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Subject: Re: The Passing of Leonard Warren
From: Stephen Tanner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sun, 4 Mar 2001 21:36:43 EST

text/plain (36 lines)

Hi, Charles and Friends,

If the proverbial genie asked which singing voice I would like to have, I
would certainly say Leonard Warren's. I agree with everything you say about
that  voice. Verdi baritones are my favorites and he in many roles IMO was
the best by far. Sure, Titta Ruffo, the man who was like a kind father to me
in 1944-45 had a bigger voice and moulded the interpretation of certain arias
and songs for all posterity (e.g. Eri Tu, and many parts of Rigoletto,
Alerta, marinari, Visione Veneziana.etc. etc), but Warren's voice was more
perfect and after his first couple of years at the Met and studying Rigoletto
for 4 years with de Luca, his interpretations were better or on a par with
any one and vocally he could do things, for example, acuti filati and
pianissimi that Ruffo did not do.  (I recall that although Ruffo, like all
the old=time singers, thought his recordings did not do his voice justice,
the recording he liked best and was proudest of was Come il romito fior,  in
which he sticks to mezzoforte almost throughout. He said to me " Every one
said that only Battistini could sing it that wayI")

Getting back to Warren (my mind is on Ruffo because I am trying to finish an
article about Ruffo called "Titta Ruffo as I Remember Him,"  which Andrew
Farkas has been long been after me to finish), I first heard Warren in late
1940 when he was beginning to take over the roles Tibett normally sang, but I
had one summer at the Middlebury Summer Italian School under my belt and I
was not happy that he frequently sounded as if he'd memorized the words, but
didn't really know what they meant. Moreover, Tibett was a convincing, above
average actor, un artista. Warren later developed such a strong charisma that
one forgot entirely any weaknesses he had at the begining. I once sat about
20 feet from him at a recital he gave after WW II at the Library of Congress.
Wow!  So many people say he sang effortlessly, but as I watched  his neck
arteries swell and his face get red while he was singing the heavier dramatic
portions of some arias,  controlled effort (with vocally perfect results) was
Give me that voice and, for me, heaven would come to earth! Hope he is doing
solos with the celestial choirs.

Steve Tanner

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