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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Does weight count?


A mezzo-soprano in the Huffington Post writes she is frequently told: “Aren’t you too thin to sing opera?” The rest of her article is incoherent so I conclude she is boasting.

Pundits used say the beanpoles could never match the fatties. But times have changed. A year or two ago the NY Met required Debra Voigt to undergo a rather hideous operation, and lose several stones (1 st =14 lb), in order to keep on singing there. Last year, via HD TV, I saw a comparatively svelte Debra sing the socks off Brunnhilde.

I can offer only anecdotal comment. CLICK HERE to see and hear gorgeously slender and gorgeously larynxed blonde Miah Persson (Fiordiligi) and similarly endowed Anke Vondung (Dorabella) unite in Soave Sia Il Vento in Glyndebourne’s Cosi.

CLICK HERE to hear Janet Baker and Montserrat Caballé (sound only; sorry about the paragliding) doing the same thing. On the avoirdupois front Janet could affectionately be called voluptuous. Montserrat, I fear, always resembled pre-op Debra.

Both are terrific performances. Which is the better? It isn’t apples vs. apples. The voices of Persson/Vondung are less often clearly identified whereas Baker and CaballĂ© are quite separate throughout and profit (I think) from a wider range recording. But there are those who are going to be influenced by the Glyndebourne duo’s loveliness, especially near the end when Fiordiligi reaches out to take Dorabella’s hand.

I could have done fellas but it’s not as much fun


3 comments:

marja-leena said...

Both recordings are very good though a little different as each voice is different. You have proved that weight does not count - which is exactly what the author of that article which I sent you was arguing.

It seems to me that opera singers, both male and female, used to be generally on the heavier side several decades ago, and maybe that view has stuck in the minds of some people who are not necessarily opera lovers, as mentioned in that article.

I think you should now do the same with the guys, in the name of equality :-)

Lorenzo da Ponte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorenzo da Ponte said...

M-L: If you got up terribly early and read the deleted comment, forget what you read. The subject is more complex than your question or my answer suggests and requires a new post, which it will have shortly.