You were asking what the source of the Agnus Dei was. Actually, I'm
not sure! It was simply one of many recordings on a tape that I'd had
for about 10 years (possibly from Armando??), and one that I sent to
Muriella nearly four years ago. She recently had the tape transferred
to CD for convenience, and very sweetly sent me a copy. Well! I was
bowled over by how much better the Agnus Dei sounded - particularly at
the beginning. On other tapes I've heard of this performance, Mario
sounds quite distant at first.
So I didn't change the recording in any way whatsoever; I simply made
an MP3 from the CD of the tape! But what wouldn't I give to hear
Nessun Dorma from that same concert in similar sound!! (Sadly, it
wasn't on the tape I sent Muriella.)
I'm completely snowed under with thesis work this week, but as soon as
I get a spare half-hour, I'd love to comment more on this beautiful
rendition of Agnus Dei.
Some of our newer members may be unaware that there's a magnificent
reproduction of Lanza's Agnus Dei from this concert in our Photos &
Recordings section. The sound is **significantly** better than on any
other reproduction I've heard of this performance, which until now has
always been foggy and muted. Here, it's the aural equivalent of having
a layer of gauze removed from the recording. Mario's voice is much
more forward - and, goodness, he's on fire here! I know that
practically everyone (except Lindsay Perigo) loves his Nessun Dorma
from this same (2nd Hollywood Bowl) concert -- and quite rightly too
-- but this performance is, in some ways, even more sensational.
Do check it out!!
It really does sound quite wonderful, and better than any reproduction
I've heard of this performance. If only we could get the Nessun Dorma
from the same concert with the same audio quality!
I remember as a teenager -- long before I'd ever heard of the Melocchi
"lowered larynx" technique -- listening to Del Monaco and hating the
way that he sang. There was no attempt to sing with any tenderness or
vocal poetry, though I didn't know then that the ability to sing with
sweetness and colour was usually the first casualty of mastering the
Melocchi technique. Yes, "hard" and "inexpressive" is exactly how I
felt about it, and still do. Yet it amazes me that so many opera
lovers love the sound of a manufactured voice, which, let's face it,
is basically bereft of personality. As Corelli himself stated,
"Melocchi’s tenors all came to resemble Del Monaco in tone color,
range and style." Yet Corelli still insisted that the technique was
the right one for the opera house, claiming that "with today’s louder
and more brilliant orchestras, singers need the power and steel that
come from the lowered larynx."
I'm sure that Lanza, Bjoerling, Gigli, and other great non-Melocchian
singers would have disagreed :-) They may not have had voices as large
as those of Corelli and Del Monaco, but they had no trouble thrilling
Incidentally, I've always felt that you perfectly explained the
difference between a manufactured voice and a natural voice in this
post of a few years back:
"Singing should be as natural as speaking but, obviously, with the
addition of technique. The line 'Come sei bella piu bella stasera
Mariu,' for example, should not sound like, 'Cooome say bhella pio
Bhella sthasera Mariooo.' [Note from Derek: That's exactly how I hear
Corelli!] Anyone who sounds that way has a manufactured sound.
"This must not be confused with building the upper register of the
voice which is a frequent necessity, since few singers start out with
a 2 octave range. Caruso, for example, had a short voice (he used to
crack regularly on A flat) and had to sweat blood in order to extend
his range. Although he never really mastered a high C, his B and B
flat were fantastic.
"Summing up, listen to how closely the singing resembles the spoken
word. The closer it is, the more natural the voice. Among tenors, good
examples are Gigli, Bjorling, Lanza, Di Stefano, and Carreras."
If anyone's bewildered by all this technical talk, I highly recommend
Armando's article on vocal placement:
And don't forget our thread on "Technical Aspects of Singing." I found
this incredibly helpful (thanks again to Armando, and his knack of
shedding light on a difficult subject):
And here's the transcript of the Corelli interview I quoted from
above. It's quite interesting, and he's surprisingly candid in it
about his early vocal difficulties, as well as the pros and cons of
the Melocchi technique:
> Since we've been discussing Lanza biographies on another thread, I
> also wanted to ask if there are biographies of other tenors that you
> all might recommend.
Hi Lee Ann: I've actually read far more *auto*biographies of singers
than biographies: The Gigli Memoirs, Carreras' "Singing from the
Soul," Domingo's "My First 40 Years," etc. I enjoyed all of these, but
the one that stood out for me was Tito Gobbi's ghostwritten "My Life."
Armando has the most extensive library I've ever seen on singers, so
I'm sure he'll have a few recommendations for you :-)
Yesterday Armando alerted me to a newly discovered second recording of Lanza singing "Agnus Dei." I was amazed! After all, who would ever have thought that a new version would show up 72 years after it was recorded?!
This is almost certainly a rehearsal from the same day as the Hollywood Bowl concert of 24 July 1948. Mario's singing is very similar to the evening performance (which can be heard in our discography here), but with subtle differences here and there. And---this time!---he sings the words correctly nearly the end ("dona nobis" rather than "nobis dona"), as Armando's discerning ears immediately detected.
On Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:37:40 AM UTC+9, Armando wrote: