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Subject: Re: Early Gwyneth Jones
From: Kenneth East <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kenneth East <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 2 Mar 2018 16:06:00 -0600
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I was lucky enough to hear and see Gwyneth Jones frequently at Covent Garden—mostly in 1973 and 1974 when I was living in London.  But my first experience with her was in 1968 in a splendid Don Carlos.  I saw the first night of the run, which was the debut at CG of Shirley Verrett as Eboli.  The audience went wild over Verrett.  I was in the upper slips near some regulars who commented that Ms Jones would be none too pleased to be so upstaged.  SHE was the CG “diva”, thank you very much.  Who is this lady.

One of the top “Nights at the Opera” of my 50 years, however, was SEEING Jones as Donna Anna in a new Don Giovanni led by Colin Davis, I believe.  In the opening scene where she’s struggling with the Don to unmask him, she fought so hard and so convincingly that you couldn’t believe she could still keep singing so well.  I’ll never forget it.  I saw a remount of the same production later with Margaret Price as Donna Anna.  Beautiful singing, indeed. But she seemed to be dancing a little minuet with the Don, not fighting for her life as Jones had done. I’ve seen many, many Giovanni performances since then.  Nothing compares.



> On Mar 2, 2018, at 3:16 PM, Bob Rideout <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> The day after her San Francisco Isolde was broadcast in NYC,
> a good friend called me and asked "Did you hear that?".
> I responded that I had, indeed, to which he replied " I was driving
> on the BQE,and it was so frightening that I had to pull over. I was
> afraid I'd have an accident".
> 
> It was all of that and not much better when I saw it at the Met, but
> she had some wonderful performances as well. I heard her in
> excellent shape as Salome, Tosca and the Aegyptische Helena
> in Vienna, and as a thrilling Fidelio, as well.
> 
> Her early Trovatore at Covent Garden 64? promised great things
> and her first few recordings for London/Decca showed a very
> impressive voice under great control. She was generally hailed
> as the next great Verdi soprano. Little did we know! ;-)
> 
> I do consider that as a totality, her Bayreuth Brunnhilde in the
> Boulez/Chereau Ring was the greatest combination of voice and
> visual insight I have ever seen in those roles. Her physical beauty
> helped, but that was only a piece of it. She was no joke!
> 
> And God knows she lasted forever!
> 
> Bob
> 
> On Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 15:54 Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> She’d been wobble prone well before 1978 and, in fact, in 1978 she sang a
>> Fidelio in which her pitch was like a drunk driver’s adherence to lane
>> markings.
>> 
>> But she was great and there was something thrilling in every performance.
>> You just never knew from night to night what you’d get.
>> 
>> A couple of weeks after that wayward Fidelio I saw her do what might be
>> just about the best Tosca I ever experienced. Full, steady, in total
>> control with high notes that gleamed like floodlights. A bit like Crespin
>> in size and impact but much easier and more controlled.
>> 
>> In one performance of Tannhaüser in which she sang both lead female roles,
>> the Venus was flutter and wow. After the break, her Elisabeth was pretty
>> flawless: steady, clean, awesome control of dynamics.
>> 
>> Her intonation in her first SF Isoldes had a tendency, as MB brilliantly
>> put it, “to make familiar passages sound unfamiliar.” A few years later, I
>> saw her sing it under Colin Davis with Vickers in London and it was near
>> perfect. Amazing.
>> 
>> Strauss brought out her best. I was told that her Salome was unlistenable
>> but when I went to see it I was absolutely stunned. The eroticism, the
>> power, the appearance of youth and the voluptuousness. That laser beam F#
>> after the kiss, “Was tut’s?” Unforgettable. Her Marschallin and Dyer’s Wife
>> likewise extraordinary experiences.
>> 
>> Max Paley
>> 
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> 
>>> On Mar 2, 2018, at 12:25, David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> 
>>> First, so there are no polemics over the fact, I think Gwyneth Jones was
>>> (is) an extraordinary artist.  This is a purely technical question.  I
>> just
>>> discovered the final duet from 'Poppea' with Vickers in 1978 and could
>>> hardly believe she was the singer.  How did she go from the ability to
>> sing
>>> like that so quickly to the wobble-problems that even her most ardent
>>> admirers have to acknowledge (as I believe she did herself)?
>>> 
>>> David Kubiak
>>> 
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