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Subject: Re: Tebaldi and her high notes (was Soprano Amnerises)
From: Lindoro Almaviva <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Lindoro Almaviva <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Sep 2009 15:55:23 -0700
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Hello all:
 
> Everybody in the list know my english is not perfect but they will understand me.

Oh trust me, we know that your English is good enough.  You use it quite masterfully when it is time to insult people and singers and diminish their accomplishments so your goddess gets the credit. We know, so playing the victim is not going to work. 
 
> YOU , (your ridiculous nick Lindoro Almaviva speaks by itself about your cheap posts), are who have a big deal with Renata Tebaldi. Every time someone praise her extraordinary vocal instrument and her supreme artistry, you  appear quickly to write the most false and grotesque and nasty lies.
 
Funny, you talk about cheap posts and you are the one who fills his out with insults.; that’s a laugh riot. First of all, whatever my name is, or might be is not your business. Second, I didn’t need to ask your permission when I selected my nome de plume so give it up. I do not need your permission, didn’t need it and will continue to NOT need your permission to select any name I want to. 

Second, I am on the record as not taking 2nd place to any admirer of Tebaldi. I have nothing to prove in my admiration for her, because I came to my admiration for her with both eyes wide open. That means that I can admire and praise her extraordinary vocal instrument and her supreme artistry while at the same time remaining aware of her limitations and faults as a singer.  I have the maturity of being able to love her voice and admire her broad spectrum of work while also recognizing the imperfect instrument that God gave her. In that she is, or was not any different from the many singers that have graced the stage before, during and since her career. I do not need to overuse the superlatives to prove anything. I do not need to put down singers she worked with and respected to make her look better. 

> The two glorious Bflat's in "L'aborrita rivale" recorded on september 1972 here there in the album preserved forever.

As well as many shrieks that she emitted on stage and in front of microphones and orchestras around the world. 

> What another lie can you add ? What's now ?  Tebaldi is unconfortable with her high notes in her perfect '58 Forza ? 

Well, let’s see the recorded evidence:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXGl8hSmujU  (Pace, Pace)

The first Bb comes at about 4:16 into the piece. It is attacked without vibrato and flat. Eventually she is able to tune it and add vibrato; making it sound beautiful, but there is no denying the face: she is not comfortable with the note.

The 2nd Bb comes at 5:59 and again, it is attacked a little flat, but she quickly recovers and finished the aria in a glorious Bb full of ring and perfectly placed. Once again, might is a note of discomfort in the face, but the shot is too far to make a case for it. 

> Have you no shame Signor Almaviva ? 

I guess I don’t. I am not ashamed to love an artist while acknowledging their faults. I do not need to attribute my favorite singers superhuman powers or perfection they never reached. The fact that they had faults and discomforts makes them human and makes me love them even more. You on the other hand…

> All the, perfect high Bs natural are there in the DVD , she sings all the high Bs natural as easy as if she were speaking of weather. But not only that, it happens that her high Bs and Bflats are opened squillo huge, firm and ravishingly beautiful notes with unbeleivable slancio  .
 
There might be many in that performance, but the ones discussed are not there, at least to start and one never was there. 

Furthermore:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGH8R7KbdBo (son giunta)

There is a Bb right around 1:30. The issue is exactly the same. Attacked flat and the discomfort is again in her face. The rest of the  aria, including the other Bb at around 6:20 is as good as they get. 

> What are you going to do Lindoro ? You can't change those notes because are taped.and in all her recordings and albums and live tapes too
I feel so sorry for you bitterness .Lindoro
 
Well, unless your hearing aid needs a new battery, the recorded evidence is there and it is not all glorious and pretty. You are right, the notes can not be changed. So why do you insist in saying that they were perfect when they were not? What is it about it that prevents you from enyoing the performance if it is not perfect? I am not the one with a pathological need to bring down singers to aggrandize her? I am pointing out a fact that is quite demonstrable by the recordings. You might think it is a put down, but what else can be expected from you? Overall, her performance of Leonora as demonstrated by the tape is vintage Tebaldi: Beautiful tone, great and grand acting, wonderful phrasing, mastery of the style and high notes that show discomfort and give is a hint of what was to come. Painfully obvious to the rest of the world.

As to the last comment in this paragraph, we know what you mean. We all feel sorry for your bitterness too.

> You are unable to stop your envy towards to the great Renata Tebaldi ?  

I do not envy Tebaldi, I envy the many people who were lucky enough to see her and to make her acquaintance (and I know for a fact you were not one of those). I envy those who performed with her and those who found respect and admiration from her. I do not see anything to envy in her voice because her voice was one in a century and I would waste time envying her voice when I could bask in it as a gift from heaven to us. Why do you feel like you have to shoot people who dare speak her name in front of you? You died and made you the keeper of her memory? Who died and gave you permission to insult anyone who dares mention her name in front of you?

> About her unbeleivable '61 Stuttgart "Tosca" ? Don't you know one cannot critizice the great Tebaldi ?  There are no one note yelled in her Tosca video because simply she is a singer that never yells, never. (If it would have happened her name would have been Règine Crespin or other but not Tebaldi)
 
OK, let’s see, let‘s do a quick review of what‘s available on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NanmM6ZREw (torture scene Buenos aires, 1953). This performance is untouchable. The high C’s and B’s are all there, glorious. A performance not to be missed., so at least we know what we are up against and what the standard is.

Stuttgart Torture scene: (June 3, 1961)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq66WpeEcTw (part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQsO6Gh2iug (part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unTgYCzTD84 (Vissi d’arte)

Ok, in this except there are several B’s at least 3 high C’s and the exposed Bb in Vissi d’arte. The first Bb is in the Solo si, and that one is a model of beauty. The rest of them are hit more or less depending on how they are within the writing, but I will say there are more hits than misses. The 3 high C’s, at 2:30 and 5:54 on the 1st clip and at 2:41 on the 2nd are NOT high C’s. They are flat notes and notes that she sings while hiding her face, as if to cover the sound that is coming out and her effort to produce them. The last high C is even sung with her back to the audience, not bad if the Tosca is launching an assault on the people that are carrying Cavaradossi away, but not in this case.

The Bb in Vissi d’arte is also hard to tune and not very pretty. In this case, we get a close up of what she did to produce the note and in the close up we see the effort and discomfort on her face as she goes for the note. The notes that come after, are also out of tune, but that is not rare for this aria. I have seen many sopranos sing this piece beautifully and still sing the notes after the Bb out of tune. 

OK, let’s part from the premise that Stuttgart was an off day (not according to you, but for fairness sake), lets take the same scene performed 4 months and 9 days latter in Tokyo. (exact date is Oct 11, 1961) Let’s see how she handles the same passages and see if there is a difference.

Tokyo Torture scene and act 3 entrance solo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WDTs1j2eDM (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkk-uOfiKOg  (Part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RszhBoMiNcE (Part 3)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1-P8s10cC4 (Vissi d’arte)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLnRfgGMrLU ("Ah! franchigia a Floria Tosca")
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIwdILRjSgM (opera Finale)

The first 2 high C’s come at 1:33 and 5:12 on part 1. In both you can see the effort it took her to get up there and both are attacked a pinch late. The difference is that the 1st one is dead on once is attacked, the 2nd one is attacked from below and it never makes it to the actual pitch, but close enough to be called a C. On the case of the 2nd one, it is interesting to note that it is the section after the C the one that suffers and the one that actually brought Tebaldi some trouble. 

The 3rd written high C in this scene comes right after the Vittorias on part 3 (minute marker 2:46). I say written because that is not what Tebaldi sings in this case. She is noticeably flat, almost a half step, and in this case, the note is also sung with her back to the audience. I will guess that is was part of her role to make that high C an “exclamation scream” as Tosca sees Cavaradossi being taken out of the room (rather than the usual, C as a battle cry of a Tosca who desperately tries to free Cavaradossi from the hands of the assassins.  I think it works as acting, in terms of pure singing, it is obvious that this specific C was an object of stress for Tebaldi. 

The Bb in Vissi d’arte appears at 2:56 in the clip. Once again, we see lots of effort in her face and we hear a not particularly happy result. The Bb is again flat, effortful and not particularly pretty; nor is the section after that better than in Stuttgart. 

The 4th high C in the role is at the l’ama point in her Act 3 entrance solo (marker 1:58). Once again, the note is flat, and remains flat. Tebaldi’s face once again shows discomfort with the note.  On the finale, the last Bb of the opera is once again flat. 

Overall, I find the Tokyo performance a lot more enjoyable. Does anyone know if it has been released on DVD? Guelfi is on fire and Tebaldi sings with a lot of abandon.  I would love to see it.

Now, let’s say that it was again an off thing. Let’s take a look at some other repertoire that is available on you tube and see what happens.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EepAEwtPSY (O Patria mia 1959) The high C (4:23) is not even there. She attempts it but never makes it to the note.  She makes several faces that can only be described as painful and that’s about it for the note.  At 4;51 she again emit’s a sound, but that sound is not in the A Verdi wrote. The last A is also attacked flat and remains flat for a while. If you look at Tebaldi’s face, once again, it shows it all: pain. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZJqR_8uE9s (O soave fanciulla with Bjorling) This piece is transposed down at least a half tone. You can hear the transposition right at  1:44, where she sings Vaspeta gli amicci  in a succession of F#’s as opposed to F3 to G. That would make the last note a high B or Bb (not sure where the modulation takes us). Even at that key, the high note is  flat compared to boring’s dead on intonation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NY7y2YeHKM (Un bel di vedremo) This is from a 1973 concert. I picked it because Mr.  W.G. insists that Tebaldi had no business singing “mezzo” rep and because she still at this stage had all her notes and that everything she sang was full of “squillo”, “slancio” and the whole 9 yards.  So, once again, we are treated with 1 Bb at the end of the aria as opposed to 2, and the 1 we get is not very good. Incidentally, apart from this less than successful high note, any soprano who is, or aspires to sing this role should take a listen to this performance. The simplicity with which she delivers the text puts to shame many contemporary divas and their efforts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUi00RfjwFs (Otello, Ave Maria). I’m posting this because I found it profoundly beautiful, perfection. Also, because just as I point out the poor moments, I have to point out the good. (and also, it makes my point that with her it was hit or miss, and this one is a home run with all bases full and the crashing of the lights). There is something about a catholic soprano singing this aria. I mean no disrespect about the many protestant sopranos who have made something special of this aria, but in Tebaldi, I see the prayer, not the music. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZggKD4odpKg (Suor Angelica Finale). This recording is a case study on the Tebaldi problems of the decade. The role has several high C’s and B’s. (for a free copy of the score go here: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/9/93/IMSLP23364-PMLP53317-Puccini_-_Suor_Angelica__vocal_score_.pdf )The first high C in the score happens in Rehearsal 64 page 84, (or part 2 p.31), which she does not sing and sings a high A instead. The 2nd C happens in Rehearsal 64 page 86 (or part 2, p. 33), which she sings and not very prettily, and not piano. Latter, there is a high B on the last staff on Rehearsal 78 page 93  (Part 2 p.40) that has become almost obligatory (although it is optional on the score)’ this one is not sung and the F# is sung instead.  The high A after that in the word morte is not the best either. The repeated high A’s in rehearsal 80 page96 (par 2 p.43)  show also some effort.  The last high C comes in page
 101 (part 2 p.48), at the top of the page and on the words Salvami! In the clip, it happens about 5 minutes into it. The difference is that you will not hear it in the clip. Tebaldi does not sing the phrase and lets the sopranos in the chorus sing the phrase for her.  Now, if Tebaldi never had any issues with her high notes, if any high note she ever sang was a thing of beauty, power and perfection, why is this recording so full of compromises that specifically avoid the highest parts of the role? 

I could continue, but as they say in my county: the proof is on the taste.

While watching these clips, by the way, it has also become clear that the way Tebaldi prepared for her high notes is a minefield in a body language study. She always pushes her head down and in most cases she closes her eyes. In other cases, her head moves away, like how we do when we want to avoid something. This was very clear to me in the Aida excerpt. Watch it and come to your own conclusions everyone. 

> Are you angry because I said several things cannot be argued ?
 
You know? I could ask you the same thing. What’s wrong? Can’t face the truth that is all over the recordings?

> I didn't offend the great Rosa Ponselle but in all her recorded arias in the late '20s and early '30s, Yes , all her Bs natural and Bflats are bad. JUST as you spoke about expansive top notes,  ok Ponselle never had expansive top notes, Ponselle high notes are too covered (too copperto) and a bit white. I am sorry.
 
That's funny, you say you didn't offend anyone yet you proceed to say her high notes were all bad. By the way, before you come and say "But I only said the 20's and 30's", don't think you can full us. Ponselle debuted at the Met in 1918 and her last appearance was in 1937. So your seemingly innocent comment about just those years cover pretty much the complete catalog of her recordings, save for the private ones that she made in Villa Pace. 

Next, I am not denying that. Ponselle always found the extreme high notes to be hard work and she was obviously moving towards a switch to mezzo had she continued singing. Now, the problem is that you say that ALL her high notes were bad, when it is perfectly clear that there are plenty of beautiful high notes in the Ponselle discography, as well as some that took effort and didn’t come off all that well. The difference is that I do not need to insult or diminish her accomplishments to make a point about Tebaldi, not do I deny that they existed. Can you do the same about Tebaldi? 

> On the other hand , in all Tebaldi discography there are dozens, hundred of gloroius opened squillo huge and firm full body Bs, Bflats and Cs.
 
And there are also plenty of shrieks and flat notes as pointed out by my examples and analysis. There is avoidance and plenty of video material that will tell any body language expert (and I am not) that she found high notes hard to work with right after 1960 onwards. 

> And about Giulietta Simionato, I am not guilty her voice was thin and small on top.All her thin and uninteresting high notes are in her recordings.
 
And if I needed any evidence of your pathological need to put down other singers… Tebaldi expressed great admiration for the singing and the artistry of Simionato. I wonder how she feels now that she sees you putting down her friend. I wonder how happy she is when she sees you insulting one of her colleagues and friends.  I wonder if she would ever talk to you again or even acknowledge your presence after you have spent all this time trashing so many of her colleagues and her friends.  I wonder…

 By the way, you are also not responsible for the many ugly notes that Tebaldi sang in her career. Hope you also understand that.

> About Ghena Dimitrova  and Giovanna Cassolla, I understand you . You can't distinguish between a great and beautiful high note and an ugly vibrato on top like Ghena Dimitrova and a second rate screamer like Giovanna Cassola.

Oh, yes I can. I can tell you when Dimitrova launched into one of her pinched high C’s as well as I can tell you when Tebaldi did the same thing. I can tell you when Dimitrova also sang one of those beautiful ethereal high notes that she was also famous for, just as I can tell when Tebaldi was at her best, like in the Otello clip I noted. 
 
> I feel so sorry for your ignorance Signore

In that we agree. We both feel sorry for your ignorance. 
 
Lindoro Almaviva.



Lindoro Almaviva

Primo Tenore Assolutissimo

************************************************************

"The vocal life of a soprano has four stages:

  1. Bel canto, 2. Can belto, 3.Can't belto, 4. Can't canto..."



Madame VeraGalupe-Borzkh


      

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