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Subject: Re: La Bumbry!!!
From: [log in to unmask]
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sun, 4 Mar 2001 13:39:12 EST
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In a message dated 3/4/01 05:39:47, [log in to unmask] writes:

<< bumbry has been one of my favorite singers although
i'm too young to have followed most of her career.
she was certainly one of most fascinating, dynamic,
fearless singers around, a unique creature >>

As an early admirer of her, from her master classes at Northwestern with 
Lotte Lehman, she was clearly destined for greatness. Mme Lehman recognized 
and encouraged her, and it was certain that she was a mezzo when I heard her 
perform at the start of her career in a Chicago recital, singing, as I 
recall, all German lieder. I believe this is the direction her career would 
take because she excelled in lieder and the German rep. (Listen to her first 
recital recording from 61 or 62 (Angel now out of print I believe) and you'll 
hear a glorious voice.)

But then I heard her as Eboli, even with fresh memories of Cossotto and her 
Italian predecessors in my heard, and I realized she was the perfect Eboli at 
Lyric Opera. I then saw her rescue many a dull production from the soprano 
and tenor, most memorably at the Met as Amneris. When she walked on the 
stage, there was fierce intensity; she commanded the stage. Why sing soprano 
roles when you can upstage them with a major voice and compelling stage 
presence?

What happened later with her attempts in the soprano rep had mixed reviews 
then and now, although I cannot really comment except for what I've heard on 
recordings: the voice to me seemed stretched and reaching. I think she would 
have continued her career in mezzo roles for a longer time if she had not 
wanted to try new soprano roles. I can't blame her for this endeavor and, if 
she performed in the soprano rep with the same magnetic certainty as she did 
as a mezzo, she probably gave some thrilling performances as a soprano.

I continue to remember that young woman with a velvet voice that sounded as 
good as any mezzo I've heard, and her ability to color words with nuance. I 
do not remember the sound of her as Norma or Tosca except that her sound was 
no longer lush but somewhat strident and forced. For me, she never fulfilled 
her destiny as completely as I thought she would. As with any creative 
artist, singers get sidetracked very easily, and I don't know where she 
stumbled. I do know she is one of the great talents of our age and would love 
to hear her again—even now.

Jon Dorsch
San Francisco
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