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Subject: Re: Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 12 Oct 2017 10:11:23 -0700
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I remember hearing Nell Rankin a few times and being rather impressed.
No,  in Verdi she wasn't Barbieri, Simionato or Cossotto - or Bumbry (One
of my all-time favorites in anything she choose to sing, mezzo or soprano
and a great lieder singer also) for that matter and in Wagner she wasn't
Christa Ludwig or Margaret Harshaw but I did see Gotterdammerung with
Nilsson and Hunter alternating and Rankin singing Gutrune and the 3rd Norn
- she had an excellent top and I caught her in the 3rd and 4th acts of Don
Carlo - a performance with Corelli, Ross and Merrill where Grace Bumbry had
problems and withdrew after the 2nd act.  As I remember, Rankin sang the
shit out of O don fatale.  She was more than a second rank mezzo if not
quite the A team.

I appreciate Irene Dalis more then I did when I was young and she was one
of Bing's favored mezzo's.  My problem with her was a slight dryness to the
tone and her absolutely awful Italian pronunciation.  Other than that, she
was more then competent and at times could be superb.

As for Madame, (sorry you guys), always, earlier the better.  30's and 40's
over mid-50's on.  The prime was amazing.  Her best singing probably
1945-53.  After that the top became effortful and all those years in the
big gunned roles took their toll.  But as Bob Rideout has said, even up to
the end. there were nights of grace where there was much gorgeous singing.
Gioconda was great no matter when - from 1939 through her last in 1962.

One singer I've always admired and the more I hear of her over the years
the more I admire her is Margaret Harshaw.  She was a great dramatic mezzo
and a superb dramatic soprano.  I know, she wasn't Flagstad or Traubel but
that's no shame, who is?  Her misfortune was to come of age as Flagstad and
Traubel were still around and then to have to deal with Varnay and
Nilsson.  Magnificent singers all.  I hate to pull this game but if she
were around today......

Donald

I

On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 7:23 AM, Paul Ferraro <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Enough of La Z. already.  As for Nell Rankin, I recall seeing her as
> Azucena, Laura, Marina & Ortrud.  I thought that she was an excellent B+
> mezzo, with very high praise for her  Ortrud.  Overall, I greatly preferred
> Ms. Rankin to that rather annoying Irene Dalis.
>
>
> DonPaolo
>
>
>
> On 10/11/2017 2:40 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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