vienna.

          • PCally

            I never saw Nilsson obviously but I love her to death. One thing that I admired so much about her was her straightforward hardworking approach to her art. I appreciated her so more when I read in her memoir about how she overcame her initial hesitancy towards opera directors and threw out everything she knew about Isolde and totally embraced Weiland Wagners concept when they worked together in Bayreuth. People say she was not much of an interpreter and while it’s true she was never a stage animal like Modl of Varnay I personally believe that there’s a lot to be found interpretively in most of her recordings, especially the live ones. She may not have been the most insightful singer but she never just skimmed over a role. I think her Elektra, Brunnhilde, and Salome or just as wonderful dramatically as they are vocally.

          • danpatter

            How I envy you, Bill. I have loved many divas in my life, and of course we remain devoted to those we loved when we were young, but Nilsson is still the greatest singer I ever saw. I wish I could have seen her more. There have been so many others I’ve loved but somehow she remains my first love. She was magnificent.

            • Bill

              danpatter -- I believe, when it comes to singers,
              all of us rue the fact that certain artists either
              evaded us completely or some favorite artists sang
              roles which, for whatever reason, we just never
              got to see and then suddenly it was too late. I did not see Welitsch’s Salome -- I had the opportunity but
              my mother thought that the opera was not suitable for my young ears or eyes and decided not to take me as planned by my great aunt and then suddenly Welitsch was confined
              to character roles and though, as charming as she was in them, she did not have much (if anything) to sing, so her velvety voice was not heard by me in person, only on recordings.

              And we are of the times. Being older I had opportunities to see artists on the stage, Flagstad for example, which others younger than I could not have seen -- conversely, some young artists I now have begun to admire will still be singing when my opera going days come to an end.

              Nilsson, like her or not, was singular in her time
              and I think everyone who had the opportunity to hearher on the stage, was, in some ways both fortunate and blessed. She was an artist to be sure (and in some ways, one might think, a normal human being rather than a diva) and it was a rare pleasure to have seen and heard her at her peak in her best roles.

            • benrenki

              I saw Nilsson do Turandot in the mid 60s with the Met on tour, then saw several Brünnhildes and Elektras and Färberinnen and a Lady Macbeth in Vienna in the 70s. She was always thrilling, though my wife disliked her voice and never warmed to her. I knew someone who sang at the Staatsoper (one of the flying fish/unborn children in FroSch), who always marveled that she was just there right from the start,.

  • You know? that might not be a bad move for her. She has a strong high register, her voice carries well… I would be interested. These days, unfortunately, we get sopranos singing Turandot only because they have big voices and they discover too late that the role’s high tessitura taxes them. I am almost thinking that the role needs a dramatic coloratura towards the end of her career (think Deutekom, Moser and the such) than a former Tosca on her way to the “Adriana Lecouvreur” part of her career.

    • As long as she doesn’t force her voice, she’ll be fine. As you say, the taxing tessitura is the biggest issue. The role is quite short so as long as one has a sizeable voice that carries well, it’s really conquering the high-lying passages that counts. Netrebko’s voice still soars wonderfully on top. And it’s always nice to have a Turandot who actually sounds like she could lure men from far and wide. Few dramatic sopranos can actually accomplish that.

    • “I am almost thinking that the role needs a dramatic coloratura towards the end of her career (think Deutekom, Moser and the such) than a former Tosca on her way to the “Adriana Lecouvreur” part of her career.”

      THIS is the only corner of my world where like minded souls would understand what the above quote means, without explanation! Thank you Parterre.

      • mr. archdale

        Laugh out loud. Olivero, you made my night.

        • mr. archdale

          And yes, Parterre, my thanks as well!

          • Donna Anna

            I add my gratitude, as well, especially after reading the most recent issue of the justly maligned Opera News. Bland, boring, and blech.

            • Camille

              And don’t forget Blah!

              Well to be fair I haven’t looked at one in five years or so but I finally just had to give up on it.

  • I don’t worry about the tessitura. I just think temperamentally the role is a bad fit for her. She is a warm, extroverted personality. Turandot is all about icy control and it usually involves nothing but stand and sing.

    • PCally

      Well maybe she’ll bring something new to it. I have the same reservations but I’m looking forward to be proven wrong.

      • leonora3

        No doubts, she can bring a new quality to the role as she did to all roles before. A week ago we heard Trebs in Giovanna d’Arco in La Scala. It was a very exiting and beautiful evening but without her as Giovanna it might have been very confusing, hardly understandable drama.
        She has a unigue gift to escalate the event very high (Jolanta) perhaps to heavens (Giovanna). Who else from today’s sopranos can do it?
        She loves challenging roles and I love seeing her in everything she performs. The role I loved most of all from her stage performances is Anna Bolena. It really belonged to opera Olympus,especially the production at Met a few years ago, though in Zurich and Vienna this year were top performances, too.) There are roles we would love to see her before Turandot as Norma (there was a discussion about her future roles at Met and Norma was among them as a new production in 2-3 years, wasn’t it?)
        Let’s hope this verismo role won’t stop her from singing the roles like Bolena (and hopefully Norma) in future.
        BTW: Tomorrow is Anna’s wedding day in Vienna.
        Congratulations On Your Wedding Day, Anna and Yusiph!

    • Ivy: Netrebko’s personality didn’t get in the way of her Lady Macbeth (though her acting relied far too much on glaring at the audience). I don’t see her having a problem getting into the role dramatically.

    • Also relevant to yesterday’s Puccini thread, sort of.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        What a great find! Thanks for posting all of this. Merry Christmas to all.

      • Camille

        Very, very interesting and thanks.

        By the way--isn’t the future Principessa Turandot to be married, in just a matter of days, to her Principe ignoto, Mr Calaf? Just happened to remember this. Where is Perez Hilton when you need him?

      • Bill

        Lotte Lehmann considered her alternate Turandot in
        Vienna, Maria Nemeth, more suitable for the role…
        and there was of course also Maria Jeritza who also
        speialized in Minnie (a role presumably Lotte
        Lehmann did not ever sing).

  • This and other morsels of Puccini came from AN’s Instagram page:

    • scifisci

      Wow the ML and tosca sound thrilling as well. None of these seem like a bad idea to me.

  • Batty Masetto

    Bill and Danpatter are so right. I came up in a conservatory environment where the voice teachers routinely pooh-poohed Nilsson as not a patch on Flagstad. I thought so myself at first, when I knew her only from a few recordings. I never had the in-house opportunities that others here have had, but all the same I managed to hear her in person in all the Brünnhildes (Walküre in two different productions), Isolde (Jess Thomas, Böhm, wow!!), Elektra, Turandot and Färberin. Besides the excitement of the sound, there was always an immense, undeniable, intelligent professionalism at work there. She was a treasure.

    I remember a Time magazine review of her first Salome at the Met, when I was still a teenager. Besides all the superlatives about the vocalism, I was completely enchanted when they mentioned her “gamely stripping down to a bustier” in the Dance of the Seven Veils.

    If I can find the time and can hunt it down, I’ll reproduce a letter from an old buddy who came across her in her prime in a try-out recital in a little bitty church way off the beaten track somewhere in Massachusetts.

    • Batty Masetto

      Well, this showed up in completely the wrong place. Sorry. This new format is so tricky when it comes to placing your replies where they belong…

    • danpatter

      Yes, Batty, do post that letter if you can find it! Thanks.

  • PCally

    Rare to hear this role sung with such a full rich sound. Still a bit wary but very much excited.

  • OpinionatedNeophyte

    Perez Hilton is gagging. Scoop of the season.

  • Milly Grazie

    @PoisonIvy -- it’s called acting dear!

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    I absolutely love the sound on high, which is super-released and almost Gwynethesque. I’m less keen on the boxed-in and driven lower register. I suppose Nilsson did it along similar lines but she had a very different instrument. I think the majority of Turandots just have to accept that the balance of the voice needs to be in favour of the top for this role, and let the resonance be what it will be down at the bottom, even if that means it is comparatively weak. I would imagine that Netrebko, with her lyric origins, would come out of it better if she approached it along these lines. But it’s a very brief snippet and from a concert performance of just the aria, and she has the ability to constantly surprise us, so it’s silly to over-analyse this. I would love it if she did the role.

    I don’t see why Turandot has to be controlled and Icy. I think that’s just something we’ve grown used to, thanks to hard-edged, inflexible voices in the role, and a lot of pale blue costumes! Turandot as a woman is bonkers and fanatical, and tells us she is just burning up and on fire inside, so I think there is a strong case for a very passionate, glamorous Turandot who totally loses her shit.

  • Chenier631

    I don’t think that the idea of Netrebko singing Turandot is all that far-fetched. Based on the last two times I heard here, in Trovatore and Macbeth at the Met.
    She would certainly be better than Christine Goerke, who was totally wrong for Turandot, flat, thin high notes,etc.
    Netrebko’s voice has certainly grown larger over the years, and she has shown a knack for taking some vocal risks, as in tackling Lady Macbeth.
    I think she would fare quite well as Turandot.


  • Re: Nilsson

    Sadly, I never got to experience her live which, from everything I’ve read, was a unique experience. In recent years, I’ve seen Nilsson knocked down a couple of notches in her Wagner roles by people who prefer the more emotionally rounded performances of people like Varnay, Mödl and of course, Flagstad. When comparing her to the greats, she may not make many people’s top 3 or 4 Isolde, for example. I think that’s fair without taking away anything from her remarkable singing in those roles.

    However, I think she was born to sing Turandot. She had the necessary power without being a vibrato-laden a la Marton and Jones (both of whom I like). And because her voice naturally sat higher than most dramatic sopranos, the role’s tessitura sat in her sweet spot. Most importantly, with that brilliant, silvery tone and easy delivery on top, she actually sounded like an exotic princess, rather than a Brünnhilde working hard at the top of her range. This is also why I like Sutherland’s studio recording so much.

    • danpatter

      Sutherland’s recording was a revelation in its day. Before her we had Callas (brilliant but caught a bit late), Borkh, Grob-Prandl, Cigna, and a couple of Nilsson versions. Sutherland brought the necessary bright tone and security on high, along with a sizable voice of real impact and warmth. It elicited a fine performance from her too. I never did think Pavarotti was the equal of Corelli as Calaf, but he was certainly an asset to the performance. Caballe’s Liu divided opinions, but I couldn’t resist those beautifully spun pianissimi. And she got “Tanto amore segreto” exactly right, too. (That’s my favorite Liu aria, not the usual two).

    • Batty Masetto

      Kashie, as somebody who can only know Birgit from recordings, your impression of her is completely understandable. But in the house there was nothing emotionally unrounded about her performances.

      It’s already been noted many times that she didn’t record all that well. She herself always said so. The full dimensions of the voice just never came through, so among other things you have to listen harder for shadings. And surprisingly, they’re there. Try listening carefully to her Minnie sometime: everybody talks about what a powerhouse she was (and she was) but there are unique, touching moments of vulnerability here too. I especially like the moment in the second act when she’s getting dolled up for her Gentleman Caller. You can really hear the Big Girl’s anxiety about whether she’s attractive enough.

      Plus there was her immense physical commitment. She was physically engaged in her roles in ways that I’m pretty sure would never have been part of Flagstad’s tool kit, for example, if only because of the difference in performing styles between their eras.

      I had the wonderful luck to see Varnay and Nilsson both as Elektra in the same season, and both were terrific and very physical, but there was nothing in Varnay’s acting that Nilsson didn’t match in her own way. And great as she was, Varnay was never going to try Nilsson’s patented flying tackle after Chrysothemis as she exits. Chrysie yammers, “Ich kann nicht” and makes a run for it. Suddenly Birgit’s airborne after her, misses, slams down onto the stage, and props herself up on one elbow just in time to holler “Sei verflucht!” from the floor, the high B-flat right on pitch. That was intensity that even Gwynnie couldn’t match.

      Finally, anybody who saw her only after her return to the US from tax-induced exile never had a chance to hear the voice in its prime. There was still lots to admire, but a good bit had been lost by then.

      • Thanks, Batty. I like Nilsson a lot and don’t find her cold as others do. I do find someone like Varnay more emotionally gripping but that doesn’t take away from what Nilsson did. I was speaking more about what I tend to read online regarding attitudes towards Nilsson. You’re right to point out the live vs recording aspect because almost all the comments I read from people who don’t love Nilsson come from those who’ve only heard her on recordings.

      • Porgy Amor

        The closest I’ve ever come to really getting it with Nilsson was an Elektra broadcast from, I believe, 1971. Whether it’s an issue with the way the microphones were set up or this really was an accurate document of what Böhm was getting from the orchestra in the house, the other women sometimes sound to be fighting to be audible — but not Nilsson. Every note comes through, not just loud but with cut and gleam. She doesn’t need any time to warm up, either. She just comes charging out like a thoroughbred. I’m sure it was tremendously exciting live, and it made a much stronger impression on me than had the studio recording with Solti.

        I have other favorites on record in her roles, though. Maybe I would feel differently if I had been around for her. However, some of the reviews of her day, when she was a working singer and not yet a legend, have their share of caveats and reservations expressed — for example, Peter G. Davis on one of the early Elektras (“a curiously uninvolving hour and three quarters — partly due, I think, to the restrained detachment of Miss Nilsson’s acting as well as to the unrelieved sunny brilliance of her voice”).

        • Bill

          Porgy -- try the Vienna Elektra from 1965 on Orfeo with
          Nilsson, Rysanek, Resnik, Waechter, Windgassen and
          Janowitz as 4th Maid -- it was a magnificent
          performance and is live. Boehm conducted and there was
          more than 45 minutes applause thereafter. It is the earliest live recording of Nilsson’s Elektra unless
          there is a tape of her first ever Elektra shortly
          before that from Stockholm with a different cast.

      • Bill

        Batty -- I saw Varnay in Salzburg as Elektra in the summer of 1965 von Karajan conducting and then Nilsson the
        same year in December in Vienna with Boehm conducting --
        are you referring to those performances or some
        others. I do not know how many Elektras Varnay sang
        after 1965 but I think none in Vienna and Elektra was not repeated in Salzburg in 1966

        • Batty Masetto

          Bill, it was the ’68-’69 season in Munich, during my highly memorable junior year abroad there. Mödl was Klytie for Varnay (with the less than wonderful Hillebrecht in third place, as I recall) and Lindholm was Chrysothemis for Birgit (with Lillian Benningsen a far far distant third).

      • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati

        Batty: An emphatic “Yes” to all of the above concerning Nilsson. Another great bit of physicality in her live ELEKTRA: When Aegisth was in his offstage death throes, yowling, “Murder! Help! Doesn’t anyone hear me?” Birgit, who previously had been pacing alone, back and forth like a caged animal on the stage, stopped in her tracks, centerstage. Standing still, her entire body began to gradually pulsate, shake and tremble as if this unstoppable physical force was crescendoing and rising up from her feet, through her torso and on to her shoulders and head, and then like an avenging angel she blared out with tremendous meaning and emotion, “Agamemnon hears you!” It was stunning, especially from someone who didn’t have a rep as an “actress”.

  • Can’t say I’m impressed by the snippet of Netrebko: she goes out of tune, she wobbles. What’s to like?

    • PCally

      Well can’t say I hear anything in the way of wobbles, certainly nothing that compares to some of the wobbly turandots the met has seen over the years. Vibrato has a bit of a beat that’s all. And the tuning sounds fine to me.

      • She is out of tune -- sharp -- on “chi” and “cuor,” the two highest notes in the phrases she sings. She sounds as though she is forcing beyond her natural volume on those pitches. Compare, for example, with Eva Turner (1928).

        • Dead, you know.

          • Sure is. And a good thing since she’d be 123 if she weren’t.

            • So probably it’s best just to put Turandot away until the next Eva Turner comes along. God forbid those some chronically sharp parvenu like Birgit Nilsson or Gwyneth Jones should ever get a chance to mar those two all-important pitches.

            • I did not say that. Nilsson and Jones -- obviously more than enough power, easily, for the role. Netrebko, not obvious at all.

            • To sing one aria from the role on a recording?

            • PCally

              irontongue, your basically just grasping at straws right now. You call attention to Netrebko’s wobble and pitch issues (which are nowhere near as prevalent as you claim they are). When pointed to two Turandot’s of the past who either suffered from wobbles (Jones) or sharp pitch (Nilsson) you then bring up an entirely new and different issue, power, one that is almost entirely impossible to confirm based on a few seconds of a recording. Netrebko certainly sounds steadier than Jones (and her pitch in certainly better) and her she’s barely less accurate than Nilsson. And these few moments are a hell of lot steadier and more accurate than many women’s performances of the entire role.

            • I’m not grasping at straws at all. Singing in tune and with a steady production are desirable for all artists in all roles; that some successful Turandots have had pitch problems has nothing at all to do with whether or not Netrebko herself can sing in tune, without wobble, and with sufficient power.

            • So since Netrebko sings a bit sharp at one point in this 15 second clip and the vibrato is a little wider than you like, by your standard that “[s]inging in tune and with a steady production are desirable for all artists in all roles,” then Netrebko shouldn’t be singing anything anywhere. I’ll be sure to send that memo to the managements of the Met, La Scala, Berlin, Dresden and so forth.

            • I didn’t say that, either. Here’s what I do say.

              1. If I were picking a Puccini role for her, it’d be Butterfly or Liu; she’d be great in either role. Turandot? Certainly not an obvious match.

              2. I’m the world’s biggest Patricia Racette fan, and as has been stated here approximately 10,000 times, she’s pitchy and (now and for a few years) has a wobble on top, especially when singing a role that might just be too heavy for her. (yeah, I would have liked to see the Salome anyway.)

              3. I’m shocked that no one has mentioned that by 1937 Eva Turner had an incipient wobble. The loosening of her vibrato is more clear on one of the nights when EMI recorded the Turandot excerpts at the ROH than on the other night. She sang the role to the end anyway, though reports make it clear that she was….variable….well before her last run of the role in the late 1940s.

        • Feldmarschallin

          Anni Roselle is also an excellent Turandot. But since she and Turner are not singing the role anymore I wouldn’t mind hearing Netrebko even if it is a bit of a stretch for her perhaps. Hopefully she will only sing it on occasion and not in big venues.

          • Yes, she was. She sang the SF premiere long ago (and lived to a very great age, dying in Florida).

            Milanov sang Turandot, though not for long, and I think possibly only in the tiny 900-seat theater in Monaco. Under those circumstances and with a sensible conductor, it might work for Netrebko.

            • Did she sing as consistently flat as Eva Turner?

            • A among the venues Milanov sang Turandot was that intimate bandbox the Teatro Colon.

            • Hmm, Turner’s reviews don’t mention anything like that, for either live performances or recordings, and I don’t hear it myself.

            • Try “Principessa Lu-o-ling,” for starters. Flat, flat, flat. And this besides sounding like Minnie Mouse. The top is very impressive, though one wonders why, if the voice were so spectacular, she sang practically nowhere.

            • Feldmarschallin

              Well Roselle sounds pretty good to me.

            • > one wonders why.

              The reports indicate that the voice really was spectacular; she’s mentioned by a number of singers in the Rasponi book, and when a singer is praised by another singer, I’m generally willing to believe it.

              I’ve been thinking about that one for a long time. There are multiple reasons.

              1. She spent from 1915 to 1924 singing in the Carl Rosa Opera, an important English company (they gave a surprising number of UK premieres).

              2. WWI certainly had an impact on her career; there was absolutely no chance at that time of her trying to get traction outside the UK.

              3. She only got her first Italian audition, at La Scala, because Ettore Panizza heard her at Covent Garden with the Carl Rosa.

              4. She tried to make it in Italy, where there was a huge amount of competition from Italian singers.

              5. Spectacular voice, but her style was not innately Italianate -- compare, especially, the earlier Milan recordings to those made in 1928 and later, and she is crude earlier by comparison with the later records. Even those are not exactly stylish by comparison with Italian singers.

              6. She was unwilling to sing R. Strauss, afraid it would damage her voice. She did sing the Salome final scene at the Proms, but post-1940 and I think only once.

              7. There was a lot of competition in those days! She had all the big Wagner and Verdi and Puccini works in her repertory, but…huge competition.

              8.When she moved back to England in 1933, after having lived primarily in Milan and on the Swiss side of Lake Lugano since 1924, she was still competing with the best Italian and German singers, and mostly losing. (Between 1915 and 1948, she sang fewer than 40 performances total at Covent Garden, for example.) You have to wish there were some off-the-airs souvenirs of her Isolde, because she reportedly got 17 curtain calls after one performance in London.

              9. No traction to speak of in the US, where she sang a couple of seasons (two? three?) in Chicago, had a contract for another year but wouldn’t leave England when the war started. She auditioned for the Met under a pseudonym but of course was recognized. She was termed “old, uninteresting.”

              10. When she was trying to make it in Italy, she wouldn’t work under an Italianized name, which may have hurt her career.

              11. I have wondered about the quality of her management, but (at least in the 30s) her manager was Harold Holt & Co.

              Don’t believe anything you read that claims that WWII cut her career short. It’s the other way. By the early 40s her voice was starting to go, and probably WWII prolonged her career. She sang a lot of concerts and concert opera in the 1940s and was brought back for Turandot in the first season or two when the ROH reopened, in part for patriotic reasons.

            • Forgot one thing: she was seriously ill for some time in about 1925, and I have heard that she had health problems off and on. This might be covered in Linda Esther Gray’s book, not sure, and can’t remember where I heard “health problems off and on.” The 1925 illness is documented in a doctoral dissertation about Turner’s life and career.

            • mrsjohnclaggart

              I applaud you irontongue and admire your persistence. Don’t know where this will appear, but I mean it for after you’ve posted all your information. If you’re going to be interested in a debatable form like opera, you should have the wild-eyed intensity you do!!! About “dead divas” too!

              I agree with La Cieca, that Turner, despite the enormous volume she had, detectable on a number of her documents, was a pitch-challenged provincial singer. But you make your case with wonderful tenacity and in detail, it’s great to read. You make me want to listen again… the best kind of (DAY I DAST NOT MENTION) gift. Thank you.

            • Enjoy! You may find her better than a “pitch-challenged, provincial singer.”

              I need to pick up Linda Esther Gray’s book some time -- I did research on Turner toward a biography and I suspect I learned some thing she did not.

            • mrsjohnclaggart

              But Irontongue didn’t Linda Ester Gray suggest at one point (and then retract) that her early decline was due to Turner’s tutelage? Linda E had a phenomenal voice. That live English language Tristan with Goodall is thrilling. Then she got into trouble. Eventually, she was diagnosed with an illness, isn’t that true? The funniest Turner as teacher story is from Rita Hunter’s autobiography. But Eva did teach Amy Shuard who was very impressive (but died young.)

            • mrsjohnclaggert, I don’t know (literally; I have no information/knowledge about Gray blaming Turner or retracting the blaming comments). Gray having a chronic illness sounds familiar but again, no personal knowledge and can’t remember where or when I might have seen something about that. A web search of articles on Gray and the circumstances of her retirement would likely turn something up.

              Yes, Gray had a terrific voice! I have heard that Goodall Tristan, though not recently.

              I did interview Roberta Knie about Turner. Knie studied with her both in Oklahoma and at the RAM after Turner’s return to England. Knie said that Turner’s teaching style changed markedly, that she had been kind and supportive at UO but was not at the RAM. She attributed this, if I recall correctly, to Turner’s bitterness at not being recognized as some of her peers had been.

        • Krunoslav

          TOO true. The upstart Slav woman is not a PATCH on Morag Beaton.

          • Krunoslav

            “one wonders why, if the voice were so spectacular, she sang practically nowhere.”

            Well, some Brits may have exaggerated Turner’s international career, but she DID sing at Covent Garden ( and at many other venues in the UK) , La Scala, Brescia, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Arena di Verona, the Rome Opera, the Chicago Opera and the Teatro Colon Buenos Aires.

            For a singer in the 1920s and ’30s, that was not ‘nowhere’ if we consider in how few operatic venues, say, Ponselle sang.

            • Oh, Turner herself exaggerated the size of her career! She claimed to have sung 200 performances of Turandot; it was more like 75 (still a decent number). She always represented herself as having had a significant career at La Scala, which she did not. She sang five performances total: a pair each of Freia and Sieglinde in the 1924 Ring and one Turandot….where she was either cover or second cast.

              The big unknowns are how many performances she sang with the Carl Rosa and how many concerts she gave, not to mention opera performances outside London but in the UK after the Carl Rosa years. There is no chronology of this.

    • Krunoslav

      “Giudici ad Anna? Ad Anna? Ad Anna-- giudici?”

      • Milady DeWinter

        I don’t hear any wobbles, just vibrato. And I think this would be a great role for the miraculous “one register Anna” voice. She seems more of the very commanding yet feminine mold of the great Alessandra Marc in this music.
        However, I would still rather hear her jump on Aida and Norma first. Turandot seems to be the “new” Norma i.e. craze that was at its height from about 1985-2000 when EVERY soprano on the planet seemingly just HAD to sing Norma. Turandot is wonderful and all that, but inferior to Aida or Norma as a composition.
        Any quibbles about Netrebko’s pitch should be sorted out by the time she warms more to the music. Intonation seems to be Trebs’ only Achilles Heel -- what soprano doesn’t have one -or more. I think the very fulsomeness of the voice may get in the way of her actually hearing and steering the voice until she “settles in”. The pitch problems are rarely if ever on top notes, which to me, is a good sign.
        Still, the observations above about Turandot working best for a mature dramatic coloratura exploring new roles on a limited basis(Deutekom, Sutherland) or a one-off high dramatic soprano wonder like Nilsson or Turner are spot on.
        So much fuss about a title character, and her Prince, who are self-absorbed louses who trample over the body of poor Liu towards their happily ever after, while the audience is saddled with a very unsatisfactory musical denouement.

        • LT

          How does Turandot work best for Sutherland considering she never sang the role live?

  • Milady DeWinter

    Literal, are we not?
    I said:
    “for a mature dramatic coloratura exploring new roles on a limited basis (Deutekom, Sutherland) -”
    “limited basis” e.g. studio for Sutherland, on stage for Deutekom; it was an example.

  • javier

    If she can do it, that’s great. But I would just be worried about singing the high notes. This clip cuts off right before a high note so I can’t really judge this.

  • Niel Rishoi

    I am looking forward to hearing Netrebko as Turandot. I am so tired of hearing thick, curdled, short-top voices in this role. She’d as well bring that star quality to it that it so desperately needs.

    Eva Turner: I heard for years only her Turandot clips. Then I bought an HMV LP of her singing lots of other arias; I was not impressed with either the tone itself or the musicality. She did not have that hallmark star quality.

    Nilsson: I read her autobio last year, and I wound up admiring her even leagues more. Sane, humorous, and so down-to-earth, professional. I always felt, because singing *sounded* like so much LESS work for her than pretty much all other singers, it was assumed that she was more “stimm” than “kunst.” Such nonsense -- Nilsson gave her all, and served her art honorably; people forget the mad scenes she caused at her performances. There was, quite simply, no one like her.

    • mrsjohnclaggart

      I agree with you Niel about Nilsson. There is a wonderful youtube interview/conversation between her, Varnay and Moedl with English subtitles. I won’t post YouTubes here again since the Liza Minnelli/Cyril Ritchard was posted by me days ago with some explanation as to who Ritchard was, and it was posted today with no acknowledgment of my posting and no quotation though a question was asked. Well, look, the Googler is here so who would expect anyone else to be different — but you of course! And you can find it by searching.

      But what is striking about all three great ladies is how human they are. They both admire Nilsson’s vocal assurance, but she is quick to disabuse them. As with all singers she had her difficulties both early on and now and then later and had to solve sudden problems mid-performance on a few occasions.

      None take themselves all that seriously and I love when the moderator asks about vocal crises and Varnay says, “My god! Every two years!” And Moedl remarks, “I WAS a vocal crisis, I just opened my mouth and hoped something came out.” A cue for Nilsson’s story of waking up without a voice for a Lohengrin performance and finding that nothing she could do at first would let her make a tone.

      Nilsson called Turandot her “vacation role” since she learned it very quickly, and because the top was the easiest part of her voice to produce, she simply had to go on and sing high notes for 15 minutes and get her entire fee. Very different from Elektra and Isolde.

      Netrebko is probably thinking the same way; she’ll be close to 50 by the time she sings it if she does, and she’s probably looking for a star vehicle that is short, demanding only for a few moments at the top, and will pay her top dollar. Whether her high notes will be as pulverizing as Nilsson’s will remain to be seen. But then Nilsson was a once in a lifetime singer; no one has come near her in that role (or a number of others she sang) since. Some of her other great roles have been done with distinction if not her thrust and impact but Turandot, as much fun as some loud carriers on have been.

      • Niel Rishoi

        Mrs. John, thank you for the wonderful reply! I looked on YouTube, couldn’t find the interview, so I googled and found this transcription of the 3 ladies:

        I don’t know if it is from the discussion you heard, but it sure is marvelous: all three are funny, provide wonderful anecdotes and mighty insights as to what it is being a musician. What RESPECT all three pay to each other! You can’t imagine such a conversation happening today…

      • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati

        That interview/conversation with Nilsson, Modl and Varnay is wonderful and as it progresses they gradually become looser and more down-to-earth. Just to have them all in the same studio was imposing and to hear their reminiscences about Bayreuth conductors, the Wagner brothers, the ups and downs of their careers and everything else was a treat. And what bounty to think those 3 very impressive careers were basically contemporaneous and/or overlapped.

  • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati

    Dame Eva, at least in old age, was a tiny little thing, not very tall or imposing at all. A friend of mine, tall, statuesque and with the look of an operatic diva (but not a singer), and swathed in full-length mink coat that morning, and I were at a dress rehearsal at the Met. Dame Eva was sitting next to us and was quite charming to chat with. She was also either a bit confused or had failing eyesight as she cheerfully said to my companion, “My dear, I saw you last night as Gioconda and you were marvelous!”