Why don't black sopranos sing Puccini... Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Edit Profile

AALBC.com's Thumper's Corner Discussion Board » Thumper's Corner - Archive 2009 » Why don't black sopranos sing Puccini? « Previous Next »

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Thumper
Veteran Poster
Username: Thumper

Post Number: 729
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 12:34 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello All,

I'm having a random thought moment here, so forgive me. I love classical music, but I don't know a lot about it, not like I know the music of Aretha Franklin. Cynique, you can exhale now. *smile* I still got my love of female singers going.

I was reading the new issue of BBC Music magazine. I love this magazine because I get a free classical music CD with every issue. The free CD is a wonderful introduction to composers/works. This month, the January issue, had an article on Marian Anderson drawing a classical music parallel of her singing at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 and the inauguration of Obama. I can't say that I'm a big fan of Marian Anderson, but I am a fan of her earlier recordings when that voice was magnificent and beautiful. Anyway, it got me thinking two things about today's black sopranos: 1.) there are not that many today; 2.) they don't sing Puccini.

Out of all of the classical music composer, Puccini is the most digestible. I can hum and sing, off-key, Puccini in the shower or walking down the hall. You can find most of yesteryear and today's singers singing Puccini EXCEPT the black sopranos. I wonder why that is. Leontyne Price recorded several Puccini operas and that's it for us. Grace Bumbry, Kathleen Battle nor Jessye Norman recorded any of Puccini's arias. Now really, if Aretha can do Nessun Dorma, what's their excuse?

OK, I've vented now. I'm going to bed.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 13287
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 01:28 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Puccini wrote Madam Butterfly and I'm sure a soprano of Kathleen Battle's stature has to have had arias from this opera in her repetoir, especially the beautiful and heart rending Un Bel Di.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Chrishayden
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Chrishayden

Post Number: 7660
Registered: 03-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 10:43 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

1959 - "Musetta's Waltz" was adapted by songwriter Bobby Worth for the 1959 pop song "Don't You Know?", a hit for Della Reese.[7]


Haw!

Maybe cuz it's too easy.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Chrishayden
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Chrishayden

Post Number: 7661
Registered: 03-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 11:19 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What do you want...blood?

Jessye Norman's notable roles

Opera roles
These are notable opera roles that Norman has performed.[14]

Aïda, Aïda (Verdi)
Alceste, Alceste (Gluck)
Ariadne, Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss)
Armida, Armida (Haydn)
Carmen, Carmen (Bizet)
Cassandre, Les Troyens (Berlioz)
Countess Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
Dido, Dido and Aeneas (Purcell)
Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni (Mozart)
Elisabeth, Tannhäuser (Wagner)
Elle, La voix humaine (Poulenc)
Elsa, Lohengrin (Wagner)
Emilia Marty, The Makropulos Affair (Janáček)
Giulietta, The Tales of Hoffman (Offenbach)
Hélène, La belle Hélène (Offenbach)
Idamante, Idomeneo (Mozart)
Isolde, Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)
Jocasta, Oedipus rex (Stravinsky)
Judith, Bluebeard's Castle (Bartók)
Kundry, Parsifal (Wagner)
Giulietta di Kelbar, Un giorno di regno (Verdi)
Leonore, Fidelio (Beethoven)
Madame Lidoine, Dialogues of the Carmelites (Poulenc)
Marguerite, La damnation de Faust (Berlioz)
Medora, Il Corsaro (Verdi)
Pénélope, Pénélope (Fauré)
Phedra, Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau)
Rosina, La vera costanza (Haydn)
Salome, Salome (Richard Strauss)
Salome, Hérodiade (Massenet)
Santuzza, Cavalleria rusticana (Pietro Mascagni)
Sélica, L'Africaine (Meyerbeer)
Sieglinde, Die Walküre (Wagner)
Third Norn, Götterdämmerung (Wagner)
Woman, Erwartung (Schoenberg)



[edit] Oratorio and orchestral parts performed
These are notable oratorio and orchestral parts that Norman has performed.[8]

(Beethoven), Missa solemnis
(Beethoven), Symphony No. 9 in D minor, soloist
(Alban Berg), Der Wein
(Alban Berg), Sieben frühe Lieder, Altenberg Lieder, Jugendlieder
(Berlioz), Les Nuits d'été
(Berlioz), La mort de Cléopâtre, Cléopâtre
(Berlioz), Romeo et Juliette, Juliette
(Brahms), Lieder
(Brahms), A German Requiem
(Brahms), Alto Rhapsody
(Bruckner), Te Deum [and] Helgoland [and] 150 Psalm
(Chausson), Poème de l'amour et de la mer, op. 19
(Chausson), Chanson perpétuelle, op. 37
(Debussy), L'enfant prodigue [and] La damoiselle élue
(Henri Duparc), Mélodies
(César Franck), Les Béatitudes (oratorio)
(Haendel), Deborah, Deborah
(Mahler), Das Lied von der Erde
(Mahler), Des Knaben Wunderhorn
(Mahler), Songs of a Wayfarer.
(Mahler), Kindertotenlieder.
(Mahler), Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection", soloist
(Mahler), Symphony No. 3, soloist
(Mozart), Die Gaertnerin aus Liebe
(Francis Poulenc), Mélodies
(Ravel), Shéhérazade
(Ravel), Deux mélodies hébraïques
(Ravel), Chansons madécasses
(Erik Satie), Mélodies
(Arnold Schoenberg), Gurrelieder
(Arnold Schoenberg), Brettl-Lieder
(Franz Schubert), Lieder
(Robert Schumann), Frauenliebe und Leben, op. 42
(Robert Schumann), Liederkreis, op. 39
(Richard Strauss), Four Last Songs (Philips, 1983).
(Richard Strauss), Lieder with piano
(Michael Tippett), A Child of Our Time
(Wagner), Wesendonck Lieder
(Hugo Wolf), Lieder



[edit] Concert and recital work
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Thumper
Veteran Poster
Username: Thumper

Post Number: 730
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 12:37 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello All,

Chris: What do I want? Refering back to the original post...I want black sopranos to sing PUCCINI. Now THAT was an easy comeback. Oh and by the way, in reference to Norman, you left out Purcell's Dido and Aeneas where Norman performs the BEST redition of "Thy hand Belinda/When I am laid in earth". Doing the cut and paste thing is not always the best method. What a card...

Cynique: Actually, there are no recordings (that I have found) in which Battle had ever recorded Madama Butterfly.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Thumper
Veteran Poster
Username: Thumper

Post Number: 732
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 09:05 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello All,

Cynique: I done told a tale. I went through my music and did find one recording of Battle doing Puccini, from a compilation titled Classic Kathleen Battle--A Portrait. She did "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Gianni Schicchi. I wish she had done Madama Butterfly. Now that would have been PRICELESS! Maybe she did. I'm going to check and see.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Steve_s
Veteran Poster
Username: Steve_s

Post Number: 420
Registered: 04-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 11:36 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi, Thumper, When I was listening to a lot of classical music, I bought a few opera recordings, mostly "highlights" albums of La Boheme, Madam Butterfly, and Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky (Alban Berg's "Wozzeck" is the only complete opera I own). I'm not passionate about opera the way you are, so, as with most of my classical music purchases during that time, I wasn't too selective about the performers, conductors, or orchestras; I was mostly after a basic familiarity with the classical repertoire. Around this time I also read a few books including "Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey" by Allan Keiler, which was supposed to be a little more forthcoming than her autobiography.

A quick Internet search indicates that soprano Barbara Hendricks has recorded arias from at least four Pucinni operas: Turandot, Madame Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, and La Bohème.

There's an anecdote about Hendricks in a zany book called "Toni Morrison Explained: A Reader's Road Map to the Novels" (2000) by Ron David:

Superwoman in Stockholm

When Toni Morrison arrived in Stockholm, she was met at the airport by herds of reporters. The well-meaning Swedes, whose English is good--but not that good--asked her if she thought that her winning the Nobel Prize would "improve racism" in the United States. She was dying to say, "Of course not; it's perfect as it is," but she's a gracious lady who doesn't take cheap shots.

...who usually doesn't take cheap shots: The Swedes, in an obvious attempt to honor Toni Morrison, imported Barbara Hendricks, a young African-American soprano with an almost supernaturally beautiful voice to sing at the ceremony. Unfortunately, Morrison refused to applaud after Ms. Hendricks's "astonishing version of 'Summertime.'" I'm no Gershwin fan; I badmouthed him in two separate genres (I wrote a book on opera and another on jazz) and I agree with TM's objection to the idiomatic cartooning of black English (da fish is jumpin and de cotton is high)--but I passionately disagree with TM's public embarrassment of a young black artist who could have learned the same lesson with a private word from Toni Morrison.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 13298
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 - 11:44 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

An interesting anecdote Steve. And I do confess that my knowledge of opera is limited to what I learned in a music appreciation course I once took at a community college.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Steve_s
Veteran Poster
Username: Steve_s

Post Number: 421
Registered: 04-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 12:14 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynique, I can't say that I've heard her sing, but I'd be surprised if Thumper hasn't. Anyway, judging by the pictures of her that I've seen, she's also quite a beautiful woman.

http://i218.photobucket.com/albums/cc291/gqlupo/Opera/GinoEtBarbaraHendricks.jpg
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Thumper
Veteran Poster
Username: Thumper

Post Number: 734
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 12:32 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello All,

Steve: Hey. I have heard of Barbara Hendricks. I have more than a few of her CDs. While I don't doubt the information you provided concerning Hendricks, those recordings, currently, are not available on CD or for download. Since, my interest in opera (actually Puccini is the only one I truly love) is a few years old, it still comes up goose eggs. An interesting note, Hendricks has started her own label so that she can control her output. Sound like someone in jazz we both know, the late great Betty Carter.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Steve_s
Veteran Poster
Username: Steve_s

Post Number: 422
Registered: 04-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 12:33 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Two operas I've always wanted to buy are both "minimalist" works by John Adams: "Nixon in China" (featuring Tricky Dick and Mao Ze Dong as a heldentenor), and "The Death of Klinghoffer" (featuring Thomas Young, formerly of "Three Mo' Tenors," in the role of a terrorist). These are quite beautiful operas to my ears but I never see them in the stores, so I suppose I should order them. Anyway, Thomas Young is apparently considered one of the greats. The three Mo' Tenors were apparently cheated in some way by their manager who owns the name, so they now go as "Cook, Dixon, and Young." That's about the extent of my opera knowledge.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 13301
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 10:33 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm sure both of you, like me, have to be fans of Bizet's "Carmen", mainly because its arias are familiar, and it's only a little over an hour long.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Thumper
Veteran Poster
Username: Thumper

Post Number: 736
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 10:28 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello All,

Cynique: Good call! Yes, I am a big fan of Carmen. It's also easier for me to love Carmen because I get to use my high school French.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Steve_s
Veteran Poster
Username: Steve_s

Post Number: 424
Registered: 04-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 03:54 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Cynique, Hope you're not freezing your buns off in Chee town :-)

I sometimes hear the jazz music of literature, but I can't say that I hear the opera of words, although I wish I did, it must be nice. Jelly Roll Morton said that he was influenced by the French Opera in New Orleans and I read somewhere that Louis Armstrong's "bravura style" was influenced, in part, to the larger-than-life music of the opera.

Here's the beginning of "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle":

When the phone rang I was in the kitchen boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.

I wanted to ignore the phone, not only because the spaghetti was nearly done, but because Claudio Abbado was bringing the London Symphony to its musical climax. Finally, though, I had to give in. It could have been somebody with news of a job opening. I lowered the flame, went to the living room, and picked up the receiver.

"Ten minutes please," said a woman on the other end.

I'm good at recognizing people's voices, but this was not one I knew.

"Excuse me? To whom do you wish to speak?"

"To you, of course. Ten minutes, please. That's all we need to understand each other." Her voice was low and soft but otherwise nondescript.

"Understand each other?"

"Each other's feelings."

I leaned over and peeked through the kitchen door. The spaghetti pot was steaming nicely and Claudio Abbado was still conducting The Thieving Magpie.

"Sorry, but you caught me in the middle of making spaghetti. Can I ask you to call back later?"

"Spaghetti? What are you doing cooking spaghetti at ten-thirty in the morning?"

"That's none of your business," I said. "I decide what I eat and when I eat it."


Here's what it means to me (Murakami would disagree.):

I think it's a quest novel in the mold of the great (plotless) American quest novels like Moby-Dick and On the Road, to name a few, the magpie being the first of many birds (comparable to the recurring whaling-related motifs in Moby-Dick and the train motif in Rails Under My Back).

It's the familiar postmodern detective story (usually in search of a "text" of some kind, as in The Name of the Rose, The Shadow of the Wind, The Intuitionist, Mumbo Jumbo, and many others), and so the story starts with a Raymond Chandler-style phone call from a female caller.

Here's the overture conducted by Claudio Abbado:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYUdixQGF0w

In my mind, the underlying concept being parodied is one of "cultural theft" - related to so-called cultural ownership, cultural property, etc. - whether defined in terms of nationality, ethnicity, or something else. It's the theiving part of the magpie that catches my attention.

I think it's generally what the protest over William Styron's Nat Turner was really about, however one judges its literary merits:

The intensity of the attacks, however, did not come from an interest in literature but a fairly new conception--that Turner was an ethnic property [....

The impact of the controversy was that white writers at large opted for folding instead of holding, convinced that the challenge of writing across the color line was too big a risk to their careers and their reputations.} (Stanley Crouch, "Segregated Fiction Blues")

Murakami is roughly my age and like me, he runs, likes jazz, and likes literature. Post-WWII Japan was considered to be copying Western and American culture in certain ways, but now their cars, for example, are far superior to ours (in my opinion) and Japanese baseball players have been very successful in the US.

Does it matter that he's listening to an Italian conductor (Abbado) conduct an Italian opera, but with a British orchestra? I don't think so.

The caller asks the man what he's doing making spaghetti at ten-thirty in the morning -- not why, since he's Japanese, he's not eating rice and Miso soup instead (which practically nobody does in his novels anyway). That's because everybody eats Italian food.

He says, "That's none of your business. I decide what I eat and when I eat it." Substitute "read,""play," or "write," for "eat" and there you have it.

And finally, I don't think it's about Gershwin. The guy who wrote the famous song that everybody plays? Whose original composition (I Got Rhythm) became the second most widely played form in jazz after the blues? Rhythm changes? "Oleo" and "The Bridge" by Sonny Rollins. Charlie Parker's "Dynamo A" and "Dynamo B" were two of many ways of playing "the bridge" on rhythm changes.

Or is this interpretation operatic?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 13305
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 05:21 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, Steve. This frigid Chicago weather is something else, confining me to the warmest room in my drafty old house.

Consider that pop lit with a lot of melodrama is relegated to the "soap opera" category.

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration
Our Mission
To promote the diverse spectrum of literature written for, or about, people of African descent by helping readers find the books and authors they will enjoy.  We accomplish our goals through AALBC.com, our related platforms, and strategic partnerships.
Main Sections
Profiled Authors
Book Lists
Book Reviews
Writers’ Resources
Movie Reviews
Celebrity Interviews
Events
Discussion Forums
Current eNewsletter
Fun Stuff
Founder’s Blog
About Us
Started in 1997, AALBC.com (African American Literature Book Club) is the largest, most frequently visited web site of its kind. Learn more.

About Our Webmaster & Founder
Affiliated Websites
Huria Search
Edit 1st
Domains for Authors
ABLE
Power List Bestsellers
AALBC.com's Book Club Archive
Customer Service
About AALBC.com
Subscribe
Marketing Kit
FAQ
Contact Us
Advertising Rates
Advertiser Login
Privacy Policy
Affiliates