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Subject: Re: Vocal longevity (Re: Late Flagstad recordings)
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 4 Dec 2016 05:08:16 +0000
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Idia: 
I wouldn't say so. Magda Olivero's greatness came from a totally different root than Flagstad. Olivero was great, GREAT artist, but she never had more than a good and serviceable voice (my opinion only). Olivero's genius was firmly grounded in the art of great interpretation. She was also a great actress. She was to verismo opera what Callas and Sutherland were to bel canto. However, Olivero had Callas' ability to phrase, shade, and color phrases and musical lines. She lacked Callas' extensive vocal range, and certainly the sheer size of the Callas repertoire, but they were very, very similar in the methods they employed to achieve their artistic goals. Olivero was of course fortunate to have been able to still deliver a performance well beyond the age when Callas could. As artists, they had a lot in common, but Olivero was stylistically limited to the early verismo period of the 1890s to the 1920s. She lacked a florid technique, which Callas had in abundance, and of course she never sang Rossini, Bellini, or Donizetti --------- and probably little if any Verdi. Her composers were Puccini, Cilea, Mascagni, and the "verista" composers. 
Callas' life's work was finished by the time she reached the age of forty. She lived a little over a decade after that. Olivero, however, was on the scene in Italy for many years, starting in the 1930s, then retired for a while, then returned, retired again, and then returned yet again. In her late sixties (around the time she finally sang a couple of guest performances at the Met, her voice was a mere shadow of the merely serviceable voice she had in her prime. In made little difference. Her profound artistry and her ability to create her verismo heroines never left her. Callas (in her prime) had a much better voice than Olivero (again my opinion), but Olivero had a highly unique individual color that enabled her to make some stunning effects in the theater. A certain comparison with Tebaldi is possible here. Olivero's repertoire was very similar to Tebaldi's, except that Tebaldi had a far, FAR superior voice. Tebaldi, however, couldn't begin to interpret or respond to the text like Olivero could. Nor could Tebaldi create the sheer magic that Olivero was able to weave by her sheer nature. Tebaldi had a luscious and opulent instrument, but her interpretations were very generic and generalized. Olivero had the histrionic and interpretative skills of the legendary Anna Magnani, and used her voice as the paint brush with which she created her verismo heroines, which is why I consider Olivero and Callas to have been much closer aligned in their respective arts than Tebaldi. I think that one could also put Lotte Lehmann in the same line of artists. 
Tebaldi (in her absolute prime) was the singular greatest voice of all the above mentioned, which does not make Callas or Olivero chopped liver by any means. Flagstad's gifts were completely hers by nature. She was not a great actress, but was certainly a formidable interpreter of Wagner. It was Flagstad's VOICE that defined her, and it was a gift that was long lasting. Olivero's gifts were also long lasting, but it was FAR more than her voice that made her the great artist she was. Callas kind of comes in at the middle. It was, of course, the operas she sang, but more the WAY she sang rather than the way she sounded. 
I hope I haven't screwed this all up. I think that most here will understand what I mean. 

Les 


----- Original Message -----

From: "Idia Legray" <[log in to unmask]> 
To: "OPERA-L" <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent: Saturday, December 3, 2016 9:46:42 PM 
Subject: Re: Vocal longevity (Re: Late Flagstad recordings) 

Can you say Magda Olivero? 

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