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Subject: High Cs/Nina Stemme (was Re: Tebaldi Aida under Karajan)
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:19:19 -0700
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Max, I think you're right.

In "O patria mia" its not only stepwise, but the phrase is long and sinuous.  It lets tensions build up.  If you closely watch Leontyne Price on her Met farewell, it's quite masterful how, when she takes the breath before ascending to the C, she "unhinges" her jaw and thereby releases the tension.  Few seem to know how to do that.

Tebaldi herself talked about the Tosca Act 3 high C as being like jumping into a hole where you don't know what will happen.  There isn't enough time to get tense about it.

Trying to put two topics into one of our stingily allocated daily posts (2 seems ridiculous some days), want to mention Nina Stemme and Patrick and David's comments.

Many times we hear of a difference in perception of singers live vs. recorded, but Stemme is an extreme example.  She sounds very different in the house than as heard, even live, via a microphone.

I'm a big fan of hers live, but I don't like listening to her at all on recordings or broadcasts.  Live, you hear a slight tremor, but nothing like the aptly described Gwyneth Jones wobble that the microphone conveys.

Live, there's also much more warmth and beauty in the sound than what is heard via a microphone.  I can't explain why the difference is so extreme in her case.

There was a tremendous difference between the sound of her Elektra at the Met and the "Live in HD" transmission.  I also enjoyed her tremendously in the DC Ring in May, but wouldn't place bets on how a broadcast of that would sound.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 27, 2016, at 10:36, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> David Kubiak wrote:
> 
> "One final point about [Tebaldi's] sagging top.  While she struggles in '59 
> with 'Aida', she was still capable of producing huge C's in 'Tosca' at 'io 
> quella lama' in '60 and '61. For some reason that particular C was a good 
> one for her -- there are tapes where the performance stops at this point 
> because of a prolonged ovation."
> 
> Those are both high C's, but they are nevertheless very different in 
> difficulty because they are approached differently.  The high C in "O patria 
> mia" is of such legendary difficulty because it is approached stepwise from 
> below, the high point in an already high phrase.  The C at "Io quella lama," 
> on the other hand, is plucked out of the air and sung loudly which, 
> counterintuitive though it may be, is actually an easier way to get to high C 
> than the other way.  Mind you, I'm not saying that the Tosca high C is 
> easy, just that it is easiER to pull off than the Aida high C.  (Even at that, 
> Tebaldi's C at "Io quella lama" was frequently slightly under pitch on live 
> recordings.)
> 
> MDW  
> 
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