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Subject: Singers of the past
From: Charles Handelman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Tue, 30 Nov 2004 10:45:51 EST

text/plain (63 lines)

                 On the old Met Standee Line, us youngsters used to love to
hear stories from the earlier generation about the performances of their
time.We were entranced at tales of the likes of Ponselle,Martinelli,Melchior,etc. I
even met a grandpa who had seen Tamagno,and once when I sang in an old age
home a lady told my mother she had seen Patti!!!!
             I now find myself in the exact reverse situation, where the next
generation, or even some of my peers who were not lucky enough to live in
close proximity to a great opera house,compose these "lists" of artists about
whom they are curious, not necessarily the biggies, but others they would like to
know about. In response to a few of such inquiries, I will attempt to satisfy
their curiosity, in my usual totally subjective manner...they asked me for
"one-liners," which is just not adequate, so in some cases I may just comment
with a few choice phrases.
   I have not seen all of them live, and so I will naturally distinguish
between those I saw live and those I have heard on recordings.Let me start with
the live bodies:

  Margaret Price- big,luscious voice. One of the category of
under-appreciated.When the Paris opera came here in 1976,her Countess in Figaro and her
Desdemona were truly glorious.

Regine Crespin-in her prime,one of the greatest artists.Amazingly beautiful
tone and ravishing sound all through the range;I thought NO ONE could follow
Leonie as Senta,but her first one was something awesome.The voice later became
unwieldy and she flatted a lot, but in her great days, one of the fabulous

Otto Edelman-  we always found him dull,except as a wonderful Ochs.
However,he was a most-respected artist.Had tendency to over-cover the notes above the
passaggio, but he was a serviceable artist and had a long and distinguished

Hilde Gueden- gorgeous woman, beautiful style, and as charming with that
"Viennese spirit" as anyone...when she was not scooooooping like mad (It often
drove me crazy in the Rosenkavalier Presntation Scene), the voice was full and it
had a cutting power.Her recordings of Operetta favorites are superb.

Jean Madeira-I never understood her being more than an adequate "house
comprimario." Yes,it was a very dark true contralto in the lows, but shr had no
top,and her ventures into Amneris and Azucena were embarrasing.Had she stuck
solely with the lower roles (Erda,for example) then that is fine, but she was out
of her element in some roles.

Gino Penno- one of the big ENIGMAS.  The hugest insanely wild top we ever
heard..a 'freak' sound..but only a fair middle, and a very short career. A
shame,because he could almost literally make the Met chandeliers shake with his top

        That is a start...more to follow.....and please join
in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Charlie

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