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Subject: Re: Assoluta once again
From: "Brad S." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Brad S.
Date:Mon, 24 Oct 2011 14:46:05 +0200

text/plain (52 lines)

Bob's clarification is a useful one. To say whether someone is "good" in a role IS subjective, but there are benchmarks for measuring success. Audiences applaud, or they hiss. Critics laud, or they pan. Singers become renowned for singing certain things, and not for others.

Let me also clarify for the Statlers and Waldorfs on the list. (You know who you are, and if you don't, WE know who you are): "Assoluta" is not MY term, nor is it Bob's. It's the Italians', and they apply it to singers of what is considered to be standard rep in Italy (which is why lieder is irrelevant to the discussion, from the Italian point-of-view). I probably listen to CaballÚ's recordings more than those of any other soprano, but I know from discussions with Italian musicians that she's not what il signor Rossi has in mind when he thinks of a "soprano assoluta," which implies not only all the attributes of a soprano drammatica d'agilitÓ (power plus fioritura, both of which CaballÚ has in spades), but ALSO a stratospheric extension in-alt (which she never pretended to have and didn't need in the rep she sang in the theatre). It implies a soprano who can sing--yes, successfully--both Ponselle's and Tetrazzini's roles, with all of Ponselle's and Tetrazzini's notes. In other words, it's what the Italians use as shorthand for plus-sized sopranos with high E-flats, letting them get away with singing practically anything that Italians consider to be standard rep. There's no reason why it should be controversial or "subjective" to suggest that Callas and Sutherland were a different breed of soprano than CaballÚ. We're speaking about differences in kind, not in quality. And again, none of us owns these terms, so it makes no sense to jeer at anyone on this list over the fact that they exist--though as with any vocal category, the edges will be blurry and we can and should disagree about who belongs there.

Thanks to all those who added names to the list. Any others?

> --- On Mon, 10/24/11, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> From: Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Assoluta once again
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Date: Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:29 AM
>> Hello everybody
>> Takis, I believe that the definition does not lie in
>> whether the
>> singer was deemed to have been "good" in her roles,
>> because
>> you and I will likely disagree in some of those
>> assessments, as
>> will everyone.  Rather, they should be judged by
>> their
>> success in those roles.  It would be the height of
>> folly for me
>> to denigrate Anna Netrebko's celebrity, regardless of my
>> general
>> equivocation about her talents.  She has been hugely
>> successful.
>> There are reasons why stars are stars!
>> To that extent, Caballe and Scotto should at least be
>> included in
>> the discussion.

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