Magda will be 104 on Mar.25

    I am writing this in advance of Magda Olivero's 104th birthday,which we will celebrate on Mar.25. Sometimes certain thoughts occur to me at a given time (like this morning), and so I feel like putting them down as I recall them clearly.
    In all the years in which I have been attracted to the vocal art, I am singling out Mme.Olivero because I have never felt that anyone has quite achieved her level of vocalism and deep-felt emotion. Imagine that someone who was once told something like "Don't quit your day job," owing to a vocal quality that surely does not possess the fullness of a Tebaldi or a Ponselle, and whose rather "wide vibrato" might not be pleasing to all ears.
     However, let us reflect on some of the so-called "Kunst divas" who made an indelible mark upon the opera scene, and who may not have necessarily produced the "golden tones" that perhaps the average opera lover appreciates, without delving into the depth of the soul of artists such as Callas, Moedl, Scotto, Jones, Albanese, Rysanek, and other so-called "flawed divas," or in the case of male artists, what a Gobbi, a Chaliapin, a Rossi-Lemeni who achieved so much more than pure vocalism, which may thrill, but which may lack the depth of emotion of artists such as the above.
      In the case of Olivero, I use my "Martha Moedl reading the Dresden telephone directory" and still be riveting to audiences for many years. Olivero has had an uncanny ability to phrase and emote in such a way as to tear at your heartstrings every time. In one of our phone calls,I asked her about  the manner in which she utters the name of "Nina Micheltorena" in Fanciulla, with a mean-spirited jealousy "between the teeth" that only a very special artist could think of. The very great interpreters "decide" what special effects they can make with merely a word or phrase. Such is Magda Olivero, who lifted me out of my seat in a Fedora with the with words,"Loris,ove sei" in her final moments.
       I will forever recall her Met debut at age 65, in which she sang the last phrases of the aria in such a way as to bring everyone to tears. Run to Youtube and find the clip, and pay attention to the final "rimuneri,cosi," where the "u" vowel is held in such a way as to produce the most devastating effect, and then a giant SWELL on the last "cosi," where most sopranos barely make it.
       These are but two examples of why I feel that "non posso imagginare un mondo senza Magda" ("I cannot immagine a world without Magda."). However, like the present generation, future generations will learn from what she has contributed as a lesson in how to combine vocalism with emotion, and if you will sample her many contributions to music in roles like Tosca,Fedora, Adriana, Minnie, etc. you may better comprehend what I and so many others feel about this "miracle' of opera.
                                                With my sincerest love for this great lady,

Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm EST


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