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Subject: Re: Il Grande Inquisitor (was Re: Giulio Neri)
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 27 Oct 2016 16:44:39 -0400

text/plain (85 lines)

Yes to all of this. And yet, when the bass playing the Inquisitor can also voice a full 
rumbling low E (on "Sire"), it's just chilling. 

Filippo has some choice low notes as well - that final phrase of the duet spans 2 octaves, 
from the high F on "trono" to the low F on "altare" - but another one of my favorite spots 
in the opera is in that *other* amazing duet for low-voiced men - the Rodrigo/Filippo 
scene. Leading into the final section, Filippo cadences on a scale passage leading down to 
a low F ("nella leal tua man") followed immediately by an ascending passage from Rodrigo 
("inaspettata...") leading to a high F. The juxtaposition of the 2 moments - that sudden 
jump up - is wonderfully dramatic. 

I would also add that not only is the Inquisitor duet remarkable on its own, but is part of a 
truly remarkable, unique sequence. First "Ella Giammai m'Amo" (complete with that 
stunning cello introduction - so sue me for loving it), then this duet, then the scene with 
Elisabetta that leads to the quartet, and then the scene between the women which breaks 
them apart forever, capping with "O Don Fatale" - an aria which doesn't even resolve in a 
traditional way on its own terms, but has Eboli leading us to her actions in the next scene. 
Pretty amazing stuff. 

On Thu, 27 Oct 2016 14:47:27 -0400, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Bob Rideout wrote:
>"The "why not" is pure speculation, but Filippo is a highish role with a
>couple of real "busters" like "dunque il trono dovra sempre all'altare!"
>and Neri had a very low placed, short topped voice, ideally placed, in
>fact, for the Inquisitor."
>Well, the Inquisitor is in fact a killer role in terms of high tessitura for a bass, all the more 
>so because the singer has very little time to warm up.  In fact, several of the Inquisitor's 
>phrases are at least as difficult, IMO much more so, for a bass than Filippo's "Dunque il 
>trono:"  the passage beginning, "Ed io, l'Inquisitor," which demands powerful, sustained 
>singing in the top register climaxing on a high F on "tranquilLI lascio andar;" and the 
>difficult passage beginning at, "O Re, se non foss'io con te," which again leads to a high F 
>after many measures of very high tessitura sung at top volume.  The part contains 
>numerous high Ds and E-flats.  It also requires a "black" quality in terms of bass sound (I 
>refer to vocal color, not race), that the role of Filippo does not.  Talvela and Gottlob Frick 
>were supreme in that regard. 
>I certainly would agree that the role of Filippo makes huge demands upon a bass and is 
>more difficult to sing over an entire evening.  But minute for minute, the Inquisitor is as 
>brutal a role, vocally, as any in the bass repertoire, not least because of its tessitura.  In 
>fact, more than tessitura and high notes, I think what sets Filippo apart from the 
>in terms of vocal demands, is the sustained legato singing the former requires.  The bass 
>singing the Inquisitor can make quite an effect just punching out the notes con forza 
>(although real legato makes the "ritorna al tuo dover" passage really creepy).  Punching 
>the notes just won't do for Filippo, who needs a more cantante quality. 
>Incidentally, I agree with those who find the Filippo-Inquisitor scene one of the greatest 
>Verdi ever wrote, and one of the greatest single scenes in all opera.  There really is 
>else like it anywhere in any opera by any composer.    
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