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Subject: Re: Dramatic Verdian mezzos today
From: David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 5 Feb 2018 15:16:04 -0500

text/plain (43 lines)

As to the collapse of Italian singing, I think we tend to underestimate how
close we were for a long time to the sources of the tradition.  Tebaldi and
Corelli's parents might have known Puccini; she made her debut with a
conductor who played in the orchestra at the first 'Otello'.  Loss of
connection to that tradition, plus the world-wide plummet in musical taste,
and the fact that even the people who do study classically boast that they
never listen to older singers, is inflicting what i believe will eventually
be a fatal blow to the art form.  

I saw recently what I thought was a very thought-provoking YouTube clip of
Domingo in 'Stifelio' in 1995, which I mention only with great respect for
the tenor.  He sounds fine for a few bars, although looks distressed.  Then
all of a sudden, he began a phrase that could only be described as sounding
like a squeeking mouse.  He tried again; same result.  Then he put his hand
on his heart and shook his head to the audience.  My thought was how
incredibly difficult a human art must be when the slightest inflammation of
a tiny piece of the body can make the difference between hurling 'Esultate'
to the back of the house, and sounding like a trapped rodent.  I think great
operatic singing just takes too much effort and is too precarious a way to
make a living for the vast majority of young people today, in Italy or
elsewhere -- if they decide to sing at all it's just much easier to scream
and not worry too much. 

That said, who again was the Azucena on the 'Trovatore' broadcast yesterday?
 She sounded like the real thing.  I did not in the least like the Manrico
and Leonora.  The latter screamed, and the former sounded like he was doing
an unsuccessful imitation of Jonas Kaufmann -- thick, congested singing with
oddly deformed vowels.

David Kubiak

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