Cher Public

Quick bright things

Born on this day in 1927 soprano Marie Collier

Born on this day in 1871 playwright John Millington Synge.

Born on this day in 1913 mezzo-soprano Constance Shacklock.

Born on this day in 1918 contralto Carol Brice.

Happy 75th birthday baritone Leo Nucci.

Happy 73rd birthday conductor Dennis Russell Davies.

  • WindyCityOperaman

    Sad about Marie Collier -- never a big fan of the voice (in Solti’s Elektra recording); she was another “you had to be there” performer. A former voice teacher of mine who was “in the know” told me she was
    higher than a kite when the accident happened. BTW, as a freshman high school student we were assigned Synge’s play for study. A fellow classmate looked at me and held her nose. The teacher stifled a laugh.

    • PCally

      Did you ever see her live? She had very interesting repertoire and pictures show a very glamorous woman.

      • Marvin David Levy: Mourning Becomes Elektra
        12,9,67 MET Lear, Collier, Sukis, Reardon, Milnes, Macurdy, Bottcher; Mehta

        She was Christine (Klytamnestra) in Marvin David Levy’s take on the Eugene O’Neill play that was part of the gaggle of new productions that celebrated the opening of the new MET. She and Evelyn Lear had a field day with the toxic mother/daughter relationship. The critics noted that Collier and Lear somewhat resembled each other which added to the drama. At that point in their careers both women were whipping their top notes hard but I think Lear came out of the experience with a healthier voice, while Collier began to have some real problems. On the Nilsson/Solti Electra recording, Collier gives forth some very bizarre sounds, particularly when running to Elektra to announce the (fake news) death of Orestes.

    • AGH

      I was fortunate to see her in over twenty roles beginning with a Karolka in the British premiere of Jenufa and including such parts as Berg’s Marie, Wagner’s Venus and Gutrune, Verdi’s Elizabeth, Cressida and Hecuba (in two modern British operas), and in several of Puccini’s leading roles. Her Musetta, in particular, was always extremely successful and I have yet to see and hear its equal. She was extremely good looking, had an imposing stage manner and possessed a beautiful, rich voice -- alas, not always under complete control. In a tribute to her that appeared in ‘Opera’ following her death, Gobbi, whom I heard alongside her in Tosca and Don Carlos and who appeared with her in many performances , described how, in a way that possibly led to her death, she was ‘highly strung, restless, impetuous. She was always searching for something she could not find, feeling tormented, tired and uncertain.’ He was not alone in greatly regretting her death when so young and with a promising career still in front of her.

  • Olivero Fan
    • Cameron Kelsall

      She’s wanted to do a Broadway musical for years. I don’t believe this was ever announced publicly, but she came very close to replacing Vicki Clark in The Light in the Piazza.

      • southerndoc1

        Isn’t the whole point of Nettie Fowler that she sings The Big Song with a warm, motherly contralto?

        • PCally

          Traditionally yes, but transposing musical theatre is exceptionally common and you’ll never walk alone has been sung by sopranos, no reason why the complete role can’t be sung by one as well. My concern has more to do with her temperament than voice. She’s not a natural actress so I’m curious to see how she would adjust to fit this down to earth character.

          • Cameron Kelsall

            Yeah, nothing about Fleming screams out hearty earth mother, and I shudder to imagine the inevitable Maine accent. Blythe was just about perfect in the Philharmonic concert a couple years ago, both vocally and stylistically.

            • Gualtier Maldè

              Well in her “Dark Hope” pop projects Renee has produced her tone in a much lower alto range. It probably isn’t as strong as her operatic soprano range but it is there. With the help of miking she can project that alto sound in a Broadway theater. As for her acting, well Jack O’Brien will have his work cut out for him.

            • Porgy Amor

              That’s true. I’ve never heard Dark Hope, but I liked some of Haunted Heart, and she used that lower voice for those songs as well — standards, Foster, Mitchell, Lennon. She had classy backing by Bill Frisell on guitar and Fred Hersch on piano, both of whom I like.

              Now, those Ellington songs with Barenboim on the keys…party time. Heh.

            • Olivero Fan

              When Renee sings in English it sounds as if it is not her first language.

            • Rosina Leckermaul

              In the last Broadway revival, Shirley Verrett was Nettie. She made it work for her. That production miscast Billy and Julie with terrible singers, so Audra and Shirley stole the show. Denyce Graves was Nettie in the recent LOC production with Laura Osnes and the brilliant Steven Pasquale. Aging divas seem to be the rule for Nettie Fowler.

            • Cameron Kelsall

              “Brilliant” is a bit generous for Steve Pasquale, who’s a great singer but not much of an actor. And I don’t actually remember much acclaim for Verrett in ’94. Mostly I remember people talking about how they couldn’t understand a word she sang.

            • PCally

              I saw Verrett in that and I thought more than anything else she was just unmemorable and vocally way way way past her best. The role basically sat squarely in her middle register which was at that point the least functional part of her voice. So she basically sang everything in chest voice.

        • MisterSnow

          Interesting enough, the three female leads in Carousel have the same vocal range -- middle C to the G at the top of the staff (actually, Julie tops out at Gb). It is the differentiation of three vocal types (lyric, soubrette, and contralto) that makes it work. The original Nettie sang Erda at the Met (and later taught Florence Henderson). Now for a “warm, motherly contralto” look no further than another of this page’s honorees.
          https://youtu.be/IrFhpF7l7xM

        • Rick

          Last year Ms Studer sang Nettie Fowler somewhere in Germany -- as far as I remember to fairly good reviews. She is also hardly a “warm, motherly contralto” -- and around the same time she sang Aufseherin…

          • Nyssa of Traken

            Regardless of vocal quality I imagine she will be miked, as everyone is nowadays in musical theatre, which will muddy the sound quite a bit. In every recent musical tour I have seen which has included classically-trained voices, the amplification has done them no favours at all.

  • RB

    There was a decided, old fashioned vibrato in Collier’s voice. It worked in the house, giving the sound body and heft, but it wasn’t what anyone would call “a recording voice”. The inbalance of her registers didn’t help, either.

    I heard her as Jenufa (opposite Varnay and Cassily, conducted by Kubelik) and Tosca (just after the Callas performances). Overall, they were convincing and passionate performances though they may not have convinced in purely vocal terms.

  • QuantoPainyFakor

    So who left this job at the MET?
    Department: Marketing & Communications
    Available: April 2017
    Position Summary: The Press Director has primary responsibility for shaping the Met’s image through publicity, including institutional stores, stories about mainstage Met performances, and cross-departmental projects. Key components of the position include strategy and positioning for the institution as well as specific artists and productions; creative storytelling and implementation of press campaigns across a variety of traditional and non-traditional media outlets; and both responsive and proactive communications with members of the press.

    • Ivy Lin

      Sam Neuman

  • Cameron Kelsall

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nadine Sierra is this year’s Tucker recipient.