From Great Singers

Pilates and Opera Singing

Motivation for all of us to keep up our pilates workouts…This photo is taken from the February 1951 issue of Life:  Trainer Joseph Pilates balancing on soprano Roberta Peter’s belly!

Soprano Kiera Duffy

I met soprano Kiera Duffy for lunch yesterday at Six Feet Under to talk about her career and current role in The Atlanta Opera’s production of  Cosi fan tutte.  You can find the interview in an upcoming issue of Classical Singer.  Duffy was featured in the Susan Froemke documentary The Audition, a film which revealed the behind-the-scenes experiences of 12 finalists at the the 2007 Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions. Duffy is a lyric coloratura soprano who has the technique and musicianship to pull off challenging new music.  One such example –  a performance of Unsuk Chin’s ‘Cantatrix Sopranica” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic given immediately before her arrival in…

The Ordinariness of Opera

“Opera’s been deformed by some sort of belief that it has to be extraordinary.  And I think that what is extraordinary about the great works of art is their ordinariness.” -Jonathan Miller, British theatre and opera director, in a scene from Diva Diaries

Who is Mary Costa?

Recently I’ve been studying the score of Mozart’s opera Cosi fan tutte and chose my companion to be a 1954 EMI recording, conducted by Herbert von Karajan.  I love Maestro Karajan’s recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies and knew that this particular Cosi is regarded as one of his most successful Mozart endeavors on record.  The cast includes Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Nan Merriman, Rolando Panerai, Leopold Simoneau, Lisa Otto, and Sesto Bruscantini. Today, while driving, I had just listened to the Fiordiligi-Dorabella duet, “Ah, guarda, sorella”  when my two-year-old requested Sleeping Beauty.  I reluctantly switched out CDs, trading my opera for a compilation CD of “Disney’s Greatest” and fast-forwarded to track fourteen: …

Two Vocal Styles, the Same Singer

Here I’ve included two videos of soprano Renee Fleming.  The first is Fleming singing Liu’s aria from Puccini’s Turandot and the second is a clip from her new Indie record, Dark Hope.   These recordings highlight a distinctive difference in vocal styles.  What are the characteristics of classical singing as opposed to a pop sound?  To quote pedagogue Richard Miller,  “Classical vocalism, as practiced in the international historic school of singing, is based on freedom of production and on certain acoustic properties of the singing voice associated  with functional efficiency.”  (On the Art of Singing, page 100)  In the first clip of the aria “Tu che di gel sei cinta”…

Luciano Pavarotti is unarguably the most recognizable opera figure these days, even a year or so after his death.  Here the famous tenor sings an aria from Puccini’s Turandot, “Nessun Dorma.”