Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Ascolta gli angioletti

Detail from a Neapolitan crèche by Angelo Rossi

«Mille cherubini in coro»
Text: Edoardo Senatra

Dormi, dormi,
Sogna, piccolo amor mio.
Dormi, sogna,
Posa il capo sul mio cor.

Mille cherubini in coro
Ti sorridono dal ciel.
Una dolce canzone
T'accarezza il crin
Una man ti guida lieve
Fra le nuvole d'or,
Sognando e vegliando
Su te, mio tesor,
Proteggendo il tuo cammin.

Dormi, dormi,
Sogna, piccolo amor mio.
Dormi, sogna,
Posa il capo sul mio cor.

Chiudi gli occhi,
Ascolta gli angioletti,
Dormi, dormi,
Sogna, piccolo amor.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Googling III

Juan Diego Flórez, how do they spell thee? Let me count the ways...

Juan Diego Flores
Juan Deigo Flores
Juan Diega Florez
Juan Diegi Florez
Juan Diego Flors
Juan Diego Floes
Juan Diego Floris
Juan Diego Flowers
Juan Diego Florees
Juan Diego Florenz
Juann Diego Florez
Juena Diego Florez
Juan Diablo Florez

They still managed to find him though.

See also... Googling I and II

Friday, 19 October 2007

Fiat lux

Googlebot has finally released Voce di Tenore from the outer darkness. Says Mr. Shelley...

Ten thousand columns in that quivering light
Distinct, between whose shafts wound far away
The long and labyrinthine aisles, more bright
With their own radiance than the Heaven of Day;
And on the jasper walls around there lay
Paintings, the poesy of mightiest thought,
Which did the Spirit's history display;
A tale of passionate change, divinely taught,
Which, in their wingèd dance, unconscious Genii wrought.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Ten thousand flowers in spring...

Plácido Domingo conducting Erwin Schrott
Puerto Rico, October 9, 2007

Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

The Wu-Men Kuan

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Googlebot kills tenor!

Giuseppe Sabbatini in La damnation de Faust, Parma, 2007

Trying to find the Voce di Tenore web site via Google? For some inexplicable reason, on September 15th, Google dropped all the pages on the main site from its search engine. Sister sites Carreras Media, Carreras Gallery, and Opera Polls have fortunately escaped the deadly ministrations of the Googlebot... so far.

The main site may eventually be liberated from the Underworld. In the meantime, if you're searching for items about Juan Diego Flórez, José Carreras, Roberto Alagna, or Giuseppe Sabbatini which you think might be on the main site, use the Yahoo, Altavista, or MSN search engines instead.

Cor mio, deh, non languire.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Thunder and lightning

Why should I be the only one who gets to 'enjoy' them? A selection of disgruntled and/or demented emails sent to voceditenore.com (original spelling and punctuation preserved)...

I. "One is amazed to see such limited unerstanding of singers as singers and artists and the time spent on the four listed, who seem to be favourites. It is so parochial. One aria in his day and you would forget all the tenors yowling their various arias and that was - Vickers - none you mention are in his league - they yowl for pretty notes - Carreras next to Vickers - Alagna next to Vickers - they are nothing . But then I am talking the real artist as against mere tenors most who have resonance where their brains ought to be as in the three tenors garbage . Expand !!!!!!!!!"

II. "On your web site - VOCE DI TENORE - there were one or two references to Battistini. Why is this? When I was trained in St. Louis we never tried to even suggest fatuous comparisons between past opera greats and the present crop of singers who may or may not be great one day. I guess what I'm saying is that just as Charlemagne had to send to Ireland for 6 monks who knew Latin Grammar intimately and scholarly and bring them back to Paris to lead the massive effort to reconstruct the "lost French language" of that time, we must find a music czar who will finally pronounce Enrico Caruso as number 1 and the remainder would be identified by a worldwide survey supervised by a committee that includes the United Nations, one ex-Pope, one ex-American President, Bill Clinton, and one Jewish banker to be named after Peace comes to the Middle East. Other than that I see no solution to this harrowing experience of living with wet and insipid opinionators who "sell certain singers" as actually being competent and alive and well enscounsed upon a fast tract to operatic stardom."

III. "Dear sir I want Villazon's items."

Friday, 31 August 2007

En fermant les yeux...

En fermant les yeux, je vois
Là-bas... une humble retraite,
Une maisonnette
Toute blanche au fond des bois!
Sous ses tranquilles ombrages
Les clairs et joyeux ruisseaux,
Où se mirent les feuillages,
Chantent avec les oiseaux!
C'est le paradis!... Oh non!
Tout est là triste et morose,
Car il y manque une chose,
Il y faut encore Manon!

Act II, Manon, Jules Massenet

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Julián Gayarre

"A virile, vibrant tenor voice with the most beautiful timbre. When it comes from the chest, it exerts an irresistible power, penetrating the ear and the soul like the roar of the sea... When it comes from the head, it is radically transformed, and the voice that just a moment before had resonated with ardent and captivating intensity, is suddenly transformed into something very small and very gentle, a feminine voice, a kind of sigh that fills one with emotion, delight, ecstasy. Gayarre's voice is the most perfect that one could desire, and undoubtedly the most perfect that exists today."
Critic and musicologist, Antonio Peña y Goñi, in Arte y patriotísmo: Gayarre y Masini, 1882

“He had a voice of wonderful sweetness, full of a strange fascination that brought to mind the sound of angels and caused shivers of emotion. I never heard another voice its equal. It was the voice of paradise, an angelic voice”
Italian soprano, Gemma Bellincioni, in her memoirs - Roberto Stagno E Gemma Bellincioni Intimi, 1943

"The stage artist's glory is like one night's dream. A painter, a poet, a composer leaves behind his works. From us, what is left?... Nothing, absolutely nothing. One generation that says to another: "How Gayarre sang!"... When my throat says to me: "I can no longer sing", what will remain of Gayarre? A name that will last as long as the people who heard me, but after that no one. Believe me, Julio my friend, our glory does not last longer, nor is it worth more, than cigar smoke."
Julián Gayarre in a letter to Julio Enciso shortly before his death in 1890

Julián Gayarre began his career in 1869 in Varese, as Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore. His last performance was on December 8, 1889 in Madrid, as Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles. He died 25 days later at the age of 45. There are no known recordings of his voice.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Not all heroes are tenors...

Erwin Schrott in the title role of Don Giovanni
Royal Opera House Covent Garden, 11 June 2007

Deh, vieni alla finestra, o mio tesoro,
Deh, vieni a consolar il pianto mio.
Se neghi a me di dar qualche ristoro,
Davanti agli occhi tuoi morir vogl'io!
Tu ch'hai la bocca dolce più del miele,
Tu che il zucchero porti in mezzo al core!
Non esser, gioia mia, con me crudele!
Lasciati almen veder, mio bell'amore!
Don Giovanni, Atto II, Scena 3

Man's a phenomenon, one knows not what,
And wonderful beyond all wondrous measure;
'T is pity though, in this sublime world, that
Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes Sin's a pleasure;
Few mortals know what end they would be at,
But whether Glory, Power, or Love, or Treasure,
The path is through perplexing ways, and when
The goal is gained, we die, you know -and then -
Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto I, cxxxiv

"Erwin Schrott is the most sardonic, seductive, witty and mercurial Don Giovanni I have ever seen. This hugely gifted Uruguayan bass oozes sex appeal, but he doesn't just preen his good looks and firm pecs - this is a subtle and thoughtful characterisation of an insouciantly self-centred aristocrat, sung with clarity and sensitivity. His comic timing was immaculate, the champagne aria fizzed, the serenade melted, and he was dragged down to hell with splendid heroic defiance. An enthralling star turn."
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 13 June 2007

Wednesday, 16 May 2007


Orphée devant Pluton et Proserpine
François Perrier (1590 - 1650)

Quels chants doux et touchants
Quels accords ravissants!
De si tendres accents
Ont su nous désarmer
Et nous charmer.
Qu'il descende aux enfers!
Les chemins sont ouverts.
Tout cède à la douceur
De son art enchanteur,
Il est vainqueur.

Act II, Scene 1, Orphée et Eurydice, Christoph Willibald Gluck

For Orpheus' lute was strung with poets' sinews,
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,
Make tigers tame, and huge leviathans
Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.
Act III, Scene 2, Two Gentlemen of Verona, William Shakespeare

"Orpheus, the mythic musician of Thrace, who charmed men, gods, savage beasts, the very rocks with his song, was the quintessential operatic hero. His story was an explicit demonstration of the power of music, an operatic archetype. Orpheus, most celebrated of mythological musicians, specifically harnessed the rhetorical powers of music for dramatic ends, to persuade the god of the Underworld to release Eurydice from the bonds of death..."
Ellen Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Googling II

More search terms that led people to Voce di Tenore. The primary interest here was clearly not vocal technique...

macho latino
cantanti nudi a casa
juan diego florez sexy
Juan Diego Florez women
juan diego florez pants
Florez hunk
Alagna and nudi
tenor guapo
plantureuses en chaleur
nude russian youthful Girls
caracteristicas fisicamente de juan diego flores
muscoli finti in rilievo
costumi streep tease

And of course...

Maxim Vengerov's girlfriend
rene pape girlfriend
Joshua Bell girlfriend
Juan Diego Florez girlfriend

See also... Googling I and III

Thursday, 8 March 2007


Il tramonto by Andrea Maffei (1798-1885)
Set to music by Giuseppe Verdi in 6 Romanze, No. 1

Amo l'or del giorno che muore
Quando il sole già stanco declina,
E nell'onde di queta marina
Veggo il raggio supremo languir.
In quell'ora mi torna nel core
Un'età più felice di questa;
In quell'ora dolcissima e mesta
Volgo a te, cara donna, il sospir.

L'occhio immoto ed immoto il pensiero,
Io contemplo la striscia lucente
Che mi vien dal seren, dal sereno occidente
La quiete solcando, solcando del mar
E desio di quell'aureo sentiero
Ravviarmi sull'orma infinita
Quasi debba la stanca mia vita
Ad un porto di pace guidar.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Happy Birthday Rossini!

Gioachino Rossini
Born February 29th, 1792

"Rossini, in music, is the genius of sheer animal spirits. It is a species as inferior to that of Mozart, as the cleverness of a smart boy is to that of a man of sentiment; but it is genius nevertheless."
- Leigh Hunt, Going to the Play Again (1828)

"The first characteristic of Rossini's music is speed - a speed which removes from the soul all the sombre emotions that are so powerfully evoked within us by the slow strains in Mozart. I find also in Rossini a cool freshness, which, measure by measure, makes us smile with delight."
- Stendahl, Life of Rossini (1824)

"The point is... a person feels good listening to Rossini. All you feel like listening to Beethoven is going out and invading Poland. Ode to Joy indeed. The man didn't even have a sense of humor. I tell you... there is more of the Sublime in the snare-drum part of the La Gazza Ladra than in the whole Ninth Symphony."
- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

Tuesday, 27 February 2007


Nancy Fabiola Herrera and Giuseppe Filianoti
Las Palmas, 2006

From Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1774, The Sorrows of Young Werther (Translated from the German by R. Dillon Boylan)...

August 21

In vain do I stretch out my arms toward her when I awaken in the morning from my weary slumbers. In vain do I seek for her at night in my bed, when some innocent dream has happily deceived me, and placed her near me in the fields, when I have seized her hand and covered it with countless kisses. And when I feel for her in the half confusion of sleep, with the happy sense that she is near, tears flow from my oppressed heart; and, bereft of all comfort, I weep...

Friday, 16 February 2007

Googling I

Some of the more intriguing search terms that brought people to Voce di Tenore...

Juan Diablo Florez
juan diego fires
costume de bain Alagna
Juan Pons furniture
baritones are men
Franco Spanking Drawings
french house on e-bay
come si fanno i vestiti dei toreri
colorful sleeveless undershirts for boys

See also... Googling II and III

Friday, 9 February 2007

Stage Fright

Enrico Caruso on stage fright from Caruso and Tetrazzini on the Art of Singing, New York, 1909...

The most visible phase of the opera singer’s life when he or she is in view of the public on the stage is naturally the one most intimately connected in the minds of the majority of people with the singer’s personality, and yet there are many happenings, amusing or tragic, from the artist’s point of view, which, though often seen, are as often not realized in their true significance by the audience in front of the orchestra. One might naturally think that a singer who has been appearing for years on the operatic stage in many lands would have overcome or outgrown that bane of all public performers, stage fright. Yet such is far from the case, for it seems as though the greater the artistic temperament the more truly the artist feels and the more of himself he puts into the music he sings the greater his nervousness beforehand. The latter is of course augmented if the performance is a first night and the opera has as yet been untried before a larger public.

This advance state of miserable physical tension is the portion of all great singers alike, though in somewhat varying degrees, and it is interesting to note the forms it assumes with different people. In many it is shown by excessive irritability and the disposal to pick quarrels with anyone who comes in contact with them. This is an unhappy time for the luckless “dressers,” wig man and stage hands, or even fellow artists who encounter such singers before their first appearance in the evening. Trouble is the portion of all such.

In other artists the state of mind is indicated by a stern set countenance and a ghastly pallor, while still others become slightly hysterical, laugh uproariously at nothing or burst into weeping. I have seen a big six-foot bass singer, very popular at the opera two or three seasons ago, walking to and fro with the tears running down his cheeks for a long time before his entrance, and one of our greatest coloratura prima donnas has come to me before the opera, sung a quavering note in a voice full of emotion and said, with touching accents: “See, that is the best I can do. How can I go on so?”

I myself have been affected often by such fright, though not always in the extreme degree above described. This nervousness, however, frequently shows itself in one’s performance in the guise of indifferent acting, singing off the key, etc. Artists are generally blamed for such shortcomings, apparent in the early part of the production, when, as a matter of fact, they themselves are hardly conscious of them and overcome them in the course of the evening. Yet the public, even critics, usually forget this fact and condemn an entire performance for faults which are due at the beginning to sheer nervousness.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Giacomo V

Juan Diego Flórez in La Donna del Lago

From Sir Walter Scott, 1810, The Lady of the Lake,
Canto First, XXI...

On his bold visage middle age
Had slightly pressed its signet sage,
Yet had not quenched the open truth
And fiery vehemence of youth;
Forward and frolic glee was there,
The will to do, the soul to dare,
The sparkling glance, soon blown to fire,
Of hasty love or headlong ire.
His limbs were cast in manly could
For hardy sports or contest bold;
And though in peaceful garb arrayed,
And weaponless except his blade,
His stately mien as well implied
A high-born heart, a martial pride,
As if a baron's crest he wore,
And sheathed in armor bode the shore.
Slighting the petty need he showed,
He told of his benighted road;
His ready speech flowed fair and free,
In phrase of gentlest courtesy,
Yet seemed that tone and gesture bland
Less used to sue than to command.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Gian Carlo Menotti

Time Magazine, May 1, 1950, on the Broadway premiere of The Medium...

"On a rain-dashed afternoon in the spring of 1947 a lean, tense-looking man in his mid-30s walked into Manhattan's Edison Hotel, just off Broadway, and registered for a room. He specified that it must overlook 47th Street. Once upstairs, he walked quickly to the window, looked down on the street below, satisfied himself that the view was right, then turned away and began to pace the floor, chainsmoking cigarettes. Finally he settled down to a vigil at the window. With alert brown eyes he watched the bustling traffic on the sidewalks. How many of the passers-by would stop at the Ethel Barrymore Theater across the street? How many, once they stopped, would buy tickets for the show that had just opened?"

Gian Carlo Menotti died on February 1, 2006 at the age of 95.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Don José

From Prosper Mérimée, 1845, Carmen, Chapter I (Translated from the French by Mary Loyd)...

the air he sang was strange and sad. As to the words, I could not understand a single one of them.

"If I am not mistaken," said I, "that's not a Spanish air you have just been singing. It's like the zorzicos I've heard in the Provinces, and the words must be in the Basque language."

"Yes," said Don Jose, with a gloomy look. He laid the mandolin down on the ground, and began staring with a peculiarly sad expression at the dying fire. His face, at once fierce and noble-looking, reminded me, as the firelight fell on it, of Milton's Satan.

Like him, perchance, my comrade was musing over the home he had forfeited, the exile he had earned, by some misdeed.

I tried to revive the conversation, but so absorbed was he in melancholy thought, that he gave me no answer.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

The tenor effect II

From Willa Cather, 1905, 'The Garden Lodge' in The Troll Garden & Selected Stories...

D'Esquerre had become the center of a movement, and the Metropolitan had become the temple of a cult. When he could be induced to cross the Atlantic, the opera season in New York was successful; when he could not, the management lost money; so much everyone knew. It was understood, too, that his superb art had disproportionately little to do with his peculiar position. Women swayed the balance this way or that; the opera, the orchestra, even his own glorious art, achieved at such a cost, were but the accessories of himself; like the scenery and costumes and even the soprano, they all went to produce atmosphere, were the mere mechanics of the beautiful illusion.

Caroline understood all this; tonight was not the first time that she had put it to herself so. She had seen the same feeling in other people, watched for it in her friends, studied it in the house night after night when he sang, candidly putting herself among a thousand others.

D'Esquerre's arrival in the early winter was the signal for a feminine hegira toward New York. On the nights when he sang women flocked to the Metropolitan from mansions and hotels, from typewriter desks, schoolrooms, shops, and fitting rooms. They were of all conditions and complexions. Women of the world who accepted him knowingly as they sometimes took champagne for its agreeable effect; sisters of charity and overworked shopgirls, who received him devoutly; withered women who had taken doctorate degrees and who worshipped furtively through prism spectacles; business women and women of affairs, the Amazons who dwelt afar from men in the stony fastnesses of apartment houses. They all entered into the same romance; dreamed, in terms as various as the hues of fantasy, the same dream; drew the same quick breath when he stepped upon the stage, and, at his exit, felt the same dull pain of shouldering the pack again.

There were the maimed, even; those who came on crutches, who were pitted by smallpox or grotesquely painted by cruel birth stains. These, too, entered with him into enchantment. Stout matrons became slender girls again; worn spinsters felt their cheeks flush with the tenderness of their lost youth. Young and old, however hideous, however fair, they yielded up their heat - whether quick or latent - sat hungering for the mystic bread wherewith he fed them at this eucharist of sentiment.

Sometimes, when the house was crowded from the orchestra to the last row of the gallery, when the air was charged with this ecstasy of fancy, he himself was the victim of the burning reflection of his power. They acted upon him in turn; he felt their fervent and despairing appeal to him; it stirred him as the spring drives the sap up into an old tree; he, too, burst into bloom. For the moment he, too, believed again, desired again, he knew not what, but something

Saturday, 27 January 2007

The tenor effect I

From Gustave Flaubert, 1857, Madame Bovary, Part II, Chapter 15 (Translated from the French by Eleanor Marx-Aveling)...

His large Spanish hat fell at a gesture he made, and immediately the instruments and the singers began the sextet. Edgar, flashing with fury, dominated all the others with his clearer voice; Ashton hurled homicidal provocations at him in deep notes; Lucie uttered her shrill plaint, Arthur at one side, his modulated tones in the middle register, and the bass of the minister pealed forth like an organ, while the voices of the women repeating his words took them up in chorus delightfully. They were all in a row gesticulating, and anger, vengeance, jealousy, terror, and stupefaction breathed forth at once from their half-opened mouths. The outraged lover brandished his naked sword; his guipure ruffle rose with jerks to the movements of his chest, and he walked from right to left with long strides, clanking against the boards the silver-gilt spurs of his soft boots, widening out at the ankles. He, she thought must have an inexhaustible love to lavish it upon the crowd with such effusion. All her small fault-findings faded before the poetry of the part that absorbed her; and, drawn towards this man by the illusion of the character, she tried to imagine to herself his life—that life resonant, extraordinary, splendid, and that might have been hers if fate had willed it. They would have known one another, loved one another. With him, through all the kingdoms of Europe she would have travelled from capital to capital, sharing his fatigues and his pride, picking up the flowers thrown to him, herself embroidering his costumes. Then each evening, at the back of a box, behind the golden trellis-work she would have drunk in eagerly the expansions of this soul that would have sung for her alone; from the stage, even as he acted, he would have looked at her. But the mad idea seized her that he was looking at her; it was certain. She longed to run to his arms, to take refuge in his strength, as in the incarnation of love itself, and to say to him, to cry out, "Take me away! carry me with you! let us go! Thine, thine! all my ardour and all my dreams!"