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Subject: Re: "Elegance" in Singing
From: "William D. Kasimer" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William D. Kasimer
Date:Fri, 3 Aug 2001 08:17:28 -0400

text/plain (44 lines)

On Thu, 2 Aug 2001 22:43:44 -0700, Mary Neuhoff <[log in to unmask]>

>The writer described Kraus’s instrument as "miniscule" with "hardly any
>squillo."  Someone else termed it "compact and reedy."

I'm hardly an expert here, since I only heard Kraus on the late side, in a
Met performance as Romeo around 1986 or 1987 (making him around 58 or 59, I
think).  Perhaps not a big voice, but I was rather surprised by how full a
sound he made in the theatre, compared to recordings, where I do indeed
find his voice rather dry and nasal.

>Do you consider what you perceive as "elegance" an attractive quality in

Not merely attractive, but an absolute requirement for *any* singer.  There
are certainly roles where elegance may not be a huge virtue, but every
role, even Manrico, even Otello (*especially* Otello), has moments where a
singer without elegance will commit gross acts of butchery.  Why did so
many people show up to hear Bergonzi sing Otello?  Believe me, it wasn't to
hear him sing "Esultate!".  And as for Wagner, I know that many think that
the problem with modern Heldentenors is the lack of power.  That may be so,
but I'm more distressed the total lack of elegance of singers like Franz
and Schmidt, heard this week.  Frankly, if that's the kind of style and
musicality that they have to offer, I'd prefer complete inaudibility.  I'm
just talking about tenors here, since the subject was Kraus, but the same
applies elsewhere as well.

And the thought of a singer lacking elegance in Mozart is simply too

>Whatever may be meant by whoever thinks so, to me it suggests
>an excessive degree of  refinement, indeed relegating the singer in
>question (be it Kraus or anyone else—how about Schwarzkopf?) into that
>category I do not listen to [solely] for their musicianship because that
>by itself does not bring me pleasure.

Well, I want *both* - voice *and* musicianship.  Over the years, plenty of
singers managed to satisfy on both counts.


William D. Kasimer
[log in to unmask]

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