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Subject: Re: Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question
From: Scott Grunow <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Thu, 12 Oct 2017 11:28:51 -0400

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Some of what was noted about Milanov appears in John Steane's assessment of her in The Grand Tradition.

When one hears Milanov's live recordings from the late 30s and 40s, I am reminded somewhat of Rysanek's blazing top in full cry. And her early La Giocondas sound passionate (they may not have appeared that way on stage acting wise).

I do enjoy hearing her as Gilda in the Act IV with Toscanini. Wow! Her voice soars, perfect for the music and character at that stage of the opera.

I wonder if complaints about her huffing and puffing in more agitated, declamatory music could be explained by her rather having to sing these roles in Italian after a long time singing them in Czech and German, perhaps. But by the 1950s she was definitely used to Italian. 

I first heard Nell Rankin as Marina in Boris Godunov on that Metropolitan Opera Guild recording (my Dad used to own practically all of them). My reaction was, Meh.

But then I heard live recordings of Laura and Ortrud, and I was most impressed. The overall voice color was rather nondescript, but I found the top thrilling, and the passion was there for these roles.. 

(I must agree, a much more ingratiating sound than that of Irene Dalis. With Dalis, I can never really pinpoint where the voice is heading; sometimes it sounds almost sopranoish at the top, and then I am not sure what is going on, and the middle sometimes sounds occluded. It's not like the gaping holes in the lower middle that developed in Simionato and Verrett, but it sounds unsettled.) 

I could never figure out why the Met cast her as Gutrune. What it because no one else was available? Not that Gutrune is a role everyone is dying to sing. Resnik sang it when she was a soprano. Hilde Konetzni made it a specialty. I think Rysanek sang it when she was younger. 


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