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Subject: The 12 Miracle tenors
From: Charles Handelman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Charles Handelman <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 16 Aug 1998 02:09:42 -0400
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      What is a miracle?  Today I was watching some of those 12 programs
made on German television entitled, "Bel Canto Tenors of the 78 RPM Era."
You may recall they did show the Gigli and the caruso programs last
year,hosted in part by Stefan Zucker and featuring some live footage with
recordings and analysis of these great tenors' technique and career. What I
saw were some of the other programs,dedicated to
Melchior,Roswaenge,Bjoerling,McCormack,Thill,Tauber,Schipa,
Koslovsky,Slezak,and Schmidt. Most of us are aware of these men as famous
tenors,but have we all seen this particular footage of the incredible
George Thill,particularly in a rehearsal of a Canteloube opera,in which he
stands by the piano and emits some of the most magnificent tones you can
imagine,as "easy as falling off a log." I would consider him as one of my
five favorite tenors of all-time and I urge newcomers to opera to listen to
this man,one of the most remarkable talents to come before the public.
      Then there is another of these vocal "miracles,"the totally
captivating voice of the tenor John McCormack,whom Caruso adored so much.
Remember the story of how McCormack came back to see Caruso after a
particular performance,and asked the great man,"How is the world's greatest
tenor this evening?" Caruso's reply was,"I did not know you have become a
baritone!" To hear this man LIVE doing the "I hear you calling me" with the
high A piano in a head tone that makes you gasp in amazement is worth all
the "notes" you will be hearing from any tenor today. Not a one can
approach this kind of singing, not to mention the way Schipa opens his
mouth and the pearls fall from his lips; the sound of Schmidt,who died so
tragically at age 38 is another of the gems of this
series.Schmidt,Wunderlich,McCormack,Thill,early Di
Stefano,Bjoerling...these men produced the kind of "liquid tone" that we do
not hear anymore.
    I always ask the older members of these forums if Bjoerling really did
sound like that 1947 Romeo broadcast? I recall the voice as often small and
lacking impact, but I do seem to recall a Don Carlo and a Ballo around 1955
where I did say that the brilliance and beauty (like Gedda) made up for the
smaller tone,but I am still wondering if that recording of the Paris
Entrance from"La Belle Helene and/or the Romeo matinee REALLY told the true
tale,as it appeared on the Bjoerling segment, where he sounds like "GOD
vocalizing."
  I urge you to purchase this series of videos,for it captures these great
men in a way that recordings do not capture.You see most of them in live
concert,rehearsal,or in film,and you realize that theirs is a totally lost
art. I think my favorite of this series shall remain Thill, a glory of
sound that is truly remarkable. Maybe they can find similar footage for
some of the other voice categories. This is indeed a great contribution to
our musical education.  as ever Charlie

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