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Subject: Bjorling-Bergonzi, et al
From: Charles Affron <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:Thu, 25 May 2017 10:23:24 -0400
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The first time I heard Bjorling live was in the Dec. 1950 "Faust" matinee
with Siepi and Kirsten. I was sitting close to the proscenium in the Dress
Circle. Bjorling sounded undernourished. But in the Albanese "Manon
Lescaut" matinee and in his last Met performance as Turiddu, he was
thrilling, the sound not large and enveloping but certainly with a visceral
impact. His voice was focused like a laser and if you were seated on the
side you couldn't hear the full resonance. Nilsson was similar. I supered
in an "Aida" in Boston. During the Triumphal scene she threw all that sound
out into the auditorium but was nearly inaudible on the stage. Rita Gorr,
the Amneris, on the other hand, was stupendous.

Bergonzi made an impact no matter where I was sitting. Del Monaco did not.
Milanov and Arroyo had enormous top registers; Milanov was also very strong
throughout the range.

The biggest voices I experienced live were Farrell's and Tebaldi's. Farrell
made sport of Bernstein and the NY Phil is "bleeding chunks" of "Tristan."
In the Act III concertato of "Otello," the Met chorus, orchestra, and array
of principals were accompaniment to Tebadi's phrases. As for the final aria
of "Butterfly," a friend of mine was in the lobby of the old Met and heard
it. You can imagine what it was like in the auditorium.

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