Cher Public

Il suon de nova voce lusinghiera

Happy 59th birthday soprano Aprile Millo

On this day in 1883 Leo Delibes’ Lakmé premiered in Paris.

Born on this day in 1900 bass Salvatore Baccaloni.

Born on this day in 1913 conductor Jean Fournet.

Happy 77th birthday tenor Adolf Dallapozza.

Happy 68th birthday soprano Eiddwen Harrhy.

Happy 61st birthday soprano Barbara Bonney.

On this day in 1960 the Charles StrouseLee Adams musical Bye Bye Birdie opened on Broadway

  • Edesso

    What a full-hearted, full-throated Mamma!

    • ER

      indeed. that is just gorgeous. The voice is so lush.

  • CwbyLA

    While I love Aprile Millo’s voice, I am disappointed in her and somewhat mad that she did not manage her career (or personal life perhaps?) well. She should have been singing all these years. She would have been a formidable Verdi/verismo soprano. I can’t believe that she is the same age as Renee Fleming and just look at Fleming’s career. I don’t mean to imply that everyone should have Renee’s career. There are many wonderful artists who are not a Fleming or a Netrebko. It is a stark reminder that a successful career in opera takes a lot more than voice, style, languages, etc.

    • Gualtier Maldè

      Millo seems so much older than her contemporaries Fleming, Swenson et al. because Aprile shot to prominence a decade earlier when she was in her early to mid twenties.

      • ER

        Good point, Gualtier. It’s hard to believe that Millo and Fleming are virtually the same age. But, as you say, Millo’s full career started much earlier.

        I wasn’t always a fan of Millo-- some of her singing can be overly thick — but when I listen to her recordings now, what is so abundantly clear is that she had the Italian style down like no other.

        It is indeed a pity that her career floundered too early.

    • Porgy Amor

      There were always people of around the same age whose careers had different timing or a different trajectory, though. Varnay and Nilsson were both born in 1918, but Varnay “seemed” older. She had been a great dramatic soprano of the ’40s and ’50s, and Nilsson was singing some of Varnay’s former roles at the time Varnay had moved into Begbick, Herodias and such. Someone only casually familiar with them could think they were a generation apart.

      • I think that if Millo had secured her technique better, she could have had a longer career. It still would have had a different trajectory than Fleming’s but she might have extended her prime beyond its 7-8 years.

        • southerndoc1

          Serious question: what do you think was the problem with her technique?

          • I wish I knew. I’m not a vocal pedagogue and others here are far more knowledgeable in that area. But when I listen to her, the upper register, while opulent in tone, always sounds older than her years. The vibrato is slow and the delivery has a slightly laboured quality to it. And those high pianissimi always sounded detached from the rest of the voice.

            • Luvtennis

              I think she sounds quite comfortable in this music which sits in the best part of her voice. I think some of her Verdi roles tested her upper register more. That said, I think it is very difficult to say categorically that such and such caused a certain singer’s vocal decline. As I recall, Mrs. JC offered an assessment some time ago. I can’t recall her diagnosis, but I think the upshot was less about the problems and more about the challenges associated with fixing them at that stage in her career.

  • Daniel Swick

    I saw Millo once in Simon Boccanegra…I was young and didn’t know the opera all that well. All I recall is that she was not much of an actress and that the voice was very Italianate. I was in love with Kiri Te and she was the A cast Amelia that year so I was a little bummed to be stuck with Millo. In hindsight, she was very good and absolutely right for the part vocally. The big high Bb in the opening aria was well dispatched (what a cruel bit of vocal writing THAT is). Something I remember quite vividly is how she attempted a floated high note at one point and the voice didn’t engage…She got it, but something wasn’t right. I think those floated high notes (which she often pulled off very beautifully) were from the old “fake place” (Swenson did it too) and that trick only seems to work for awhile before it starts to backfire. She sounded like Tebaldi with Sills’ floated top notes…That kind of thing doesn’t seem to bode well for vocal longevity.
    That being said, Fleming tended towards the same thing and she’s still around so…Chacun son gout.

    • Daniel Swick

      Here she is singing about as beautifully as one could ever hope for…Very much a belcantista. Perhaps this is the rep she was really meant for?
      https://youtu.be/s9EBXGnGe8A

    • She sounded like Tebaldi with Sills’ floated top notes.

      Ha! That’s perfect. She also often sounded like a copy of Tebaldi interpretatively.

      Though I don’t agree that Fleming has had the same approach to her high pianissimi. Hers always sound well-supported and released without any pressure.

    • Luvtennis

      I actually think that Renee was pretty darn accomplished from a technical perspective. That doesn’t mean she never had problems. She just appears to have received the type of training that helped her diagnose and mitigate those problems before they became career-threatening.

    • Camille

      Good old “fake place”!!--haven’t heard that one for a while. It seems to have died out to an extent--maybe because Caballé isn’t around anymore to compete with? Oh yes, Meade did it a lot but that has lessened in the last couple years--thanks be to the gods.

      • Daniel Swick

        That’s old parterre…I learnt myself from the best back when I was a baby opera queen.

        • Camille

          You mean there was a
          School of Parterre Studies?

          I had never considered that.
          Supposing there is an entire generation who weaned themselves on those flamboyant pink pages.
          Still miss getting them in the mail. Whatta thrill.

      • Daniel Swick

        Also, Caballé may have been “fake place” (I’m not convinced she always was) but my god she did it really beautifully and for an awful long time.

        • Ika

          w Caballe her pianisimmo was about the only thing that worked in the 90s. forte notes were painful.

        • Camille

          Oh, pretty sure she did it from a real space--it was all those imitators and wannabes that invented fake and bake.

          You note the end of “Come in quest’ora bruna”: yes, what was he thinking? No inhalation allowed!

          • Luvtennis

            I think Caballe’s ppps were very real UNTIL the mid-70s. After that she started forcing her top which led to the crooning that could mar her singing when she wasn’t in good voice. I will also note that Caballe would sometimes NOT sing high ppps even when called for by the score and, of course she would sometimes deploy them in place of the mf or even forte that was called for.

            Truly a law unto herself. ????

            • Magpie

              Hi Luvtennis. When I saw Caballe last in the 90’s, her ppp were there indeed, just as gorgeous as always, the only thing I noticed that was obvious, was that she could not get to them seamlessly like she could earlier on. Instead of the voice gliding in volume down to that ppp, she had to jump into it. They became an “effect”. She was intelligent and adapted her technique as well as her singing to hide/incorporate that jump into the music.
              But what an effect it was!!. As for forte notes, I agree with Ika, they were rather strident, but actually, huge. I think her voice increased in size significantly in the 80’s and 90’s

  • PCally

    Totally off topic but I have another obscure opera question. The most recent issue of opera news has rave for a new recording of an opera I had never heard of before: Simoon, by Erik Chisholm. I know absolutely nothing about the music but the story sounds absolutely fascinating and the other reviews I’ve found were also positive. Would anyone happen to know if it’s an opera worth acquainting oneself with? I think this was one of the few times it’s ever been performed so I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer’s no lol.

  • Camille

    Just a fact to ponder regarding the career longevity of Miss Aprile Millo: she made her career debut in 1980, with the Utah Opera and as AÏDA, and not the blooming Sacerdotessa, neither! What was Renée Fleming doing at that time; probably still in school.

    I’d say she had a pretty good run. When did she last sing at the Met? That’s all in the Archives, but I last heard her in the autumn of 2002 in Andrea Chénier and it was overall a quite satisfactory, and at times exemplary performance.

    Tanti auguri e Buona Pasqua, Aprile.

    • Armerjacquino

      I heard her in 06 as Tosca, which I think might have been her last run.

      • Camille

        Ah so, and thank you. Well, I had to go to the precious Archives and you did see one of her last manifestations at the MET. There was a last performance as Maddalena in April 2007, (still not marked Last Performance, however). Pity, she only had one opportunity to sing Gioconda, as, from what my husband told me of her performance at OONY, it was very good, but he doesn’t know the score at all well.

        Since her debut at the Met was June 1984, I’d say that 23 years in the lion’s den is a mighty proud accomplishment.

        Somewhere below is a discussion of Astrid Varnay and Birgit Nilsson’s careers and the fact they were virtually the same age (both born in Sweden as I recall and only 2 or 3 weeks difference in age) BUT their respective careers happened in quite different time schemes, at least at the Metropolitan. To this topic there is a highly interesting and illuminating article in Opera Quarterly from sometime in the late 1990’s, a comparison and contrast of the two. The title of the article has “Zwillingsschwester” somewhere within, should one care to go track it down. Well worth the chase if you are researching one or the other illustrious singers. Of course, there are always their respective autobios, but primadonne being the creatures they are…

        • CwbyLA

          Sorry Camille, but I have to disagree. A one off performance at the Met does not make a career. Yes, Millo sung one Maddalena in 2007 and what else did she sing in that year in ANY opera house? How about in 2006, 2005, etc? Her career started to decline too early. I do not know if it was voice related or personal issues.

      • Donna Annina

        That’s when I heard her in Tosca, as well--maybe we were there in Music Hall? I was looking forward to hearing her but it didn’t go well; she was La Scoopenda, especially for “Vissi d’arte.”

    • Luvtennis

      I would also note how mature she sounded even as early as 85. Indeed, the first thing that occurred to me when I listened to her first recorded recital was “wow, if she sounds like this at 26 what will she sound like in a decade….”

      • This may sound odd but I’ll compare her to Varnay. Both had very mature sounding voices quite early. I’m glad that both got the opportunity to get their big-time careers going early, while in their 20s. Varnay’s soprano career was winding down as Nilsson was hitting the big leagues, but she still had a 20-25 year career as soprano before fully transitioning to mezzo parts.

        Millo was ready to go early and she got opportunities to do so thankfully. I just wish she had taken better care of her voice so she also could have had a good 20-25 years, rather than the 8-9 years she had.

        • Luvtennis

          Very apt comparison in some respects. Varnay managed her career and voice so well though! And she kept the big Wagner roles in her rep for decades. She was special.

  • Ray Reilly

    Millo sounds older probably because she is about five years older than she claims. I met one of her high school teachers years ago. He remembered when she was his student and said she is at least five years older. She was singing in the late seventies