Monday, April 23, 2012

Great Historical Singers (Apollo Granforte)

Apollo Granforte is a sort of forgotten baritone these days.  But he clearly had one of the strongest and most beautiful baritone voices in history.  I was immediately struck by Granforte's voice when I first heard him in college.  The quality is similar to the more famous Titta Ruffo.  Granforte's voice has a very bright and metallic sound with powerful high notes and tremendous cut.  A Verdi baritone at its finest.  I would love to go back in time and hear him in person.       Granforte was born in the town of Legangno in 1886.  He discovered his powerful voice without formal training, and made his debut as a tenor in 1905 as Arturo in "Lucia di Lammermor." This debut was a failure in that Granforte was accused of not having finesse.  After his failed debut as a tenor, he migrated to Argentina where he worked as a cobbler.  A wealthy music lover funded Granforte's education at the Buenos Aires Conservatory, where Granforte studied for nine years.  Following that he debuted as a baritone, and had a very successful career encompassing over 1500 performances.       Granforte came from a long line of famous powerhouse Italian baritones such as Titta Ruffo, Ricardo Stracciari, Cesare Formichi. Giuseppe Danise, Mattia Battistini, and Giuseppe De Luca to name a few.  Such a high level of Italian baritones does not exist today.  Granforte left great recordings of "Tosca", "Il Trovatore", and "Otello" in which he is a force to be reckoned with in all his respective roles.  He was famous in the Verdi repertoire.  He also left a great recording of Wolfram's song of the evening star in Italian which is absolutely beautiful.     Granforte opened his own music school and taught several pupils who became famous.  One of which was Rafaelle Arie, who is on the famous Lucia recording with Maria Callas.  He remained active in music long after his retirement in 1948.   often judging competitions. He died in a suburb of Milan in 1975.      

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review of Tales of Hoffman from the Metropolitan Opera

   Jacques Offenbach began work on "Les Contes des Hoffman" in hoping of writing an effective serious opera.  As a composer well known for operettas, Offenbach was trying to change his reputation.  He did, but died before it happened.  There are many different editions of the opera since the score was left unfinished when Offenbach died.  This version includes sung versus spoken dialogue.          This live performance of Les Contes Hoffman dates back to 1955.  One would never tell because of the first rate remastering job.  I picked this up when I saw that Richard Tucker was the Hoffman, and my ex teacher Wayne Conner's teacher Martial Singher sang the 4 villains in the broadcast.  The then 80 year old conductor Pierre Monteux is on the podium.  Hoffman's three love interests are Rise Stevens, Lucine Amara and Roberta Peters.            Richard Tucker was well cut out for the taxing role of Hoffman.  Recordings in the studio do not do his voice justice.  This live recording preserves the true beauty of Tucker's voice.  Martial Singher's French was phenomenal.  Obviously he was French, but his diction is still quite notable regardless.  He was a lyric baritone, but had a strong lower end of the range.  In the Antonia act where he sings Dr. Miracle, his voice is not as big as I would like, but the orchestration is considerably larger in that act.  The 4 villains are an extreme challenge for a singer, especially the aria "Scintille Diamant", which is very high.  It is often transposed, which is the case with Singher.  He sings it brilliantly on this recording.  Roberta Peters is perfect as Olympia.  I enjoyed Lucine Amara and Rise Stevens in their respective parts as well.            

Living a Healthy Lifestyle

   After a week straight of exercise and eating healthy, and cutting down caffeine, I felt inspired to write this blog.  I am just simply feeling better mentally and physically so far.  Discipline is often a struggle for me, so I am proud of my zeal to keep this up so far.  There is a long way to go of course, but a start is a start.  I can only keep up with overindulging in caffeine and high carbs and fat for so long without feeling like shit.  We become what we put into our bodies.  Life is too short to not live healthy.  Not living healthy effects my self-esteem, career, relationships with people and overall well being.  One way of living works for me, and the other one doesn't.  The man who went on a diet of big macs for money suffered health wise.  I'm beaconing a sane health nut.  Obsessing about it takes the esteemable part of the equation out.  That defeats the point, of course.  We all deserve to live good lives, that is why I am writing this.  I'm learning about this kind of stuff from other people.  Also, if there are people who read this and can indulge in whatever they want and feel good, all the more power to them.  I am extremely sensitive to what I eat, drink, etc...     I was recently introduced to the idea of putting a timeline on weight loss, career and what not.  My gut reaction was, what if I fail?  What if I don't lose 35 pds by August 15th?  What if my audition package isn't ready by September 1st?Those are examples of what if I fail syndrome.  Well, if I lose 20 pds by August 15th, that's still awesome because the direction of the goal is correct.  Of course having said all this about timelines, I can only do the best I can each day.