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Subject: Re: Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question
From: tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 11 Oct 2017 23:37:31 +0000
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Years ago I read an article in which Fedora Baribieri said that of all the Aidas she ever saw or sang with, Leontyne Price was the most comfortable and secure in the Nile scene, as it seemed to pose no vocal problem for her at all.


________________________________
From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 7:19 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Nell Rankin's Amneris - and a Milanov Question

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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