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Subject: Re: Gerald Finley
From: Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 13 Jan 2017 07:44:49 -0800
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Frank, I think you said it beautifully.

He is definitely a "thinking person's" singer. He's subtle and understated but knows how to build performances of cumulative effect.

More broadly thinking, it had occurred to me that one big part of dealing with two problems opera people are dealing with now, drawing in younger audiences and getting away from constant comparisons to long dead performers, lies in the approach to the singing itself. So far, the focus has been almost purely on the visual, both in stagings and in the appearance and movements of the singers. 

Singers are, for the most part, approaching the instrumental part of their work and, mostly, even the vocally interpretive, in pretty much the same way as their predecessors. But, frequently, the voices themselves are different in size, timbre and fluidity than singers of the past. So the results are of trying to do the same thing the same way but with vocal means that are less adequate when deployed that way.

It seems to me that, as a singer, Finley has found his own very distinctive approach to the vocal art that fits his persona and voice. It is different enough, at least in the roles I've seen him do, from anyone else that it tends to make past comparisons irrelevant.

It would be very interesting if we heard a soprano, who would clearly need to have superb control of her instrument, apply the freshness of thought to her singing of Aida as Finley does to his Iago.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPad

> On Jan 13, 2017, at 06:06, Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> My general thought, which I was ineffectively trying to express, is that singing 
> should be a summary of both vocal color and ability along with the singer's artistic 
> side, the seriousness of his approach, his effort to "expand" the art of opera with 
> serious repertory choices, etc. Not to just seek applause, but to challenge the 
> audience to hear and think. Those qualities affects my choices of favorites.
> 
> Frank Cadenhad
> 
> On Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:36:04 -0800, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote
>> I like the clarity and bite of his timbre and the "honesty" of his singing - i.e., no 
> artificial coloring or darkening. He doesn't have the velvety plush of a Terfel or 
> James Morris.
>> But I have a hard time with what the criteria is for a "great" or "major league" 
> voice. I remember similar criticisms made of Janet Baker, whose recitals and 
> symphony appearances were some of the highlights of my musical experience. I 
> thought it was a superb instrument even if not as gloriously loud as Obraztsova or 
> Cossotto (or even Christa Ludwig, who might have been a closer comparison).
> 
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