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Subject: Re: Interpolated notes
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 23 Sep 2017 14:38:06 -0400

text/plain (87 lines)

I'm curious why you feel the high Eb in Aida doesn't seem appropriate for the character. I 
think the real reason one might not like it is that it isn't traditionally done, so we're not 
used to it. 

It's certainly feasible to interpret a final high Eb in the Triumphal Scene as a cry of 
despair, not as a showoff vocal moment. Compare the phrase in the "guerra guerra" 
ensemble in Act I sc 1 which brings her up to the high C, above everyone else. That 
seems to me to be in the same vein of interpretation, though of course Verdi actually 
wrote that passage lol. 

We could have the same debate about the end of the Rigoletto quartet - is it more 
suitable for Gilda to sing the middle Db that Verdi wrote, or go for the octave higher? I 
don't know - except for the fact that we're rather used to sopranos taking the high note, 
so maybe we're more used to it and don't mind the interpolation? Even though in some 
respects we can argue the the quiet ending here (unlike the huge ending of the Triumphal 
Scene) seems more effective (and Affective) with the lower note? Open to interpretation. 

How many tenors would be brave enough to sing the end of "Nessun Dorma" as written - 
that is, not holding the high B, and just slowing down a little bit, as he indicates? We can 
certainly interpret the held high B as a moment of strength/defiance/determination, which 
fits the moment. But it's also valid to look at what Puccini actually wrote - the dotted 
rhythm of the last "vincero" matching the rhythm of the one before it, and sounding like a 
triumphant fanfare of sorts, which also clearly fits the dramatic intent. It would be 
interesting to hear a tenor try to make a case for that. ;-)

For those of you that don't mind me foraying into musicals for a second - so, you may 
know that "Frozen" is coming to Broadway, and it's currently trying out in Denver. The 
ubiquitous hit from the film, "Let It Go," is the closing of Act I in the stage version. If you 
know the song (and I'm sure you've all heard it lol), it ends on a "throwaway" line ("the 
cold never bothered me anyway") which works fine in its own way. But the end of an act 
needs something bigger, so they rewrote the line and took it up into a more impressive 
place vocally. Someone recently commented, on another chat board, that they found the 
rewrite vulgar, and that they should have kept the original ending. But that would have 
left the act with something much less exciting to end on - and it's clear to me that they 
knew they had to do something else with that moment musically. And much like many 
final high notes at the end of an act in an opera, it delivers. ;-)

I'm sure we all have certain interpolations that we either hate or love. One that I hate is 
that little turn-y thing that tenors throw in near the end of "Questa O Quella." There are 
ways to justify it dramatically, I'm sure (a bit of swagger, perhaps?) - but I find it rather 

But, going back to my original point, I think it all has more to do with what our ears are 
used to. If we've grown up with certain interpolations as standard, we probably prefer 
them. if someone tries something new, or if there's something done infrequently that 
we're not used to , we might question it. It all has more to do with the listener than the 
singer, IMO. 

On Sat, 23 Sep 2017 09:40:15 -0400, Ghozel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>I have a love/hate relationship with interpolated notes.  Certainly they have a strong 
place in opera, but sometimes they take me out of the character.
>For example, Callas' (and more recently Millo's) interpolated E flats in Aida's Triumphal 
Scene are wonderful to hear but don't seem appropriate for the character.
>On the other hand, elongating (and singing forte) Judith's high C in Bluebeard is actually 
preferable to what Bartok wrote, in my opinion.
>Your thoughts?
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