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Re: on the two threads today


Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>


Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>


Sat, 11 Feb 2017 17:32:59 -0800





text/plain (1 lines)

I wasn’t fortunate enough to be aware early enough to hear Flagstad live. From what I’ve heard on records, hers was the great soprano voice of the 20th century, as unique a phenomenon among sopranos as Caruso was among tenors.

Not trying to sort among countries of birth, the great soprano voices of my live experience, some late their careers by the time I saw them but clearly still showing enough greatness to be on the top of my list, were Nilsson, Farrell, Tebaldi, Sutherland (not my cup of tea in many regards, but no question about her greatness), Price, Rysanek and Caballé. Honorable mention, for sheer beauty of sound, to Te Kanawa and Fleming. Steber was too far past her best when I heard her live.

The great “singing actresses” who required no choice between Kunst and Stimme because they fulfilled on both were Christa Ludwig (straddling the mezzo/soprano fence), Sena Jurinac, Elisabeth Söderström, Evelyn Lear (before she ran into premature vocal trouble) and Karita Mattila.

Horne and Ludwig were great recitalists as well, but the one who made the most overwhelming impression on me in this regard was Janet Baker.

Among many great male singers, no tenor made as great an impression on me as Jon Vickers and no recitalist overwhelmed me as much as Fischer-Dieskau.

Following Les’ lead and using one posting to answer two threads (this limit of two a day is burdensome), operas that I didn’t “get” at first that later became favorites include:

Die Meistersinger
Ariadne auf Naxos
The Makropulos Case

Max Paley

> On Feb 11, 2017, at 4:47 PM, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Two fun threads came in today. As I read all the responses to the best
> "American soprano posts, it then morphed into sopranos from other countries.
> No great surprises on any of them because every last one of them repeatedly
> demonstrated brilliance, beauty and sublime moments. And now mezzos have
> been thrown into the fray. It's all well and good. In my very humble
> opinion, 95% of those singers noted had that special "something" that makes
> a great singer truly grand. Virtually all of them have brought joy to a lot
> of people. But truly, is this not an exercise in futility? I don't really
> think that one can proclaim any of them as "the ultimate greatest" because
> of the nature of opera to begin with. WE are the ones who are the
> recipients of their gifts, and if we consider them to be "the best", it's
> because they "connected" with something inside of US, and we all are
> "reached" by contrasting artistic attributes. I WILL openly admit, however,
> that I do not recall seeing the name Flagstad mentioned in this pantheon of
> honor. I would say without hesitation that she certainly belongs there.
> On the subject of "changing tastes" (introduced by Mr. Youngman), I
> find a lot of truth in this. Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath", alluded to
> by a poster whose name I can't recall, is a perfect illustration that can
> apply to opera as well. "The Grapes of Wrath" is a book I was forced to
> read in high school. I also saw the film a short time later. I detested
> it. It wasn't until I was in Graduate School that I read the book again
> and, of course, saw the film. It was a revelation and it taught me much
> that I was able to apply in my teaching career.
> There are certain artistic masterpieces that should not come too soon,
> because of one's maturation level. In opera, I lived on a diet of Italian
> opera and of course "Carmen" from the age of twelve until I was in my middle
> twenties. Then I went on to Mozart and Strauss. From that point, Wagner
> held no terrors for me.
> I saw my first "Ariadne Auf Naxos" at 19, and was bored to hell with
> it, especially the Prologue. By the time I reached forty, I came to love
> and cherish it. The same applies to most of the German operas. One's
> tastes DO change. Another opera that I once thought to be garbage was
> "Faniculla del West". Today, I consider it be be one of Puccini's greatest
> creations.
> One DOES learn and expand with life, and in respect to art, music,
> opera, film, etc, it can take several years of life to love the things that
> life has to offer.
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