Cher Public

Fatal beauty

Happy 81st birthday to sempiternal songstress Grace Bumbry

  • La Cieca

    Newsweek reports: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made a deal for the daughter of President Donald Trump to become the first female head of state, according to Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire and Fury.”

  • La Cieca

    Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner agreed to join her father’s administration — against the advice of “almost everyone they knew” — in the hope that it would propel her into the presidency one day, according to “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

    • H_Badger

      more like Nabeeco….

  • Juan

    #CastChange for tonight. Seems Nadine is out for the evening, probably because she didn’t want to brave the weather. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a young singer cancel so many performances.

  • cielo e mar

    From seven years back, an engaging master class by Bumbry in Boston:
    I especially enjoyed her recollection of “what’s his name … Corelli!” and his “high C leg.”

  • WindyCityOperaman
  • Camille

    In the role which made her the sensation of Bayreuth.

    Listening to it once more gives credence to the fact she considered herself a soprano, or at least capable of singing these roles and that Lehmann had got her into singing in a lower tessitura by way of all those beautiful (but boring) Brahms lieder amongst others.

    There is quite a lot of eyeopening stuff about her and her relationship vis-à-vis Lehmann in that biography about her teacher and mentor, Never sang for Hitler: The life and times of Lotte Lehmann.

    • Christian Ocier

      Bumbry and Ludwig are my favorite Venuses (then again, apart from Waltraud Meier and more recently Pankratova, there aren’t many others who were great in the role), with my preference for either switching depending on what I am looking for when I listen to the opera. Both possess these seductive, rich voices that fit the character’s description like a glove. Both also were remarkable vocal painters, and utilized a varied range of vocal pigmentation to bring nuance and character to this incredibly difficult part. Venus, much like Ortrud, isn’t a traditional mezzo role--its tessitura is too high. Compare that with other challenging roles like Amme that tend to stretch the voice--Amme, while skirting some very high notes, sits low for the most part and doesn’t dwell on a well sculpted line when the music gets higher. Venus and Ortrud do. Which is why I think both roles are usually served better by dramatic sopranos (like Varnay) or high mezzos (Petra Lang, before she strained her voice with Isolde and Brunnhilde). Ludwig succeeded as the Farberin partly because of well-grounded technique, and partly because I think she is a soprano with a lower than usual center of gravity (or mezzo with a higher center of gravity), and did magnificent things with Venus and Ortrud for that reason. Bumbry is similar--her vocal quality (chiaroscuro color, strong declamatory skills, secure top, solid center) gave her so much flexibility. I actually do think I prefer Bumbry--there’s a seductiveness to her singing that doesn’t feel forced, a freedom to the voice that rang true in the house where Christa could sometimes sound strained, and a tone that just blended so well with the text whether it was German, French, or Italian rep. In that regard, I think she bettered her legendary German colleague.

      • Bill

        Christian -- I have heard my share of squally
        Venuses. One I did not see but liked very much on hearing was Ludmilla Dvorakova as Venus in the Bayeuth performances under Cluytens with Windgassen, Rysanek, Prey and Talvela -- I am not sure which year. Was it around 1964/5?. Also about a decade later in 1974 Jones sang both Venus and Elisabeth in the same performances at Bayreuth conducted by Hollreiser. Must have been sensational -- I have an open reel tape of that performance but alas no working open reel player to listen to it. I agree that Ludwig and Bumbry were among the best of my experience -- also the young
        Judit Nemeth in Budapest before she was invited
        to Bayreuth. Martha Moedl, Gertrude Grob-Prandl,
        and Anny Konetzni, all dramatic sopranos. were
        famous Venuses and must have been staggering in the role -- also Schech perhaps. Ludwig did indeed sing the Faeberin splendidly as well as
        Fidelio, Ariadne, the Marscallin and most Mezzos would not dare undertake those roles.

        • Christian Ocier

          I found a 1965 performance with Dvorakova from Opera Depot with the cast you just described. Sounds intriguing, I may purchase it for the New Year sale. Also found this video on youtube, with Spas Wenkoff in the titular role.

          Dvorakova would have been a marvel to see and hear--she’s a singer with a spectacular instrument who just happened to have career alongside Nilsson and Rysanek. Very voluptuous sound, good sense of intonation, nice colors from top to bottom. That she was underrecorded is unfortunate, as I would have liked to hear her Isolde and Brunnhilde in full and in nice sound.

          Jones was fantastic in the Davis video, but I feel like her voice is still better suited to Elisabeth. Although all said and done, she is probably the finest singer in recorded history to have played both parts (Nilsson has a recording from Italy I think, as well as others during more recent times). There are many arguments for and against the doubling practice for the soprano in Tannhauser, as well as many interesting philosophical discussions about the dichotomy of the female ideal expounded by Wagner, and the dramatic possibilities one could mine from the characterizations. It’s certainly a risk, but one that under the right artistic conditions could pay off in several dividends for the work, the soprano, and the director.

          As for the other sopranos you mentioned: I’d love to hear Modl’s Venus. I think there is a recording somewhere but I can’t find it at the moment. Grob Prandl must have been vocally magnificent, as she usually is, but textually and dramatically bland. Here’s another singer I recently enjoyed in the part: Marina Prudenskaya. Not the most voluptuous voice, but a very capable actress with a working instrument.

          • Camille

            Nilsson also has a studio recording (Decca????) singing both roles. Rather a frigid and imperious Venus, one may well imagine why Tannhäuser departed for warmer climes.

            There is on some website I’ve now forgotten, sorry!, a Grob-Prandl Venus—a tad disappointing. Rather foursquare and stolid. At least Birgit sounded pissed off!!!

            • Christian Ocier

              Grob-Prandl had one of those voices that so impressive from an instrumental standpoint. But I found her shaping of phrases so bland and uninspired, especially below the top, where most of Wagner gets very interesting and intellectual. Even in the Moralt Ring and the de Sabata Tristan, her vocalism was undermined by a shapeless middle register, a slack quality in the phrases. Someone should have taken her under their wing--she would have been a true star.

            • Camille

              You know, I have that Tristan and have tried very hard to get into it but have never succeeded. I’d really rather listen to Margarrt Price in the Kleiber version for such a beautiful voice and scrupulous musicianship.

              I’ll try to remember that website with GG-P’s Venus--think it was Spanish. She seemed to be the Hausfrau type. Excepting Elektra!!! Wachet auf!!

            • Christian Ocier

              I do love the Kleiber Tristan--I go back and forth between the live Bayreuth ones (76 is my favorite) and the studio. Ultimately, I go back to the studio I think because I really appreciate the orchestral details and tricks Kleiber mines from the Dresdeners.

            • The Kleiber Tristan might be my favourite version of the first act, between his titanic conducting and Price’s radiant singing.

          • Bill

            Christian -- thanks for this. Dvorakova is in much fresher voice in the 1965 Tannhaeuser.
            I was fortunate to hear her first as a spectacular Senta (together with Hotter) in Vienna in 1965 and then in 1966 as the Faeberin in Frau in East Berlin -- she came to the Met for 3 seasons and though I liked her
            very much you are correct, she was competing with Nilsson and Rysanek at the time both very established in NY and Dvorakova (singing Isolde, Fidelio and such)
            did not create a great impression. Then only once later I heard her again in Vienna as the Kuesterin in Jenufa (replacing someone else)
            and she was fabulous -- That was it -- she had a very rich middle voice -- but by 1982 in the Berlin Tannhaeuser sounded older. Her main house was East Berlin, not as accessible for the Western public in those days.

            I always liked Spas Wenkoff who died a couple of years ago in Bad Ischl where he lived. His Tristan with Catarina Ligendza
            (a soprano seemingly almost forgotten on this blog) with C Kleiber conducting was enormously successful -- Wenkoff had a really nice timbre for a Wagner tenor and did not bark as so many others did.

            • Christian Ocier

              Wenkoff sounded wonderful in the 1976 recording, but I’ve heard that his debut in the same role at the Met five years later was met with negative criticism. Possible a house size issue? He’s very good in the Davis Tannhauser, and I enjoyed his Tristan with Kleiber a lot, but maybe he may have taken on too much, too heavy, and at too young of an age?

        • Rick

          Montserrat Caballé sang Venus in Spain (Barcelona?) in the 1980s (with Gundula Janovitz as Elisabeth). I seem to recall that singer originally scheduled for Venus cancelled quite late and Ms Caballé, due to her closeness to the Liceo, accepted with very short notice and (I think) had the score placed strategically on stage. Another soprano who sang Venus was Marjorie Lawrence -- I think she managed to sing it without having to walk (helpful after her polio). And Tina Kiberg, when she returned to the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen after fighting cancer (I think she still is fighting very bravely), sang Venus also -- I read that she did not want to compete with her earlier self (Elisabeth had been one of her celebrated parts).

        • MisterSnow

          Here is the 78 version of Jones doing the dual roles in Tannhauser. I remember being very impressed with her “topless” Venus -- and she sang well too, I think.

      • ER

        Wonderful analysis, Christian.
        I’m curious, where does Kundry fall into this spectrum?

        As a listener, Amme sounds like a treacherous role to sing!

        • Christian Ocier

          Kundry is a very difficult role to classify, especially when it comes to Fach. One look at its finest interpreters--Martha Modl, Christa Ludwig, Waltraud Meier, Regine Crespin, Astrid Varnay, Gwyneth Jones, Elena Pankratova, and Nina Stemme--reveals that a broad range of singers with varying degrees of specialty in Wagner singing were able to make something magical out of this role. I don’t think casting Kundry is as categorizable as casting a Fricka, a Waltraute, a Sieglinde, an Elsa, or an Elisabeth. It does not fit squarely into the dramatic soprano, jugendlich, or mezzo moulds. In this regard, it bears more similarities to Ortrud and Venus--flexible due to the vocal writing’s center of gravity, but it demands more complexity from the singer than those early Wagner characters. To be a great Ortrud and Venus, you just need to be Astrid Varnay, haha. Kundry, not so easily pegged to any one artist, since the vocal approach can come from one of many directions. Unlike Isolde, which can be read either from a lyrical or a dramatic standpoint (or a halfway point as so beautifully exemplified by Stemme), Kundry needs to be lyrical, dramatic, and Kunstlerich. Actually, it is probably best described as a Kunstlerich part, a foreshadowing of the Elektra, Farberin, Klytamnestra, and Amme class of heroines (lots of arioso’s and recitatives). Range wise, I don’t think Kundry is a true mezzo role. While its highest note (B) is similar to that of the Amme, there are these long Wagnerian lines and phrases that sit in the middle-high voice--punishing to a true mezzo. One recent example--Michaela Schuster--shows how a singer who can overwhelm as the Amme could fail to convince the listener with her Kundry. They are just too different in terms of the dramatic and technical approaches to be sung well by the same singer. Same is true for Ruth Hesse and Hanna Schwarz--both are remarkable Amme singers, but I don’t recall Kundry being in their repertory. There’s a very parlando quality to the vocal writing, a lied-like expressive palette, but if that were all that was needed many great Waltraute’s could also double as Kundry’s. I’m not really sure what makes a good Kundry--certainly a good Ortrud could make a fine Kundry, and a good Brunnhilde whose voice centers in the middle (unlike Nilsson) could also be fine, but not all the GREAT Kundry’s were Brunnhilde’s or Ortruds. Case in point: Crespin was no Ortrud and had sung Elsa and Brunnhilde, whereas Meier sang plenty of Ortruds and Isolde’s and Kundry’s (her three greatest calling cards). I guess the answer is, I don’t really know. It’s an artistic role that requires a lot more thinking and interpretive depth, and you definitely need voice (the end of Act 2 requires a supreme command of the voice’s upper half, otherwise the performance goes to hell). But that’s probably why Parsifal is such an artistically compelling opera--the writing in itself, while demanding much technical finesse from its performers--is such a carte blanche that any technically equipped soprano/mezzo with the range and an understanding of the role’s complexities can take a stab at it.

          • Christian Ocier

            On that note, if I were a producer of recordings today with a lot of money, I’d like to cast my ideal Parsifal of 2018 as follows:

            Simon Rattle
            Berlin Phil

            Parsifal: Andreas Schager or Stuart Skelton
            Gurnemanz: Gunther Groissbock
            Amfortas: Michael Volle
            Klingsor: Tomasz Konieczny
            Kundry: Nina Stemme
            Titurel: Stephen Milling

            • Bill

              Christian -- I might pick Gabor Bretz as Gurnemanz. Splendid Voice -- he has sung it, also Pogner, both Hollaender and Daland, Kothner and probably Wotan and Hans Sachs to come. Incidentally he has also sung all
              four bass roles in Don Giovanni here and there.

            • Bill

              Christian -- add to Gabor Bretz Wagner roles so far, Fasolt in Rheingold, Hermann in Tannhaeuser, Heinrich in Lohengrin is upcoming and he will sing Jochanaan in the
              Welser-Moest directed Salome Salzburg 2018, Bretz has 7 children by the way so
              obviously is prepping to sing Wotan

            • Christian Ocier

              I just listened to clips of him on youtube. What a lovely voice! Very Gottlob Frick like in color, but a bit more robust. I’m curious to know how he will deal with the more challenging tessitura of Wanderer, but then again Wotan is really a bass role so it should fit his instrument perfectly.

              Does he have twins? He needs twins, and two more children to mimick Wotan’s child count.

            • Bill

              Christian -- no idea about the possibility of twins but he is 43 so there is still time. I think he is the best Bluebeard I have ever heard
              (well I like Fischer-Dieskau as well but Bretz’s voice is deeper -- but not as black as Frick’s voice. I have been fortunate to hear Bretz quite often and he is remarkable both in Faust and in Mephistofele and a very imaginative actor. He also sings in choral works, Mozart, Haydn and seems very versatile and appears very adept in both
              deeper bass and bass-baritone roles. There are a number of very fine young basses now in Budapest.

            • Christian Ocier

              I would also add that Groissbock to me sounds a bit like a Jose Van Dam kind of singer, while Bretz has more of that bassy, robust color so suited for helden roles.

            • Rowna Sutin

              Anyone for George Zeppenfeld as Gurnemanz? I am not sure he has crossed the ocean yet, but he is stupendous IMHO

            • Christian Ocier

              I do love Zeppenfeld’s artistry. He has been in the Met before for Sarastro I believe, but not much else. He’s a riveting vocal artist in the German rep, and a decent actor. He too would be a fantastic Gurnemanz, but I just enjoy Groissbock’s deeper “Jose Van Dam”-esque singing, which I think would pair beautifully with the part. We’ve already heard Zeppenfeld from two years of the Lautenberg production, and he’s fantastic. So many good basses today!

          • Camille

            Let me just say this much and you should (everyone should) bear this in mind: Kundry is practically unique in that it was written with TWO singers in mind. The great Marianne Brandt (who sang a bit at the Met) for Act I Kundry and Amalie Materna, for whom Wagner wrote his Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde was written for her voice, clearly a soprano, for the Act II.

            Frankly I wish every production would follow the lead of von Karajan and cast two diferent artists. The acting of Act I and III, especially, is so demanding, as the singing of Act II is extraordinarily demanding. I wish we had the magisterial Kundry of Elena Pankratova coming up here next month, an absolutely astonishing artist in this role. I just could not believe what I heard a year ago last summer! Absolutely the best.

            • Christian Ocier

              Pankratova’s Kundry is indeed a marvel. I’ve heard Parsifal’s from the Lautenberg production over the last two years, and I think she continues to grow as an interpreter with every iteration. Can’t say which one I prefer more--maybe 2017, with Schager as Parsifal? Pankratova’s Kundry (or rather, what she does with Kundry) reminds me a bit of Callas, in terms of her solid vocalization, as well as her colorful singing. Can’t wait for 2018 when Groissbock does Gurnemanz.

            • Camille

              Yes, you are correct, for it does resemble the Callas version in its musicality and line, something I always admired and loved about her singing of that role. At least we have the Act II recording to be thankful for.

              I thought Vogt was exceptional as Parsifal. Schager was a stronger (Siegfried) type of voice. Interesting little guy on stage. Both Bill and I had occasion to hear him in that beautiful
              Daphne two summers ago. He did not surmount difficulties with the same ease Botha would have (who could have?) but he did his damndest. I prefer him to Vinke, who is entirely professional but rather corporate and bland.

            • Christian Ocier
            • Christian Ocier

              Few Kundry’s still do as much for me as Meier does though. Just incredible.

            • Lohenfal

              According to Newman’s Wagner biography, Materna did sing Venus, not at the Met but in Vienna in 1875. “She had undertaken the role at Wagner’s wish, and was apparently not at her best in it.” Since this production was done under Wagner’s supervision, he must have had some good reason for thinking she would excel in this part, rather than as Elisabeth.

              BTW, this Vienna staging was of the Paris version, but with the overture attached to the bacchanal. That’s why what we think of as the Paris version is technically the Vienna version and is sometimes referred to as such.

            • Bill

              Camille -- Hoengen alluded to this casting
              of two Kundrys as Wagner’s desire as well
              and she was the Kundry who sang acts 1 and 3 in Karajan’s Vienna production in 1961 while Christa Ludwig sang Act II
              (though sometimes all 3 acts) -- the rest of the cast cannot be sneezed at either, Fritz Uhl as Parsifal, Walter Berry as Klingsor, Eberhard Waechter as Amfortas, Hans Hotter as Gurnemanz, and among the Blumenmaedchen at the premiere, Janowitz. Gueden, Rothenberger, Gerda Scheyer. After Karajan the experiment of 2 Kundrys was not repeated in Vienna and I have not read of other modern productions utilizing 2 Kundrys -- The next Parsifal in Vienna had Rysanek as Kundry, the third production was with Angele Denoke/Waltraud Meier and the most recent with Nina Stemme.

              By the way, Christian, do you like Pfitzner’s Palestrina? Seems not to be as much in favor anymore.

            • Christian Ocier

              I do, it’s a very interesting work from the standpoint of scoring and philosophy. The vocal parts are not tour de force parts, but contribute to the music’s progression. I like to think of it as a Pelleas/Parsifal type opera--interesting score with intriguing musical inventions, but nothing that blows your mind like Tristan. THe opera also represents a philosophical discussion of music in the way that Capriccio and Ariadne are philosophical.

              I heard the Keilberth performance with Hotter and Thielemann’s supposedly controversial CG performance. I haven’t returned to it in years, but remember finding it quite interesting. I should listen to it again.

            • NineDragonSpot

              Tired: Pfitzner’s Palestrina, with its cringe-inducing dream-ghosts of Dufay and Ockeghem.

              Wired: Pfitzner’s “Von Deutscher Seele”, on poems by Eichendorff . Haydn’s Jahreszeiten re-composed by Your Moody Nephew Who Locks Himself In His Room.

          • CKurwenal

            I think it should be taken into account also that Anna Larsson, a contralto, has also had great success as Kundry. So I don’t think it is necessarily the case that the Act II tessitura is challenging for mezzos per se. I think what is difficult about Kundry in Act II is that it becomes relentless -- she hectors away at Parsifal with ever increasing intensity and little or no pauses between phrases. She has to blast out high notes and then just carry on straight away, leaving no time for physical recovery. She has to produce a lot of volume and sound incredibly intense and dramatic. If the singer doesn’t quite have the vocal freedom and the physical fitness to cope with that, she starts to get tense and accumulate tension and that’s when it becomes less effective, and gets trying to listen to.

    • Christian Ocier

      I was just thinking about this: Bumbry might likely embody the kind of stylistically flexible singer that used to exist during the time of Verdi and Wagner. Her range repertory was enormous (I don’t know many other singers who could do Medea, Turandot, Azucena, Eboli, Aida, Venus, Salome, Carmen, Cassandre, Leonora, and many many more) spanning not only mezzo but also soprano roles. She also excelled in them--just incredible. Amalie Materna, for whom Wagner wrote many of his heroines, tackled both Brunnhilde and Amneris onstage. I think Bumbry was similar in that she is not limited by fach. I wonder sometimes about her vocal training, and how it could have provided her and singers of an earlier time the ability to negotiate music that we now so strictly classify in, let’s say, Fachs.

      • Camille

        Ah well,
        I think the vocal training is indeed one thing, and the vocal endowment, is another. That is what I recall Bumbry maintaining and a fair amount of this was backed up in the book mentioned above. Olive Fremstad, e.g., also said that the reason she was categorised first as a mezzosoprano was because her teacher, Lilli Lehmann, got her a contract singing
        Azucena, as she needed a job desperately. Period.

        Many times it occurs that a voice which falls in between the common categorisations (a lot of those just made up for the theatre’s exigency) will get pushed every which way. In the instance of the Venus excerpt above, the Dresden version, it is pitched half a step higher in the “Geliebter, Komm” than the Paris version. If one looks in the score, it says “Venus, Sopran”. The first singer of this role, Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient was considered to be a soprano and indeed had sung works diverse as Imogene in Il Pirata. It’s all a very amorphous and subjective thing and one which is influenced and coloured greatly (or was!) by regional or country of origin preferences. It’s too much to get into this late at night and too vast a subject in any event. Hope I have not made things more confusing.

        • southerndoc1

          Even as early as Bayreuth, everyone thought Bumbry was going to blow her voice out, but she just kept going and going and going.

          • Christian Ocier

            Same with Waltraud. Modl had a short shelf life and basically sounded worn by the time she did Waltraute in 66/67. Meier--she started singing Kundry in 83, and only said farewell 33 years later. Isolde--1991 for her debut right? A voice that in theory was completely unsuited to the role, yet one that imprinted such an indelible mark on the role, for about 25 years? Unbelievable.

    • southerndoc1

      I thought Lehmann considered her a soprano?

      • Camille

        Not to my recollection but I am not Holy Writ.

    • Bill

      The first time I ever saw Bumbry live was at the Salzburg
      Festival where she gave her first Salzburg lieder recital -- all Brahms. She looked beautiful and sang with warmth and
      good diction. It is not so easy to present an entire evening
      of all Brahms as there is less variety and Salzburg was not happy as it was the first year in over a decade that neither
      Schwarzkopf nor Seefried were scheduled to perform --
      instead one had Bumbry in Brahms and Lear in all Wolf.
      (in any case Schwarzkopf rarely programmed Brahms in her lieder recitals but Seefried often did). Bumbry went on to sing all Schubert the following year (she was singing Lady
      Macbeth also in Salzburg in 1965 -- quite different than
      Brahms lieder.) This live Brahms lieder recital of 1965 that Bumbry sang has just appeared on CD (I think on the Orfeo label and I intend to get it for memory’s sake).

      • Camille

        Yes, she looked beautiful and sang with a great deal of warmth, indeed! It was the Wesendonck Lieder and she did a memorable job of them, taking great care and finesse with everything and acting like a true diva.

        I’m quite sorry never to have heard her in her opera roles, but never chanced to be anywhere when she was performing. Schade!

  • Camille

    Hahaha! Gracie taking NO prisoners here!

    And Here! Taking un “prigionier”. I remember it well for the excitement it created at the time. A good thing I didn’t know the score as some of the re-writes of the cadenze are really egregious! Thank god she didn’t go for that hideous E flat Gulag takes!

    • Christian Ocier

      Her Eboli is my favorite, along with Verrett’s. Long live She-Grace!

      • Tamerlano

        I always feel with Bumbry you hear an extraordinary instrument, with Verrett you just have your heartbroken.

      • southerndoc1

        Bumbry’s Eboli really shone in the Garden Scene -- for some reason she could rip through those strange angular lines better than just about anyone.

      • From what I’ve heard, in the Solti recording, the “O don fatale” was scheduled for a morning session when most singers don’t feel and sound their best. Bumbry asked Solti to change it and he was not moved, or something like that. She still sings it well, of course, but I do recall the Garden Scene being her best work in that recording.

  • Camille

    Forgot to put up my feeling on today’s weather:

    These guys are still the greatest.
    Buonanotte a tuttiquanti

  • grimoaldo2

    I have had a most pleasurable evening listening to a new recording of Handel’s “Occasional Oratorio”
    written during the Jacobite rebellion and re-using a lot of music he had already composed for other pieces, generally considered a piffling work to be dismissed and disdained but here receiving a glorious performance by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under Howard Arman, wowee! soloists, chorus and orchestra sing or play every note with everything they’ve got, hard to believe the original performances could have been this good.

  • GiacomoPuccini

    Missing from the discussion on Venus and Elizabeth is any thoughts on the once announced 1972 opening night at the Met with Marilyn Horne singing both roles. This was scratched in favor of a new production of Carmen with Horne. (McCracken would have been the Tannhauser and ended up as Don Jose.) I don’t think she sang either role anywhere else.

    • CKurwenal

      Can’t imagine that would have turned out very well. Her soprano work (what little one can hear of it) seems to have been plagued by pitch problems and I don’t think the voice held up very well under pressure.