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Subject: Re: opera performance assessments (was Re: "Herodiade" at Carnegie Hall 1963 )
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 30 May 2017 10:23:51 -0700
Content-Type:text/plain
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I haven't read the full review, and the performance itself was a little
before my time; a few years later and I would probably have been there.
While I have not always agreed with Harold Schoenberg, he was a thoroughly
grounded and educated music critic.  His expertise, as with Anthony
Tommassini, was piano and piano performances but he knew the business, knew
music, and was a capable, thoughtful critic.  A good critic should have
elements of both knowledge of subject and performance history and a working
knowledge of various musical instruments, including voice. There is
certainly a difference between writing as an educated critic and merely as
a fan who writes as if he has experienced a night at the fights, although I
might argue that some operatic evenings, especially in the bad old days of
the American Opera Society, were more akin to the fights then to a musical
performance, or more correctly, has proportions of both.

Donald

On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 10:15 AM, Estelle Gilson <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> And what a perceptive voice oriented assessment of the performance.
>
> Do opera/music critics write more more intellectually perceptive
> assessments of performances than opera/music reviewers?
>
> Estelle
>
>
>
>
> Yes, apparently it was a loud and exciting night.  From H.C. Schonberg's
>> NYT review:
>>
>> " 'Herodiade' may be a tintype, but at least it does not lack effective
>> vocal moments.  and
>> the singers last night took full advantage of those moments.  Carnegie
>> Hall was filled with
>> some of the loudest, lustiest singing heard hereabouts in ages.  Whether
>> or not Massenet
>> intended to have his tunes belted out so violently is another matter.
>> Certainly the old
>> singers who recorded the popular parts of the score did not blast their
>> way through it as did
>> the principals on this occasion.
>>
>> "We all know Rita Gorr has a big voice.  Last night she was positively
>> earsplitting when she
>> let loose.  The leading tenor part, that of John the Baptist, was sung by
>> Guy Chauvet.  He is
>> a Frenchman who was making his New York debut, and he too seemed to
>> operate only on a
>> fortissimo level.  His voice is hard and lacks any kind of sensuous
>> coloration, but the young
>> man does have good lungs and is not in the least bashful about showing
>> them off.
>>
>> "In size of voice, Regine Crespin matched anybody in the cast.  But in
>> her case there was a
>> significant difference.  She can mix timbres and dynamics and here she
>> did, throwing in
>> some perfectly beautiful pianissimo singing on occasion.  Miss Crespin is
>> a dramatic soprano
>> with something of Milanov in her sound and production.  The one weak part
>> of her vocalism
>> is the somewhat jagged sound she produces at full voice above the staff.
>> Otherwise she is a
>> great singer, one of the really important ones of this decade."
>>
>> MDW
>>
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