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Subject: Re: Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question
From: William Fiorelli <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William Fiorelli <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:40:59 +0000
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When did Zinka sing "lyric coloratura" roles? And which roles ?BILL
 

    On Thursday, October 12, 2017, 9:39:20 AM EDT, 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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