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Subject: Re: Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question
From: Larry Kellum <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Larry Kellum <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 12 Oct 2017 10:19:58 -0400
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Nell was no Simionato or Cossotto or Bumbry or Obratsova. She shouldnt
be mentioned in the same breath. I never saw her, but my mom did too
many times when Irene Dalis or Mignon Dunn were better, according to
her.

On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 9:38 AM, Vesna Danilovic <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> My hearing of the studio AIDA is the same as Max described and, given how
> inconsistent Milanov was here, I'm puzzled why it's often on the lists of
> her best recordings. But she was almost 50 by that time and already had
> dozens of roles behind her, from lyric coloratura to "jugendlich
> dramatisch"...
>
> Her best "Ritorna vincitor" that I've heard is on the Met broadcast from
> 1943. It's terrific, both musically and dramatically. If anyone thinks that
> she lacked the temperamental drive for dramatically intense singing, her
> '43 'Ritorna vincitor" proves the opposite. Alas, not as good in "O patria
> mia" and, since her high C is discussed here, to also mention that she
> attacks it in forte. I agree that she could be uneven on the same night,
> but this was her best Aida overall IMO and, by today's standards, even her
> "O patria mia" would cause envy.
>
> After listening to many of her recordings, my take on Milanov's recorded
> legacy is that the earlier the better and live generally preferred to
> studio, a few exceptions of course permitted.
>
> Vesna
>
> On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 9:37 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> Those of you who heard and saw Milanov live can hear these recordings
>> differently from those of us who didn’t.
>>
>> Without that benefit, what I hear on that studio “Aida” (after some superb
>> singing from Bjoerling and Barbieri):
>>
>> Aida’s entrance through “Ritorna vincitor”: squally, unpleasant of
>> uncertain pitch
>>
>> “Numi pieta”: stunning, ravishing “best in the world” singing
>>
>> Act 2: alternating mix of above
>>
>> “O patria mia”: absolutely gorgeous, amazingly beautiful, expansive,
>> controlled singing
>>
>> Aida-Amonasro: squawk, squawk
>>
>> “La, tra le foreste vergine”: stunning beautiful legato
>>
>> Agitated end of duet with Radames: Huff and puff
>>
>> Tomb Scene: Magnificent singing
>>
>> So, for overall listening to Verdi’s “Aida” vs. a particular singer, I
>> much prefer a firmer, better pitched sound like Tebaldi (high C issues
>> notwithstanding) or Price or Harteros (I like hearing Aida sung with the
>> clean intonation of a good Strauss singer).
>>
>> Also, shallow as it may sound, for listening to the opera and Verdi’s
>> score, I want really good stereo sound and top orchestral playing. Solti
>> gets surprisingly good playing out of the Rome Opera group. Karajan gets
>> mesmerizing, hypnotic sounds out of the Vienna Philharmonic on both his
>> recordings. Some have complained about the engineering on the 1959 Decca
>> but on my system it remains an audiophile spectacular and I have no trouble
>> hearing the singers.
>>
>> But Milanov’s high points are pretty splendid.
>>
>> Max Paley
>>
>>
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
>> > On Oct 11, 2017, at 16:19, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >
>> > Max:
>> >
>> >      I've often thought the same thing about Milanov.  I own this
>> particular broadcast and I agree with you. Nell Rankin also was a fine
>> Laura (again with Milanov) in Gioconda.  Rankin had a very good career
>> ----not on the level of Stignani, Barbieri, Simionato, Cossotto, or Zajick,
>> but a good career nonetheless.  I rather like her Amneris as well.  I would
>> put her in the category of "extremely valuable house mezzo soprano".
>> >
>> >     As far as Zinka Milanov's "O Patria Mia" top C, you are totally
>> correct.  Her RCA recital of the early 1950s and her complete recording of
>> 1955 both contain superb piano high Cs at the conclusion of "O Patria
>> Mia".  But we must remember that she was in a studio, with no audience
>> pressure, and was undoubtedly given ample opportunity to produce that very
>> difficult note.  She could have done multiple "takes" and then choose which
>> one she wanted spliced into the final master.   Overall, she's pretty great
>> on this recording and I consider her Tomb Scene with Bjoerling one of the
>> greatest pieces of duet singing I've ever experienced ---------- and still
>> the most vocally opulent Tomb Scene I've ever heard.
>> >
>> >    I first encountered this recording when I was seventeen.  The
>> recording had already been out for six years, and was placed very highly in
>> critical esteem.  I bought it, loved it, and I still consider it to be my
>> recorded Aida of choice.  The "Trovatore" quartet of
>> Milanov/Bjoerling/Barbieri/Warren is equally auspicious in this Aida.
>> >
>> > ]
>> >
>> >> On October 11, 2017 at 1:40 PM "Max D. Winter" wrote:
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>    I have been listening to a Met broadcast of "Aida," March 8, 1952,
>> with Milanov, Del
>> >>    Monaco, Rankin, and Warren. The big surprise for me was Nell
>> Rankin's Amneris, which is
>> >>    really excellent. Rankin was one of the singers I heard often when I
>> was young, as she
>> >>    sang a great deal with the San Antonio opera. I hear her as Amneris,
>> Azucena, Marina and
>> >>    Brangaene. I never liked her that much. Even at a young age, I
>> thought her voice was one
>> >>    of those with a quavery vibrato that obscured the actual pitch she
>> was singing (something
>> >>    that has always bugged me in any singer). Also, I just didn't like
>> the way she looked and
>> >>    moved on stage. Those young impressions have remained with me and I
>> have never sought
>> >>    out Rankin's broadcast recordings to see if I needed to re-assess.
>> (My early opinion was not
>> >>    improved by seeing Rankin as Gutrune in 1975 - an odd bit of
>> casting, I thought.)
>> >>
>> >>    Well, her 1952 Amneris is a really fine piece of work - a beautiful
>> clear voice with a good top
>> >>    (with no quavery vibrato!), good characterization and musicianship.
>> Her voice doesn't really
>> >>    have the heft needed for the latter part of the Judgment Scene but
>> she is close enough to
>> >>    get the job done impressively.
>> >>
>> >>    Milanov sings gloriously as Aida, far and away the best broadcast
>> performance of her in this
>> >>    role that I have heard. The sound is drop-dead gorgeous, phrases are
>> floated, and she nails
>> >>    the high C in "O patria mia" without screaming it, although it is
>> forte and she doesn't linger
>> >>    on the note. Incidentally, for those who heard Milanov live as Aida,
>> I have a question: did
>> >>    she ever sing the high C with a floated pianissimo like she does on
>> her 1953 recital
>> >>    recording? In every broadcast performance I have heard (even the
>> early ones in the 40s),
>> >>    she approaches the note hastily at forte, sometimes with a screamy
>> quality, and does not
>> >>    linger or float and the effect is often rather graceless. Was that
>> gorgeous rendition on disc
>> >>    for the studio only or could she do it live?
>> >>
>> >>    Del Monaco is stentorian - exciting, but hardly subtle or graceful,
>> all warrior and no lover.
>> >>    Warren sounds like he is phoning his performance in. Cleva is
>> competent but a bit dull.
>> >>
>> >>    MDW
>> >>
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