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A true coloratura

Last weekend on "Mildred Pierce," the symphony director told Mildred that a great coloratura voice comes along only once in a generation (in the film, that voice is Veda's).

is this true? Who then is the great coloratura in our generation? And why is it a rarer voice than other opera voice types?

by Anonymousreply 11601/29/2013

does sumi jo (the soprano behind Evan Rachel Wood) count?

by Anonymousreply 104/16/2011

Cecilia Bartoli

by Anonymousreply 204/16/2011

Cecilia Bartoli is a coloratura mezzo-soprano. I think the character on "Mildred Pierce" was talking about an actual coloratura soprano.

by Anonymousreply 304/16/2011

For once we have an R1 who speaks the truth.

No, the type of voice James M. Cain had in mind is not rare, but the nature and sound has changed over the the years. He wrote the novel at a time when "coloratura" exclusively meant a high soprano. During his day, this would have been someone with a voice like Lily Pons, a very high but light-voiced soprano.

In reality "coloratura" is not a noun but an adjective, referring to a singer of any voice range who can sing the trills, embellishments and rapid vocal lines demanded in operas written by composers like Handel, Rossini, Donizetti and others. These operas are far more popular now than they were in Cain's day, which accounts for the rarity his character refers to.

Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills and Maria Callas all sang roles written for coloratura soprano, but their voices were all very different, and heavier than Lily Pons' voice. And all were far more accomplished vocally and technically than she was.

by Anonymousreply 404/16/2011

Pointless here but: a "coloratura" usually means someone (female) with a high, girlish voice (even if they're older), with a strong upper extension (some females can manage with luck the High C as a climax, but a 'coloratura' is expected to be able to sing high a lot, up to the high D and usually the E flat if not the E and the F -- some coloratura roles call for those very high notes in the score, but famous coloraturas have often inserted them for effect).

Secondly, a coloratura is expected to be able to sing an elaborate vocal line, runs, scales, trills, arpeggios and so on. Again sometimes these are written in the score, but just as open they are added by the singer, for the last seventy years or so, following 'tradition'.

A coloratura isn't expected to have a very large voice, though some have a penetrating sound that can be heard pretty easily even in a big space.

Sumi Jo would indeed qualify as a coloratura but as I expect she is probably 60, she is no longer all that current. Bartoli has always called herself a 'mezzo soprano' that is someone who has a darker voice and sings in lower keys than a soprano (or if singing a duet in the same key, the mezzo takes the lower line). Marilyn Horne was very famous for this kind of voice, and had more volume than Bartoli.

Now, 'coloratura', that is, the ability to move the voice fast over a wide range with ease and to execute elaborate writing including trills is something other than a voice type. In some rep tenors and basses are expected to sing florid music along with the soprano. Bartoli is a coloratura mezzo.

But again used as a general term, 'coloratura' nearly always denotes a high voice (Beverly Sills if anyone remembers her was a coloratura, Maria Devia who is now about 62 is a great coloratura, Natalie Dessay who sings at the Met and just did a basic coloratura role, Lucia, is a coloratura, Diana Damrau who just did the run of Le Comte Ory at the Met is a coloratura, the mezzo who sang with her Joyce di donato is a 'coloratura mezzo').

Some singers with big, rich voices have none the less sung coloratura roles, though they did not have the typical sound and were not 'light' in timbre or girlish sounding. Joan Sutherland was one such, and so was Maria Callas. Sutherland mostly stayed with the standard 'coloratura' rep but Callas, who to start with, had a big, dark voice, sang 'spinto' roles like Tosca, La Gioconda, Aida and Norma (a role with a lot of coloratura writing that nonetheless requires volume, stamina and emotional and vocal impact, Sutherland did it often, Sills tried).

by Anonymousreply 504/16/2011

PJ Harvey

by Anonymousreply 604/16/2011

Kathleen Battle was for sho' the Veda Pierce of her day.

by Anonymousreply 704/16/2011

Can the opera troll tell me what a "falcon" voice is?

by Anonymousreply 804/16/2011

Well I don't know who you're generation is OP, but mine belongs to ONJ.

by Anonymousreply 904/16/2011

Great coloratura voice = Mariah Carey

by Anonymousreply 1004/16/2011

High coloraturas with small voices are as common as lyric baritones. The writer didn't really know what he was talking about. If he wanted psychotic and rare, he should have gone for spinto sopranos that sing Verdi, or Heldens who sing Brunnhilde, etc. High coloraturas are dime a dozen.

by Anonymousreply 1104/16/2011

Does one become a high coloratura after a high colonic?

by Anonymousreply 1204/16/2011

One of the voice types that actually is incredibly rare is a true Wagnerian soprano. There really aren't any right now of great renown, other than Eva Marton: the great sopranos around like Jeanne Eaglen, Deborah Voight, Karita Mattila, Sharon Sweet, and Cheryl Studer who (some of them) sometimes sing roles like Brunhilde, Elektra, the Dyer's Wife and Isolde are really dramatic sopranos who are more comfortable singing roles like Salome, Chrysothemis, the Empress, and Sieglinde.

by Anonymousreply 1304/17/2011

A 'falcon' is a sort of low soprano - someone with the soprano sound but not the top notes, named after a famous French singer of that name. It isn't really an established type and doesn't have much of a repertory. Broadly it's a spinto sort of voice that can't manage the top C.

by Anonymousreply 1404/17/2011

It was a time when coloratura soprano roles were thin on the ground in the dominant repertory. There were basically a couple of Mozart roles (Figaro, Don Giovanni and the Flute), Fidelio and couple of early 19th century warhorses (Lucia, the Barber) but it was really focussed on more recent composers: mid-late Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and Richard Strauss. Few coloratura singers emerged because there wasn't that much for them to do: usually pin-whistle sopranos or brave soubrettes needed for the Queen of the Night and Zerbinetta. Once the bel canto period got revived (Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini), along witrh the 18th century (all Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi), we've ended up with vast numbers of really excellent coloratura singers emerging to take on the repertory.

by Anonymousreply 1504/17/2011

I prefer Off-Coloraturas and Mezzanine Sopranos.

by Anonymousreply 1604/17/2011

Without any doubt, Edita Gruberova. Maybe not so well-known in the USA, but big star in Europe. She%C2%B4s over 60 and still breathtaking, you can easily find her on youtube.

by Anonymousreply 1704/17/2011

[quote]Can the opera troll tell me what a "falcon" voice is?

Just to add to R14's explanation, the only role I'm familiar with that's associated with a falcon is the Prince in Massenet's "Cendrillon", his version of Cinderella in which the Prince is a trouser role.

I agree with R13 about true Wagnerian sopranos being as scarce as hen's teeth. You can say the same about real dramatic sopranos in the Italian repertoire for at least the last 10 or 15 years. Many try, but they just don't have the heavy, dark vocal color that's required to show the music off--they're really spintos, like Sondra Radvanovsky, whom I like, but she's not a dramatic soprano.

What James M. Cain meant by "coloratura" is so narrow in view of the range of opera repertoire that's being performed today. Nobody, but nobody was doing Handel operas back in the '30's, let alone Rossini (beyond "The Barber of Seville"), Bellini (aside from "Norma") or Donizetti ("Lucia diLammermoor" and "L'Elisir d'Amore" if the right tenor was around). The times, and music scholarship, have certainly changed.

I agree about Edita Gruberova, R17, but I'm not a fan. I've got her recording of "Rigoletto" and she's got tremendous pitch problems throughout the whole thing.

by Anonymousreply 1804/17/2011

I really thought Radvanovksy was the next American dramatic soprano when I saw her in the Met competition. Do you think her dramatic weight loss changed her voice?

A coloratura mezzo is much more rare than a coloratura soprano because the middle voice is much more difficult to navigate with ease and agility. Marilyn Horne is, for my ears, untouched in that repertoire.

Is Stephanie Blythe a Wagnerian? She attempts a lot of different material. She isn't agile enough to sing Handel but she often does in concert- but she is such a wonderful actress and brings great intention to pieces I think I now and I hear them differently when she sings them.

by Anonymousreply 1904/17/2011

Any pop examples?

For example, I know that David Cook is a proper dramatic baritone.

But what of any ladies in pop or even R&B who are proper coloratura's?

by Anonymousreply 2004/17/2011

R19, much as I love Radvanovsky, she's what passes for a dramatic soprano today. To my ears Ms. R. sounds like a pushed down spinto with somewhat brighter sound than a true Italian dramatic soprano who sings her repertoire. However, I would expect her voice to get darker as she ages, so I'm sure that's where she'll end up.

Stephanie Blythe sings Wagner (quite well and getting even better) and Handel operas (saw her in "Julius Caesar" and her duet with David Daniels was to die for), but she doesn't sing the coloratura mezzo roles that Marilyn Horne did. As far as Handel goes, Blythe sings mothers; Horne sang generals. Jennifer Larmore sings the Horne roles, but her voice doesn't have the same weight and agility. As another poster pointed out, Joyce DiDonato is also a coloratura mezzo, but with a lighter sound and tremendous agility.

by Anonymousreply 2104/17/2011

thanks, r20. %0D I was on YouTube comparing versions of "Iris hence away" (i know, MARY!) and Blythe is running a bit amuck through the vocal runs.%0D I saw her evening of Kate Smith songs and she was wonderful in a pop repertoire and gave the music much more pathos that Kate Smith ever did. She is my favorite mezzo of the 21st century.%0D Sills' voice was much lighter than her contemporaties - and she was much more agile in coloratura. She had an "ina and etta" voice as they say - but who wants to see a 6 foot "ina"? (Many of the soubrette roles names end in ina or etta)%0D Heard any Mado Robin? That was CRAAAZZY coloratura.%0D

by Anonymousreply 2204/18/2011

wow. as someone who is uneducated musically and tone deaf, I love reading about this. Thanks.

by Anonymousreply 2304/18/2011

I also find this very interesting. Bravo!

by Anonymousreply 2404/18/2011

Sills pushed her voice to sing the larger roles because she was alarger lady - and as a star she could do what she wanted at City Opera. You can hear the wear and tear in her sound in the late 60's. I think this cut short her career but I also heard rumors of illness. %0D I love opera and I know some things about it but I am not an expert. It's a great hobby to discover because there is so much to learn and consider while you're enjoying great artistry. And there's a certain degree of bitchery (although hardly pointless!) to be engaged in as well.

by Anonymousreply 2504/18/2011

[quote]Can the opera troll tell me what a "falcon" voice is?

Mike Branson and Tom Chase doing the The Flower Duet from Lakme.

by Anonymousreply 2604/18/2011

Any pop/soul, even rock examples would be great--thanks in advance music experts.

by Anonymousreply 2704/18/2011

The only acceptable answer to this question, is, of COURSE...

...Natalie Dessay.

(Though, if options must be given, I shall also nominate Diana Damrau and Sumi Jo to stand in her shadow)

by Anonymousreply 2804/18/2011

R10 Mariah Carey has a great "women of coloratura" voice. There's a difference.

by Anonymousreply 2904/18/2011

[quote]there's a certain degree of bitchery (although hardly pointless!) to be engaged in as well.

It's always seemed pointless to me--why bitch about some of these broads who are now dozens of years dead? Who cares whether Callas was better than Sills or whether Sutherland was better than Callas? They all gave so much enjoyment

by Anonymousreply 3004/18/2011

This is a little off-topic but I would like some serious advice on rebuilding my voice. I think last year I strained it so much that I might have damaged it a alittle. Stuff I could do vocally before do not come as easily now when I sing and the smooth timbre of my voice has changed and roughened up a bit. I'm a tenor who is not a professional opera singer - but I do some classical pieces in addition to pop and mainstream stuff also.%0D %0D I just feel lost because I do not have the money to hire a vocal coach full-time and I think I strained my voice when a voal teacher I visited for a two session workshop pushed me to starin my voice in my higher range. Any advice?

by Anonymousreply 3104/18/2011

Blythe's voice and technique are unbelievable but I've always been disappointed when I've seen here. She's sort of boring, if you ask me. She doesn't really display many emotional colors. Have I seen her in the wrong things?

by Anonymousreply 3204/18/2011

The bitchery and speculation is all part of the fun.

by Anonymousreply 3304/18/2011

[quote][R10] Mariah Carey has a great "women of coloratura" voice.

thank you!!! thats what Ive been saying for years my voice is every bit the equivalent of the socalled great opera stars like beverly hills or charlie callas. i work damned hard but no one seems to care or notice. thank you and you will not be reported! have a nice day.

by Anonymousreply 3404/18/2011

Who is the voice singing for Veda in "Mildred Pierce"? And what was she singing when they were first listening to her on the radio? It was hauntingly beautiful...

by Anonymousreply 3504/18/2011

Natalie Dessay Troll here, I almost forgot to mention another who can hold her own in the Olympus ruled by La Dessay, and that is Inva Mulla-Tchako.

(Best known to the plebes, of course, as the voice of The Blue Chick [Diva Plavalaguna], from "The Fifth Element". Stunning voice and amazing flexibility, that one. Quite a range, too!)

by Anonymousreply 3604/18/2011

Now in her 50s I think, Ruth Ann Swenson was a great Met coloratura -- Lucia, Rosina, Adina, a fantastic Gilda, Elvira in I Puritani etc. Even her Cleopatra in Handel's Guilio Cesare a few years ago was a pleasure to listen to. In her prime (early to mid 90s) she possessed a spectacularly beautiful coloratura.

by Anonymousreply 3704/18/2011

LMFAO@r29. You made me spit my coffee out. Good job.

by Anonymousreply 3804/18/2011

Can someone name some alto-sopranos?

by Anonymousreply 3904/18/2011

[quote]Great coloratura voice = Mariah Carey

It's spelled g-r-a-t-e and in "cheese".

by Anonymousreply 4004/18/2011

La Toya Jackson has a high, sweet coloratura voice.

by Anonymousreply 4104/18/2011

I think r41 has completely misunderstood the definition of "coloratura".

oh, dear.

by Anonymousreply 4204/18/2011

Yeah, La Toya has a high coloratura voice - as in she sounds like a Ghost to me!

by Anonymousreply 4304/18/2011

[quote]I really thought Radvanovksy was the next American dramatic soprano when I saw her in the Met competition. Do you think her dramatic weight loss changed her voice?

No, she was never a dramatic, more of a spinto, and she never lost a dramatic amount of weight, ever.

[quote]A coloratura mezzo is much more rare than a coloratura soprano because the middle voice is much more difficult to navigate with ease and agility. Marilyn Horne is, for my ears, untouched in that repertoire.

There's no such thing as a "coloratura mezzo" by definition. A singer of this type would be described as a lyric mezzo, and they are not at all uncommon. The best of this type today is without doubt Joyce DiDonato who puts Marilyn Horne to shame, currently starring in Comte Ory and Komponist at the Met.

[quote]Is Stephanie Blythe a Wagnerian? She attempts a lot of different material. She isn't agile enough to sing Handel but she often does in concert- but she is such a wonderful actress and brings great intention to pieces I think I now and I hear them differently when she sings them.

Blythe has a very large and overused bottom (no pun intended) chest-like sound, an okay middle, and a weak, underdeveloped top. By all rights, she should be the inheritor of Zajick's repertoire but minus the top is incapable of singing the dramatic Verdi roles. She has been relegated to character roles for years and is finding only niche roles here and there that actually use her lower voice to its best purposes, Fricka being the most current example. I'm not sure that anything that Blythe does on stage could qualify as "acting."

[quote]For example, I know that David Cook is a proper dramatic baritone.


[quote][R19], much as I love Radvanovsky, she's what passes for a dramatic soprano today.

No, she's not. She will never sing roles like Isolde or Brunnhilde, in any house. She sings the Italian rep, and won't be hired outside of it.

[quote]Who is the voice singing for Veda in "Mildred Pierce"? And what was she singing when they were first listening to her on the radio? It was hauntingly beautiful...

There were several, and it was very distracting since none of them sounded remotely alike. Sumi Jo was used as the main "double" for anything with piano as well as a few of her past recordings. Edita Gruberova was used for the Norma, Ruth Ann Swenson's recording was used, and an unknown from Estonia for the Lakme. The classical music coordinator made some extremely bizarre choices.

by Anonymousreply 4404/18/2011

You want bitchy opera talk, go to the Par Terre site. The rancid old vinegar queens there make DL seem like a home for cuddly bunnies.

by Anonymousreply 4504/18/2011

Try to keep up, OP.

by Anonymousreply 4604/18/2011

I have always understood a coloratura mezzo to be a mezzo with a lighter voice that has a a great deal of agility and movement. A Lyric mezzo is a voice like von Stade and von Otter. %0D %0D I also love Di Donato. I never found Blythe boring. I think her intention and drama are her greatest virtue. As the poster above has indicated - she is limited in the roles she can play.%0D Sondra Radvanovsky was a large woman indeed in 1995 when she won the Met Councul auditions. Her stunning version of La Wally closed the program.

by Anonymousreply 4704/18/2011

Of course there are coloratura mezzos, R44 - what are you talking about? There are lyric coloratura sopranos and dramatic coloraturas sporanos, like Callas and Sutherland - the term doesn't just mean lyrics who can sing florid music. Even Brgit Nilsson could sing coloratura when she chose (she sang Donna Anna, so had to, and reportedly sang the Queen of the Night's big aria when warmed up after Brunhilde's Immolation scene for Bernsteen once, to prove she could).%0D %0D Singers who specialise in Handel and the florid Rossini parts would easily quality as coloratura mezzos. Any voice can sing coloratura - there are basses who can (Samuel Ramey was the great coloratura bass of recent times).

by Anonymousreply 4804/18/2011

Not to defend Parterre Box, which has a big number of morons sporting coy names, it has some teenagers posting, and many of the 'commentators' range from early twenties to thirty five, that is younger than the average 'opera audience' (NEA has found the larger segment of this small and shrinking audience to be between forty and fifty five, younger than the swells at DL assume, though I guess for the brain trust here, forty five is impossibly decrepit).

A lot of the above is just confusing but then I guess opera queendom is for those outside, with loosely used and far from precise terms like 'spinto' and 'dramatic' and 'coloratura mezzo'.

Lyric is the base category for voices. Most roles can be sung even in a big house by a well projected lyric voice, though different singers have different strengths and specialties, some are 'lighter', some 'heavier' than others.

Radvanovksy is a 'spinto', a lyric who has built for volume and thrust. Many big voices are essentially spinto voices, designed for size, and sometimes there is forcing, and pitch problems result.

A 'dramatic' voice is now really rare but is the largest operatic voice, ideally, huge and in the Italian Rep with an exciting top (Corelli, Del Monaco, Tucker after 1955 or so would qualify), Vickers and James King in German Rep. Nilsson and Gwyneth Jones were probably the last true dramatic sopranos, enormous voices, though Jones (as usual in opera loved and hated in about equal doses) had technical trouble and wobbled. Marton had a very big voice but I'd categorize her as a spinto with some dramatic qualities -- and so you see -- both opinions and quibbles take a place in all this.

Into the 1900s most singers could execute coloratura with skill and ease, including mezzo sopranos (a somewhat hedged category since earlier there were contraltos, the deepest female voice, and then sopranos, and many iconic 'mezzo' roles were originally sung by sopranos, Wagner's Brangaene, Ortrud, Strauss' Octavian and Composer, Mozart's Cherubino for example, and a role that became the property of 'coloratura sopranos', Rosina in the Barber of Seville was originally a contralto role as were most leading roles in Rossini).

However Verdi roles like Amneris and Azucena needed easy high notes and forced a 'new' category, mezzo, dramatic or lyric). S. Blythe is naturally a wonderful contralto, like many such the higher notes are a problem.

It was only in the 1920's that there began to be this idea of a 'coloratura mezzo', a mezzo with a lighter timbre but still darker than a soprano who could execute coloratura (Supervia was the first famous one, Bartoli follows in her footsteps, Horne has a bigger voice than either one suspects -- Supervia died in the '30's so no one alive heard her but Horne still 'specialized' in Rossini and other 'bel canto' composers, doing less well in standard mezzo roles like Amneris, though she sang it now and then).

by Anonymousreply 4904/18/2011

I perform baroque music and opera frequently and ALL of the sopranos -male and female- I work with have light, very agile voices. They seem all to be coached to perform this earlier rep because of their high light voices.

by Anonymousreply 5004/18/2011

I agree with the poster on page 2 (who no one had the good grace to reply to) that the aria we hear Veda sing on radio was transporting, beautiful, haunting. It was new to me too.

I believe that singer was Ruth Ann Swenson. To my surprise, different singers were used for Veda's voice. So much for it being incredibly distinctive. I also thought of Kathleen Battle in her prime -- she had a superb, silver bell voice which belied her cuntiness. And yes, very like Veda as an earlier poster noted.

by Anonymousreply 5104/18/2011

How about Eileen Farrell as a dramatic soprano? It seems she could do just about anything. She could scale back and do Puccini, was a brilliant Verdi singer and even did wonderful pop standards. %0D I've always understood her to be a dramatic soprano.%0D %0D I remember Bartoli saying in an interview, "I have the notes of a soprano, but they are the wrong color." This was when she was THE big recording sensation and every note that come out of her mouth was green. She then went on to specialize in early music because her voice was thought too small for big concert spaces. Well - this is what I read anyway.%0D %0D I read that people put Horne down for her smallish voice, and that Troyanos got more opening nights at the Met because her voice was better in a bigger house.

by Anonymousreply 5204/18/2011

"Then the hammock starts a-swingin'%0D %0D And the bell begins a-ringin'%0D %0D While he's sittin' at that piana%0D %0D There on the Alabama%0D %0D Playin' the Oceana Roll!"%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 5304/18/2011

Horne had a small voice? Don't think so. Troyanos sang a wider range of roles, from all the trouser parts to Santuzza and Princess Eboli, so she was more easily cast. Plus she was tall with a good figure and far prettier than Horne. Also she spent more of her time in New York--she was almost the Met's "house mezzo", more or less at the same time that Renata Scotto seemed to get every new production of every Italian opera in the repertory.

Re: Bartoli--Yes, a small-ish voice, but nonetheless a great one. The Met is such a barn that it doesn't always show off the smaller voices to their best advantage.

Re: Kathleen Battle--Agreed that she could have been the mold for Veda. Didn't she cause Troyanos to bail from the Met's production of "Giulio Cesare" when singing Cleopatra apparently went to Battle's head?

by Anonymousreply 5404/18/2011

R 52:

Nice - another person who knows about Eileen Farrell. She was a true dramatic soprano at the same level as Nilsson. Farrell had a voice of enormous scale but even when she pulled back - her work in the French repitoire for example - the voice carried through the largest halls.

The Wagnerian stuff was not her favorite. She always said that when she couldn't sing anything else, she'd sing Wagner. She also had decent coloratura when necessary. There are some wonderful audio-only selections on YouTube of an all Handel recital she did with Sills in the late '70's (I think) that show the flexibility and controlled power she had.

by Anonymousreply 5504/18/2011

Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria: "I am a coloratura, Monsieur Labisse, NOT a mezzo."

by Anonymousreply 5604/18/2011

"I believe that singer was Ruth Ann Swenson. To my surprise, different singers were used for Veda's voice. So much for it being incredibly distinctive."

I thought only Sumi Jo's voice was used for Veda.

by Anonymousreply 5704/18/2011

"There's no such thing as a "coloratura mezzo" by definition."

Not necessarily:

[quote]The term is not restricted to describing any one range of voice. All other female and male voice types may also achieve mastery of coloratura technique. There are coloratura parts for all voice types in different musical genres.

[quote]Nevertheless, the term "coloratura", when used without further qualification, normally means soprano coloratura. A coloratura soprano role, most famously typified by the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberfl%C3%B6te, has a high range and requires the singer to execute with great facility elaborate ornamentation and embellishment, including running passages, staccati, and trills. A coloratura soprano has the vocal ability to produce notes above high C (C6) and possesses a tessitura ranging from A4 to A5 or higher (unlike lower sopranos whose tessitura is G4%E2%80%93G5 or lower).

So you're completely incorrect that there's no such thing as a "coloratura mezzo": as many have noted, Ceclia Bartoli is a classic example of one. You absolutely can be a coloratura and not be a soprano.

But when Julie Andrews in "Victor/Victoria" and Veda's conductor use "coloratura" as a noun without further qualification, they are referring to coloratura sopranos.

by Anonymousreply 5804/18/2011

I don't get why some hate Bartoli...

by Anonymousreply 5904/18/2011

I remember people hated Bartoli because they thought she was made in the studio as they say - and other people hated her because she would make the most riduculous faces while she sang and they didn't like her stage presence. I always enjoyed her - but she was never a favorite of mine. When someone comes seemingly out of nowhere and makes abig splash - people gonna hate.%0D Remember Carol Vaness? She was on so many recordings in the early 90's before people like Voight came on the scene. I always thought she was ubiquitous because there was a void for a few years in her fach. %0D %0D I saw Ruth Ann Swenson on Barber of Seville at the Meet in '96 and she wqs having a ball - really enjoyed her. Jennifer Larmore was also singing it at that time I believe. %0D %0D I read that early in her career Horne was criticized for the size of her voice but perhaps this is while she was still a soprano. %0D %0D I love Farrell's pop recordings but listening to her sing 10 Cents a Dance? Who would believe some guy would crush her toes? But I love her natural mix.

by Anonymousreply 6004/18/2011

Whitney Houston (pre-crack)? Coloratura or no?

by Anonymousreply 6104/18/2011

As specified before, ANY voice can sing coloratura including basses. There is however, no voice type that would ever be called "coloratura bass" under any circumstance. The voice would be called a "lyric bass" with the qualifier that the voice had the ability to move well or sing coloratura. Even a helden might have excellent coloratura. The voice category "coloratura mezzo" does not exist, nor does it exist in any fach system. As stated before, a mezzo voice that has agilita would be called lyric, and a qualifier would be added that the mezzo can sing florid roles written by Handel, Rossini, some bel canto, etc.

When speaking of a "coloratura" specifically, there IS a specification regarding to the soprano fach, but that does not apply to any other voice type. I'm going to trust my two degrees from the best conservatories in the world and thirty years of experience over Wikipedia, but thanks.

by Anonymousreply 6204/18/2011

[quote]I'm going to trust my two degrees from the best conservatories in the world and thirty years of experience over Wikipedia, but thanks.


Gee, guess, which of the two the rest of us will believe?

by Anonymousreply 6304/18/2011

The NYTimes uses the term "coloratura mezzo," and did for Bartoli's debut in NYC:

[quote]Although in her early 20's, Miss Bartoli is already identifiable as one of the scarcest creatures in any operatic era, the genuine coloratura mezzo-soprano. Rossini, who wrote often and brilliantly for this voice type, apparently found its combination of dusk and brilliance irresistible. So might anyone who heard the finale of his "Cenerentola" delivered with Miss Bartoli's fluency, pinpoint accuracy and care for expressive contrasts. The opera-concluding aria, "Non piu mesta," is a touchstone of the coloratura-mezzo repertory and a fair measure of musical sensitivity as well as purely vocal talent. Miss Bartoli passed both tests.

by Anonymousreply 6404/18/2011

The Columbia Artist's Management, Inc. website uses the term "coloratura mezzo" too:

by Anonymousreply 6504/18/2011

And The New Yorker also identifies Bartoli as "a coloratura mezzo":

[quote]London/Decca was giving the luncheon to celebrate a new three-year recording contract with the coloratura-mezzo Cecilia Bartoli.

by Anonymousreply 6604/18/2011

CAMI, New Yorker, NY Times can make up whatever they want.%C2%A0

Coloratura mezzo DOES NOT EXIST in the singer's lexicon or fach system. Period. %C2%A0The end. It is "lyric mezzo."

Not going to argue with people who don't know what they are talking about.%C2%A0

Here is a listing of the fach system. Click though every other voice type. Coloratura does not appear. There are two types of specific coloratura: lyric coloratura SOPRANO and dramatic coloratura SOPRANO.%C2%A0

This is from a definitive, peer reviewed source. The Times, New Yorker, CAMI bios, and Wikipedia are neither empirical nor peer reviewed.%C2%A0


by Anonymousreply 6704/18/2011

[quote]CAMI, New Yorker, NY Times can make up whatever they want.

So you're saying the fact checkers for the new Yorker and the Times count for nothing? And Anthony Tommasini and Alex Ross (both of whom have used the phrase multiple times) do too.

Yet who are these ridiculous critics, anyway? The New Yorker's classical music critic Alex Ross only was graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and only has won a Macarthur Award and a National Book Critic's Circle Award--while The New York Times' opera critic Anthony Tommasini merely has a BA from Yale, a Master's from the Yale School of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Art degree from Boston U. And they're merely the major opera critics for the two most prestigious (and most thoroughly fact-checked) publications in the United States.

But you--[italic]you![/italic]-- have two degrees from the best musical conservatories in the world!

by Anonymousreply 6804/18/2011

[quote]the two most prestigious (and most thoroughly fact-checked) publications in the United States. %0D %0D The New York Times threatened us with made-up Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, I guess they can make up a few musical terms.

by Anonymousreply 6904/18/2011

R67, the German Fach system is not the last word on vocal categories.

by Anonymousreply 7004/18/2011

I'm going to throw myself into the mix here with the conservatory fellows (Hi guys! BM Curtis '02, MM Juilliard '05 here) and agree that while you certainly may apply the word "coloratura" as an adjective to anything you like, since the word itself simply means florid passagework, you certainly cannot definitively call any voice type BUT soprano "coloratura". There is simply not a fach that contains the word "Coloratura" other than coloratura soprano. Yes, mezzi and even contraltos may indeed be called upon to sing florid passages with lovely trills and scales and leaps in their register, but the entirety of their repertoire does not call upon them to do so. Coloratura sopranos, ARE always singing coloratura passages. It's what they do, and that is why it is an established fach, and something that singers specialize in.

It really is just sort of funny when laypeople try to argue with the trained, isn't it?

by Anonymousreply 7104/19/2011

[quote]It really is just sort of funny when laypeople try to argue with the trained, isn't it?

Any "professional" who puts down "lay people" does so at his own peril, in addition, of course, to exhibiting what a terminal moronic asshole he is.

Go back to your rarified air, "genius".

by Anonymousreply 7204/19/2011

How about this, then...I won't presume to try to correct you on legal matters, since that is your field of expertise and since you studied it for years in a special educational program, I will take you at your word whenever you have some wisdom to impart re: the law; and you don't try to correct us on musical matters, since that's OUR field of expertise which WE have spent years in a special school to learn. K?

by Anonymousreply 7304/19/2011


Oh honey: get OVER yourself.

And the Grove Dictionary of Music right here on my shelf also uses the phrase "coloratura mezzo"--why should we possibly believe you instead of it (in addition to the classical music critics for The New Yorker, The NYTimes, etc.)? Being trained in performing (even if we were to accept you are--you've offered no proof) does not mean at all you're better trained in the use of language than eminent critics with Ph.Ds in classical music (and who have also had extensive musical training--I believe Tommasini also went to Oberlin Conservatory).

But keep on throwing the hissy fit that people will not accept you as the Expert of All Experts: it's pretty amusing to watch.

by Anonymousreply 7404/19/2011

"Coloratura mezzo" has become the "Norwegian-American Catholics in Bay Ridge" of 2011!

by Anonymousreply 7504/19/2011

ALL of these terms are imprecise and their usage is based on custom: falcon, haut-contre, basso profundo, lyric baritone, male alto or whatever. Who is this moron insisting that there is some 'fach rule' all classical musicians follow? The Grove Dictionary trumps pretty much anything else, even our obsessive/autistic friend with his alleged two musical degrees. Jesus.

by Anonymousreply 7604/19/2011

"Music people" should all die.

by Anonymousreply 7704/19/2011

so will you, bucko

by Anonymousreply 7804/19/2011

It's typical this thread is filled with tempest in a teapot controversies and people laying claim to expert status - it's OPERA. That's what we do. %0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 7904/19/2011

Grove Dictionary isn't the expert on anything and is rarely used as a source in the vocal world. It's a generalized dictionary for someone like r74 - the layperson.

Thank you, r71.

The fach system, strictly adhered to in Germany but not so strictly used in other parts of Europe and America, is still the basis used throughout the operatic world by opera administration, management, and performers.

This is a simple fact.

Tomassini (bought and paid for by the Met, "scholar" or not), and Alex Ross are academics, not involved in performing or administrating. The language they use is not accurate or correct.

by Anonymousreply 8004/19/2011

[quote]How about this, then...I won't presume to try to correct you on legal matters, since that is your field of expertise and since you studied it for years in a special educational program, I will take you at your word whenever you have some wisdom to impart re: the law; and you don't try to correct us on musical matters, since that's OUR field of expertise which WE have spent years in a special school to learn. K?

Not "K". Anyone who thinks he's right all the time, degree(s) or no degree(s), and who refuses to listen to other opinions, whether they meet his impossibly high standards or not, is an insufferable, narrow-minded idiot.

Every field of knowledge as well as its terminology is modified over time, whether it's music, law or anything else. Yes, coloratura mezzos were unheard of until fairly recently, for the simple fact that they were literally unheard until the baroque/bel canto revival. New descriptive terms of this type of voice came into play, though apparently you didn't get that memo.

I would think that with your degrees in classical music you'd want to attract lay participation in what has been described as a dying art form, but you seem to revel in repelling it. Pity.

by Anonymousreply 8104/19/2011

No one revels in stupidity r81. Don't tell me how to do my job, and I won't tell you how to do yours.

by Anonymousreply 8204/19/2011

Good Lord. What is wrong with you R82? I'm an opera singer and I'm just happy anybody knows any of these terms at all.

by Anonymousreply 8304/19/2011

[quote] I'm an opera singer and I'm just happy anybody knows any of these terms at all.%0D %0D There's the difference between an opera singer and an opera queen--the latter RELIES upon others not knowing things, the better to clobber them with lectures and disdain. If it weren't opera it would be something else--never mistake them for people who actually enjoy music.

by Anonymousreply 8404/19/2011

Well said R84. It's odd how much ownership that type needs to take over whatever the art form. And you're right, it has nothing to do with really loving it. It's a form of greediness.

Unfortunately, opera queens run the business and they tend to squeeze every bit of joy out of it all. They are often the administrators and directors. And they HATE singers. It's all very odd.

by Anonymousreply 8504/19/2011

[quote]Don't tell me how to do my job, and I won't tell you how to do yours.

Your job is to lay down the law on terminology? How is that possibly part of your job? Who pays you for that job? And by what or whose authority did you gain it?

And don't refer back to your conservatory training: we've established there are others with conservatory training who disagree with you, as well as those who have actual doctorates in music and musicology.

by Anonymousreply 8604/19/2011

Oh, we have established that r86? Really? Where? As singers, artistic administrators who hire singers, or management of singers? Who has disagreed with me, other than your inaccurate sources that rely on "references" rather than actual knowledge where you googled coloratura mezzo?

Yes, part of my job is to maintain tradition and terminology. That's what being involved in a classical art form is. I get paid for it through my now substantial fees and recordings. I've gained the authority from my years of performing experience with the best singers and conductors in the world in top houses and orchestras.

Your authority to challenge me? None.

by Anonymousreply 8704/19/2011

But you still haven't even said what precisely your "job" is. Really, what is it you do for a living?

As for having the authority to challenge you: oh [italic]honey.[/italic] Everyone in the world can challenge anyone on anything. And in any case, people have been citing authorities (Alex Ross, Anthony Tommasini, the Grove Dictionary of Music, etc.) right and left contradicting you and have been listing the credentials of those authorities as they go.

You clearly have enormous problems with your sense of self-importance, grandiosity and entitlement. You suffer from Asperger's, don't you?

by Anonymousreply 8804/19/2011

Calm down R87!

You really sound like a pompous ass and an ignorant one too.

I disagreed with you and I'm a singer who has sung in top places too.

Terminology is fluid. Right now, listeners and critics are using the term coloratura mezzo to describe a color of voice and style of singing that has gotten more popular these days. So what? Why shouldn't they? It doesn't have to do with the hiring system in opera houses and the short hand that they use to describe voice types. That's a concern for those doing the hiring. And they would probably just say "oh she's a mezzo with really great coloratura". Oooo big difference. Anyway, we're well on our way to "coloratura mezzo" becoming a new fach category, if not already there.

The terminology changes as different rep goes in and out of fashion. Did we need the term "dramatic soprano" or "spinto" before Verdi and Wagner became so widely played? And now that Rossini and the ini/etti operas have come back into vogue, we're adopting new terms.

There is no need to get so crazy about exact terminology anyway. Every voice is unique. And there's also no need to get all psycho with the people who buy the tickets or assume they are stupid. I say thank God they are there.

by Anonymousreply 8904/19/2011

[quote]No one revels in stupidity [R81]. Don't tell me how to do my job, and I won't tell you how to do yours.

No fear, since no one can apparently tell you anything.

by Anonymousreply 9004/19/2011

Now wait, who said the idiot hustler Alex Ross and the lucky, know nothing about opera Anthony Tomassini are 'expert'? They get hired to publish opinions that are at the least debatable, and sometimes wrong.

I think jumping to Alex and Tony (of the 'strapping baritone' syndrome)as though they mean anything is proof that someone doesn't know what the hell they are talking about and needs bogus 'authority', like those idiots who insist something the Pope says about 'Jesus' an individual I can assure you he never knew and doesn't know anything about for certain is ABSOLUTELY the case.

Whoever said it above (and I think several people have said similar things) is right: opera is full of people with opinions, 'right' and 'wrong' are a matter both of opinion and degree. Terms are usually a matter of short hand and convenience. The entire Fach system (was it ever defined above?) was an anal and rigid categorization of voices to suit the convenience of the many, many subsidized opera houses in Germany.

It has nothing to do with reality. Someone was identified as 'belonging' to a category when they first auditioned (let's say light high lyric) and there they sat for the rest of their careers, even if their voices grew and darkened. (You could read Christa Ludwig on how this system ruined her mother's life -- mama was a soprano, Christa was a famous mezzo, not a 'coloratura' mezzo).

It has nothing to do with reality. Categories are meaningless with legendary singers: what category did young Callas with her dark, weighty, resinous voice belong to? Who could have imagined her as girlish Lucia, Elvira in Puritani, Amina in Sonnambula or in a madly florid, very wide ranging role like Rossini's Armida? At the same time she was starting to sing most of these roles she was singing Wagner (!), Tristan, Parsifal and Walkeure (which she alternated with Puritani, that was her breakthrough) and doing Aida, La Gioconda and Tosca.

What "category" did Sutherland belong to? Everyone who heard her in the early 50's thought she was a Wagnerian soprano with that kind of power, rich lower range and ability to soar through climaxes. No one who heard her early would have thought she would become the most famous 'coloratura' after Callas even singing a high little girl role like Lakme (Callas only recorded a wobbly though expressive version of the big aria, the Bell Song) and even (briefly) The Queen of the Night (transposed, but a role Callas stayed away from). Sutherland was also a distinguished Handelian as the operas and less familiar oratorios were just starting to be done again in the mid and late 50's.

Caruso's earliest records show a very sweet, very vibrant, 'heady' lyric tenor who has high note trouble now and then. Who expected he would dominate the Italian and French spinto and dramatic rep at a huge barn like the old Met in the days of his greatest fame?

One can go on and on: someone named Flagstad most famous for her sweet sounding, light Hanna in the Merry Widow, her concerts of lighter material, also her lightly managed Mimi and Desdemona was convinced by her Wagner loving second husband to learn Tristan und Isolde, sang it at first unwillingly and then went on to become the most famous Wagnerian soprano of the 20th century, renowned for her enormous voice and stamina.

Yes, argue by all means; no one has 'ultimate authority' except their own taste and experience, but definitive statements are really suspect when it comes to human beings who have been known to grow, change and develop in surprising ways. And, how does one PROVE one has degrees or 'professional expertise' on an anonymous board?

by Anonymousreply 9104/19/2011

Coming back to the original question: Edita Gruberova and Natalie Dessay, in my opinion.

by Anonymousreply 9204/19/2011

[quote]And, how does one PROVE one has degrees or 'professional expertise' on an anonymous board?

You can't at all. That's why it makes no sense to dictate to other people,

"you don't try to correct us on musical matters, since that's OUR field of expertise which WE have spent years in a special school to learn"

or (my favorite of all so far)

"I've gained the authority from my years of performing experience with the best singers and conductors in the world in top houses and orchestras. Your authority to challenge me? None."

However, you can refer to more established sources where we can know the credentials of the people involved, or their history, which is why other actual outside sources (which have some authority) have been cited for the use of the phrase "coloratura mezzo."

If you think the phrase cannot be used, then give evidence for why it cannot be used: cite someone with credentials who says there is no such thing as a "coloratura mezzo." But it makes no sense whatsoever to obnoxiously insist you're the last word on the matter because you say you are and so no one can dare challenge you, which is literally what r87 is doing.

by Anonymousreply 9304/19/2011

Gary Conservatory of Music - Gold Medal Class of '05

by Anonymousreply 9404/19/2011

R88 is not a success as a lawyer. Plus, he's boring me. His endless circular arguments and contradictions fail to impress or convince. Fifth tier, not even.

Case closed.

by Anonymousreply 9504/20/2011

I'd bet 10 dollars this 'there is no such thing as a coloratura mezzo and I am the god of music' guy spends the rest of his time on DL writing lengthy posts on why America isn't a democracy, but a republic.

by Anonymousreply 9604/20/2011

Can we please bring this conversation back around to discussing the sheer gossamer perfection of Natalie Dessay's voice? Her every utterance is as the voice of all the gods and goddesses themselves, come to Earth.

by Anonymousreply 9704/20/2011

[quote]I'd bet 10 dollars this 'there is no such thing as a coloratura mezzo and I am the god of music' guy spends the rest of his time on DL writing lengthy posts on why America isn't a democracy, but a republic.

I'm beginning to think he has to be fa. Either that, or he's She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed from the H. Rider Haggard novel.

by Anonymousreply 9804/20/2011

Well, Wikipedia defines a coloratura mezzo-soprano as having "a warm lower register and an agile high register. The roles they sing often demand not only the use of the lower register but also leaps into the upper tessitura with highly ornamented, rapid passages. They have a range from approximately the G below middle C (G3) to the B two octaves above middle C (B5). Some coloratura mezzo-sopranos can sing up to high C (C6) or high D (D6), but this is very rare.[1] What distinguishes these voices from being called sopranos is their extension into the lower register and warmer vocal quality. Although coloratura mezzo-sopranos have impressive and at times thrilling high notes, they are most comfortable singing in the middle of their range, rather than the top."%0D %0D Works for me.%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 9904/20/2011

Old one hundredth!!

by Anonymousreply 10004/20/2011

I wonder [R99] just which 'coloratura mezzos' that description would fit? Supervia, the first thought of in that way, she made many, many records in the late 20's until 1933, did not have anything above the high A and was apt to sing that note and those near it flat. Marilyn Horne also was 'short' in range, uncomfortable above the A and without much power up there in her best days (she had a rich lower range of some size in her prime, the '60's to the mid '70's though she went on much longer). I have heard the young Bartoli sing a real but very small high E flat (above the high C) but I would not describe her timbre as notably dark and she does not have a big voice.

Of these three Horne by far had the best, most fluent coloratura and an amazing trill, Supervia has immense charm that comes right off the records but does a lot of faking and saving, and Bartoli tends to take her voice off the support when she sings fast, causing the aspiration (breathy or huffy sound) that many people dislike about her. She doesn't have a trill either though she too has lots of charm and in her best days (1990-2005?) had a very sweet sound in a small hall.

I don't care about the term, I think some whacked out queen wrote that particular description.

by Anonymousreply 10104/20/2011

Operatic sopranos, feh. It's all just so much shrieking.

by Anonymousreply 10204/20/2011

I assume R101 is dyslexic and did not read the words 'approximately', 'some' and 'very rare' in the description he criticises.

by Anonymousreply 10304/20/2011

[101] here. "Approximately", "some" and "very rare" mean no one ever, unless you can name someone whose singing matches anything in that florid and indeed nonsensical definition. I assume you wrote it.

by Anonymousreply 10404/21/2011

Oh, put a sock in it, you prissy ninny.

by Anonymousreply 10504/23/2011

You assume wrong, R104, as no doubt you do in every other aspect of your obsessive life.

by Anonymousreply 10604/23/2011

Now let's see, [R106] you defend a 'definition' but can't give ANY examples? But 'net 'tude is really a refutation, ALWAYS. And yes, I am crushed.

by Anonymousreply 10704/23/2011

There is so much misinformation here, it is difficult to know where to begin!

I am a trained concert pianist with extensive experience playing for Metropolitan Opera stars. I grew up listening to artists such as Pons, Callas, Flagstad, etc. I can tell you the comment that Sills (whom I knew), Callas and Sutherlnad all were so much better than Pons is offensive to me. Pons was known by all her colleagues as the "Coloratura Assoluta" - the absolute coloratura. Her skill and agility were unmatched. Period.

by Anonymousreply 10809/13/2012

A concert pianist/thread bumper. My aren't you talented.

by Anonymousreply 10909/13/2012

All you have to do is read this thread, r108, to see throwing down practical credentials to assert absolute authority has been done more spectacularly before... and didn't impress anyone at all then, either.

by Anonymousreply 11009/13/2012

Karen Carpenter is a pop examplr

by Anonymousreply 11109/13/2012

I see your true coloraturas shining through

I see your true coloratura and that's why I love you

So don't be afraid to let it all show

Your true coloraturas are beautiful like a wainbow

by Anonymousreply 11209/14/2012

True coloratura sopranos are Ingeborg Hallstein and Maria Aleida Rodriguez

by Anonymousreply 11309/14/2012

omg FIGHT! BITCH FIGHT among the nasty classical music queens!

by Anonymousreply 11401/29/2013

And here I thought fellow countertenors got riled up over use of the terms falsettist, castrato, castrati, male soprano and sopranist to describe them.

I'll have to direct some of them to the caftans, earrings and wigs being thrown around here.

by Anonymousreply 11501/29/2013

Now that I'm on the scene, I guess you'll have to wait for the next generation to produce another one.

by Anonymousreply 11601/29/2013
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