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Subject: Re: Barbara Cook retiring
From: Peter Hammond <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:Mon, 8 May 2017 02:07:25 -0400
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Amazingly long career with consistent high quality. I heard her a decade ago and felt grateful for that chance. Her 1975 Carnegie Hall album is a classic. I also often listen to her "If I Loved You" scene from Carousel with Samuel Ramey. I don't know why, but somehow they capture it to perfection.


Maybe one of the secrets to her longevity is that she was classically trained, or at least very well trained, but did not venture beyond her natural vocal habitat. I liked the story she told of auditioning for Leonard Bernstein. She did whatever she had prepared, and then he asked her what else she had. She proposed "Make Believe" from Show Boat. Bernstein said "No, I know exactly how you would do that." Can't we all in our mind's ear hear exactly how she would do that? Then she said she'd been working on Butterfly's entrance aria with her teacher but didn't have the music with her. Bernstein said, "That's all right, I know it." He proceeded to play it and she sang it. Of course he could play it by ear. Talent meets talent in this anecdote. Barbara Cook has given so much to American music. I wish her a happy retirement.



-----Original Message-----
From: James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
To: OPERA-L <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sun, May 7, 2017 10:45 pm
Subject: Barbara Cook retiring

Well one of the all time great American female vocalists has just announced
her retirement. As far as I'm concerned Barbara Cook is going out on top, I
don't know if anyone has ever sung so well for so long and kept the
gorgeous sound of their voice so unimpaired. I'd say the only comparison
might be Nellie Melba, but Cook is far older than Melba was when she
retired.

I've heard many wonderful soprano voices since the first time I stepped
into an opera house in the late 1960s. I would rate the top operatic
sopranos for beautiful sound as (in no particular order) Kiri Te Kanawa,
Renata Tebaldi, Victoria de Los Angeles, Barbara Bonney, Lucia Popp, Jessye
Norman (perhaps more a mezzo...), Mirella Freni (only when she was in her
youthful prime),and Leontyne Price. If I had to pick one of those, it would
be a tie between Price and Te Kanawa.

And yet, I believe the most beautiful soprano voice of all that I heard in
person was that of Barbara Cook. Such a sumptuous, even, gorgeous limpid
sound, one could bathe in it, luxuriate in it. But Cook was not just a
pretty voice, she was a consummate interpreter. Does she belong in the
above company? Well she was the creator of Cunégonde which is now a staple
in many opera houses, the role was written for her and who can hear it
without thinking of her? Cook, like her Broadway successors Rebecca Luker,
Kelli O'Hara, Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti could do it all - sing AND
act.

I'm so glad I got to hear her both in concert and on the stage and I wish
her a happy and well deserved retirement..

James Camner

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