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Subject: Re: Kaufman in Otello… NY Times:
From: albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:39:54 -0500

text/plain (133 lines)

I am happy to read this especially beside the typical fan gush for Kaufmann
and the bizarre "passagio" myths promulgated here recently.

Zachery Woolfe is and has always been a know nothing idiot. He has no
preparation, no training, no experience and no perspective, His mistakes
are legion and preposterous. He is the product of the Times' contempt for
the arts, although especially serious music, and of the "Internet age" when
every moron with some kind of device is an "expert" who can announce their
superficiality, shallowness, only to be accepted by the slobbering fools
who think the New York Time is other than a toilet paper roll struggling
for relevance in a society without readers (our loss, certainly, but Woolfe
is no solution).

Vinay was my first Otello and I saw him about five times. That's a long
time ago and I was a child. But I haven't forgotten the tremendous impact
of his impersonation, his intensity of utterance and his complete immersion
in the role. Vocally he had pushed up quickly from being a baritone and he
had his limits at the top and sometimes with stamina. But he didn't always
sing badly and it was a heroic voice. I think his best document is the
Kubelik live performance from Covent Garen in 1955. He's in good confident
voice with a conductor who is supportive. He is also movingly soulful in
the enormously musical Furtwaengler performance. Idiots, especially the
Toscanini fan girls (and people think Anna Netrebko is slobbered over by
nuts!), dismiss the performance by the conductor with its profound feeling,
powerful attention to harmonic detail and a vast emotional range. Toscanini
sounds like a jig in comparison (but Furt. has a supporting cast who has a
lot of trouble pronouncing Italian and who do some iffy singing).

Vickers is accurately described above. This was a huge voice, hurled out
when necessary with pulverizing impact and he was a singer capable of great
soft beauty where needed. He had charisma and immense emotional force. When
everything was working for him (he could be uneven) he had the right
abandon in the role -- great hero, revealed in sound as well as manner,
suffering victim, terrifying killer capable of heartbreaking, tragic
remorse when he realizes his monstrous mistake. He had the capacity to
project (on a good night) that Otello's greatness is double edged with a
horrifying animalistic side.

I'm not going to dismiss McCracken, who especially in the first years of
his fame, was an Otello of torrential abandon despite an equivocal sounding
voice and poor Italian, or Atlantov who, again, early in his career in the
West had tremendous power and identification with the role (like McCracken
he did less well over time.) And a singer of the role who I thought sang
beautifully and who was very moving was Carlos Cossutta, a victim of the
Domingo machine -- a mixture of idiotic hype still ongoing and the tenor's
ruthless manipulation of opera house politics.

The really impressive performance I saw Kaufmann give at the Met was Don
Jose. He sang in his odd method although his voice was fresher then, acted
powerfully and possessed a rare (although required) musical elegance and
understanding. The Cavaradossi(s) at the Met were impressive in their way,
although the rather throaty tone and very covered high notes weren't
thrilling (to me). Siegmund was small scaled and small-souled (this was
another overwhelming Vickers' performance) but very competent. Parsifal was
a walk through, praised to high heaven (in Wagner's cosmology Valhalla with
pretty boys) nothing compared to Mattei's Amfortas in the same production
or again, to Vickers' astounding commitment to and belief in the role,
along with a massive tone that shook the walls even at the softest dynamic.
I saw a poor Faust (I was told he was "off'). The most impressed I was with
him was as the King's Son in Koenigskinder in Zurich, where he had the
charisma and arresting sound of a big star in that small house.

I'm tired of him now. I thought his sound and manner on the recent Das Lied
von der Erde where he sings ALL the songs was offputting. The "Stanley"
method, typically in my experience of singers who use it, has worked its
harm on the middle, which has become "backward", throaty and tight. His
voice is not really large, an issue in Otello, and I hear (can I be
delusional?) a hoarse edge on the top, easier sometimes than others. He
prepares very carefully, and I'm sure it's a responsible, musicianly
approach. But (see Netrebko) I'm tired of boring, technically makeshift
performances cheered by the hysterical hypers.

As for Woolfe, he missed his time. Surely, he would have made more sense as
one of the boys in the backroom in the '70's worshiped by old, bald,
self-promoting freaks with Prince Alberts.

On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 10:41 PM, Amaury Leclerc <[log in to unmask]>

> Kaufmann is a wonderful singer, and I don't doubt he was an excellent
> Otello.
> However he does not remind me at all of Jon Vickers who I heard a lot, or
> of Vinay
> who I only know from records. I don't think Zachary Woolfe heard either.
> Vickers' voice was much larger and brighter. Kaufmann has a baritonal
> darkness in
> the middle voice which he then miraculously opens into a brighter top.
> It's not the
> huge, wall-shaking sound Vickers had, but the top is far more reliable.
> Also
> personality wise they are completely different. Vickers performed almost
> in a
> trance, with a wildness that was practically frightening (in Otello or
> Grimes) but
> thrilling. Kaufmann is much more suave and controlled, even when he's
> passionate, he's not unhinged. Vickers was. Kaufmann is of course much
> more the
> romantic lead, handsome and youthful in appearance.
> I'll let someone who saw him analyze Vinay, but to me he sounds much more
> like
> the pushed up baritone without Vickers flair or Kaufmann technical grace.
> Imo Kaufmann and Vickers are both great, but in different ways. I'm not
> raising a
> polemic, just pointing out that the Times' comparison is not really
> accurate.
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