Monday, February 6, 2017

Enjoying Some High Notes

Every so often I like to pull up some selections from YouTube to enjoy some singing, mostly opera but some Broadway, that I might not have ever heard. Today I started with Joan Sutherland in the last two pieces from Act I of La Traviata. She has always been a favorite of mine, and in this selection, which shows her nicely dressed and more attractive than she usually appeared on stage, it is not so much the high notes, which needless to say are superbly done, but the trills, that she just seems to handle so effortlessly, that blew me away.

Sutherland always made it all sound easy. I also watched her do the Si, vendetta ending of Act II (used to be Act III when they did the brief Act I as a separate act) of Rigoletto with Sherrill Milnes. She goes up for the high note at the end, followed by his, and both are magnificent, but as usual, she holds it right along and makes it seem so easy. She also hits the high note at the end of the Quartet with no less than Luciano Pavarotti as the tenor, and there is no question that she is the dominant voice as it ends gloriously. By the way, she looks absolutely awful and makes Gilda, who I believe is supposed to be in her late teens or maybe just 20, look like she's 70 or so.

I listened to several Rigoletto Quartets and Gigli probably had the sweetest tenor, while Caruso's recordings, which helped create his legend in the early days of sound recording, show how mellifluous his voice was. In the Quartet I heard, however, it was thrilling to hear Amelia Galli-Curci produce the beautiful high notes at the end to keep pace with Enrico. 

Not to be ignored was an Act II finale with Leonard Warren and Bidu Sayao. She also had a lovely, sweet tone and Warren may have been the finest baritone of all time, although I did enjoy a Cornell MacNeil rendition which one commentor referred to as "Big Mac" coming on strong. Tito Gobbi also gave Maria Callas a good match in both the Act II finale and Quartet.

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