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Subject: Opera and intelligibility
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 20 May 2017 20:15:06 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain
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There are reasons for the lack of intelligibility with higher notes, having
to do with the fact that fewer harmonics are available with higher notes
than with lower ones. When singing an opera in full voice over an orchestra,
sopranos have to sacrifice intelligibility in order to be heard. There is a
reason it is easier to understand male voices (in whatever language), and it
has nothing to do with competence.

This is obviously less of a problem in lieder, which is typically done with
piano or small accompaniment, in a smaller theater. Some composers also were
more interested in intelligibility, and would write parts
accordingly--without the kind of full-throated notes that many find
thrilling. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion of opera and related issues
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael McPherson
Sent: Saturday, May 20, 2017 7:27 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: bohème in english - was Re: Merrill's Per me giunto

This reminds me of the cast of Vanessa — practically all American — but the
person constantly being praised for understanding what he was singing was
Nicolai Gedda.

Michael

Michael J. McPherson
[log in to unmask]




> On May 20, 2017, at 6:18 PM, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> In Bing's memoirs, he discussed this early experiment with opera in 
> English at the Met.  He said the problem was that the English 
> translation was largely unintelligible.  After a dress rehearsal of (I 
> think) the Boheme, which fell on his birthday, Bing was in the 
> auditorium and the cast sang "Happy Birthday to him from the stage.  Bing
said, "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.  Those were the first words I
understood all afternoon."
> 
> Singing intelligible English (or maybe any language) is a matter of 
> training in clear enunciation and text projection (which is a specific 
> skill many singers lack), as well as a function of how clear and 
> forward the singer's tone is.  Two singers who for me were paragons of 
> singing clear, intelligible English were Dame Janet Baker and Elly 
> Ameling (yes, she was Dutch, but her forward placement and precise
enunciation were exemplary).  Also Eleanor Steber.
> 
> MDW
> 
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