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Subject: Re: Marilyn Horne, a "hearty" singer
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 18 Dec 2016 11:08:37 -0800
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Horne’s singing always made me feel good.  The sound was so rich and beautiful (probably the closest timbre to Ponselle), the technique so secure and her musical style so clear, alive and beautifully shaped.

As Tom points out, the timbre was softer textured.  She didn’t have the kind of “metal” in the sound that would have been needed to be successful onstage in the big Verdi roles (and her Salzburg Amneris was a pointed non-success), but she was superb in the operas of Handel, Rossini and her Carmen worked.

I think the “heartiness” is apt for her portrayals of opera.  Her Carmen was energetic rather than magically alluring. Her Rosina, Isabella and Angelina were good humored and bright toned, rather than having the subtle charm and delicious touch of wickedness that Berganza showed in these roles.

The one area in which I felt she showed a much more introspective and deeper side was in song.  Somehow, the song repertoire touched some other part of her. Christa Ludwig talked about hearing a recording of the Wagner “Wesendonck Lieder” on the radio while she was in the car and wondered who (assuming it must be a German or Austrian singing) had such a richly beautiful voice and such sensitivity and artistry in these songs that Ludwig, herself, knew so well.  She admitted she was quite surprised to hear it was Horne.

I felt very much the same when I heard her in recital sing Schubert, Wolf, Mahler, Debussy and other French, Spanish and German composers.  There was a delicacy and subtlety that were different from her operatic work.  

Other singers I’d think of as being “hearty” were Helen Traubel and Robert Merrill.

Max Paley
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