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Subject: Re: Hunt-Lieberson vs. Larmore
From: William Fregosi <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William Fregosi <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 30 Mar 2005 13:22:36 -0500

text/plain (137 lines)

At 10:15 AM -0500 3/30/05, Leonardo Ciampa wrote:
>To my ear, Hunt-Lieberson is still a Boston 
>mezzo  an Early Music mezzo of questionable 
>technique.  And unlike Hunt-Lieberson, who honed 
>her skills in a church in Boston, Larmore honed 
>her skills in EUROPE!

I guess I managed to miss exactly when "early 
music" became a dirty word or a disqualification 
for singing anything else well.  Let's put before 
us the example of Jon Vickers.  He sang Nerone in 
Monteverdi's L'INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA and a fair 
amount of Handel (MESSIAH, SAMSON, probably other 
things as well).  That's "early music."  He was 
also a premiere Siegmund, Otello, Aeneas, 
Florestan, Peter Grimes, etc.  I'm not sure 
exactly how "early music" ruined him for the 
heroic roles.

Oh, EUROPE!  Oh, that explains it all.  Thanks. 
Would you like opera-l's membership to list all 
the great American singers who honed their skills 
ONLY in the U.S.?  All the absolute duds who have 
come to us from Europe?  Nobody has the monopoly 
on developing good voices or bad ones for that 

Ms H-L has sung contemporary opera and French 
grand opera at the MET, heroic Mozart and Handel 
roles at New York City Opera, Glyndebourne, in 
Boston, along with Carmen and Berlioz's Beatrice 
(where you actually could have heard her) and 
elsewhere.  Her technique is absolutely 
superb--were it not, she wouldn't be in the vocal 
condition she enjoys today

Ms. H-L sings with Emmanuel Music which has as 
its performance venue a church in the Back bay 
section of Boston.  She has also sung in Boston's 
Symphony Hall, The Majestic Theater and Sarah 
Caldwell's close to 4000 seat Opera House as well 
as at the MET.  She wasn't singing "Nearer My God 
to Thee" accompanied by a church organist at 
Emmanuel either--but Handel's HERCULES, et al.

>However, listening to the discs, without the distraction of
>costumes and scenery, Larmore is clearly superior, vocally and

Leonardo you HAVE to take the friendly advice 
given you in a supportive manner by many of us 
PERFORMANCES.  The scenery and teh costumes, the 
props and lighting and the STAGE are the whole 
point.  Live performance in an opera house just 
as the composers and librettists intended.  If 
you insist on relying solely on heavily mediated 
sound you will have NO idea of what voices are 
really doing and you will undermine your own 
credibility time and time again.

>In a very strange interview in the September, 2002, issue of Gramophone,
>famous countertenor David Daniels said:
>"Here's a person whose whole body is involved in 
>the singing, the acting, the character and the 
>emotion and she gives the most natural, honest 
>performances you'll ever see."  "There's more 
>emotion [in Handel] there than you'd encounter 
>in a Verdi opera [SIC!!!], because in Handel's 
>operas there's a power of emotion that can be 
>put into the context of right now and she does 
>just that. Its incredible."
>No.  Incredible is the stupidity of a counter-tenor whose brain is stuck
>in 1759.  Verdi less emotional than Handel?  The word "stupidity" has
>to be used, because a weaker word just wouldn't be appropriate.

I think I would be VERY careful before throwing 
words like "stupidity" and "stupid" around 
concerning an artist like David Daniels.  For one 
thing he actually performs live on stage, and 
doesn't just listen to--or sing on--recordings. 
He works with other singers, they prepare roles 
and productions together with top conductors and 
stage directors.  They know their craft and their 
art.  Daniels has had, and continues to have, a 
very major career at the top of his particular 
vocal category.  If he expresses an opinion, I 
think I might just consider it for a while before 
trashing it and him.

Is there more emotion in Verdi or Handel?  I 
don't attend opera with a portable Emotionometer, 
so I can't document the percentages for you, but 
I do know that I have SAT IN AN ACTUAL OPERA 
HOUSE where a large audience was moved to 
heartbreak over Cleopatra's "Piangero la sorte 
mia" from GIULIO CESARE as sung by Susan Larson, 
one of the most emotionally  devastating 
performances of anything I have ever heard live.

And here again, Leonardo, you have to get out 
more.  If you did you would know that 
contemporary singers, conductors and 
directors--YES, stage directors--have found a way 
into Handel's emotional world that brings out the 
true depth and pathos of the great laments and 
tragic arias.  They find these emotions 
absolutely up to date and understandable by 
modern audiences.  If you just listen to 
recordings from the "I am an adult woman 
pretending to be a prepubescent boy" school of 
Handel singing--that Ms H-L does NOT subscribe 
to--you will have no idea of the amount of 
genuine joy, fear, sadness, exultation, love, 
humor, despair, anxiety, happiness and just plain 
EMOTION there is in Handel.

Bill Fregosi

William Fregosi
Technical Coordinator for Theater Arts     Ph: (617) 253-0862
Massachusetts Institute of Technology      FAX:  (617) 258-7149
E33-201   77 Massachusetts Avenue         E-Mail: [log in to unmask] (office)
Cambridge, MA  02139                               	[log in to unmask] (home)

        I live through risk.  Without risk, there is no art. You should always
        be on the edge of a cliff about to fall down and break your neck.

Carlos Fuentes

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