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Subject: Vocal Record Collectors Society-November meeting
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Date:Sun, 30 Oct 2016 21:55:23 -0400
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The Vocal Record Collectors Society presents

Voice vs. Art: The Stimm Diva vs. The Kunst Diva

by ELI JACOBSON

Friday November 4, 2016, 7:45 PM sharp.
Christ Church, 60th St and Park Avenue (Northwest corner), 3rd Floor
Meeting Room

We are pleased to welcome back Eli Jacobson, whose very own introduction
appears below:

As a burgeoning opera fanatic in my teen years (far back in the last
century), I borrowed a copy from my local library of a book by Ethan
Mordden called “Demented”. In it Mordden traced the history and the
phenomenon of the prima donna and her effect on opera. To back his
precepts, Mordden cited the authority of a certain Lotte Heinotz, the
“curiously unpopular” singer of minor roles in Vienna in the early 1900s,
who authored the unpublished yet classic pamphlet, “Der Weltsopranfuehrer”
or “The Prima Donna’s Handbook”. In this pamphlet, Fraulein Heinotz
outlines two types of prima donna. The first dominates by virtue of a
glorious and uniquely beautiful and technically superb vocal instrument –
the “Stimmdiva” or “Voice Diva”. The *stimmdiva* uses a glorious instrument
as her primary vehicle of expression. The second prima donna is more of a
synthesis of singer, actress, musician, poetess and spiritual guide – this
is the “Kunstdiva” (“Art Diva”). The *kunstdiva* may have an inherently
flawed instrument or technique but compensates through other means,
including vivid musical, physical and textural expression, dramatic
intensity and personal charisma. It turns out that Lotte Heinotz was a
fictional character invented by Ethan Mordden himself. Nevertheless,
Fraulein Heinotz’s pronouncements, theories and concepts have influenced
contemporary opera criticism, discussion and analysis. Several of Mr.
Mordden’s own newly-coined terms (“demented” among them) entered into the
lexicon of operatic parlance. When I later ventured into opera criticism
myself, I discovered upon rereading “Demented” that many of the concepts I
attributed to my own mature appreciation and long observation of the art
form were actually instilled in me as a newbie by Mordden and his fictive
counterpart Lotte Heinotz via “Demented.

For those of us who first encountered opera via the first complete
operatic LP sets issued in the early 1950s by EMI and London/Decca, the
archetypal *kunstdiva* was Maria Callas and her *stimmdiva*
counterpart/rival was Renata Tebaldi. However, the *kunstdiva* goes far
back – more than 150 years prior to the emergence of Callas to the late
Classical and early Romantic era of music. Such *kunstdiva* avatars as
Wilhelmine Schoeder-Devrient, Maria Malibran, Pauline Viardot and Giuditta
Pasta divided critics and music lovers while inspiring composers, writers,
painters and poets. The *stimmdiva* goes back to the dawn of opera. Many of
these 19th century *kunstdivas* had *stimmdiva* rivals (Giulia Grisi,
Josephine Fodor-Mainvielle and Henrietta Sontag et al) just like Callas vs.
Tebaldi, and their fans were equally passionate and argumentative.

Inspired by the book “Demented” by Ethan Mordden, Eli Jacobson will present
an evening comparing and contrasting recordings of the “stimmdiva” vs. the
“kunstdiva” from the dawn of recording to the digital era. He will play one
aria as interpreted by a *kunstdiva* and then repeat the aria as
interpreted by a *stimmdiva*. Kunstdivas will include not only Callas, but
Muzio, Garden, Fremstad, Bellincioni, Moedl and Bruna-Rasa among others.
The Stimmdivas will be represented by Nilsson, Tebaldi, Leontyne Price,
Emma Eames, Galli-Curci, Sutherland and Rethberg et al. He implores us to
be thrilled, perplexed and even get into vicious arguments and fistfights
like the standees in the old Met as these divas go toe to toe battling
voice vs. art!

Eli Jacobson has been a regular opera critic for Gay City News, New York
City’s leading LGBT publication, since 2007.  He  has also been a
contributor to  City Arts and the Opera  Britannia  blog.

Only last year, Eli Jacobson gave us a wonderfully researched program on
the history of Giacomo Meyerbeer, from his (not previously heard by us)
most youthful work through his great Paris Opera masterpieces, and it was
one of the most memorable of all VRCS outings, so we strongly urge your
attendance at his VOICE VS. ART program. We haven’t had fighting in the
VRCS aisles for years!

-------------------------------------------------

We expect our 2016 VRCS Annual CD Issue to be available for pick-up at our
December 2 meeting, so as we usually do when this happens, we are mailing
out dues renewal notices for both November and December at this time. If
you are due in December and can possibly renew prior to that meeting date,
it will make things immeasurably easier for your Secretary/Treasurer in
arranging distribution of the CDs. If not, that’s okay, too, but beware the
curse of Amon-Ra (he looks like Seth Winner).

-------------------------------------------------
posted by
Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
   Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
--- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---

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