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Subject: Re: that trill in Dove sono
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:01:27 -0700
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I think that aria is deceptively difficult. I've heard numerous sopranos talk about how, on paper, it seems like no big deal but then turns out to be surprisingly hard to sing well. Much of it sits in that upper break where sopranos can be challenged with breath support and intonation and it's extremely exposed. Any slight unsteadiness or tendency to flat is ruthlessly laid bare.  A good Countess also manages to infuse it with elegance and a melancholy nobility. 

I'm sure Steber worked very hard and absorbed what teaching and coaching she got, but she had an innate profound musicality. Same with Flagstad. A sense for shape and balance of phrase and the taste to know what's enough to give but not too much. There really isn't a precedent for her powerfully shaped performances of the Berlioz "Nuits d'Été" cycle - earlier recordings by Teyte, etc. are very different from her approach.

I've heard singers and pedagogues argue about whether elements of florid singing and ornamentation can be taught or if they're just part of the natural voice and talent. I think there's an element of motivation involved. Some singers really dig in and enjoy executing challenging fioritura. Others seem to do it only when they absolutely have to.

I recall Nilsson saying that one reason she never sang Strauss' Empress was her opening scene with the coloratura and high D. She commented "I hate coloratura." Flagstad, with at least as weighty and big a voice, loved it and regretted she didn't have more opportunities. She was very sad to drop the role of Rodelinda. Definitely, in those faster moving sections I've heard of Nilsson singing Mozart's Elettra or Donna Anna, she gave the impression that she was doing it because she "had to."

I do know, from personal experience, that a trill can be learned. It can take a great deal of practice and, when right, can sound very strange to the singer performing it, but it can be learned.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPhone

> On Mar 24, 2017, at 15:59, Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Technical trouble aside, how does a routine decoration on a note stop the flow of the aria? 
> Especially when it's not a part of an out-of-time cadenza, nor in any other way changes the 
> beat or tempo?
> 
> That trill is, to my ears, part of a very common cadential progression in Mozart and in 
> other music of his time. In fact, as a pianist, it tends to make me instantly think of a very 
> similar moment in that most (in)famous of his C major piano sonatas (i.e. the one 
> everyone knows instantly by its first few bars, and one of those pieces that certainly every 
> young piano student is assigned early on.) 
> 
> Hear the phrase leading to the trill and cadence around the 0:45 mark and (for the trill on 
> the same notes as in the aria) the 2;45 mark, as beautifully rendered by Daniel 
> Barenboim. 
> 
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vDxlnJVvW8
> 
> 
> Oh - I do sincerely apologize for suggesting that classical piano music (clearly off-topic) 
> should ever be discussed on an opera listserv such as this one. How dare I even think such 
> a thing. I'll never do it again...until the next time. ;-)
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> On Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:42:19 +0000, Takis Pavl. <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> I've always found that final trill on "ingrato" a bit weird. I feel it stops the flow of the aria 
> and causes a lot of trouble to most sopranos who otherwise excel (or not) in Nozze di 
> Figaro and this particular aria. 
> 
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