millo_recital“I must say choosing from among these finalists is almost impossible, as there are bits and pieces from each one I like and admire the thought process and the experience each one highlights for us. For me they are all intelligent and quite wonderful— skewed perhaps by their times and what is and is not acceptable.”

So says Aprile Millo, who reveals the identity of the winner of the “Wordy for Verdi” competition after the jump. 

La Millo continues, “For me the finest (among many excellent essays) is ‘Singing Verdi is rather like scaling Everest‘.” —which is by Scommunicato.

La Cieca asked Miss Millo (a pioneer diva blogger at the site Operavision) if she would share a few thoughts about what she regards as the nature of Verdi singing:

Verdi is influenced by the events and politics that surround him. His music became a prism through which the color and the nuance of a time are vividly mirrored.

Bellini and Donizetti wrote in the same period as Shelley and Keats; the predominant feeling was one of romantic longing and poetry—of love for love’s sake, of love won and lost and the real scars left behind on the psyche and the soul, one could “die” for love— long lined melodies of melancholy.

Bellini and Donizetti write with that mindset and are married to the rigors of a rigid social period they successfully fled only by music and by the interior freedom it afforded one.

Garcia and Marchesi, the father and son Lamperti, and a host of other voice pedagogues stamped a set of rules and criteria that shaped a time: a set construction of a piece of music, a literary work set to music, a musical opus, or opera. An expectation of voice and how it functioned as well in houses of 2800 seats (maximum!)

Verdi came out of that mindset, but would later be inflamed by the times he lived in, the need to help Italy regain its self-confidence and reclaim its identity. Early Verdi was full of bombast, and military vigor, martial anthems of longing a feeling of nostalgia for their HOME land.

As I see it, Verdi’s music  morphed into a hybrid of bel canto, taking it a step further into “real speak”—my term is “verismatic bel canto” —as the man grew and his constantly curious musical mind evolved, and his FAME allowed him, he changed his musical emphasis and wrote more giving voice to the inner relationships with father/daughter, father/son—fleshing it out.  With the changes in music going on around him he was influenced but never diluted by the German school, led by Wagner. In fact he became the Italian antidote to this social, political and musical revolution spearheaded by Wagner.

Verdi was asked what it took to be a singer of his operas: “Voice, voice, voice” —also that he wanted the words to mean something.  Just as the instrument chosen to carry the music is essential, so then is the type of voice chosen—the Verdian voice. He wrote for a Strad in the hands of a Paganini  not a child with a ukelele! Think of the characteristics of a Strad and you have the verdian voice.

A special note is to remember that after Verdi’s wife died, he founded a place to take care of retired or ailing singers.   So much for hating the servants that carried his message!  Also, as a government official, he tried to push for a law about the pitch of the orchestra being a set pitch, he,to protect the one kind of instrument that could serve all his works, one that could actually sing all his repertoire.

In closing: what fun! Thank you all so much for your comments; they were all every good!

Un abbraccio forte forte, con affetto,

La Cieca thanks Miss Millo and the more than 170 commenters on the “Wordy for Verdi” thread.