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Subject: Re: Greatest Wagnerian Sopranos (was Re: Birgit Nilsson Great Streaming Documentary)
From: Vesna Danilovic <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Vesna Danilovic <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 9 Jan 2018 17:00:41 -0600
Content-Type:text/plain
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Judging only from their recordings, I agree that all mentioned, and to my
ears especially Flagstad and Leider, have not yet been surpassed in the
heavier dramatic roles (Isolde, Brunnhilde). I've never heard Germaine
Lubin on a complete recording of Wagner's operas (I don't know if she
recorded any), but on her various recital discs as well as on the Wagner in
French disc, she also strikes me as great as any.

I also very much like the second type of Wagnerian soprano, I believe
"jugendlich" dramatic soprano is the term--the roles like Elsa, Elisabeth,
Eva, Sieglinde. And here I practically worship Elisabeth Grummer and Leonie
Rysanek, not much alike, but each great in her own way. Maria Muller or
Elisabeth Rethberg also come to mind from the distant past.

Best, Vesna

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 4:40 PM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi Donald
>
> While I agree that Traubel is not to be dismissed, she is emphatically
> not in the same league as Flagstad, Nilsson or Leider. One might
> argue about Varnay, the 1953 Bayreuth Ring under Clemens Krauss
> being a hallmark of the great Brunnhildes, but Modl, whom friends
> have described as the visual incarnation of Wagner's greatest
> heroine, (i dd not see her except in a comprimario role) was less
> than vocal gold, to be kind.
>
> I shall continue to believe that the Brinnhilde/Isolde Trinity were
> Nilsson, Leider and Flagstad. The others mentioned were better
> than just "good" for many different reasons, but they are not
> at the top of my list, in any case.
>
> Bob
>
> On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 17:10 Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> > I am always surprised the way Helen Traubel is dismissed.  Yes, it was a
> > strange career, yes, she herself could be very idiosyncratic.  Vocally,
> she
> > was the equal of anyone, even with her short top.  For sheer sound, she
> was
> > the only one who came close to Flagstad.
> >
> > Donald
> >
> > On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 2:11 PM, robert levine <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Mödl at her best? Not MY favorite - too unappealing a sound  - I'd
> choose
> > > Nilsson, Flagstad and maybe Grob-Prandl.
> > > B
> > >
> > > On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 4:08 PM, Max D. Winter <[log in to unmask]>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > > "For me, [Nilsson] and Flagstad rule as the two Wagnerian sopranos of
> > the
> > > > Twentieth
> > > > Century."
> > > >
> > > > Well, I would make it a quartet:  Flagstad, Nilsson, Leider, and
> > Varnay,
> > > > with Flagstad and
> > > > Nilsson taking the vocal honors, and Leider and Varnay the dramatic.
> > > > Although Varnay and
> > > > Leider were tremendous vocally, as well, and neither Flagstad nor
> > Nilsson
> > > > was a slouch on
> > > > stage.  When Flagstad first appeared on the international scene, many
> > > > Wagner lovers, while
> > > > recognizing Flagstad's vocal splendor, regarded Leider as her
> superior
> > > > over all.  For those
> > > > who don't know Leider's voice, check her out on youtube:
> > > >
> > > > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvKrlRnh2kA
> > > >
> > > > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEoeqoORFS4
> > > >
> > > > There is a fantastic live recording from Covent Garden of Leider and
> > > > Melchior in
> > > > Gotterdammerung Act II, conducted by Furtwangler, although at that
> > point
> > > > in her career
> > > > Leider was starting to sing a bit flat at times in the upper
> register.
> > > >
> > > > Traubel was great, too, but IMO not in the absolute top echelon with
> > the
> > > > other ladies.  Modl
> > > > was a dramatic force of nature on stage, which one can hear even on
> > > > recordings, but vocally
> > > > compromised as a pushed-up mezzo with a problematic top and rather
> > thick
> > > > tone.
> > > >
> > > > There really hasn't been a great Wagnerian soprano (the
> hochdramatische
> > > > variety) since
> > > > Nilsson hung up her breastplate and horned helmet.  Behrens, Voigt
> and
> > > > Stemme,
> > > > notwithstanding their various merits, have all been make-dos in one
> way
> > > or
> > > > another.  Rita
> > > > Hunter was excellent - I heard her as Brunnhilde in the 70s - but her
> > > > grotesque obesity,
> > > > outsized even by operatic standards, was a real problem on stage.
> > Jones
> > > > made a huge
> > > > sound and was compelling dramatically, but I was always bothered by
> her
> > > > wide vibrato,
> > > > which at times veered into a genuine wobble.
> > > >
> > > > MDW
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
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