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Subject: "Caballe Sight-Reads Again"
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sun, 14 Oct 2018 19:07:52 -0400
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Max Paley wrote:

"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."

As someone else observed, Caballe was a superb musician and could learn a role almost 
overnight - which is not to say that she could do that and sing the role with any dramatic 
depth or meaning.  A common complaint against Caballe in the early 70s, when it seemed 
like she was putting out another recording just about every month, was that many of her 
commercial recordings were beautifully sung but lacking in depth and dramatic 
engagement.  That was my own reaction to many of her recordings during this period.  I 
remember one review of her "Giovanna d'Arco" (I think it was in American Record Guide - 
remember that wonderful publication?) noting that Caballe had actually sung the role 
before, "so this is not another case of 'Caballe Sight-Reads Again'."

I think Caballe was one of those artists who needed the spark from a live audience to really 
give of her best.  As many have commented, her Norma from Aix-en-Provence (with the 
Mistral blowing full tilt) is one of the greatest performances of that role on disc, dramatically 
engaged and sung with incredible beauty.  But her studio Norma, by contrast, is a very 
bland affair.  (Cossotto is good, but Caballe, Domingo and Raimondi sound like they are 
sleepwalking through much of their parts.)  It is significant, to me, that many of her 
greatest recordings - the Carnegie Hall "Lucrezia Borgia," "Parisina" and "Gemma di Vergy," 
the San Francisco "Turandot" (which I think is spectacular), the Dallas "Nozze di Figaro," 
and the Aix "Norma," are live performances (all in excellent sound).  Exceptions to this 
among her studio recordings are her recordings of "Cosi fan tutte" for Philips with Janet 
Baker and Colin Davis, her superb "Salome" on RCA under Leinsdorf, and her EMI Aida 
under Muti.  (Although that last has a very obvious splice just before the pianissimo high C 
in "O patria mia" - I don't understand how that was passed for release.) 

MDW    

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