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Subject: Re: Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question
From: walter guitian <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:walter guitian <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 12 Oct 2017 19:39:26 +0000
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I have a friend who is a correspondent in opera and lives in Montreal, but he travels constantly to New York and goes to the Metropolitan and he is a personal friend of soprano Stefka Evstatieva. Just this week they gave a tribute to Evstatieva with a Bulgarian concert Gala for her 70th birthday and my friend sent me a whatsapp chat  with Evstatieva, (he was in  her house before to go the Gala with her) and I took the opportunity to greet her, I listened her at the Teatro Colon three times, in Tosca 1992, Adriana Lecouvreur 1994 and Andrea Chenier 1996.
(In the 1994 Adriana she was magnificent)My friend told me Evstatieva always tells him that for her the two first acts of Aida (I and II ) are dreadful, at least in her opinion , and she says she sang Aida often at the begining of her career but each time she had to sing it she was nervous, she did not like the role  and she also says that Aída is much more difficult than for instance Amelia's Un ballo in maschera.
Singers who sing Aidas is long sessions, sing the role for decades are (suprisingly) not Verdian voices, usually full lyric, like Millo, Price or the best one among them Chiara.  I heard Millo two times in Wien. Chenier and Aida. Both were great fiascos. She had a little, covered, unsecure voice. This was around 1995. But as a lirical, or even a coloratura, think of her E'''flats, she would have had plenty of voice. By my personal opinion Price and Millo could have been coloraturas or full lyrics in real. Millo sang Aida at least for 10 years. By my opinion Stella, Gencer, Tucci etc. were lighter voices than Tebaldi. In Hungarian Staatsoper Ilona Tokody was a nominated Aida, who was a tipical big voiced lirico puro, not even spinto. As for Leontyne Price ,after her vocal portraits on recordings I find her a darkened lyrical. She have a nice recording of Gilda singing an E''' at the end wich certainly shows her characteristic. Anyway I find her singing sometimes completely false taste.This is only my opinion, though I never heard Price in live: She was not a dramatic voice at all. But Price darkened all her career her middle voice. Her bottom is without focus, and the top disappears, straight. Three completely different voices. That is what I hear after recordings. Not to mention her totally unmusical manners for exc. in Puccini. Are these the stones of a first rank top star soprano? By my opinion hearing her on youtube a Gilda aria with E''' she was a natural, big voiced coloratura. Again: This is my opinion.It would have been interesting to listen to her middle opened, not covered, I think it would have fitted her top much better. I always felt her a "made" voice, not a natural singing.
Walter


      De: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
 Para: [log in to unmask] 
 Enviado: Jueves, 12 de octubre, 2017 1:27:46
 Asunto: Re: Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question
   
Donald, I think your comment on how that “O patria mia” high C is written is spot on.

In a recent intermission Opera Quiz there was a question about who had changed our ideas of voice type for a role. I thought of Price and Aida; hers was definitely a lighter voice that had to rely on clarity of timbre and focus to cut through.

The writing of the approach to that high C caused many sopranos to build up tensions that impeded the high note. I think this was definitely the case of Tebaldi who could easily hurl out a superbly solid C as Tosca. Even Rysanek’s fabled “limitless” top often found its resonance dried up on that note.

It’s great that we have a close-up of Price approaching that note in her Met Farewell. At 58, natural talent has ceased to suffice and anyone singing well has to know exactly what they’re doing. What we see is an amazing way, just at the point where most sopranos start to tighten up, she “unlocks” her jaw and totally loosens all the facial muscles.

Of course, even at 58 (and probably at 65 or more) Price was vocalizing easy, full voiced high Fs. When you know you have an F in your pocket, you don’t get that uptight about a C.

If I set aside the killer C and I think of whose voice in quality, beauty, firmness and opulence of timbre and musical sensitivity I find ideal as Aida, it’s really Tebaldi.  No disrespect to Price or Milanov (or Tomowa-Sintow or Millo or Netrebko); the voice my mind’s ear wants is Tebaldi.

Max Paley

Sent from my iPhone

> On Oct 11, 2017, at 20:50, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> OK, so here is my take.  By 1955 - Milanov was definitely passing her
> prime.  By 1958 I believe she gave up the role of Aida entirely.  It was a
> 30 year run for her, most unusual in this role.  A similar statistic for
> Leontyne Price whose voice was always very facile on top and of course it
> was a lighter instrument then Milanov wielded.  That note always scared
> heavier voices and few didn't encounter difficulties with it.  I don't
> think it was the high C per se but rather as it is written and how it comes
> and is approached in the score.  Milanov earlier in her career has an easy
> and brilliant high C but the note in the O patria mia in performance always
> presented a problem.  I would say that in the last 100 years or so, only
> Price and Rethberg, and may a handful of others could carry this trick off
> without problems.
> 
> Finally, after 30 + years of career (remember she began in 1927 in the
> heaviest of roles) the voice was becoming weighty and loosing its ease on
> top and the sound had hardened.  The Aida no doubt would have been better
> overall if recorded a few years before.  1953 seems to be the sweet spot
> where they voice still retained much of the ease of her best years.  Many
> years ago I met a man from Argentina who had heard Milanov as Turandot and
> he assured me she had no difficulty flinging out the high B's and C's and
> no shortage of power.  So we know she had the notes, they just became more
> difficult as the years went on.
> 
> Donald
> 
>> On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 4:19 PM, 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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