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Subject: Re: simplification
From: Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 6 Oct 2016 07:43:46 -0400

text/plain (95 lines)

Couple of things

Get Ponselle off that list. She was born in Connecticut and had 
absolutely no training as an Italian singer.

We should remember that until sometime after WWII many European
opera houses performed most opera in the vernacular. No less an
International star than Leonie Rysanek made her early recordings
of Italian opera scenes in German. It was a reflection of the way
opera was presented in Germany and Austria, even into the fifties.

Jess Thomas, an American whose training and career were centered 
in Germany, sang his first Met Radames in German, (except, if I
recall correcty) "Celeste Aida". That was in 1963!

And Wagner in Italian was the general rule in Italy until well into the 


Wed, 5 Oct 2016 23:06:56 -0400, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>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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