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Subject: Re: Seconda Donna - Angela Meade
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:32:56 -0600
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Max:
   Kirsten Flagstad, to my ears, stands as THE voice of my lifetime, even though I wasn't born until she had left the Met in 1941.  By the time I was a teenager, her stereo recordings on London were already on the market and I heard her Act I and III recordings of "Die Walkure".  Her voice thrilled me from the beginning.  In one of the 1940's editions of THE VICTOR BOOK OF OPERA, photos of Flagstad in the Wagner operas were plentiful, and I did a lot of research on her (in those days one went to a library!).  I couldn't believe that a singer of the age she was at the time could still produce such a sound.  When she died in 1962, I decided to buy as many of her recordings as I could.  And so I did (though all of them were the post 1956 recordings on London/Decca).  As time went on, her earlier immediate post World War II recordings on EMI became available, and I acquired whatever came out.  Hearing her sing the words "Heil, der Sonne" (opening the Seigfried duet) all but blew me away.  I, of course, have Pristine's fabulous editions of her 1952 Isolde with Furtwangler as well as her 1950 Ring, also with Furtwangler.
If the uppermost part of the voice became "cautious", the whole rest of her voice remained a shining and overwhelming instrument.  I also have her 1951 Met Fidelio (Bruno Walter) as well as her celebrated 1941 performance (again with Walter and again at the Met).  
   I have great admiration and respect for Nilsson, who gave so many thrilling moments, and who deserves the lofty position she occupies, but hers was a different kind of brilliance than that which Flagstad demonstrated.  I consider both of them to be the two foremost huge-voiced sopranos (Wagnerian or otherwise) of the Twentieth Century.  Yes, there was Leider, Traubel, Lawrence, Varnay, etc, and I've heard them all and they were spectacular, but it's Flagstad and Nilsson who are on the top of the pile ------- at least for me.
> On December 11, 2017 at 4:11 PM Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> 
> You know, I’ve wondered about this and whether it’s technique or something else physical/genetic or both. Flagstad’s upper range contracted in her 60s, but hervoice stayed rock solid and firm for as long as she sang. Even Nilsson had her wobbly nights once she was in her 60s.
> 
> One difference, which might or might not have anything to do with it, was the sheer ease and effortlessness with which Flagstad sang, which might also apply to Melba. Never any sense of “pressure” - just the sound flowing out as easy as speaking. Someone I knew who heard her live often talked about the instrumental ease and purity of her sound, “like a giant violin.”
> 
> Max Paley
> 
> Sent from my iPhone
> 
> > On Dec 11, 2017, at 11:58, Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > 
> > David,
> > 
> > If you listen to 60 something Adelina Patti her aging voice might have had
> > a number of flaws (breath control primarily) but one thing she does not do
> > is wobble.  There are times (Serenata, La Calesera, Ah non credea....) when
> > she sounds younger than springtime.  Likewise Melba, Plancon, Sembrich,
> > Schumann Heink, Bori, Flagstad...What seems to be most prized today is a
> > Big Sound in a Big Hall  the fact that "Technique" can help achieve this
> > seems to be lost somewhere in the 19th century.
> > 
> > Steve
> > 
> > 
> > 
> >> On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 12:15 PM, David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >> 
> >> I missed this message when it was first posted but want to say how much I
> >> agree with the sentiments expressed.  Professional tolerance for wobbling
> >> voices is close to driving me out of the opera house. Even as great a diva
> >> as Callas admitted in late interviews that she had developed a wobble and
> >> that it was a technical fault she was trying to improve on.  Today it is
> >> apparently taken for granted that a teacher will launch a student with
> >> woefully inadequate vocal technique.
> >> 
> >> Further on the diminishing importance of singing in opera, it amuses me no
> >> end to hear on the Met broadcasts the completely inane things singers say
> >> about the dramatic meaning of their parts, because these are the only kind
> >> of questions they are ever asked.  Can you imagine what sort of reply
> >> Corelli would have given if asked about the psychological motivation the
> >> director had given him for his Don Carlo?
> >> 
> >> David Kubiak
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> On Fri, 8 Dec 2017 17:48:55 -0500, Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
> >> wrote:
> >> 
> >>> I just listened to excerpts of Meade's "Norma" on the MET's website and
> >>> they confirm what I've heard live  in house (Ernani, Trovatore...)  - she
> >>> is at best a  "cover" artist or one who should only perform after the
> >> first
> >>> cast at "reduced" prices.  A vibrato ridden voice of non descript
> >>> character, reasonable agility, a faux trill, and a "dead on arrival" stage
> >>> presence.  So sad that she will wobble and waddle through one of my
> >> "desert
> >>> island" operas - Semiramide.  At one point Joyce di Donato was
> >>> also to grace this important MET revival - on the evidence of her Munich
> >>> outing it would have been a triumph.  Instead we have La Seconda in
> >>> Rossinian HD and La Rossiniana herself -Di Donato - in the wispy Massenet
> >>> confection - Cendrillion.
> >>> 
> >>> Go Figure...
> >>> 
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