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Subject: Re: Kaufman in Otello… NY Times:
From: donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:donald kane <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 24 Jun 2017 15:07:23 -0400

text/plain (280 lines)

Unlike the rest of you guys, I'm not a big fan of OTELLO, but it is
gratifying to read the appreciation of Atlantov and of McCracken,
not only by you but by Albert Innaurato, whose words have been
sorely missed in recent years.  I also heard Botha in his final HD
appearance, and those three are the only ones that made an indelible
impression in the role, aside from such recorded versions as Vickers
and Vinay, (yes, even with Toscanini - no, especially with Toscanini).

As for Kaufmann: I have never been bothered by the reputed darkness;
he seems able to compensate with ample brightness when needed.
but I don't care for the exaggerated dynamic swoops  - loud to soft, and
back again,  - such as I heard in a recent Youtube of the First Act duet.
He may have been doing what the score says, but I was more aware of
a singer at those moments than I was of Otello, the man.


On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 1:47 PM, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I am going to have to agree with Albert on this.  I have heard Kaufmann
> many times, first in Chicago years ago when he debuted as Cassio to the
> Otello of Ben Heppner.  It was a very different voice then from the dark,
> ingolata sound we hear now.  I yield to no one in allowing Kaufmann what he
> does well.  He is muscianly, a fine interpreter and the voice works.  He
> has his technique and it serves him well.  My problem is the muscularity
> and throatiness of the sound.  It is all dark, there is no light, no
> brightness at all in the voice although the top can be thrilling.  And, it
> is not a big voice.  Yes, it is ample, he cuts and can be heard, but it is
> not a big sound.  He might very well be the best that we have and I have no
> doubt that he would have been a major player at any time in recent operatic
> history but I have never been able to get as thrilled as others have about
> him.
> Jon Vickers was probably the greatest Otello I ever heard and I've heard
> most of the important ones since 1965, many, multiple times.  The
> combination of art, pathos and vocal quality was unequaled.  At his best,
> it was a monumental portrayal exceedingly well sung and yes, the top could
> be a problem but when it worked, it was superb and there was always an
> obvious tenor sound to the voice.  This was no pushed up baritone.  His
> Siegmund was overwhelming, equaled in my experience only by James King.  I
> have heard Kaufmann's Siegmund in the theatre and I was not overwhelmed.
> Vickers here was in a class of his own (of course excepting Melchior).
> Also magnificent was his Don Jose, Canio, Parsifal and of course Peter
> Grimes.  His Handel was pretty good also.  A great Samson, both Handel and
> Saint-Saens.  Jon ickers was a force of nature.
> The singer who most resembles Kaufmann in the extreme darkness of his voice
> was James McCracken but he could produce a massive sound and his Otello was
> heartbreaking to the extreme.  Atlantov had a magnificent voice with a true
> tenors ring.  This was a marvelous instrument whose best years were before
> he was allowed a relatively unfettered access to the west.  I am not going
> to dump on Domingo except to say that the Domingo/Pavarotti machine
> probably was the undoing of more than a few wonderful tenors who should
> have had more exposure.  Carlos Cossutta was a magnificent Otello.  The
> voice was beautiful, he sang beautifully and as Albert says, he was a
> moving Otello, a serious contender.
> The big elephant in the room is of course Mario Del Monaco.  I never heard
> him live - his best years and his American career were just a bit before my
> time but from what I can hear of his recordings, especially the early ones,
> he had it all and if he were around today would blow Mr. Kaufmann out of
> the water.  He tends to be dismissed today as a loud bawler but he was
> definitely not.  Almost everyone I knew who did hear him live has a
> different story to tell.
> Again, for all of you Kaufmannites out there, I don't want to diss him, nor
> do I want to dismiss him.  I just wish there was a bit more light and
> brightness in the voice.  The constant darkness is off-putting, at least to
> me.  I am going to see the Covent Garden showing on July 17 and will give
> it a shot.  I've changed my opinion before, most noticeably about Sondra
> Radvanovsky -  was never a fan until I heard the Norma, Anna Bolena and
> Elisabetta.
> Donald
> On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 8:39 AM, albert innaurato <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > 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.
> > AI
> >
> > On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 10:41 PM, Amaury Leclerc <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > 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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