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Wednesday, January 4. 2012
The vocal highlight of the opera is the famous aria O mio babbino caro, sung by the little manipulator Lauretta to her dad. "Daddy dearest, I'll have to die if you won't let me go out with Rinuccio anymore."
The trick of it is to sound like you really want to twist Dad's heartstrings. If you can sing like these ladies to your Dad, I'm sure he'll let you do whatever you want. Here's the bake-off:
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Kiri Te Kanawa is the best, though she hams up the high note in this particular permformance.
Opera people lose sight of the fact that it's music.
Monteverdi's Orfeo was the last good opera though.
Oooohhh, that's a tough call. The one I liked least of the five was Mirella Freni. The other four were all pretty close for different reasons. I'd probably say I preferred Renee Fleming's version most, but that could have also been a consequence of a superior quality recording. Tied for second I'd say both Leontyne Price and Maria Callas, with Kiri in a very close fourth. I thought that both Fleming and Price have a richer sound that I appreciated more, but I really liked Callas's performance.
Gotta go with Kiri No.1 and Callas No.2; they both sounded as if they were singing in character and opera after all, is a play set to music. The others sounded as if they were trying to pass their senior year stage concert: a certain stiffness was evident in all, at least to me.
I'd give Kiri anything she wanted based on her performance!
Sorry to be off topic, but I couldn't find an email addy.
I always read this site, however, in the last week or so it loads so sloooowly in Chrome that I'm starting to just close the tab. It's fine once your in so I'm assuming it's pictures or page size.
thought you might like or need to know.
Hmmmm - not being an opera fan by any stretch, I have to evaluate these from a technical standpoint - I have no other way to judge. And you can only judge this particular piece with these particular singers - it's not fair to over generalize as they all have their different ranges and abilities.
Top of the list would be Kanawa and Fleming. Both are true lyric sopranos - the vocal transitions are smooth and even, the power is not over whelming the orchestra. If I had, absolutely had, to pick one over the other it would be Fleming.
Have to give Price a solid third. She is one of those "odd" lyric sopranos in that she is part lyric coloratura, part dramatic coloratura. I had to look up her range which pretty much proves the point - A-flat below middle C to the E above high C. Heck of a singer though - I've seen other performances of hers - amazing talent.
I didn't care for the Freni recording as she was over powered by the orchestra, but I've looked at other Youtube videos and I don't think this was her best effort.
The Callas recording was during her "slim" phase and she lost a lot of tonality and vibrancy in her voice as a result. I don't think this was her best effort or piece.
There you go - a completely uninformed opinion based on nothing more than a little knowledge of the subject matter. We all know what a little knowledge can do. :>)
FUN STUFF! Quiet weekend, BD? I'll need to share this with the missus' golden ears, but I note that Freni missed a couple of notes. Always love Leontyne. I cannot imagine how Callas might have really sounded thru today's recording capabilities, but she's right up there even in lo-fi.
The pleasant surprise was Fleming, but maybe that is slightly assisted by being a modern recording.
The only problem with concerts vs. live opera is that the divas tend to ham it up a little too much for my taste, and Kiri more than the others!!
Tom Francis ... What an ear you've got, you old polymath you. I picked the same two as you did -- Kiri Te Kanawa for her intense musicality and gorgeous voice, Fleming for her smoothness of tone and lovely interpretation. I've heard both of these artists in person and it was a truly lovely experience. Thanks, Bird Dog for a beautiful late New Year's present.
All of these performances are wonderful. My personal preference is for Renee Fleming's version. It was first in the order of my viewing, and to my recollection my first experience hearing this opera. It sent chills down my legs, I imagine much in the same way Obama sent chills down Chris Matthews' leg. Unfortunately, I watched the videos as I listened, and the whole experience distracted me from simply hearing the singer's voice. It's too late to un-see and re-listen. She had me in her grip, all too easily, in her red dress, clutching her bosom and imploring her father for her hearts freedom. If I was her dad, I'd throw myself, crying, off Ponte Vecchio before she could finish her song.
1. Dame Kiri, for the excellent reasons given by TF. 'Nuff said.
2. Renee Fleming, for the same reason + her lovely interpretation
3. Maria Callas--the most touching rendition, despite the mediocre quality of the recording
4. Mirella Freni, brave effort in the face of an inconsiderate orchestra conductor
5. Leontyne Price--weak in the lower register, not her cup of tea I think
Interesting. I came up with the same list as "Agent Cooper" and for the very same reasons. I especially agree with the comment about Freni's version. The orchestra is supposed to support the vocalist, not compete.
As for Maria Callas, I think there are several problems, not all of her making. Several of her high notes struck my ear as approaching shrill though, as Tom Francis noted, that may be because of her weight issues. Also, her pacing is not on the mark. This is a beautiful but very difficult piece and the whole can come apart quite easily if even one element falls short of Puccini's demands.
On the other hand, this comparison was a surprise and delight. Thank you BD.
I don't exactly know why, but only one of the five got to me: my eyes started blinking rapidly and I had to reach for a hanky.
What I was thinking was that this is probably best sung by younger performers, who can still remember how they wheedled their papa for stuff using their barely in control over-the-top emotions. Anna Netrebko is good at this also, she's on Youtube. I thought it as soon as I heard Kiri, because that's what I didn't hear.
Loved this. Loved listening to all, but Renee Fleming gets my vote.
Each marvelous in her own way. Price's dynamics on the ritend on the second last "pieta" is brilliant and very hard to do. Wish I could, especially that high.