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Subject: Re: That Gheorghiu "rag"
From: Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 6 Dec 2018 21:50:56 -0800
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Les, maybe you expected something from her different from what she was.

Gheorghiu is still (although more carefully and rarely, mostly in Europe) a really beautiful, conventional performer. She takes a few chances with repertoire in recital (like that one ghastly off pitch “Ritorna vincitor”) but in her staged roles, she has everything curated and calculated down to the most minute detail This might be why she never seemed to have more than a handful of roles active at any one time and now seems to be down to Tosca and Adriana, although she still talks about doing Manon Lescaut.

She’s like a chef who rarely surprises you with a new dish, but always prepares her standards extremely well.

She’s an interpreter of the music, who carefully studies the notes and directions and executes them in the best way she can. But she seems to have a finite amount of mental and musical resource; like she can only store so much at one time.

Callas was a different beast from most other singers. Sure, she pored over the scores and took in every detail, but she didn’t really “render" what she took in. She swallowed and digested the score and what came out put her in the middle of the musical creative process. She sang things the way she did (whether you like it or not) because that’s the only way she could. I think it’s also why two performances from her were almost never close to identical. 

I compare Callas with Billie Holiday. Other female jazz singers like Ella, Sarah, Rosemary, Dinah (Shore or Washington) or Peggy might have been able to take a sheet of music and prettily sing the notes right off. Billie Holiday absolutely couldn’t do that: for her to sing anything, she had to internalize and it had to come out as her own.

Even when Callas sounds like she’s singing something nicely and conventionally, you realize after a few notes that she’s not coming from the same place as anyone else who sang that music.Again, that doesn’t necessarily say you’re going to like it, but she is what she is and that’s why there’ll never be “another” Callas.

That aspect of being part of the creative process is almost certainly not a conscious thing and isn’t even common among conductors or instrumentalists. It’s a rare thing and those who have the blessing or curse of being that way are fundamentally different from their peers in the way they operate musically. Furtwängler, for sure. Schnabel, I think. Maybe Szigeti (who, like Callas, lost control of the instrument earlier than many and tried to keep performing).

Max Paley



> On Dec 5, 2018, at 7:21 PM, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> I'm kinda surprised that Angela Gheorghiu still gets any attention at all.  Now THERE was a soprano that I thought would be destined for real Callas-like greatness and stardom.  That Solti Traviata in 1994 was a revelation and she was vocally and physically ravishing.  I mean REALLY beautiful.  But despite all of those spectacular early appearances in Chicago, the Met, Covent Garden and everywhere else, she somehow got derailed somewhere.  Her voice seems to have held up, but she certainly never fulfilled the promise that I held for her when I first encountered her.
>> On December 5, 2018 at 7:41 PM Idia Legray <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> 
>> A senior moment:
>> A kindly poster emailed me that I had the wrong operas and dates. 
>> Gheorghiu was supposed to do Mimi in Boheme at Lyric in 2007 when she 
>> left to be with Alagna at the Met when he did Romeo et Juliette with 
>> Netrebko. 
>> I apologize for my gaffe.
>> 
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