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Subject: Fwd: Franco Corelli & Stefan Zucker
From: Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:38:42 +0000

text/plain (499 lines)

Submitted for Stefan Zucker

> Charitan claims Rosina Wolf had double eyebrows. I never saw any sign of
> that.
> He claims Opera Fanatic is taken up with discussions of chest voice. Some
> singers use chest voice in the service of expressive singing, a central
> topic of the film. The film is 93 minutes. The chest-voice discussion takes
> under five. Here it is:
> The film clips are excepted from Opera Fanatic: Stefan and the Divas, with
> Iris Adami Corradetti, Barbieri, Cerquetti, Cigna, Frazzoni, Gavazzi,
> Gencer, Olivero, Pobbe, Simionato; Zucker; Schmidt-Garre, dir. (1998) 93m.
> In English and in Italian with English subtitles. Color/B&W.
> The material below is copied from the Bel Canto Society site.
> Divas and Chest Voice
> by Stefan Zucker
> Why should opera lovers care about whether or not someone sings with chest
> voice? Because the affective consequences are very great. My viscera aren’t
> satisfied if chest isn’t used in certain passages, the phrase “un gel mi
> prende” (Norma), for example. Giuditta Pasta, who created Norma and became
> Bellini’s favorite soprano, was described by Stendhal as having a voice
> “not all molded from the same metallo, as they would say in Italy (i.e., it
> possesses more than one timbre); and this fundamental variety of tone
> produced by a single voice affords one of the richest veins of
> musical expression which the artistry of a great cantatrice is able to
> exploit….Madame Pasta’s incredible mastery of technique is revealed in the
> amazing facility with which she alternates head-notes with chest-notes.”
> Ludwig Rellstab (1799-1860) was a critic, essayist and poet, some of whose
> verses were set by Schubert. A great Pasta admirer, he described the effect
> of her chest tones in a performance of Norma in 1841: “Hoarse, savage
> sounds came out from her chest, scorn and bitterness seemed to shake the
> heart of the listener harshly.”
> Chest voice is a means of communicating fear, rage, contempt, torment and
> suffering of the soul. Can you conceive of Callas without chest voice?
> I. Chest Voice: Some History
> Since WWI women for the most part have been afraid of chest resonance,
> fearing it would ruin their voices. But in the 19th century women used it
> as a matter of course, a practice they inherited from the castratos. Many
> women on early recordings sing all notes from F at the bottom of the
> treble staff on down in chest voice. But they do not sing higher than that
> in chest voice. Voice teacher Giovanni Battista Lamperti dissuaded his
> pupil Marcella Sembrich from undertaking Aïda on the grounds that she
> lacked the requisite chest resonance. (Records attest to Sembrich’s having
> used chest resonance below G-flat, so presumably Lamperti must have felt
> her chest voice was too light for the part.) He did maintain it was
> unhealthy for the voice for women to carry chest resonance higher than F.
> Nineteenth-century Italian opera composers seemingly took for granted that
> women would employ chest voice. Verdi, in a letter to Ricordi,
> demanded that a singer being considered for Amneris, Antonietta Fricci,
> have “the G and A-flat in chest voice for her fourth-act melody. If she
> doesn’t, that would be more fatal than whether or not the high B-natural
> were powerful or weak.” Indeed, two Francesco Lamperti pupils, Teresa Stolz
> and Maria Waldmann, who respectively sang Aïda and Amneris at Aïda’s La
> Scala premiere, reputedly used ample amounts of chest. Consider
> Mascagni’s preference for Lina Bruna Rasa’s chest-voice-freighted Santuzza.
> The majority of roles cannot be communicated adequately without chest color
> at one point or another. Women often find that unless they abstain from
> chest resonance, the music at certain moments causes them to use it.
> A challenge for women with modern vocal techniques is how to fulfill the
> chest requirement without hurting themselves.
> In the last 175 years, while women have used chest voice less and less,
> men have used it more and more. (Of course in popular music women have used
> chest extensively for decades.) For discussions of men, chest voice and
> head voice, see the chapters “Last of a Breed: Giovanni Battista Rubini
> Ruled as the Paragon of Virtuoso Tenors, King of the High Fs,” “Seismic
> Shocker: Gilbert-Louis Duprez’s History-Making High C,”  in Franco Corelli
> and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200 Years, vol. 2.
> II. Chest Voice: The Divas’ Dispute
> Gavazzi and Gencer claim that not only did they themselves employ chest
> resonance but that the other divas—in particular, Olivero, Cigna,
> Adami Corradetti, Simionato and Barbieri—did as well. These latter deny
> having resonated in their chests. I asked Gavazzi to explain this. She
> claimed they employed chest unknowingly.
> This kind of explanation is common among singers. Corelli and Hines cannot
> conceive of any tenor singing above the staff without routinely
> covering his tone. Yet Alfredo Kraus and I claim we do exactly that.
> Speaking on the radio program “Opera Fanatic,” Corelli and Hines insisted
> we cover automatically, without being aware of it—a view we reject.
> Also speaking on “Opera Fanatic,” Kraus asserted that Chris Merritt sings
> his high notes in falsetto—a view he rejects.
> Usually I favor giving the singer the benefit of the doubt: if he says
> he’s not covering, then he’s not.
> The dispute over chest voice may be a special case, however. The
> anti-chest divas were raised in the belief that chest resonance is
> unhealthy vocally. They also were told it fractures continuity of musical
> line. Still, certain powerful emotions and coloristic demands sometimes
> flushed chest out of them. But they hate to admit it. Each diva views her
> vocal technique as having the sanctity of religion. Each is mortified if
> the world knows she sinned. Olivero maintained that Gavazzi had stolen the
> opportunity to broadcast and record Adriana Lecouvreur from her and was
> offended that in the film Gavazzi said that in performance she, Olivero,
> used chest voice. Barbieri insisted she wouldn’t attend the Bavarian State
> Opera’s world-premiere showing of Opera Fanatic if Gencer were there, on
> the grounds that Gencer had insulted her by saying in the film that she,
> Barbieri, used it. Barbieri declared, “She doesn’t know what she’s
> listening to.”
> III. Musical Line vs. Dramatic Expression
> Two Kinds of Diva
> Simionato: My vocal color always was the same. I couldn’t change it like a
> painter who changes the color in his painting with his brush. The color
> is what it is.
> Frazzoni: I try to adapt my sound to the situation. When I performed
> Butterfly I did only that part that year because I had to make my voice
> smaller and childlike for the first act. But in the second act I became a
> spinto and threw out all the voice I had.
> The divas divide into two groups. The first group strove not to vary tone
> color for dramatic expression but to maintain consistency of tone color
> for the sake of musical line. Half the divas in the film—Barbieri,
> Cerquetti, Cigna, Pobbe and Simionato—belong to this group (as do virtually
> all singers today). From their point of view a change in tone color
> compromised musical line as much as a break in legato. That they didn’t
> vary tone color didn’t prevent them from being emotionally intense. They
> relied on good diction and musicianship to serve librettists and composers.
> For the second group, varying tone color for dramatic expression was
> paramount. Adami Corradetti (as a performer but not as a teacher),
> Frazzoni, Gavazzi, Gencer and Olivero are in this group. To my ears, these
> performers succeeded in changing tone color without damaging the musical
> line and thereby heightened emotional impact. The singers in the first
> group acted with their faces and bodies. The singers in the second group
> also acted with their voices.
> One can find counterexamples. Frazzoni and Gencer didn’t always come alive
> interpretively. Cerquetti sometimes inflected her tone, most notably on
> a live recording of Ballo. Cigna on some occasions colored hers as well.
> Some of Today’s Singers Have Their Say
> Donald George: Beautifully written and discussed! Bravo!!
> Jon Fredric West When I was in school in the 60s good girls didn’t use
> chest register. That Horne did caused consternation. Voice teachers
> including my own said Price would ruin her voice on account of it. Yet she
> sounded fine when she sang her final Carnegie Hall recital at age 64. She
> still was able to vary chest with the lighter sound with which she had
> graduated Juilliard. [I’m astonished that 100 percent of the commentators
> below favor using chest. In 1996, when Opera Fanatic was filmed, this would
> not have been so.—SZ]
> JFW: I believe in making a register change on E, so that from E down chest
> can be used in accordance with the needs of the character. I don’t think
> it vocally healthy to use it higher, but if the singer is competing against
> a loud orchestra it can be brought higher on occasion. I teach my
> students accordingly. Jaime Barton in “O don fatale” overindulges in chest
> voice to the point that her chest register sounds like a different voice.
> Still, I find her ability jaw dropping.
> Alexandra Deshorties I think as usual people are disposed to see the world
> in black or white and from their own set of shoes. I tend to agree with La
> Gencer. My philosophy is that each body being different, even based on the
> universal technique [only one singing technique?—SZ], there will be some
> variations from singer to singer, and it is foolish to say that one will
> never use it, just as it is foolish to say that one should always use it.
> It seems to me that a lot of this is an interpretive choice. Where most
> sopranos are constrained to chest, I myself work very hard at maintaining
> and experimenting with a mix, so as to have a choice to use my chest voice
> or not, should I feel it is inappropriate or ineffective.
> I think chest voice, color and other interpretive devices of the human
> voice are at the service of expression, text and the general needs of the
> craft. It is overall an exploration and a delicate balance to strike. In
> the end it is a question of honesty and centering of a dialectic and
> ever-delicate balance between form and substance. I have to say, delivered
> honestly and not as a device, I strongly believe in the cathartic
> importance of a heightened emotional impact.
> Michael Chioldi There are absolutely healthy ways to sing with chest
> voice. In fact you need this resonance to help match the qualities of
> sound throughout the vocal range. Every single diva who sang in this
> interview used voce di petto [chest voice], in my opinion. And I absolutely
> agree with the later divas in the interview.
> It seems to me that the problem lies with the definition of the phrase
> itself. As long as the voice is supported with the breath and the mask
> resonance stays present, there should be no problem. Which is in fact what
> the divas all seemed to agree on.
> Maria Callas absolutely used chest voice and taught it in her famous
> master class at Juilliard.
> The lack of chest resonance in a voice can leave the bottom without
> vibrancy and excitement. I believe there is a balance of how and when to
> use it, but to deny it altogether seems counterintuitive.
> Franco Farina This seems to me to be a confusion of terminology. Voce di
> petto in a proper usage meant chest register. The fact is
> their demonstrations were excellent examples of the proper use of chest
> register. Placement is a separate vocal concept from registration. If you
> attempted to focus or place the voice in the chest that would be wrong and
> would produce an ingollata [throaty] sound.
> Linda Roark-Strummer I think, after listening to the video, that what we
> all are dealing with is semantics, as Mr. Farina says. The chest voice
> can be a useful tool for training purposes and as a COLOR in some roles.
> I trained it and I used it. Certainly, in roles like Abigaille, and the
> Lady and Herodias, I employed it for effect—a color. BUT I always kept it
> in a position that was in line with the rest of my voice and kept the space
> over it. I didn’t push it to the belting stage. THAT is something else and
> it is dangerous. Barbieri claimed she didn’t use it. When Peter [Strummer]
> and I listen to her, yes, she did. I don’t know why she didn’t admit it.
> The singers from the Golden Age trained it and used it. There is nothing
> wrong with it unless it is not trained properly and used intelligently. I
> have found that chest voice can help with problems in register changes (in
> women), when used properly and under the guidance of a teacher who
> understands it. I teach my students how to use it properly.
> Kevin Short Bravo to you for a wonderful and very interesting interview.
> My views are that whether they realized it or not Simionato and
> Barbieri both accessed their chest voice. They both kept their production
> elevated and forward with regard to their soft palate and their masks. They
> also sing with wonderful space and as some would say “sing in the tube.” In
> this way the chest is engaged without directly singing in the chest. There
> is a sort of cavern created.
> Thank you for all of the work you do, Stefan!! I have been a fan of yours
> for many years!  Cheers
> Rosa D’Imperio I love this film—great job! What I get from it is that they
> are referring to using a supported chest blend in the body, always
> mixing head voice on the breath, “sul fiato,” and NOT raw “belted” chest.
> This is the healthy chest. They all sang a well-developed integrated
> register-balanced healthy chest mix.
> Drew Minter Was astonished that Barbieri and Simionato could sing so
> beautifully in chest voice (still), and yet they called it head voice. Yet
> they are talking about the primary resonators (still in the head just as
> they said) and not the vocal mechanism (which is indeed what you or I or
> Gencer in her amusing fashion call chest mode). I see what they mean.
> But I can’t understand why they are so afraid of the term!!!!
> Gilbert Den Broeder Not the shortest story. But very interesting and
> worthwhile to read.
> Ricardo Tamura Dear Stefan, it is an honor to answer a question from you
> whom I consider to be a very knowledgeable person in vocal matters!
> In my modest opinion, before one discusses whether chest voice should be
> used or not, it is essential to define what “chest voice” actually is!
> What many people call “chest voice” is actually a sound that is
> artificially produced by lowering the larynx.
> The singers in the movie who said that chest voice should not be used
> apparently understood chest voice in this way.
> My opinion is that the singing voice should be as natural as possible, and
> therefore I don’t agree with this way of singing. I do believe that it
> will damage the voice with time.
> The voice should be produced “sul fiato [on the breath],” as Barbieri said
> in the movie. When this happens the larynx remains in its natural,
> “neutral” position, and singing happens “in the whole body,” which some
> people call “chest voice.”
> In my view, that is the understanding of the other singers, who said they
> “approve” of chest voice.
> I agree with all the opinions presented, and I don’t find that they
> contradict each other. I also totally agree with your comments.
> Especially nowadays, there is a tendency to replace the “singing sul
> fiato” with the so-called “singing in the mask.” Again (in my modest
> opinion), “singing in the mask” is being misunderstood as meaning “throwing
> the air into the mask.” This also causes an artificial sound, because now
> the larynx tends to be in a raised position.
> Voices that are produced in this way do lack the feeling that grasps our
> viscera, as you said. And this also probably damages the voice in the long
> run.
> But the difference is not about singing in the chest or the head (or the
> mask) but about keeping the larynx in a neutral (natural) position or not!
> Thank you very much for the opportunity to discuss this subject with you!
> Raúl Melo If I may be so bold, my take on this question is a lack of
> precise terminology. Understanding singing is a mental game more than
> a physical one. In my case I have with age developed a kind of “chest
> voice.” Rather than a change in support (all your great divas said “Sul
> fiato; SEMPRE” [on the breath always]), it’s a change in feeling. I
> generally take a breath before I find the bottom of my voice. These lovely
> women just SANG. They accessed the bottom and top of their voices
> healthily. [Pobbe combined a mechanistic technique—a technique based on
> manipulating anatomy, the larynx, for example—with a sensation-governed
> one. The others placed in the mask and used their diaphragms as if they
> were bellows.—SZ]
> It’s the same question as passaggio [the notes where chest voice meets
> head voice] and cover for tenors; always a big question. In my experience
> to cover is not to make the voice darker or covered, it’s simply a vowel
> modification. That’s why Maestro Kraus could honestly say, “I don’t
> cover”; completely true in my experience. M. Kraus simply went to a
> brighter E at the top, other tenors go to an AW. I go somewhere in between;
> to a French ã as in “enfant.” Is it covered? No, it is modified. The same
> is true with passaggio. Rather than a narrow corridor I imagine a great
> river making a bend; never narrowed. This is why singing great music is
> more a mental game than a physical one. Both are necessary (Sul fiato;
> SEMPRE), but language doesn’t capture the essence of what you are doing.
> So watching those great divas sing those snippets (Oh my god how lovely,
> healthy, beautiful . . .) they were being as honest as Kraus was.
> They didn’t feel it in the chest; they just sang on the breath. At the top
> of their voices they didn’t feel it getting white, it just went into the
> mask. I had a good teacher who said to me: “Theory is what the rest of us
> do to figure out what geniuses are doing.” It’s we lesser mortals who try
> to understand. It’s our language that is not sufficient, not our love, not
> our understanding.
> Roger Ohlsen I just loved your article on chest voice. I find it
> interesting that a lot of people equate chest voice with belting, but it’s
> different, so that’s the problem. It’s amazing and frightening that some of
> the greatest singers didn’t know what they were doing, but they could feel
> what they were doing, and they did it on feeling, not logic, because they
> could be singing in chest voice without realizing it. Amazing! It’s like
> some modern sopranos who believe they have a break around top F below high
> C, like tenors, and of course they don’t. I don’t think chest voice ever
> hurt anybody if they did it properly.
> Anyway I thought it was a great article.
> Ewa Płonka I think that divas love chest voice and would gladly use it;
> however, it is often being unadvised by coaches, conductors and teachers.
> So that’s that. I wonder if the public would care that much about the
> matter. I know I love to use it, that’s for sure.
> Ida Faiella I disagree with what I think is an outdated theory about chest
> voice. I think it is a great asset to the voice and adds a great deal to
> range and dramatic ability.
> The only one who speaks intelligently about it is Gencer; she knows what
> she is doing. So many singers are just on autopilot!
> In my CD Poetry Into Song I use a good deal of blatant chest as a dramatic
> vehicle. While I agree with the thinking that it is not always beautiful,
> it is powerful dramatically.
> I do continue singing, which amazes my singer friends. Did the Chausson
> piece “Chansons Perpetuelle” in March and a more pop concert last
> weekend of songs with lyrics by my old friend Sheldon Harnick and Dorothy
> Fields whose son played piano for me.
> Lloyd W. Hanson The range of chest voice is simply a relaxation of the
> vocal folds such that they are able, in their entirety, to oscillate all
> the composite vocal folds, both their thyro-arytenoid muscle and their
> vocalis muscle. In short both of the muscle fibers of the vocal folds are
> in oscillation. This induces a substantial mass that is capable of
> producing a rich and exciting phonation.
> The singer is capable of tightening the vocal folds somewhat in this
> process but that will produce a guttural or extremely rough phonation which
> is only used for dramatically forceful utterances.
> In addition, the development of a relaxed and rich chest voice is a key
> element in the development of the singer’s extremely accessible high
> voice. Arpeggios from a yodel down into chest voice and then upward in a
> double-octave arpeggio into the high voice are an excellent vocalize to
> develop the high voice.
> Peter Terrell The problem is terminology. The expression “chest voice” was
> used because in the lowest register you get a sensation of
> something happening lower down—in the chest, which some label as resonance
> (or an impression of resonance down there). “Chest voice” should not mean
> the forced pulling down of the normal voice, as one of the singers
> demonstrated, insisting this was the “chest voice.” All the singers were
> able to demonstrate correct “chest voice” notes. I would suggest the low
> sensation is an effect of singing with efficient production in that region,
> not a cause.
> Robert James Miller Really fascinating!
> Zoya Zharzhevsky It’s funny. They say that there is not such a thing as
> chest voice, and then they start to sing with what I’d describe as a
> perfect chest voice!
> Elliot Matheny Bravo! Very thorough article, sir!
> Michael Hardy “This from THEM!” Leyla nailed it with that immortal line!
> [Proprio loro.]
> It’s not considered good taste, especially with Anglo-Saxon critics etc.,
> and now the Latins have followed them…can you imagine Burzio getting a
> gig these days?
> Tomas Magieras Auškalnis Is there any “voce di petto?” A very amusing
> argument. All of them could be Hollywood actresses of high calibre
> (no irony meant here). And Leyla Gencer with her sober charm, humour and
> assertiveness. Love her.
> Jonathan Linton Good fun!
> Susie Weinstock I really loved this video, Stefan. thx for ur posted
> commentary too.
> David Uffer Does she, doesn’t she? Only the lightest lyrics and
> coloraturas disdain it. All others, whether they admit it or not, use it,
> some to galvanizing effect.
> Patrick C. Byrne Astounding. I tried the yodel to chest technique. What an
> easy method.
> You never cease to amaze me, Stefan. The Met needs you to hire singers and
> ditch whoever is in charge. There is so little excitement anymore.
> Peter van der Waal Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your DVD of
> you visiting the great singers and talking about the use of chest! Amazing!
> I am 34 years old and have always been very interested in historical
> singers. In musicology I specialized in a Dutch singing teacher
> called Cornelie van Zanten who studied with the elder Lamperti [Francesco]
> and Stockhausen and who had many interesting pupils, such as Julia Culp
> and Jacques Urlus.
> Patrick Mack At first I thought this read ‘Divas and Chest Hair’. Now
> that’s interesting.
> Filippo Moratti Stefan, I cannot but agree with what you said about chest
> voice and resonance. I saw Opera Fanatic a few weeks ago, since I’m slowly
> approaching the study of singing, singing technique and interpretation, I
> thought I might want to know something more on how and why singing has
> changed so much over the years.
> I find your work really interesting, especially because, in my opinion, it
> enlightens not only the preparation of roles but also the actual
> singing technique these divas had.
> Opera Fanatic is a piece of history, since you had the chance of
> interviewing them in their latest years, as a witness to their “singing
> from the soul.”
> Do you think interpretation and the correct use of voce infantile and
> chest voice are something that can be taught and used even today? [Yes.]
> Thank you again for your work.
> Peter Bonelli Nicely done, Stefan Zucker. Bravo!
> DELLA RESPIRAZIONE! BASATA SUL DIAFRAMMA !!!! For bel canto a breathing
> technique based on the diaphragm is very important! [I take this statement
> to mean that one should press in at the diaphragm. There is widespread
> disagreement about singing technique, and many would disagree with Laura
> Lauretta.—SZ]
> Stimme Passion Sehr sehenswert. Very worthwhile to see—I love the Divas!
> Basia Jaworski heb je de docu ooit gezien, Peter? Is echt fantastic! Have
> you ever seen the documentary, Peter? It’s really fantastic!
> Peter van der Waal Zeker Basia!! Love it!!!
> Stefan, just wanted to tell you I admire your work.
> Basia Jaworski het is eigenlijk een must. Ik heb hem weet ik niet hoe vaak
> bekeken. Heerlijk! It’s actually a must. I got it. I don’t know how
> often I’ve viewed it. Delicious!
> Gerrit Jan Fonk Geweldig Wat een ladies! What ladies!
> Marcela Castano‎ It’s fantastic!

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