A soupcon here, a soupcon there…

La Cieca hears that one of our most popular and beloved mezzo-sopranos is going to drop the “mezzo” part and push up into a higher Fach. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if this American artist were to show such poor judgment?

A quick look-in at Academy Records this evening revealed a tantalizing assortment of CDs on the WH Live Opera label. Promised delights include Anna Moffo as Melisande, Leonie Rysanek as Elisabeth, a Jon Vickers/Tatiana Troyanos Parsifal, and a Trovatore starring Renata Scotto, Luciano Pavarotti and Shirley Verrett! Have any of my cher public purchased these or other recordings on this new label; if so, feedback, please?

8 Responses to “A soupcon here, a soupcon there…”

  1. Shaigreen Says:

    How long you think the Met will let them keep this up?

  2. heldensoubrette Says:

    hmmm…can it be suzie?

    or…dolora?!?

  3. papertiger Says:

    It’s a big risk, because it doesn’t always work. The jury’s still out on Violeta Urmana (although I think she’s succeeded).

  4. papagenodz Says:

    Susan Graham is scheduled for Iphigenie in Chicago next year. We will report.

    Love those releases at Academy. I have the Trovatore you mentioned, plus several Ballos, lots of Wagner, Mozart, and a great Norma. Good sound, highly recommended. Always a highlight of a trip to New York.

  5. Just Another Tenor Says:

    Why would Susan Graham want to do such a thing? I guess she has been testing out the high range for a little while now, with all those Merry widows she has been doing – not to mention a very succesful Elvira.
    I wonder what kind of change we are talking about. Maybe she just wants to get to sing the Marschallin. That would be interesting… I believe Ludwig did that, rather succesfully!
    Anyone know what kind of rep she is thinking of adding?

  6. Michael Farris Says:

    Graham has sung Iphiginie en Tauride before IINM, it’s not out of bounds for mezzos (Rita Gorr did it too).

    Part of any really ambitious mezzo’s problems is just not enough different starring roles and so most have to learn how to make calculated forays into soprano territory (like Ludwig) or be able to convince companies to back their forays into offbeat repertory (like Horne).

    But being able to sing the occasional not-too-high soprano role is not the same thing as being a soprano as many have found out too late.

    On the other hand the divisions within soprano are maybe overall bigger than between soprano and mezzo.
    I remember an interview with Ludwig where she claimed womens’ voices just don’t categorize into high and low quite the same way that mens’ do (for the most part) so maybe we should just go back to calling them all sopranos?

  7. rysanekfreak Says:

    I was always amazed that Verrett moved up to “Norma” and “Ballo.”
    And I think she did the Verdi Desdemona in Boston.

    Meanwhile, Bumbry was doing La Gioconda.

    And both ladies did Selika in “L’Africaine.”

    So…were they really mezzos at the beginning or were they sopranos all along? Or perhaps they were that rare type known as a falcon?

    I guess we will just have to say they were Verrett and Bumbry and be amazed that during their joint concerts, they did a Norma-Adalgisa duet and then switched the parts as an encore!

    I love the singers who refuse to be told what category they are and what fach they must stay in!

  8. Verrett indeed did do Desdemona with Mc Cracken in Boston. She also did Aida and Norma there. The first Aida in 1980 was really wonderful. She had it all. Two years later she was less successful. she also did one performance of Fidelio at the Met but realized it was not a success and let her cover (Roberta Knie) take over the rest of the performances. The Otello incidently was actually a last minute replacement for a planned Tristan und Isolde in Boston for McCracken and Verrett, but McCracken told me backstage at the time that he simply could not get through the third act. He felt it was simply too late in his career.(He was a very nice man to fans backstage) Unfortunately a few years later Sarah Caldwell burned her bridges with Verrett, Verrett had been promised a Medee in Boston, when funds were short, She agreed to do Tosca at the last minute and then Caldwell announced the Medee with another singer the following season. This was after Verrett had given Caldwell many seasons of interesting performances and lent star quality to a small company. About the same time Bumbry did Medea and Nabucco at NYCO.Bumbry also did a fairly successful Leonora in FORZA at the MET and Salome. both of them did Tosca fairly often.

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