Permit me to disregard the connotations of Italianita so clearly
defined for us and to suggest that there is a quality of an Italian
singing in her language as there is another of a German singing in
his. However, I find it more of a tendency than a firm association.
For example, there may have been no more Italian tenor than Richard
Tucker. Where he was born, where he trained and all the rest are
irrelevant. Listen to him in any Italian opera or song - *that's*
Italian! As Italian as Rosa Ponselle; even their French is Italian.
As Italian as Maria Callas, whose French is too French.
It's sort of like being a Jewish mother: you need be neither Jewish
nor a mother to be one, but most mothers who were raised in a Jewish
home are Jewish mothers.
There's a related thread on Lieder-L at the moment from a white
singer who is planning to include a spiritual in his program. Should
he sing it 'black'. My private reply is that if the song resonates
in his mind, he should sing it with that resonance. Some in the
audience may hear it as black and may even be offended, but if the
expression is honest, he will have little to fear.
On the other hand, if there is no particular resonance with the
message of the song, sing it as an art song - an expression of
beauty of sound and thought, not an appeal to the gut or the soul.
To impose a 'black' sound is as wrong as any other sham foisted onto
an audience and the listener, whether consciously or not, will
reject that veneer.
Let me point to a couple of items from my CD-ROMs. From one of my
WWW site posts of a year or so ago, there are two versions of
Carmen's card scene - one each with Christa Ludwig and Gabriella
Besanzoni. Language aside, neither sings it in a French manner; had
both sung it in any language, they would have been recognized as
Germanic and Italian by style alone.
Of the six versions of Dichterliebe on my Mostly Men disc, I find
the Valletti and Lehmann most interesting. Valletti's is no more
German to my ear than Lehmann's is masculine. Each is valid in its
own right, but neither comes from the same musical base as those of
the Germanic males with whom I intended them to be compared.
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