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Subject: Earliest recordings of selections from Turandot and more
From: Scott Grunow <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sat, 8 Dec 2018 15:12:44 +0000

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Other than the dim ones of choruses that were recorded at the premier (alas, Raisa did not record anything from this opera), what are the earliest recordings of selections sung by Turandot from this opera?
I will praise the early recording of In questa reggia by Bianca Scacciati. She did not succeed in the part at Covent Garden, but this recording shows an enormous voice with a cutting edge (some might find strident), crisp diction, and what some Turandots often lack, a firm, warm central middle voice. 
Did Turner record her In questa reggia before or after the recording I mention above?
I don't think Cigna is completely at her best in the earliest complete commercial recording. Some of the highest notes are unsteady, but there is not question about the power of this voice, especially in ensembles. 
I wish Pacetti had recorded something from this opera. She sang it often, and it was the last role she sang on stage. And though sometimes Pacetti is given a bad rap, she is one of the few sopranos of the last century who sang Isolde, Norma, and Turandot.
I must admit Turandot is not among my favorites. My view is totally subjective. I wish Puccini had finished it, but I do wonder how he was going to do so? On a literal level, the title character tortured to death another woman. And lo and behold, now she is sympathetic character? Crude reading, but true on the literal level. I used to respond more to the glorified sadism in this opera, "Lash those wretches." but it seems like at times it doesn't really get much beyond those points as a whole. 
And, while I am at it, I don't  understand why so many opera houses do this opera. Well, perhaps I do. Yes, it's a money maker, and there is Nessun dorma (which aria, literally in the plot, is sung in a dramatic context of practically genocide, let's kill everyone in the city if I don't get what I want, lovely), but most sopranos cannot sing the title role. 
And just because a soprano is a dramatic soprano does not mean she can handle the high tessitura. The voices of many dramatic sopranos tend to coalesce in the middle. I though Stemme sounded uncomfortable overall when I was the HD broadcast (because I had a friend to go with!). Characterization and acting do not, in this role as far as I am concerned, cover up for not being able to hit those notes. 
Varnay was smart: she never touched the part; she knew what she could do, and she admitted, there, was Nilsson, who as far as I am concerned, had the notes of course, but I want more in the part, vocally and dramturgically, if indeed that is possible. 
Yes, Puccini is working now in a fairy tale realm (the last time he did so was in the G*d-awful Edgar, some glorious music but ludicrous plot and characters), and I wonder if he was really comfortable with that construct. 
He was perhaps more comfortable with the direction he was moving in La Fanciulla, which I think is successful on a dramaturgical level because of the finely drawn, realistic characters. 
I hope this post is not ignored. 
In the meantime, I will Develop a Day by Descending to the Dollar General and post about it in excruciating detail on, the place for people who cannot afford to go anywhere or do anything other than purchase basic necessities. 
Mezzomaniac, and Puccini wrote almost nothing for the mezzo. I wonder why.

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