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Subject: Re: Hampson destroying .... Luisotti the biggest scourge of all
From: "Sklenar, Robert John" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Sklenar, Robert John
Date:Mon, 13 Mar 2017 05:02:16 +0000

text/plain (288 lines)

Dear Donald,

The charitable view you take of Hampson speaks very well for you as a
human being, and I commend it. I totally agree that he was once a peerless
lyric baritone. My contention is simply that if he had stayed in that
Fach, he would have more to offer now at age 62 than an expulsion of
catarrh somewhere in the vicinity of the written pitch. The trouble began
decades ago when he started interpolating tenor high C's into Largo al
factotum; now, he can't manage the g-flats in Di Provenza. Then, he
started taking on roles too heavy for his voice; as a result, a baritone
who once could dispatch coloratura runs better than many sopranos now
cannot execute the most basic legato. (l'amato e amante giohohovane, cui
sposa andar dovehehehehaŠ) Finally, even if we make allowances for how far
in advance singers sign their contracts, Hampson has been singing this
badly for years. He has nothing more to offer than his name, and he is
cynically cashing in on it. THAT is what's inexcusable.

[log in to unmask]

On 3/12/17 9:25 PM, "Discussion of opera and related issues on behalf of
Donald Levine" <[log in to unmask] on behalf of
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>With all the comment on Thomas Hampson, let me first state that he has
>a magnificent singer in many different styles over the years.  It was
>always a superb lyric baritone and in the right role and especially as a
>singer of songs, he has really been wonderful.
>When he opened his mouth to sing yesterday my reaction was that it is
>time.  Every singer has to know when to go.  Hampson is now 62 and while I
>am sure he could sing on in recital, the time for big roles, especially
>Verdi, is over.  As has been said, these contracts are made years ahead
>any singer who reaches his mid fifties should think twice about what he
>sing five years down the pike.  Singers today seem to be starting later
>singing longer, many times too long.  Rare is the singer like Varnay or
>Rysanek or even Domingo, who can adapt and change fach and continue on.
>And when Varnay and Rysanek sang mezzo, they still remained dramatic
>soprano's, just singing in a lower tessitura.
>So, cut the guy some slack.
>As for the production, I never thought I would like it from the advance
>word, but each time I have seen it, it worked.  The biggest problem with
>Traviata in 1853 was that it was sent in modern times and they had to set
>it in in the 18th century in some early performances.  So, putting it  in
>the 20th century really didn't both me.  There were things in the
>that I found interesting and I really like the idea of Grenvil being
>so much - sort of like the angel of death?  I heard Netrebko in this
>production.  Yoncheva was good.  Vocally, there were places here and there
>that didn't quite land right or on pitch, but it was good.  Likewise, I
>liked Michael Fabiano.  I heard so much about his precarious vocal
>condition lately that I was pleased he did well.  BTW, I would have loved
>to have heard Callas or Zeani in this production.
>On Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 5:26 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hampson did sing Posa in ³Don Carlos² in French, very famously some 20
>> years ago in the Paris production conducted by Pappano with Alagna,
>> and Meier.  I think his years for that are past. Heıs also been singing
>> Germont for some years.
>> Heıs sung a large number of Verdi roles during the past decade or so,
>> including Simon Boccanegra, Macbeth, Renato and Iago. To me, heıs never
>> sounded right in any of these in much the same way that Fischer-Dieskau
>> never sounded (to me) right in Verdi roles. Too much evident puffing up
>> artificially darkening the sound.
>> The one role that, even though an older character, does fit in very well
>> for a high lyric baritone is Germont. Itıs the most lyrically written
>> sits high enough to be comfortable for the high lyric voice type.
>> Unfortunately, after years of doing the ³big boy² parts, Hampsonıs time
>> Germont seems also to have passed.
>> Some 20+ years ago, his voice struck me as being something of a
>> ³mezzo-tenor,² not unlike Fischer-Dieskau but with a fuller and more
>> sound. In the early 90ıs, I heard a broadcast of a recital in which he
>> Siegmundıs ³Winterstürme² and it sounded terrific. That made him very
>> adapted to the very high baritone literature, like the Mahler orchestral
>> songs (³Songs of a Wayfarer² sitting ideally for him) and, while it
>> not have worked well for him on stage, his voice category would have
>> ideal for Pelleas. He also did very well with Mozart and some Rossini.
>> I think high baritones have a problem in general when it comes to aging.
>> The roles (other than Germont) for this kind of ³cavalier baritone² are
>> generally young, handsome men who can cut a dashing figure on stage.
>> somewhat parallel to the situation for coloratura sopranos who are
>> to be young, pretty ³pert² characters. What do they do when they pass 40
>> or, worse, 50?
>> Often, they try to make their voices into something that they arenıt.
>> rarely works. Some peopleıs voices naturally darken and fill out the
>> register, which allows them a convincing transition of repertoire, but
>> doesnıt happen to all, by any means.
>> Max Paley
>> > On Mar 12, 2017, at 2:02 PM, John Rahbeck <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >
>> > I thought I would throw a little perspective into the conversation.
>> > are some facts and thoughts to consider. Many times the quality of the
>> > conducting can ruin a performance, especially if the singers are
>> > miscast or on the decline, and some conductors are notorious for
>> bombasticly
>> > drowning out the singers. I do agree that singing an  aria is not the
>> same thing
>> > as singing a role, however one must take a total  career into
>> > consideration, and Thomas Hampson has had a considerable one. How we
>> love to worship our
>> > singers at the top of their game, and how we love to condemn  and kick
>> them
>> > when them when they make a bad decision, and how the sharks  circle
>> > they smell blood and are pushing the next generation into  place.
>> > There are other things to consider as well. It's called money.  It
>> a
>> > company a lot of money to buy out a singer, and it costs a singer a
>> of
>> > money to cancel. Often neither the company nor the singer can afford
>> > Not only is the company legally bound to buy out the performer if they
>> > decide to replace them, they have to pay for the replacement as well.
>> There  are
>> > singers on the decline who would gladly retire if they could afford
>> > With all this said, I did not see or hear this performance and  cannot
>> > make a judgement on it, but I have seen and heard these performers
>> including
>> > the conductor in other venues, and thought the casting odd. I can't
>> imagine
>> > Hampson in most Verdi roles. I also disagree he is a tenor. I hear a
>> > passaggio that either requires a mixed voice or full cover on an F. If
>> he was a
>> > tenor, he wouldn't have to do that until F#. He's really smooth in
>>how he
>> > transitions into his high notes. Men who mix rather than cover avoid
>> > "turn"  or "cover" or whatever you want to call it to reach the higher
>> notes  and
>> > can have a lighter tenor like sound, but it's really the passaggio
>> > determines a voice type. Romantic Italian literature was written for
>> fully
>> > turned chested high notes. That being said, almost every great  artist
>> has
>> > made a major mistake in experimenting with new roles. If a  singer
>> sticks to a
>> > small repertoire, they are chided for not branching out.  If they
>> out
>> > and make a mistake, they are condemned as well, so I  think we should
>> > the guy some slack.
>> > And here's another thing to consider, there are many fine lyric
>> baritones,
>> > but it's extremely difficult to find a real Verdi baritone. They may
>> the
>> > rarest of all birds, and they have to cast somebody to fill the gap.
>> > Sometimes with a sensitive conductor a more lyric baritone can do some
>> justice
>> > to a Verdi role. I think if I were to hear Hampson in Verdi, I  would
>> prefer
>> > to hear him as Posa in Don Carlo than Germont. I think he  would do
>> > especially well in the French Don Carlo. I would pay to  see that.
>> > John Rahbeck
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > In a message dated 3/12/2017 6:21:04 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
>> > [log in to unmask] writes:
>> >
>> >
>> > Certainly during rehearsal problems with Hampson--and to a  lesser
>> > Fabiano and Yoncheva should have been noted and corrections  made.  If
>> the
>> > orchestra was playing too loudly and forcing the  singers above their
>> > abilities, someone should have spoken to the  conductor.  If the
>> > are
>> > out of sorts and are having a moment  in their singing careers, take
>> > aside and let them know you understand  but....bring in someone else.
>> That
>> > doesn't mean banish them from the  Met forever;  it means for this
>> > production
>> > the art matters more than  the individual.  That's what an artistic
>> > director
>> > is paid to do,  isn't it?
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
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