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Subject: Re: Tosca and high Cs
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:47:49 -0700
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I will waste my 2nd posting here.  Some roles can readily be done by either
voice category.  We all know many mezzo's with superb high C's and even a c
sharp/dflat. We also know just as many great soprano's who can't sing a
high C to save their lives.  Its a matter of tessitura and where the voice
most comfortably.  This doesn't necessarily go hand and hand.  We all know
Placido Domingo, was always high note challenged but nonetheless a tenor.
Then there was Leonard Warren who used to love to taunt tenors by singing
tenor arias at parties.  Believe me,  I know what I am talking about.  I
sang once upon a time.  I had a big spinto voice.  I could sit forever on
the passagio but any attempt at a high C would have probably requiried
immediate castration (I could however sing a good b flat and a fairly
decent b natural - but that where I stopped).  Some roles are comfortable
for both mezzo sopranos and dramatic sopranos.  Among them are Lady
Macbeth, Ortrud, Venus, a few of the big French dramatic roles (the ones
the Falcon sang) and in the Verdi canon, Eboli and yes, occasionally
Amneris.  Both Ghena Dimitrova and Astrid Varnay sang both Aida and Amneris
at various times in their careers.  I for one would have love to have heard
Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas as Eboli and Amneris late in her career.
Maria Caniglia also.  They had the strength in the middle and bottom to
pull it off.  So, dear children, it is not necessarily a question of how
high you can go, but how high your voice and comfortably sit throughout a
role.  Some mezzo's have no problem there but remain mezzo soprano's
because that is where the basic comfort zone and tonal quality of the voice
is.  Have I made any sense?

Donald

On Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 9:31 AM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> A couple of things
>
> I misspoke earlier. I did not see Leonie as Turandot, which is the role
> I most wish I had seen.
>
> When I saw the Lady Macbeth, I was aware of not only the low note
> problem, but of problematic vocalsm in general. I saw the revival with
> Colzani, her last at the Met and she was in the depths of a vocal crisis
> that led her to abandon all Verdi at the Met a year or so later. That
> was a very bad time in her career, but like the phoenix.....
>
> I cannot begin to answer your Bolena/Macbeth question. Why Macbeth
> works with some mezzos and Bolena has never been attempted (as far as
> I know) is beond my ability to define. BTW, Michael is correct; Irene Dalis
> was a superb Lady Macbeth.
>
> Bob
>
> On Tue, 20 Jun 2017 11:55:10 -0400, Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]
> <javascript:;>> wrote:
>
> >On Tue, 20 Jun 2017 06:25:32 -0400, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]
> <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >
> >>Geoffrey
> >>
> >>I doubt that, outside of Turandot, any of the operas you name have
> >>5 top Cs. She sang lots of other roles with high Cs or higher, including,
> >>Ballo with at least four, Aegyptische Helen, Dalibor and Nabucco.
> >>
> >>I saw her in every opera you mentioned and in all I mentioned
> >>except Helen. I was at the second performace of Medea in Vienna
> >>and thought she was totally out of her element. Too low!
> >
> >====================
> >
> >(G.R.) That raises a question that's intriguing: While I only heard, and
> enjoyed, her Lady
> >Macbeth on recording, you saw it in person. In person, were you sometimes
> aware in the
> >house of a low problem as pronounced as the Medea seemed to you?  (Of
> course, Lady
> >Macbeth has occasionally been given to mezzos, and Gorr did do excerpts of
> Medee for
> >Angel.)
> >
> >I'm reminded of a curious pattern here that emerged recently with respect
> to Lady
> Macbeth
> >and Anna Bolena.  Netrebko was candid enough to say in print that Bolena
> had made her
> >uncomfortable, primarily because of "all those low notes!" Now I saw both
> her Bolena and
> her
> >Lady in person, and it seemed very much the case to me that she was less
> comfortable in
> >Bolena. In fact, the Lady actually worked pretty well for her. So I've
> been waiting for
> someone
> >to ask her what is ostensibly a possibly surprising question: "Is Bolena,
> despite its
> >performance history, actually slightly lower lying in general than the
> Lady?!" So far as I
> know,
> >no diva has actually addressed that question in print or over the air.
> >
> >Cheers,
> >
> >Geoffrey Riggs
> >
> >http://www.operacast.com
> >
> >===============================
> >>
> >>In any case, this is all an illustration of how rare are soprano
> >>roles with 5 or more top Cs, or higher. They are very few!
> >>
> >>Bob
> >>
> >>
> >>On Mon, 19 Jun 2017 23:09:03 -0400, Geoffrey Riggs <[log in to unmask]
> <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >>
> >>>On Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:54:44 -0400, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]
> <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>>By the way, it was mentioned that Tosca has "just" five high Cs.
> >>>>Very few other lyrico/spinto roles have as many.
> >>>>
> >>>>I took a look at Leonie's repertoire, she of the legendary top
> >>>>register.
> >>>>
> >>>>The following roles have no high Cs (or higher) -
> >>>>
> >>>>Elsa, Elisabeth, Sieglinde, Kundry, Senta, Walkuere Brunnhilde ;-),
> >>>>Elizabetta di Valois, Desdemona, the Forza Leonora, Salome,
> >>>>Chrysothemis, Ariadne, Marschallin and Fidelio. (I won't swear
> >>>>to Kundry, but I think that's right). I could be missing a few, but
> >>>>that isn't the point.
> >>>>
> >>>>Of her other oft performed roles, only the Kaiserin, as far as I know,
> >>>>has as many, and Turandot may, but there aren't many.
> >>>
> >>>===========
> >>>
> >>>[G.R.]  Oh, Turandot certainly does (the riddle scene).  The only other
> ones
> >>>I can think of are Aida (a Leonie Aida survives, from San Francisco, I
> >>>believe?) and, of course, Lady Macbeth, where she generally had a big
> success.
> >>>
> >>>Medea (or Medee), which she also did (in the Italian version), has one
> >>>optional high C at the close of Act II.  But in the only document I've
> heard
> >>>of her assumption of this role (from the early '70s), she opts for the
> >>>(slightly) lower ending instead.  Curious, since she is in glowing voice
> on
> >>>this occasion (I've always thought the very early '70s is her finest
> period).
> >>>
> >>>Cheers,
> >>>
> >>>Geoffrey
> >>>
> >>>==============
> >>>
> >>>>
> >>>>Five is a lot by any measure!
> >>>>
> >>>>Bob
> >>>>
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