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Subject: Re: Sutherland and Bonynge - Setting a Few Things Straight
From: Joseph Manley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Joseph Manley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 27 Dec 1998 15:33:18 -0500

text/plain (34 lines)

On Fri, 25 Dec 1998 11:46:15 -0500, Eva Zuber <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Here is something that I strongly disagree with. All sopranos, and I among
>them, know that singing an F does not make you a coloratura! And not all
>coloraturas can sing an F, Sutherland included! The assumption like this
>is, well, too simplistic! Most professional sopranos can vocalize up to F
>or even higher. <<

That is not what I said.  I said the very full tone with which she sang the F--not to mention the E natural and other in alt notes--and I gave it as but one example of why she is a coloratura in terms of the instrument God gave her--not just the career or even the repertoire.

As a singer, I am quite aware of what singers vocalize to, and how that relates to their performing range.  It's not what they sing with such enormous tone as Sutherland did on a recording.  The simplistic assumption here is that you hold knowledge others do not.

>What differentiates the fachs is not so much the agility and the high
>notes, but most importantly the weight and the timber of the sound, and
>even more so the temperament and the personality of a singer. And,
>something that many people, who are not in the business of singing, do not
>realize - the opportunities and circumstances of each individual's career.
>Yes! You can train your voice to suit the music market - many have done it
>in the past, and are doing it now, too. <<

You fail to make the fundamental distinction between a lyric or other type "with" coloratura, and a real coloratura soprano--who is born with a certain type of instrument--among other errors you fall into.  The true coloratura soprano voice acquires its greatest power and ease above the staff and easily goes into the in alt range.  Sutherland had that naturally before she ever "trained" that part of the voice, that register had a power, quality, utter freedom, float and tone nevertheless integrated with the rest of her tone that is far beyond what sopranos simply singing coloratura parts ever have.  Surely many sopranos can and do squeak, tweet, chirp and otherwise synthesize those notes.  The other characteristic is an almost equally strong very low register, and a relatively weak middle register.  Sills is another example of that--though a smaller and more lyric voice.  And Mozart himself recognized the type, writing specifically to capitalize on those particular strengths,
  with such arias as Martern aller arten, with its great demands on the top and very low registers and sharp leaps between them.

Caballe herself made this very distinction of coloratura soprano versus soprano with coloratura between herself and Sutherland, whom she terms a true coloratura soprano.  Perhaps you feel you can professionally condescend to and patronize Mme. Caballe as well.

The logical inference from your arguments about "training" is that one can, for example, "train" to be a true bass, when one is not born with the instrument, a bass-baritone or baritone can do it, just has to develop the notes.  Not!  It just doesn't happen.  We are treated to a lot of dry and unresonant faked low E's and F's, sounding more like burps and flatulence, from those who follow your theory.

Joe Manley

P.S.  Given your other inaccuracies, I cannot credit on the face of it what you allege about Sutherland's lack of a high F in the Queen of the Night in performance.  For one thing, it is impossible to fake the enormous tone she had on recordings.  In any case, what Sutherland could nor could not do in the Queen of the Night on stage can never be established by the very few times she did the role, and she did not continue to do the role for reasons quite different from those you allege.  Sills abandoned it for similar reasons.

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