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Subject: Re: Why did Carreras not essay Romeo, Faust, Mignon, etc?
From: Michael Delos <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Michael Delos <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 24 Jan 2017 22:13:56 +0000
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Corelli spoke once of the "Primo Complex". Every tenor 
thinks he has to take on forceful roles to be considered 
a historical tenor - lighter tenors need not apply. Hard 
to imagine a finer singer than Florez in his prime - does 
he have to be 'compared' to del Monaco for admittance to 
the tenor Pantheon?? 

Anyway - apparently Carreras did sing ROMEO - at the 
Liceo early on and there is a recording in not so great 
sound. But he went down another road thereafter and 
the voice quickly lost its plush beauty. Sad. I heard him in 
1979 or 1980 and the golden burr of his voice was like 
balm. The comparisons to di Stefano, pro and con, were 
most apt. If you closed your eyes, you could hear the 
definite similarity in their timbres and caressing of the music. 
One of the loveliest tenor voices I've ever heard live, along with 
Dermota, Gedda, and of course Pavarotti. 

I still remember first hearing Pavarotti's 
sublime youthful voice - you knew 
after 2 notes that this was a legendary instrument - his recording 
of 'Deserto in Terra' just floored me back in 1970 or so. 

I think it's complex. 

I totally agree on your observations about the young Carreras. Saw him in a 1971 Boheme and it was just about the most sensually beautiful and effortlessly produced tenor voice I'd ever heard. Still lovely in a 1974 Butterfly with Scotto but starting already to thicken in a 1975 Elisir. 

I think he just plain wanted to be one of the Big Boys and had enough people around him saying "You can do it!" including di Stefano himself. I think one of the most important items of judgement a young singer can have is who to listen to and who to tune out. Easier said than done when the ego gets involved. 

Then it gets into things like which roles bring in the highest fees (possibly more of an issue once his older friend di Stefano introduced him into the gambling circuit), the higher level of "stardom," etc. 

I've also seen, throughout my work life, people who were competent in a particular domain having a burning desire to do things outside of their competence. In fairness, some grown into it but many don't. 

Max Paley 


> Interesting to read the reactions to Grigolo and Damrau in the Met ROMEO. I 
> only heard the broadcast - did not see it - and suspect Damrau made a more 
> overall favorable impression if one could see her. To my ears, only going 
> on audio, it was a wirey, strident sound and extremely labored in the Waltz. 
> Perhaps she wasn't in health, but went on anyway? I thought he fared well, 
> though in Act 1, the voice took a while to settle in, and had a bit of a dry 
> rattle - almost a comprimario sound. From Act 2 on, he was extremely good 
> and with quite good French at that that. 
> 
> Revisiting some early Carreras recordings from the the 70's, it's a wonder 
> that he didn't seize on the French rep - especially Romeo - and steer his 
> career in such a way that he sang within his means. Surely all the 
> comparisons and warnings about di Stefano's choices must have reached his 
> ears?? And yet he took on Forza, Aida, Chenier.... Imagine the sheer beauty 
> of his pre-shouting days, channeled into roles like Wilhelm Meister, Romeo, 
> Faust, Nadir? What is the fascination with taking on roles too heavy for 
> your instrument, even in the recording studio, never mind having to somehow 
> make yourself heard over those thick orchestrations in places like the Met? 
> 

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