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Subject: Re: Tosca in general
From: francis augustus <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:francis augustus <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 19 Jun 2017 09:58:39 +1000

text/plain (188 lines)

who knew? <>


> On 19 Jun 2017, at 9:12 AM, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I think I will weigh in on this and ramble a bit.  First off, Ponselle
> might have been tempted to do Tosca but in her years at the Met it was the
> almost sole property of Maria Jeritza who was one of Puccini's favorites.
> Jeritza was a massive star - up there with Ponselle and Rethberg.  By the
> time Jeritza left the Met Ponselle might have had second thoughts about
> Tosca.  Jeritza had been the Met's Minnie after Destinn and its first
> Turandot.  Milanov's Met Tosca's came twenty-five years into the roll for
> her - it was one of her first assignments in Yugoslavia and she had a
> notable success with it in the early forties in Buenos Aires.  In the 40's
> at the Met it was the property of Grace Moore and Milanov didn't have the
> clout to demand it if she wanted it - remember, she and Johnson had a
> mutual dislike for each other.  As for Sondra Radvanovsky, if I am not
> mistaken, Tosca was in her rep before Norma and there is no reason a great
> Norma can't be a great Tosca.  If you can sing the role, you can sing the
> role.  Period.  Certain things you don't sing together in the same season,
> but singing is singing and technique is technique.  I'd love to hear Sondra
> as Minnie and even Turandot.  She has the top, the volume, the cut and
> edge, and the technique to pretty much do whatever she wants.
> The French language excerpts with Crespin date to 1961, a year when the
> voice had no problems.  Paul Finel is the Cavaradossi and I believe Rene
> Bianco is the Scarpia.  Pretre conducts.  It presents a good part of her
> Tosca and is fabulous.  If you can find it, there is a French language
> Otello with Crespin as Desdemona and the great Jose Luccioni as Otello.  I
> believe it from 1955 and it too is fabulous.  For the first 15 years of her
> career, she really was a French Tebaldi (of course, she was half Italian).
> Another of my favorite Tosca's was Leonie Rysanek.  It's probably a good
> sample of what Jeritza's Tosca was like.  It was all over the place,
> hystrionically and vocally but wow, those top notes were - hit you in the
> eyes like the proverbial great pizza pie....for me it was amore....
> I heard Tebaldi's Tosca late in her career and she was fabulous even if the
> top was problematic.  Albanese did have secure and fairly big top notes,
> but the rest of the voice was small, the chest register virtually
> non-existent and for me, this negates any positive qualities she had as
> Tosca.  Yes, I've heard the broadcast and yes, she nails much of the role,
> but it really wasn't for her voice.  Tosca needs three things, voice, more
> voice and conviction.  Albanese succeeded on conviction, she really didn't
> have the voice for the role.  Kirsten was a whole other thing.  Yes, she
> was a lyric soprano but she had a spinto cut to the voice, brilliant,
> perfectly placed and produced high notes and she knew how to use her voice
> with the proper accents on the consonants.  Its an old Italian vocal trick
> probably learned from her training in Italy in the 30's.  She also had
> strength in the middle and at the bottom of her voice.
> The point is, there are no set rules.  Each singer, each voice in
> individual and it is best to know what suits you and what doesn't.  Freni
> had a soft grained, luxurious voice.  It was sizeable.  Probably three
> sizes bigger than Albanese but Albanese had cut at the top of the voice.
> She also seems to have gotten Tosca out of her system rather quickly.  I
> don't think it was in her rep very long.  Of course, at the end, after she
> left the Met she did some silly things like Aida, but what the heck, she
> was already in her late 50's and had nothing to lose.
> Enough rambling - its about 110 here in Fountain Hills and I am going to
> jump in the pool.
> Donald
> On Sun, Jun 18, 2017 at 1:22 PM, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 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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