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Subject: Re: The French style. Was: Kaufmann in Faust (Corelli)
From: Sergio da Silva <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Sergio da Silva <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 20 Dec 2011 14:24:21 -0500

text/plain (88 lines)

Sorry to disagree but the discussion is interesting, In my view singing has
evolved or rather changed with time to adept to current tastes, one cannot
expect a singer to sound like Thill or Muratore nowadays. So your argument
is correct, that French school of singing ( Scaremberg, Muratore, Clement,
Thill) is over.
However it is not really over but changed, Alagna and Dessay both are part
of it, Dessay even sounds "French-style" when singing in Italian, I
particularly do not like nasal sounds, to me it is just bad singing, rather
unpleasant; something the "new" French school corrected. The same happened
to Soviet singing as well, one cannot label a singer like Olga Borodina as
"Soviet"-old school, her sound is controlled, luscious, even throughout the
range and beautiful; whereas the old-Soviet school is more wild, uneven and
sometimes not that pretty.
Personally also I think national schools of singing are in extinction or
the lines blurred, what is a German school of singing? Or a (to be
politically correct) United States school of singing?

On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 10:30 AM, James Camner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear Sergio,
> I'm sorry,but Alagna is no master of French style in the traditional
> sense. He's very much a modern singer, as is Dessay. Gedda was, to an
> extent, but his style was contaminated with the international style, so
> that he was not as idiomatic as Nore or Vanzo. It's a matter of the
> placement of the voice, a (almost, but not really) nasal quality, a forward
> projection of the sound, a high placement of the voice, it's distinctive
> and all French singers before the post-WWII era had this quality, every
> single one of them, in all voice categories. You can hear their recordings,
> Scaremberg, Muratore, Clement, Thill, Dalmores, Cazette (a lyric tenor on
> Gigli's level, who was probably murdered), Vanzo, among the tenors, the
> great Ninon Vallin, Mado, Robin, Liliane Berton, Mady Mesple, even Lily
> Pons, the bassos like Journet and Plancon. What you hear with Alagna is
> perfect idiomatic French language, but that is not the same as being a
> French stylist, in singing the music the way a French tenor would have
> before the style disappeared.
> There has been a lot of speculation about why the French school of singing
> faded away. The German occupation in WWII? The ending of the rigid rules
> requiring operas to be sung in French at the Opera? The powerful influence
> of verismo which was the basis of the international style? I don't have an
> answer for it.  Others on the list may, and doubtless many others on the
> list can do a much better job than I have in explaining just what and how
> the technique was used by French stylists.  I knew Renee Doria and her
> husband Guy Dumazert (who founded the Malibran CD label) professionally,
> and they had no explanation for why it disappeared, a trend that was
> apparent when I met them in the 1970s. Being an idiomatic French stylist
> wasn't merely a matter of being a native French singer. There is the
> curious fact that the most dominant and influential instructor of the
> French style, the teacher of Melba, Eames, Calve, and so many other
> successful masters of French singing  was a German singer, Mathilde
> Marchesi. Jean De Reszke was Polish. The Russian born Felia Litvinne, one
> of the greats, was equally at home in the Russian style and the French
> which she is most strongly identified with.
> In writing this answer to your post, I checked out "The Record of Singing"
> to see what Michael Scott had to say about the subject which has always
> fascinated record collectors, and though he has a chapter like "The French
> Tradition in Decline" I don't find any coherent explanation for this
> "decline." He may cover it in his discussion of some of the individual
> singers?
> It's easy to understand why the idiomatic Russian school of singing has
> survived-- the relative isolation during the Soviet period, preserved the
> technique as if it was in amber -- but why has the German school survived
> so well? One could take a German singer of today and pluck them down into
> the 19th Century and they would be ok (except that they would have to
> improve their florid techniques), but you couldn't do that with a French or
> Italian singer today, they would be utterly lost, just as we are bereft
> today of hearing French and Italian opera in any style that is more or less
> commensurate with the times they represent.
> James Camner

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