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Subject: Re: So Long Met - Hello World: Post Met Careers
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 30 Jan 2018 16:09:01 -0600

text/plain (84 lines)

    Sometimes it's a personal decision, and other times it's based on what particular attributes an artist possesses.  Leontyne Price for the most part was one of the very lucky sopranos whose high middle and uppermost notes remained in pretty pristine condition.  She still had a voice to operate with, and while it wasn't quite what it had been (how could it be?), there was still sufficient voice do deliver a performance.  Her vocal gifts were long and enduring, and they surely spanned the decades.  For all we know, she may STILL be able to sing------------at least SOMETHING.   Hildegard Behrens was an artist in the "kunstdiva" category:  her ability to "live" a role and create a full formed characterization (and provide excitement) was grafted on to a voice that was not that responsive.  Still, she was a great artist and her musical message remained valid to the end.  Ditto for Scotto.  A lot of people complained about Scotto's voice, but she was a complete artist and could still, like Magda Olivero, also deliver a performance.  Both Behrens and Scotto had certain attributes that made their vocal declines seem unimportant.  These ladies were great artists and never lost the ability to CREATE.
   Milanov was a different matter altogether.  Her entire career was built on her voice, and the voice in its prime was a great one.  She wouldn't hesitate to elongate a note if it enabled her to spin one of her "Milanovian pianos" on A or B flat, or whatever.  She was of the "stimmediva" species, for whom smooth emission of beautiful tone was of the most importance.  In legato passages, and in long and expansive musical lines, she created great beauty.  In declamation and in hurried vocal passages, she was considerably less successful.  Her voice was her everything.  She was no "creator" and really was not the type of soprano who could bring new insights into music (in the manner of Muzio, Lehmann, Callas, Scotto, and Behrens).  When her voice really faded in the early 1960's, the recital stage would have offered her no sanctuary because she was not an interpreter or a creator.  
   I don't know if I'm making myself clear, but I'm trying to make the point that sometimes a singer who is endowed with an overwhelmingly beautiful vocal endowment is sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to actually delivering a performance with a voice that time has compromised.  This my "take" and I hope I'm expressing myself clearly.
> On January 30, 2018 at 3:32 PM "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Mr. Carver wrote:
> “I always wonder why, as in Milanov's case, why singers retire from the 
> stage almost completely when they retire from the MET.  There are so 
> many other opera houses around the world. Plus, one could start a recital 
> tour.”
> * * * * 
> While that may have been very true in the past, for some time now, many 
> singers, once they’ve sung their last at the Met, have continued singing 
> elsewhere.
> One that springs to mind immediately – because I loved and still love her – 
> is Hildegard Behrens.  Her final Met performance was in a 1999 Wozzeck 
> which garnered rave reviews for all involved: Grundheber in the title role – 
> who had only just finished a run of Rigoletto with the company, and 
> Levine.   
> Behrens continued singing for another 10 years, right up until her sudden 
> death at 72, collapsing during a masterclass at the Kusatsa Festival in 
> Japan where she was also scheduled to perform a recital.  She had been 
> involved and proud of her work at the festival for several years.  She took 
> on new roles, including a world premiere of an opera for Berio (who had 
> composed it for her), The Kostelnicka in Jenufa, Lady McBeth of Mtsensk 
> and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Luinaire.  
> At 67 she gave the vocal equivalent of a “monster concert” wherein she 
> sang Schumann’s Frauneliebe und Leben, followed by the big monologues 
> of 1) the Kostelnicka and 2) Elektra.  After intermission she sang Wagner’s 
> Wessendonck Lied, THEN Brunnhilde’s Immolation Scene.  Insane.  
> Leontyne Price sang her final operatic role, Aida, at the Met in 1985.  While 
> never appearing again in an opera she did she continue giving recitals for 
> another dozen years.  I attended one of her last – she was 70 – and still 
> sounded magnificent offering a formidable program of arias by Handel, 
> Mozart, Verdi and Puccini, and songs by Rorem, Strauss and Hoiby, with 
> about a handful of encores.  
> Then there’s the case of Renata Scotto last seen on the Met stage in a 
> 1987 Butterfly, but continued singing, not only recitals, but new major 
> roles, including the Marschallin, Elle (La Voix Humaine), Madame Flora (The 
> Medium), Kundry, Klytemnestra, Charlotte (Werther) and Ewartung.  For 
> someone who made their stock-in-trade as an Italian singer in Italian roles, 
> her post-Met career seems to have been primarily German and French.  In 
> addition to singing, Scotto also taught and directed – a lot.  
> Three great ladies!
> p.
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