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Subject: Re: Caballe (my evil thoughts), was 1973 Norma
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 26 Jul 2017 12:39:19 -0700
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Tom, if you're reacting to my post, there's no trashing involved. I'm recounting what I heard and saw as objectively as I can and I expressed enthusiasm as well as criticism.

The "bad nights" I mention, which you were lucky enough to miss, were not small lapses - they were times when her voice totally failed.  That said, I felt very bad for her in the Norma. In one of the big duets with Adalgisa there's a section where Norma sings as passage with a high C after which Adalgisa repeats same (sometimes singing the C, sometimes not). Caballé cracked very badly on the C but then Cossotto absolutely honked the note in a way that seemed gloating.

On the topic of diction and singing, I have to agree with Albert. The sounds that carry are the vowels and, to me, beautiful singing is beautiful, clear vowels. That's why I often had trouble enjoying Sutherland, but why I also loved Horne.

A singer who took clarity of diction extremely seriously was Elisabeth Grümmer. Colleagues reported her sometimes, in rehearsals, bringing herself to the point of tears with self-frustration at the effort to get both words and tone exactly right.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jul 26, 2017, at 11:29, tom ponti <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> Well, it seems as though this is trash Caballe week on opera-l. I saw her many times and never heard a totally bad performance from her. I did not see her Tosca, which was not well received, as I recall. I was a bit disappointed with her Aida, as she tried to sound very loud in the first two acts and seemed to run out of gas by the Nile scene, which was not as good as one would expect from her. I first heard her in Il Pirata, in CH, and fell in love with her voice within a few minutes. I thought her Maria Stuarda was incredible, especially the last act prayer. The confrontation was great too, with Verrett. I loved her as Luisa Miller, Violetta, Desdemona, and Elizabeth in Don Carlo. I am not saying she was the greatest in any of these roles, but truly outstanding. Yes, she could resort to crooning and overdo the pianos.  I remember going to Adriana L. one Saturday afternoon and being disappointed with her first act aria, due to her crooning. I found the first act boring so did not stay for the rest of the opera. A few weeks later, on the broadcast, I caught the last act and thought she was vocally incredible. Her Trovatore Leonora was mostly very good, though I was disappointed with the last act great aria, primarily because she seemed to be crooning and I still had Price in my ears for that aria. No doubt, like all great singers, she had her off nights and vocal flaws. Overall though, IMO, she was one of the great sopranos of the sixties and seventies.
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 1:43 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Caballe (my evil thoughts), was 1973 Norma
> 
> I first saw her in the mid 70s. Norma in Paris (she was having a very bad night), Turandot, Tosca, Semiramide and "Ballo" Amelia (another very bad night) in San Francisco. She could produce individual very loud sounds of Nilsson-like volume but forte high notes were often very squally and unpleasant. I thought her best singing was in the incredibly long breathed, often beautifully shaped phrases at moderate to soft volume levels. Sometimes she went too far with that - distending phrases at the cost of the musical flow.
> 
> I think my favorite recording of her is actually her Fiordiligi in the Colin Davis "Cosi fan Tutte." I also thought she might have been a very good Donna Anna or Elvira but I never heard her do either. I didn't care for her Tosca at all - the timbre seemed all wrong to me, surprisingly lacking warmth, both live and on the Davis recording. I do like her Salome recording very much.
> 
> Max Paley
> 
> Sent from my iPad
> 
>> On Jul 26, 2017, at 09:34, 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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