Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

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shutko
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby shutko » 23 Feb 2016, 06:31

CVAULT1 wrote:Some years ago, Roberto Alagna recorded some stuff by way of an acoustic horn. The difference in sound is pretty apparent....that's why it's not too fair to judge artists of the "scream into the horn" generation by their not-quite-accurate recordings.

If this is the video you are speaking of, I can't say I fully agree with you, this does not hide Alagna's problems and also states in the beginning about the inauthenticates with this experiment. This is making his lack of musicality ever more apparent, especially in the ability to deplore a perfect musical line... he ends up sounding rather notey if one were to be picky.

TifosoBonisolli
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby TifosoBonisolli » 23 Feb 2016, 23:04

Besides agreeing with Shutko (Alagna is clearly and easily recognizable even in this misdone recording), I want to ask everybody to please, please stop spreading the myth that modern acoustical recordings, whether by Alagna or Flórez or anybody, might give any hint to the authenticity of the acoustical recording process. This is utter, painful nonsense.
(1) As I wrote recently on another thread, placing a modern sound engineer in front of a horn and asking him to make an acoustical recording is totally like placing an 1899 recording engineer who has never seen a microphone in front of a digital stereo recording equipment. Both of them have no chance to achieve any reliable result. There's simply noone left on this planet who has but the faintest idea how to make acoustical records - that was a very difficult-to-use technology, and every attempt at copying it without (as the video on Youtube clearly admits) knowing much about it can only produce laughable results.
(2) What do you gather is the long black stick with a wire rolled around it and with one thick end that you can clearly see at 1:35 in the video, above the head of the left engineer (and later on during that video, too)? It's obviously a microphone... and of course, you can clearly hear that the used, in addition to the horn, also a microphone for the piano. I mean, how could a piano sound like that in an acoustical recording?? Obviously, they intended to make the piano sound more natural (which they achieved), without understanding that the contrast between the microphone-enforced piano and the by-horn-only recorded voice makes the voice sound strange.
(3) Everybody with a faint knowledge of recording history doesn't need any proof for the authenticity of acoustical or early electrical recordings. It's extremely easy to prove that no recording process has ever been as authentic as the early electric process, closely followed by the acoustical process - please compare any given singer's voice that was recorded both acoustically and electrically (Bohnen, Martinelli, Fleta, Galli-Curci, Muzio, Shaljapin, whoever), or both electrically and on early LP (Groh, Metternich, Peerce and so many others), or with all three processes (Gigli, Lauri-Volpi, Pinza...). The death of authenticity came soon after the advent of the tape, so in the LP age; since then, things only got worse. Acoustical and electrical (78rpm) recordings offered no possibility of piecing a decent version of an aria together from seven or ten not-at-all-decent attempts, no possibility of pasting Carlo Cossutta's high C into that recording where Plácido Domingo didn't hit it even at the umpteenth try, no possibility of making exiguous voices (think Flórez) sound large and ringing...
(4) That said, and the shortcomings of Alagna's acoustical recording notwithstanding, even that attempt shows Alagna's voice definitely clearer and more authentic than his digital studio recordings. The difference between what you hear here and what you are used to when hearing Alagna is not fault of the less-than-accurate acoustical recording, but of the far-less-than-accurate digital recording.

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Darksoprano
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby Darksoprano » 19 Mar 2016, 18:44

TifosoBonisolli wrote: (4) That said, and the shortcomings of Alagna's acoustical recording notwithstanding, even that attempt shows Alagna's voice definitely clearer and more authentic than his digital studio recordings. The difference between what you hear here and what you are used to when hearing Alagna is not fault of the less-than-accurate acoustical recording, but of the far-less-than-accurate digital recording.
Interesting. So you're saying current modern techniques sound clear to us, but actually there is a lot of distortion and enhancement? Can you give an example of a recording where the singer sounds like they do live (so this must be a singer you heard live...).

TifosoBonisolli
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby TifosoBonisolli » 20 Mar 2016, 17:11

Darksoprano wrote:So you're saying current modern techniques sound clear to us, but actually there is a lot of distortion and enhancement?
Distortion no, but lots of enhancement, and much more than that - all that piecing together, from umpteen trials, one acceptable version that the singer in question would never ever achieve at one stroke (like they simply had to, in the olden days of recording technology), all that pasting other singers' high or low notes into the recording of a "star" who simply doesn't hit those notes... forgery, to put it bluntly.
Alagna is a striking example for that; the only time I heard him sing like what he sounds like in his (digital) recordings was on the outset of his career, when nobody (including myself) had ever heard his name; later on (and I mean just two or so years later), he was - in every single performance in which I heard him, and there were many of them - hardly recognizable indeed as the pretty-voiced guy who recorded that charming "Tribute to Luis Mariano" CD. Flórez is another, perhaps even more striking, example; on record, he sounds as if he had a real voice, you'd never guess just how small it is in reality. Cecilia Bartoli, another example, much like Flórez, but still a hundred times worse. To think that she made a (beautiful!) CD with Bryn Terfel where she sounds his equal, when in reality his voice is (or more precisely: was, at that time) about 500 times larger than hers. Jonas Kaufmann - I couldn't believe how relatively lyrical and how weak his voice in reality is when I heard him on stage for the first time. Or if you allow, an example from a field that is only distantly related to classical music: Andrea Bocelli; but as a matter of fact, I heard him at the Vienna State Opera, where he gave a piano accompanied concert of classical songs, and though I had of course never imagined his voice to be ringing, I was still shocked that he had actually no voice at all, every chorister from the smallest provincial theater would have outshined him.

Trickydicky1
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby Trickydicky1 » 24 Mar 2016, 16:07

TifosoBonisolli wrote:
Darksoprano wrote:So you're saying current modern techniques sound clear to us, but actually there is a lot of distortion and enhancement?
Or if you allow, an example from a field that is only distantly related to classical music: Andrea Bocelli; but as a matter of fact, I heard him at the Vienna State Opera, where he gave a piano accompanied concert of classical songs, and though I had of course never imagined his voice to be ringing, I was still shocked that he had actually no voice at all, every chorister from the smallest provincial theater would have outshined him.
Billed in adverts in the UK recently as "the greatest tenor in the world". Astonishing in its hyperbole - but I suppose there is a desire to 'big him up' because he made a career for himself despite his blindness (which of course prevented him from ever singing a full-length operatic role on stage - or am I wrong in this?) Well, then, Mario Lanza never sang a full length operatic role, but this did not prevent him from giving a stirring account of many of the great arias from the Italian repertoire. He also was capable of refinement and restraint in some of the old Arie Antiche
which he performed in his recitals in Europe in the late 50s, with piano accompaniment alone.
In the latter field, one might have expected Bocelli to excel, considering that his disability might have given him an extra sensitivity. Instead, whenever I've heard him attempt a small-scale composition - such as Schubert's Ave Maria, he attacks each phrase like Mario del Monaco singing Otello, but without the clarion, macho tone.

There is one point I'd like to raise about pre-50s singing (and one over which we can't make any comparisons, since there were no recording devices around). Really pre-50s, in the late 18th and early 19th century, the tenors around sang all their high notes in a kind of mixed falsetto, and it wasn't until Duprez took over the role of Arnold in Guillaume Tell that the 'High C from the chest' was first heard (though the pitch at that time was lower, so it wasn't a modern high C). All modern tenors tackle every kind of role with variants of Duprez' technique, even tenors with a high vocal placement such as Florez (who has commented on the difference involved in singing these high tenor parts with specific reference to his performances in La Fille du Regiment).
The can of worms gets bigger.

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Jimlejim
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby Jimlejim » 07 Apr 2016, 23:41

Trickydicky1 wrote:
TifosoBonisolli wrote:
Darksoprano wrote:So you're saying current modern techniques sound clear to us, but actually there is a lot of distortion and enhancement?
Or if you allow, an example from a field that is only distantly related to classical music: Andrea Bocelli; but as a matter of fact, I heard him at the Vienna State Opera, where he gave a piano accompanied concert of classical songs, and though I had of course never imagined his voice to be ringing, I was still shocked that he had actually no voice at all, every chorister from the smallest provincial theater would have outshined him.
Billed in adverts in the UK recently as "the greatest tenor in the world". Astonishing in its hyperbole - but I suppose there is a desire to 'big him up' because he made a career for himself despite his blindness (which of course prevented him from ever singing a full-length operatic role on stage - or am I wrong in this?) Well, then, Mario Lanza never sang a full length operatic role, but this did not prevent him from giving a stirring account of many of the great arias from the Italian repertoire. He also was capable of refinement and restraint in some of the old Arie Antiche
which he performed in his recitals in Europe in the late 50s, with piano accompaniment alone.
In the latter field, one might have expected Bocelli to excel, considering that his disability might have given him an extra sensitivity. Instead, whenever I've heard him attempt a small-scale composition - such as Schubert's Ave Maria, he attacks each phrase like Mario del Monaco singing Otello, but without the clarion, macho tone.

There is one point I'd like to raise about pre-50s singing (and one over which we can't make any comparisons, since there were no recording devices around). Really pre-50s, in the late 18th and early 19th century, the tenors around sang all their high notes in a kind of mixed falsetto, and it wasn't until Duprez took over the role of Arnold in Guillaume Tell that the 'High C from the chest' was first heard (though the pitch at that time was lower, so it wasn't a modern high C). All modern tenors tackle every kind of role with variants of Duprez' technique, even tenors with a high vocal placement such as Florez (who has commented on the difference involved in singing these high tenor parts with specific reference to his performances in La Fille du Regiment).
The can of worms gets bigger.
http://www.operavivra.com/artists/tenors/lanza-mario/

From the biography:

"Lanza initially accomplished that objective when he sang the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for the New Orleans Opera Association in April 1948. Reviewing the opening-night performance, Laurence Odel of the Times-Picayune wrote that, “Rarely have we seen a more superbly romantic leading tenor. His exceptionally beautiful voice helps immeasurably.”
Tenor freak. :D

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Pantenor
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby Pantenor » 05 Jul 2016, 04:46



Seen this?

aulusagerius
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby aulusagerius » 05 Jul 2016, 19:24

TifosoBonisolli - From your January post, JDF is the only one of your examples I have experience of live. I heard him in Don Pasquale at the NY Met which was sold out so I had standing room at the very top of the huge house. I had no difficulty hearing him at all. His soprano was Netrebko and the baritone was Kwiecien and they all sounded of a piece and balanced. I am not a fan of Florez but that was my experience. I also heard him without difficulty as Prince Ramiro in the cavernous War Memorial in San Francisco.

TifosoBonisolli
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby TifosoBonisolli » 06 Jul 2016, 09:55

No doubt that you've heard him well, aulusagerius. The question, however, is whether you'd have heard him well (or heard him at all, in fact) if they had switched off his microphone... Operatic singing, not only pre-50's but even pre-80's, once meant filling a given space (a theater or an open-air venue, as well) with a trained but natural voice, not with a microphone and loudspeakers. Today, that's no longer the case, and soon people will hardly know anymore what the sound of a *not* amplified voice is like. The countless and ubiquitous positive reactions to Flórez are proving my point.

aulusagerius
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Re: Pre-50's versus post-50's singing

Postby aulusagerius » 06 Jul 2016, 15:56

I chose to believe that your implication is incorrect. Both San Francisco Opera and the NY Metropolitan deny using amplification except in special obvious circumstances like the Commedatore and Neptune. I have heard many operas in both venues and never had any sensory reason to suspect they were lying to us. I do not believe that Florez was miked in either production I saw. And he was satisfactorily audible. If I may say so, by making such unsubstantiated accusations you undermine the credibility of all your comments. :lol:


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