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Subject: Retired in time
From: "CHARLES H. HANDELMAN" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CHARLES H. HANDELMAN
Date:Sun, 15 Mar 1998 01:21:47 -0500
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  Regarding Ed's comments on singers who retured :in time," I have varying
feelings on this:
   I do know for a fact that Risė Stevens decided to retire without a
single word to anyone (although we in her club suspected) and she was very
smart,since she felt the time had come. Her last performances were
magnificent (Carmen and Octavian) but she wantred to end the career before
too much vocal difficulty was obvious, and there were "holes " in the voice
in the later years.
   I know Zinka curtailed her roles toward the end and those close to her
wanted her to stay forever, but I guess at age 60,it was time,because there
was some strain on top and the last years one could sense that she was
having more problems;however,the ambivalence with me is that on the last
night of her career,she sang better than anyone else could in Chenier, and
so I wanted her  "remain till she dropped." That is unfair,but you cannot
help not wanting someone you "grew up with" to take her leave and deny the
fans that incredible sound.
  Yes,Pavarotti is unreliable,and "sings the notes" with not much to spare,
although he did quite well today,high C and all, but in his case,there is
no real "interest" as with Bergonzi, who has less voice in many ways,but
ends up,10 years older, as still worthy of greatest praise..that is because
he has the slancio lacking in Pavarotti's style.
 Virginia Zeani does not believe a singer should go on past 60...so she
would be someione who left "in time," whereas someone like Licia
Albanese,if given the chance, would still be at the Met..and not just
singing the national Anthem and/or booing productions. I still like to
"hang on" to some of the greats,because as we see,their "later years" ended
up as BETTER than the so-called "primes" of many singers..so another 10
years of Siepi, another five of Merrill, another 50 of Nilsson,would have
suited me fine!
     In two weeks Magda Olivero turns 88.(Mar.25),She still sings in
public,but in a limited way..but she is still capable of singing well and I
would like more of the old-timers to keep on in even limited public
appearances,because they have so much to give, and they can teach all of us
the kind of lesson that Bergonzi taught when he opened his mouth at the
Levine gala. However,they are entitled to their privacy and we cannot knock
it,selfish as I am in NEVER wanting to let them go if they still have some
of the mark of greatness within them. We know that Leonie could have gone
on another 5 years at least,had she not been ill,but even if she was
well,it might be her decision to call it quits and completely retire.
 i love to hear my some-time teacher,Jerry Lo Monaco,at his age, still
capable of a gorgeous "Che gelida" or "Amor ti vieta." I bet that if we
would go to a lesson taught by let us say, Shirley Verrett,we would be
thrilled to death! 
  The absolute reverse is true of Anna Moffo,Katya Ricciarelli,Ileana
Cotrubas,Elena Obratsova,etc..who in their later years have produced some
pretty unearthly tones.
  It is up to the individual singer therefore to make the decision..Many
decisions are wise..others not..but i still would like to be a fly on the
wall at a singing lesson given by Leyla Gencer!!!!   as ever Charlie..who
just came out of retirement. 

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