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Subject: Re: Tosca in general
From: Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:02:53 -0400
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On Sun, 18 Jun 2017 17:20:41 -0400, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>There are four top Cs for Tosca
>
>One in the offstage cantata in act two, two others in that act,
>and the infamous "Io quella lama" in act three.  They are all
>exposed and have been the downfall of some otherwise great
>Toscas, Callas in 65 comes immediately to mind.
>
>To my friend, Tom Ponti - Freni was anything but careful at times.
>She sang both Aida and Don Carlo, I believe for Karajan at
>Salzburg and in the recording studio.

=============

[G.R.]  I found it very interesting to read Krassimira Stoyanova's take on
Aida versus Don Carlo, in an interview for Opera Wire:



--  “I finished a production of ‘Don Carlo’ at the Teatro alla Scala and if
I can compare Elisabetta di Valois with Aida, I would say they are
completely different. Elisabetta has a very long line that seems
interminable. It’s like an ocean, long and is written in the middle of the
voice. It’s dark and it really evokes the inquisition, which is the time
period this opera happens in. Verdi used these colors and for all his
characters, the lines are very long.”

Another difference that could be surprising to most is the size of the
orchestra. Aida has many enormous choral sections that the soprano has to
sing over while Elisabetta has mostly duets and one concertato. Yet
Stoyanova believes that “Don Carlo” is heavier.

“The orchestra is also heavy and full. But Aida, which has a huge orchestra
is written very differently. For example for the role of Aida, I would say
its more vertical than horizontal. Aida is more comfortable than Elisabetta.
Elisabetta, you need a bigger voice and a longer line that I don’t
necessarily have.” 
[http://operawire.com/sticking-to-the-score-krassimira-stoyanova-on-finding-musical-surprises-from-a-conservative-approach-to-verdi-verismo-bel-canto/]
--



These reflections remove -- to a degree -- my erstwhile puzzlement at
something Dorothy Kirsten once said when remarking on Don Carlo.  As simply
a listener myself and no singer(!), I, like I'm sure many others here, have
always taken it for granted that -- for instance -- Minnie is a textbook
Verismo dramatic.  Yet Kirsten, while acknowledging a variety of
difficulties in Minnie, still performed it a number of times and even
remarked on how well she took to it.  Yet she was also approached for
Elisabetta in Don Carlo around the very same time, duly studied it from end
to end, learned it cold and then made her decision: [paraphrase] "I decided
not to sing it at all, because it was entirely too heavy for me".

Now it's not hard to come up with casting chart after casting chart (the
Fach rundowns from Germany, reminiscences in Rasponi,  the casting charts in
the Lawrence books, etc.) that seem to suggest that Elisabetta is a spinto
and Minnie a full dramatic.  But when someone like Kirsten finds Elisabetta
harder than Minnie and the gifted Stoyanova finds Elisabetta harder than
Aida, it's time to sit up and take notice.  I'm ready to reevaluate
Elisabetta as a full dramatic, while very full lyrics -- but of course they
need to be very full indeed -- can probably get away, though with some due
caution, with singing a strictly budgeted number of both Aidas and Toscas.

Cheers,

Geoffrey Riggs

http://www.operacast.com  

=============

 Tosca is much less
>demanding of lyric types, proven by Kirsten, Albanese, Pampanini
>and many others who have enjoyed great success, despite the
>protests of our colleagues, Walter and Takis.
>
>Bob
>
>
>On Sunday, June 18, 2017, Ximena Sepulveda <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Pardon my ignorance, but where are the many high Cs for the soprano in
>> Tosca?
>>
>> On Sun, Jun 18, 2017 at 4:53 PM, tom ponti <[log in to unmask]
>> <javascript:;>> wrote:
>>
>> > Some years ago I either read or heard some operatic expert say that Tosca
>> > will always be around because most sopranos want to sing the title role.
>> > Ponselle probably avoided the role due to the many high C's, just as she
>> > avoided Aida. I think that perhaps Freni was a bit too cautious, except
>> for
>> > Elvira in Ernani which IMO was not at all suited for her voice. If
>> Albanese
>> > and Kirsten were outstanding as Tosca, I would think that Freni could be
>> > too. The same is true with Butterfly. I saw Kirsten the night she came
>> out
>> > of retirement, in her mid-late sixties, and gave a wonderful performance
>> > with Bergonzi and Mc Neil. That could have been the oldest Tosca cast of
>> > all time? Whatever all three were great. I was also very fond of
>> Crespin's
>> > Tosca the night I saw her. Both she and Rysenak sang the role very well,
>> > but acted very differently. Leonie was all over the stage, whereas Regine
>> > commanded the stage with minimal movement. Leonie was better on top,
>> > Regine- mid and lower voice. Nilsson sang the role effortlessly, but her
>> > acting at times, was a bit silly.  Tosca may be a trashy little thriller
>> to
>> > some but to most sopranos, a must sing role.  I doubt that Callas really
>> > disliked the role as she performed it 51 times, I would think, throughout
>> > her career.  It was certainly her best role the last five or more years
>> of
>> > her career. I once saw Albanese and some other singers say that, vocally,
>> > Tebaldi was the best Tosca they had seen.
>> >
>> >
>> > ________________________________
>> > From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]
>> <javascript:;>>
>> > on behalf of Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask] <javascript:;>>
>> > Sent: Sunday, June 18, 2017 4:22 PM
>> > To: [log in to unmask] <javascript:;>
>> > Subject: [OPERA-L] Tosca in general
>> >
>> > It kind of surprises me (a little) that Tosca should generate so much
>> > discussion here.
>> > Perhaps I've tired of it, but I of course was greatly thrilled by it when
>> > I first heard it as a
>> > teen.  Of course I was raised on the legendary Callas/di Stefano/Gobbi -
>> > de Sabada
>> > recording, but I also later acquired those Tosca recordings with Tebaldi,
>> > Milanov, Caballe,
>> > Freni, Price, and others.
>> >       Denounce me as a Philistine if you will, but I have a hard time
>> > wrapping my head
>> > around the fact that every great soprano with an even moderate sized
>> voice
>> > has taken on
>> > Tosca.  Rosa Ponselle was a very wise artist.  She is the only major
>> great
>> > soprano who,
>> > to my knowledge, never went near it.  Freni recorded it twice, but (also
>> > to my
>> > knowledge) never attempted Tosca onstage.
>> >       The role itself, while glamorous and containing the "Visi d'Arte",
>> > is to my ears very
>> > punishing for the soprano voice.  Of course, it's the second act that's
>> so
>> > dangerous, what
>> > with all that screaming and carrying-on with Scarpia to be interrupted by
>> > the need for a
>> > perfectly beautiful and controlled vocal line for the aria, followed by
>> > more screaming and
>> > carrying on to the end of the act ------ which makes me wonder why so
>> many
>> > truly great
>> > sopranos have chosen to undertake it.  The third act is no piece of cake
>> > either.
>> >       I was very disappointed that Sondra Radvanovsky choose to do Tosca
>> > on the stage. In
>> > my opinion, I can't see why a notable Norma would even want to bother
>> with
>> > Tosca. Most
>> > of Callas' Toscas were at the end of her career, with just a small number
>> > peppered during
>> > her prime years (the Met, where Bing offered her little else other than
>> > Violetta and Lucia
>> > and those debut Normas).  She herself admitted her dislike for the role.
>> >  Albanese, who
>> > actually had a huge enough top (surprisingly), managed to achieve a good
>> > success with it
>> > at the Met in 1952 and 1957).  Tebaldi had the beauty of appearance, a
>> > huge voice, and
>> > could manage the top Cs well enough prior to 1960.  After that, the
>> > extreme uppermost
>> > portion of her voice (B and C) was a matter of pot luck.  But she still
>> > could deliver a
>> > grand and valid Tosca.  Finally, despite two complete studio recordings
>> > (and a 1962
>> > performance on Sony from the Met), Leontyne Price also discarded the
>> role.
>> >      The best Tosca I ever heard onstage was Regine Crespin, who produced
>> > a second act
>> > (with Gobbi) that remains forever burned into my brain ------- and her
>> > voice at the time
>> > was huge and abundant right up to the top C.  But by the late 1960's, she
>> > dropped the
>> > role and never made a commercial recording of it.  I never saw Callas do
>> > it, except on
>> > those two videos of Act II from 1958 and 1964), but I can certainly see
>> > why she caused
>> > so much excitement in it).
>> >      Dorothy Kirsten is to me an amazing and vastly under-rated soprano.
>> > She sang all
>> > the Puccini roles with great distinction, stopping only at Turandot.  How
>> > she managed it is
>> > still a mystery to me.  I think she was a victim of bad timing (singing
>> in
>> > a generation that
>> > already had Callas, Tebaldi, Milanov, Steber, Price, Crespin, etc.)
>> >      Bottom line:  Tosca can be as dangerous for the voice as Turandot.
>> > It's a very "big
>> > sing" and I think it's popularity has encouraged a lot of sopranos to
>> > undertake it, and
>> > some have paid a price.  Smarter artists try to sing it as little as
>> > possible.  Others should
>> > follow Ponselle's and Freni's example and not sing it at all.
>> >
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