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Subject: Dear Abigaille
From: "CHARLES H. HANDELMAN" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CHARLES H. HANDELMAN
Date:Mon, 28 Dec 1998 18:55:13 -0500
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Hi,
 As a lover of that totally UNIQUE role of Abigaille in nabucco,I have my
own comments:
I was "weaned' on the Caterina Mancini singing of the role from around age
17. I even wrote her a letter and she answered me a long way back. She had
perhaps the most stunning natural dramatic soprano of all-time in that it
had the solid core and the brilliant top and enormous bottom;unfortunately
it tended to get screamy and did not last perhaps as long as it might
have,but the INSTRUMENT was something spectacular.Therefore in general you
could not place her in the Ponselle/Milaniv league,but those ladies would
have DIED attempting to sing this incredible role.

  Rysanek replaced Price,originally scheduled, in the 1960 Nabuccos.I guess
Leontyne looked at the score and wisely withdrew. Leonie was totally wrong
and they never brought it back.

 Linda Roark-Strummer is superb in a few of the Nabuccos I have.She looks
so great, has the verve and the style,and in one performance she does a
double cabaletta with exciting alternate ornamenti in the second verse of
the "Salgo gia."

  Elizabeth Connell is extremely exicitng in a recent Australia
perfornmance,but the insane,totally bizarre production kaes her act like
she is on the Carol Burnette show .(reruns).She has a great time,but if you
see what they do to this opera,you would PLOTZ! (She actually knocks
Nabucco off in the "Son Dio" section with a RAY GUN!!!!)

  Possibly the most exciting of all Abigailles is my dear Marisa
Galvany,who is just riveting from start to finish,with the most amazing
high E flat that "comes out of the air" as opposed to the way Callas swoops
up to hers.of course Callas is sensational,despite the antiquated sound of
the 1949 perf...but Marisa is tremendous!!

  Guleghina also takes the E flat on the recent Chicago Broadcast.She sings
with plenty of excitement BUT she refuses to use any chest voice..and that
is VERBOTEN in this kind of role..So half of her will be effective in the
Met's coming production...but we really do not have an "active Abigaille"
around these parts.

  I consider Abigaille,like Gioconda,Norma,Otello,etc. a totally UNIQUE
role,and it takes only a special singer to meet its challenges. I may
decide,in my next life, to come back as the cabaletta.   as ever
Charlie,who once actually tried to sing along with Mancini...Grazie a Dio
I gave up the idea at an early stage.

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