LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 15.5

Help for OPERA-L Archives


OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives


View:

Next Message | Previous Message
Next in Topic | Previous in Topic
Next by Same Author | Previous by Same Author
Chronologically | Most Recent First
Proportional Font | Monospaced Font

Options:

Join or Leave OPERA-L
Reply | Post New Message
Search Archives


Subject: Re: What is a "huge" voice?
From: tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 30 May 2017 16:27:39 +0000
Content-Type:text/plain
Parts/Attachments:
Parts/Attachments

text/plain (92 lines)


Some years ago, there was a concert performance of Herodiade in Carnegie Hall, with Rita Gorr and Regine Crespin.  According to one reviewer, there was little paint remaining on the walls after the two ladies stopped singing.  Freni, like Bergonzi, knew when to sound loud without straining her lyric- spinto voice from mid career to the end.


________________________________
From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 11:16 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [OPERA-L] What is a "huge" voice?

There lots of talk frequently on this List about "huge" or "big" voices.  But rarely is there
ever any discussion about what exactly makes a "huge" voice.  For example, I don't think
many would say that Mirella Freni had a huge voice.  And yet, twice when I heard her (once
as Aida, once as Tatiana, both in Houston), she produced at several points some of the
biggest jaw-dropping sounds I have ever heard from a soprano.  It was only on several
notes that had exceptional resonance, both in the upper-middle register.  But in those
passages, the voice was "huge."

I thought it interesting that someone included Shirley Verrett among the huge-voiced
singers.  The voice was plenty big, she certainly had no trouble being heard, but to my ears
it was a well-projected but essentially slender (in terms of focus) sound.

To my ears, there are a number of different components that can make up what I think of
as a "huge" voice, and they are not necessarily the same thing.  Flagstad, for example (and
I speak here based on live recordings and contemporary accounts), had what I think of as
"amplitude" in her singing - not a cutting sound, but one that just rolled out over the
orchestra and enveloped the listener.  She was like a lyric soprano on steroids.  Completely
different was the effect of Nilsson's voice (and I heard her live many times): it was plenty
big, in terms of sheer volume, but what made it so extraordinary was its ability to cut
through any amount of orchestral or ensemble sound without ever sounding shrill or harsh.
This is the quality that many have described as Nilsson's "silver spear."  Hard to put in
words, but those of you who heard her live know just what I am talking about.  A good
friend of mine in NY in the 70s heard both Flagstad and Nilsson many times and esteemed
them both, but he said that the impact of their voices, in terms of size and projection, was
completely different.

There are some singers whose voice is huge in certain registers but not particularly large in
others.  Rysanek was one of those, in the upper register (her voice did not project nearly as
well in the middle and lower registers, sometimes not at all).  Ewa Podles had the biggest
sound in the lower register of any singer in my experience, but the voice got more slender
as it went up the scale.  So, can we really say that, generally speaking these singers had
"huge" voices when in most of their range the voice was not exceptionally large?

Then there are singers whose voices "roar" (again, my own impression).  Not an especially
pleasant sound, but impressive just in terms of sheer decibels.  Obratsova, Giangiacomo
Guelfi and Ute Vinzing were of this type.

Years ago a friend of mine at the Dallas Opera, who had heard just about every great singer
from 1950 on, said that the young Gwyneth Jones, in her American debut in Dallas as Lady
Macbeth, had the biggest voice she ever heard (including Nilsson).  She described Jones'
voice as "splashing" off the back wall at the State Fair Music Hall.  I tend to think of Jones
as an "amplitude" singer of the Flagstad type.

So, I would really like to know what people mean when they talk about a "huge" voice.
There are many different kinds of size.  And lets not forget that, as in other aspects of
anatomy, skill in handling the instrument can be more effective than sheer size.

MDW

**********************************************
OPERA-L on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/25703098721/

[https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-0/c0.7.200.200/p200x200/1513171_10152077311791630_1299212939526826837_n.jpg?oh=a9690bdb5d4da0ab394476edc9bce728&oe=599D7F42]<http://www.facebook.com/groups/25703098721/>

OPERA-L<http://www.facebook.com/groups/25703098721/>
www.facebook.com
Facebook corollary to the e-mail list OPERA-L, dedicated to discussion of opera and related topics. To subscribe, go to: http://listserv.bccls.org/archives/opera-l.html



--------------------------------------------------------------------------
To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to [log in to unmask]
containing only the words:  SIGNOFF OPERA-L
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
To stay subscribed but TURN OFF mail, send a message to
[log in to unmask] containing only the words:  SET OPERA-L NOMAIL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Modify your settings: http://listserv.bccls.org/archives/opera-l.html
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

**********************************************
OPERA-L on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/25703098721/
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to [log in to unmask]
containing only the words:  SIGNOFF OPERA-L
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
To stay subscribed but TURN OFF mail, send a message to
[log in to unmask] containing only the words:  SET OPERA-L NOMAIL
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Modify your settings: http://listserv.bccls.org/archives/opera-l.html
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Back to: Top of Message | Previous Page | Main OPERA-L Page

Permalink



LISTSERV.BCCLS.ORG

CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager