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Subject: Re: Bjorling-Bergonzi, et al
From: Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 25 May 2017 13:43:38 -0400

text/plain (98 lines)

The below is fascinating, and just the sort of invaluable recall I was
hoping for.  Thank you!  Let's have more of this, folks! -- and from the
same generation!

If I may ============>>>>>>

On Thu, 25 May 2017 10:23:24 -0400, Charles Affron <[log in to unmask]>

>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.


====>>> [G.R.]  Now that is illuminating.  I've spoken to some who heard Del
Monaco "live" and who have suggested that, of all the Italian tenors they
heard in person, Del Monaco and Penno were the two who dominated the house
space the most.  So it's instructive that you actually found the Bergonzi
sound less dependent on where one was sitting than Del Monaco's.  Evidently,
Del Monaco had -- writ on a much larger "map", of course! -- both the
Bjoerling advantages and disadvantages of a keenly focused tone, something
impossible to gauge on recordings.  This is precisely why personal
descriptions of this sort are beyond price and why I'm so very grateful for

I was lucky enough to see Bergonzi a few times, and I do recall that his
voice was never swamped by anything.  At the same time, it did not have the
same visceral impact as a Corelli or a Vickers.  Ultimately, Bergonzi's was
a more consistently "present" sound than, for instance, Pavarotti's, whose
Manrico I recall being occasionally swamped at certain points.  At the same
time, I somewhat preferred the Pavarotti sound for its sheer beauty,
dazzling.  The most direct comparison I was able to make between the two at
the Met were a Bergonzi Ernani and a Pavarotti Trovatore that were almost
back to back.  That's what made me realize that the Bergonzi "map" was
somewhat more dominant.


>Milanov and Arroyo had enormous top registers; Milanov was also very strong
>throughout the range.


[G.R.] One of the chief regrets of my life is that I had one opportunity to
catch Milanov, in Chenier the last season at the old Met.  But I had opted
for Corelli and Tebaldi already -- who were very exciting -- and I was not
yet compulsive enough to go twice.  If I had it to do over again, I'd never
regret opting for Corelli and Tebaldi at all, but a sense of history would
impel me to go a second time just to catch Milanov.

I agree emphatically about Arroyo.  Each in their way, Arroyo's, Nilsson's
and Radvanovsky's tops are the three most impactful upper registers I've
ever heard.  (By the time I saw Tebaldi, the voice, though still capable of
some very lovely and stirring tones, had lost quality in the top.)

Many a time, I have wished I could have caught Farrell.  Somehow, she was
not on my radar at the time.  I still don't know why.  A shame.

Thanks for an illuminating post.  Your point about Del Monaco, in
particular, adds something important to the oral record, I believe.


Geoffrey Riggs

>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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