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Subject: simplification
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 5 Oct 2016 23:06:56 -0400

text/plain (60 lines)

I thank those who responded to my statement about Italian singers vs.
other singers in terms of repertoire.  A few of the singers some of you
noted are, quite honestly, completely unknown to me.  Be that as it may, I'm
going to assume (perhaps incorrectly) that many of you had to stop and think
for a few moments before posting your singers who have, in fact, sung
repertoire in a very different idiom and language from that with which they
were associated.  I (again perhaps incorrectly) am thinking that the fact
that everyone came up with a few tells me something I actually suspected.
     AS A RULE, Italian trained singers (and Italian singers, of course)
tend to stay in 
in the Italian repertoire and seem much less likely to explore operas in
French and German than their non-Italian counterparts.  I am still convinced
that Italian trained singers feel that they can explore the Italian
repertoire for their entire careers.  I'm speaking of "superstar" quality
Italian singers, who, while they may have sung certain German or French
operas in Italian, they never ventured into singing in a language other than
their own.  
     By contrast, many non-Italian singers made honorable excursions into
the Italian repertoire: Birgit Nilsson, Regine Crespin, Jon Vickers, Christa
Ludwig, Zinka Milanov, Sena Jurinac, Elena Obrasztova,  Elisabeth
Schwarzkopf, Victoria de los Angeles, Jussi Bjoerling,  etc.  The list goes
on and on and by no means am I including all.  It's impossible.  American
and English singers have roamed through multiple languages in opera.
     Great Italian singers like Ponselle, Muzio, Tebaldi, Stella, Cossotto,
Barbieri, Stignani, Simionato, Freni, ;Pavarotti, Bergonzi, etc to my
knowledge never ventured out of the Italian language in the roles they
undertook, with perhaps Freni being an exception with Titiana and Lisa (a
lot of work to learn Russian for a mere two roles, but then again she was
married to Nicolai Ghiaurov!).
     Very infrequently do we hear of Italian singers undertaking such roles
as those written by Strauss and Wagner.  Of course there are always
exceptions to this very flexible "rule".  Such exceptions would include
Jonas Kaufmann, Placido Domingo, Montserrat Caballe', Sutherland, Horne
(both of whom were native English speakers as was Gwenyth Jones)
     It gets very sticky if one nit-picks.  There are exceptions to every
rule, but it seems that "as a rule", Italian singers with Italian training
can and frequently DO stay with their own native language and forge their
entire careers along those lines.  No disrespect meant to any of them.  It's
takes lot of work to really master a second, third, or fourth language. 
American and British training require mastery of at least French and
Italian.  It would appear that Spanish training encourages German as well. 
Does that make Italian-trained artists more limited and less adventurous in
their single language repertoire?  
     Should a multi-lingual singer not be considered more versatile and
It's just a thought.

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