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Subject: Re: question
From: Md <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Md <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 30 Jul 2017 13:59:08 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain
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The top notes are indeed C's and the sustained note
at the end of each "verse" is a B natural.  Many, many
Wagnerian sopranos had rich middle voices that made
it difficult to traverse those C's.  Many do a sort of
police siren that releases near the note, and more power
to them!  Nilsson used to sledge-hammer them, which is
harder, but Karajan insisted she do them as slithers in their
performances together.  You can hear the result in their
one Met broadcast.  

Perhaps the exception that proved the rule was Varnay -
a thick voice, but with a massive high C.  In her prime, she
could do anything.  One could quibble about her tendency to scoop from
below, but that's a stylistic judgement which one either hates
or tolerates.  I'm in the latter camp.

The C's in Siegfried are approached via
an octave jump in the beginning and then via a 4th for the
final 2.  That makes them somewhat possible for heavier voices,
since they are main overtones of the connected, well supported
voice.  The killer C of course is the one in Verdi's "O Patria Mia",
which is approached by scale and the final interval is a whole
step.  CRUEL.  And that one note keeps many sopranos from singing
the entire role.  

Speaking of AIDA, it's interesting to note that the role of Isolde contains
more notes in the first act than the entire role of Aida! Isolde is a very
tired girl when she encounters Tristan again in Act 2.  The C's make perfect
dramatic sense, but only one who has stood in Isolde's shoes, with a 90
piece orchestra filled with brass between herself and a 4,200 seat Met
audience will know the decision making process right before she has to
commit to 'go for it' or not.  After Nilsson they seem indispensable, but
I'm not sure audiences prior felt the same way.  But then, I wasn't there!


On Sun, 30 Jul 2017 01:53:17 -0400, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Will someone please be so kind as to answer the following question:
>     In the opening of Act II of "Die Walkure", is Brunnhilde's ultimate
high note a top B or a 
>top C???  I'm referring to the Battle Cry, of course.  Helen Traubel simply
didn't own a high 
>C from the very beginning, and though Flagstad took them regularly from
1935 to 1941, she 
>stopped taking them after her return in 1947).  Yet both of them appeared
in many Ring 
>performances in the late 1940s and Flagstad did the 1950 Furtwangler Ring
as well as a 
>complete Ring at the Met as late as 1951, as did Traubel.  Later, of
course, these notes were 
>never an issue or problem for Birgit Nilsson.
>     Were transpositions made for them?  John Culshaw cited Flagstad's
refusal to sing a 
>complete recorded Walkure in 1957 (and instead recorded Act I and Act III
separately, the 
>results of which were critically acclaimed.  Culshaw also cited Flagstad's
recalcitrance about 
>Isolde's lightning top Cs in Act II of Tristan Und Isolde (those two
infamous notes that could 
>have been left out altogether, but which Schwarzkopf "dubbed in").  He then
said that since 
>she no longer had a top C, a complete Walkure in 1957 was impossible.
>     But are those Battle Cry notes in the opening of Walkure Bs or Cs?? 
If they're written as 
>Cs, they were obviously transposed one step down.  If they're Bs, then they
were sung as 
>written.  Culshaw's statements confused me.
>     I tend to think they're Bs because I can't imagine Wagner being
transposed downwards 
>in the 1940s.  
>     I hope I'm making sense here.
>
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