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Subject: Milanov (formerly, So Long Met - Hello World: Post Met Careers)
From: RAYMOND GOUIN <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:RAYMOND GOUIN <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 31 Jan 2018 03:36:58 -0500
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As to German being Zinka's second language, you have to remember that She first learned all of her roles in Serbo-Croat.  Then, when she was signed by an opera house in Germany, she re-learned all of her roles in German.  Finally, when she became an international star/joined the Met, she re-learned all of her roles in their original languages.  It was a prodigious feat and I always admired her for that.


I was at one of Milanov's last performances as Desdemona which occurred in Cleveland with the Met on Tour.  Her Otello was Arturo Sergi (in real like Cantor Arthur Kagin) who was singing his first Otello with the Met that night.  As was not unusual at the Met in those days, he had zero stage rehearsal prior to the performance other than a 15 minute  walk through on stage 20 minutes before the curtain went up (he said he was chased off of the stage so that the chorus could be positioned).  So Milanov had to guide him through each of the following acts before the curtain went up (also SOP).  I remember Milanov as being fine vocally throughout the performance.  However, in Act 4, when it came time for her to get off of her knees after the "Ave Maria" it was the struggle of an older woman to rise and the illusion was broken. I was having dinner with Milanov after the performance which meant a long wait, for it took her 45-60 minutes to get her stage make up off and put her street make up on.  So I spent the time waiting backstage with Sergi and his wife (and other relatives) and Francis Robinson.  Sergi was so pumped up with Adrenalin (his first Otello at the Met and opposite Milanov at that!) that Francis -- laughing --  had to repeatedly try to calm him down.  Sergi had wanted to stay to thank Milanov for her help.  Fond memories.


Whatever the opportunities available to her after she retired, from all of the reports that I occasionally received through the years, Milanov was not happy in retirement. My personal belief is that she really missed the stage.


Finally, a Zinka story told to me by one of the members of the chorus.  Apocryphal or not, it is still fun. -- After one of the performances at the old house, the public used to be allowed into the performers' dressing rooms after a performance.  But there would usually be a brief interval to allow a performer to fresh up.  So it was one evening when a dozen or so fans, gathered outside, were finally allowed into Zinka's dressing room.  But, upon being admitted, one of the audience members spurted out "That can't be Zinka Milanov.  She's too fat."  A hush immediately descended upon the group awaiting Zinka's execution of the complainant. But she did not so act.  Rather, she turned to the complainant, smiled, and saId "Itz me, darling. all ov me." and proceeded to chat with her guests.   She was really quite a lady.  


Best,

Ray


***  

> On January 31, 2018 at 1:12 AM Donald Levine wrote:
> 
> 
>     Perhaps I can offer some insight as to why Milanov did not continue singing
>     recitals after her retirement from the Met. If anyone has heard her
>     recital of songs issued by RCA in 1954, you can see that she was a good
>     singer of songs and actually sang beautifully in German and in English.
>     Throughout her career, from the beginning, Milanov's mentor, musical
>     collaborator and accompanist was her brother Bozidar, a pianist and
>     composer of some distinction. She gave many recitals through the 40's and
>     50's, always with Bozidar at the piano. German was her second language so
>     Schubert, Schumann and Strauss came easily to her linguistically and
>     musically. Bozidar Kunc died suddenly in I think 1963 and she took his
>     death very hard. After her retirement, I just don't think she had the
>     desire to work with anyone else. She had a comfort level with him that was
>     not transferable. I think the answer is as simple as that. She could have
>     but the desire was no longer there. And the voice remained into old age.
>     Without the necessity of singing stage performances, she kept her voice in
>     shape. There are some snippets floating around of her teaching showing
>     that the voice is clearly intact. I heard one years ago.
> 
>     Many singers develop particularly close relationships with their
>     accompanists and these artistic relationships don't alway survive with the
>     loss of one. The relationship of the singer, or instrumentalist to their
>     musical partners is an intensely personal one for some. As for Victoria De
>     Los Angeles, I saw her many, many times in recital. Particularly wonderful
>     were her occasional collaborations with Alicia De Larrocha. She could
>     still charm well into her sixties but the truth is, her husband squandered
>     the money she earned and she had a handicapped child she had to support.
>     She sang so long out of necessity - she needed the money.
> 
>     Donald
> 
>     On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 2:32 PM, G. Paul Padillo
>     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.”
> >             * 
> >                   o 
> >                         + *
> > 
> > 
> >         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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