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Subject: Re: Caballe (my evil thoughts), was 1973 Norma
From: Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 26 Jul 2017 14:06:30 -0400
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It's been a while since I read Rasponi's "The Last Prima Donnas" but I seem
to remember a good portion of the old girls interviewed for that book had a
considerable amount of praise for Caballe.  Many felt she, and not
necessarily some of her equally famous contemporaries, was part of the
"Grand Tradition" they themselves saw as their legacy.

"Grand Tradition" could mean a catalogue of things from vocal opulence to
an outsized temperament, to a diva's disdain for some of the niceties of
technique.  In other words, an ability to create a transcendent experience
even if (when?) it means bending the rules, or breaching good taste to turn
inherent defects to advantage.

Yes, she crooned, coasted, often made mush of the words, sang a repertory
that required trilling without a trill, aspirated her runs - but I would be
hard pressed to find many who could survive all of that and still bring an
audience roaring to its feet.  I saw her live about 10 times between opera
/ concert  and her stage presence was more Semaphoric than Delsarte, but
even when that was combined with her size, she had a certain grandeur.

Better than my words, her "Roberto Devereux" from Toulouse shows the magic
she can work with her particular combination of virtues and flaws...and if
you don't hear it for yourself...you'll certainly hear the impact she had
on that 1977 audience.

On Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 12:34 PM, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> A short reply to your questions although one from Maestro Innaurato would
> of course be more to the point.
>
> It was Caballe's Met debut as Marguerite in Faust that I think he was
> referring to.  She obviously forgot her lines and either vocalized or
> invented her own words.  Crooning is soft singing in an unsupported way,
> not piano which is fully supported by the breath and part or should be part
> of every singers technique.  Some singers simplify and adjust the music to
> their abilities or lack of abilities.  Caballe did this at times and it is
> unfortunate because she had the making of a truly great singer and was a
> first class musician.  She got lazy and coasted.  This being said, in
> concert she could have incredible charm and sweetness and when the voice
> was working and all of the stars were aligned, the sheer beauty of her
> voice and her native ability shown through. That's why we loved her.
>
> But, as Al said, she was a big lyric soprano - never a true spinto let
> alone a dramatic.
>
> Donald
>
> On Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 4:12 AM, Henry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > albert innaurato <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > > ...in the last scene, she sang with feeling and great sweetness of
> sound.
> > > However, she forgot all the words (AS OPPOSED TO REFUSING TO
> > > SING THEM) and the great John Alexander (Faust) was left at something
> of
> > a
> > > loss.
> >
> >
> >
> > > ... She began to croon and leave music out. She ABANDONED
> > > WORDS, sometimes because she forgot them or hadn't learned them,
> > > sometimes TO EASE EMISSION OF HER TONE.
> >
> >
> >
> > Please excuse this neophyte's confusion but what are you talking about?
> >
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