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Subject: Re: Caballe (my evil thoughts), was 1973 Norma
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 27 Jul 2017 09:20:52 -0700
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David, I think you have said it all, and well.  Nothing more to add.  And I
agree totally with the Carmen dialogue or any dialogue in fact. I think
accuracy with the words is a train that has left the station.  I know its
been said before, when Richard Tucker opened his mouth, he sounded like
Brooklyn but when he sang, it was a whole other thing entirely.  His
generation of American singers for the most part, learned how to enunciate
and work with the words.  Regine Crespin, even with her rather heavy French
accent, was a marvel when she sang in English or any other language for
that matter.  I hear a lot of young singers in competitions and I don't
always here a proper command of sung language.  I agree with you, its
definitely got something to do with  having to be a jack of all trades and
not singing in the vernacular.

Donald

On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 1:30 AM, David Geary <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> The wholte "Prima le parole, dopo la musica" and or vice-versa is a
> silly discussion. The fact is that in vocal music, the words and the
> music are the same thing. You can't have one without the other.  As I
> always tell my students, the difference between instrumental and vocal
> music is the words. The words are part of the music, and if you ignore
> them and/or don't pronounce them, you aren't performing the music. It is
> ironic that most opera fans insist that operas should be sung in the
> original language, but then don't mind if the singers don't bother to
> get the words across.
> Up until the 60s or so singers could generally be understood much better
> than singers today. And I'm sure that this happened when Italy, Germany,
> France and England, less so North America, stopped performing everything
> in the language of the country, and singers stopped singing primarily in
> their own language. Now singers spend a lot of time singing in languages
> they don't speak, and even if you learn the meaning of every word (which
> a lot don't) it isn't the same as speaking it. So the temptation is just
> to make pretty (hopefully at least!) noises and a general sort of
> expression. Besides, why concentrate on enunciating clearly when
> everyone is reading the surtitles anyway?
> On the subject of gestures BTW, it was Maria Callas who said "Never make
> a gesture unless you follow it with your heart and your mind."
> Back to Caballé. She considered those Orange Norma performances the best
> of anything she ever gave. Two weeks afterwards, she says, she received
> a small package in the mail. It was from Callas, and contained the
> earrings she had worn of stage as Norma. Passing on the torch.
>
> David
>
> As long as I'm at it, I'll go to another bugbear of mine, the dialogues
> in Carmen. If you are performing the opera in France, and/or with french
> singers, by all means the dialogues are to be prefered. But if you
> performing it ouside of France without a french singer in sight, use the
> recitatives, for heaven's sake! I don't think there is anything quite as
> ridiculous as a bunch of singers (who generally don't do dialogue very
> well anyway) spouting pages of dialogue in a language they don't speak
> to an audience that doesn't understand it!
>
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