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Subject: Re: Caballe's "Nozze" Countess
From: Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 12 Oct 2018 22:25:33 -0700

text/plain (75 lines)

Unlike many other great divas, Caballé doesn’t seem to have carried any major roles throughout her career as something that one would use to identify her. You had Price as Aida and, maybe the “Forza” Leonora, MIlanov as Gioconda, Sutherland as Lucia and the “Puritani” Elvira, Tebaldi as Desdemona that all carried over many years. It seems that Caballé liked taking on new roles and music constantly. Maybe she was easily bored.

I would like to have heard her in more Mozart. Colin Davis badly wanted her for Donna Anna, but she ended up cancelling and Martina Arroyo got one of her many recordings thanks for a Caballé cancellation. I think she would have been one of those rare ones who could really honk out “Or sai chi l’onore” and also manage the finesse for “Non mi dir” (no doubt with a spectacular piano for the B-flat “AbbaSTAnza”).

Speaking of which, does anyone have a more complete list of her recording cancellations?

The ones that Arroyo benefitted from that I know of, are the Gardelli “Forza” for EMI, Davis “Don Giovanni” for Philips, Muti “Ballo” for EMI (Muti was NOT happy), and Levine “Vespri” for RCA.

The one that benefitted Gwyneth Jones was the Desdemona for the McCracken “Otello” on EMI.

A late cancellation as Musetta (!) for the Colin Davis “Boheme” gave an opportunity to Ashley Putnam.

But Caballé herself was a last minute substitute (for I don’t remember who) as Santuzza on the Muti “Cavalleria” which I’m told she sight read.

She was somewhat late coming to San Francisco. She was scheduled for Norma in 1975 but cancelled, the performances taken over by Rita Hunter and Christina Deutekom (I hadn’t known before that Bellini was atonal). She was scheduled again for Turandot in 1977 and nobody believed she would show. But show and sing she did. I had good friends in the chorus who were all initially put off when, on what was supposed to be a day off, they were all abruptly summoned to the opera house on a Sunday morning. Madame wanted to sing. She’d flown in from Spain, the jet lag had her awake early and she wanted to sing and wanted the orchestra and chorus all there. 

Few of them minded after they got to hear her. Those high Cs could be heard in Beijing.

Those and the Nilssonian detonations she achieved the next year with Tosca’s high Cs made one suspect she was specifically sending a message to La Nilsson after Nilsson’s joke about her had gotten around.

This during the rehearsals for the Royal Opera “Elektra” conducted by Carlos Kleiber.

Gwyneth Jones (Chrysothemis) commented to Nilsson (Elektra) during a break, “I was recently in Caballé country.”
Nilsson: “ You mean Aballé country.”
Jones (puzzled): “No, I mean Barcelona, Caballé country.”
Nilsson: “I know. She’s lost her ‘C’! Cackle, cackle, cackle”

Max Paley

> On Oct 12, 2018, at 8:37 PM, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Max:
>     No doubt about it. Caballe' sounds so exquisite and beautiful here that it's surreal.  It was, obviously, a truly great voice and it remained so until around 1980, I think.  YouTube has a complete Caballe Isolde (probably from the Liceo) and I must admit that I found it very exciting indeed.  One thing that I think everyone can agree on: she had a tremendous capacity to learn music.  She performed an astonishing number of complete roles, and I'm sure that not all of them were totally successful, but when her imagination was engaged, and her voice was in it's best estate, she was an amazing singer.
>     I heard her for the last time in 1995 at Ravinia Park (just a little outside of Chicago) where she sang a not especially demanding program (Otello, Gianni Schichi, some Zarsuela, and I can't remember what else) but she sang it with her voice pretty much intact, though it must be admitted that she attempted nothing at all taxing, and wasn't taking any chances. I believe she was 62 at the time.
>     She was a very pretty lady in her younger days, and she was pretty thin.  I cannot imagine what physical problem she had that caused her to balloon up to such huge proportions.  I know that she didn't  enjoy the best of health during the great years of her career.  Lots of medical problems, according to a book I have about her.
>     Whatever the case, it was a fabulous voice in it's prime.  Having said that, I think she continued to sing in public for much too long a time. She was still giving recitals in Europe until she was eighty years old and she sounded every year of it.
>> On October 12, 2018 at 9:26 PM "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I have not read all the Caballe posts, so if this has been mentioned already please excuse.  
>> One of the most wonderful live performances by Caballe is her 1967 Countess in Dallas Civic 
>> Opera's "Nozze di Figaro."  She is just sublime in the two arias, and her recitatives and 
>> ensemble work are exemplary.  In "Dove sono,"  she takes the two repeats of "Di cangiar 
>> l'ingrato cor" in one breath, the first time forte, the second time pianissimo.  Stunning.
>> Here is "Porgi amor:"  
>> And "Dove sono:"
>> And here's the complete performance (which is wonderful, BTW, great cast and conducting, 
>> and lots of energy and personality):
>> Caballe made her American operatic stage debut in Dallas in "Traviata."  I wonder she and 
>> DCO music director Nicola Rescigno had some kind of falling out, because she never 
>> returned to DCO after the "Nozze."  
>> MDW

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