OPERA INTERVIEW: GRACE MELZIA BUMBRYJun 06, 2021
I think it's basically very simple, the way I see it, you have makeup geniuses in the art of makeup art and one certainly has to use them, they do, you have the subway at your fingertips, so why not take advantage of them? Let's say, for example, in a situation like um otello, which is the most obvious one where a white person, a white man, has to play a black man, but he's certainly not going to go up on the
operastage or on the stage. of legitimate theater. uh in white face and I see no reason or reason why a black person should be allowed the opportunity to go on stage in black face.
In fact, I think it's unprofessional to do so, so you've mentioned some cases of black singers appearing. without makeup yes yes in fact very recently I saw a performance of uh of tosca uh where the angelotti uh is a black man and he was not made up nor was he made up nor did he have a wig and I for my taste, as it is, I discovered that it was more well like a high school performance that shouldn't be at the metropolitan
operathat shouldn't happen it should all be done it should be done very professionally or not at all What did you do when you made your Byroid debut as Venus?
Yes, Ton Hoiser when it comes to makeup. He wasn't the makeup expert. The German villain Wagner and his makeup people decided what they wanted to do and solved the problem. The problem with the gold makeup, I wore brown, gold and silver, there was a huge fuss at the time about that look. Some in Germany were scandalized that a black man would come to a shrine that was perceived as a shrine to white culture. Aryan culture uh hate mail was sent to byroid columns were written how it all happened how it happened I mean the hype the hate mail or how they appreciated the commitment wow the commitment came through an audition with um with The Villain Wagner and his staff and I was the one chosen to sing Venus.
There were many other singers who were present at that audition, many of them who were white Muslims, who were white and many who were German and uh. He chose my voice over the others and, as he said, he put in writing that his grandfather did not write for skin colors but for vocal colors and mine evidently fit the pattern that Mr. Richard Wagner wanted and even what Vlan wanted. Wagner. In this case, what were some of the low points? What happened? I don't really remember any low points because I had such fantastic success. It couldn't have had any low points.
I don't really remember what they were. You are aware of the hate, the abuse of racism, well, you know, one is always aware of that, I mean, it is not only in German, it is also in the United States and vice versa, let's put it how you want to see it and as a black person you grow, eh. growing up uh you know it exists and you are certainly always aware of it uh but you don't let it color your work you have work to do you have work done for you and you're fine I kept doing it and that's what I did.
I couldn't be disappointed. Couldn't my parents and all those people who had been a great help and who had helped me all along in my struggle to get to where be disappointed? I was there and first and on top of that, I couldn't let down the villain Wagner, who believed in me 100 percent just like I did, and he had my job to do and I did it. Those performances were fundamental for your career to catapult you. to international stardom that's right, that's right, what had happened before, well, it had, let me think now, I went to Europe in the spring of 1959, I toured Europe, I really studied the atmosphere of the music scene to get an idea of What was happening.
First I went to London and participated in some master classes by Lotte Lehmann, who was my teacher. There at Wigmore Hall. For two weeks she was there. We did some Valkyrie scenes. We did some Sora Angelica scenes. I think we also did something for Maida and then from there I went to Vienna where I studied with Eric Verba. Yes, they started with him too. It's great. Yes, I enjoyed it a lot. But I studied from him not only the art of music recital but oratorio and that's really what I wanted to study with him before I started with him um uh instead of instead of the leader because I had already started with Layman and that was for me Layman she was to me really uh the epitome of uh of a recitalist and we didn't really need her available for that, but then we moved on to Byroid and just to see the performances I saw three standard Isolda with Berg Nielsen, which was just mind-blowing, actually, ma'am .
Layman was also very excited about it because she couldn't imagine that someone with a voice the size of a Nielsen beard could also have such a wonderful pianissimo on that top, I think it's a Thai c or b, whatever it is. it's during the narration, yes, the season, the narrative, yes, and she was so surprised by it and then from there we continued to uh, back to austria, we did it and then I went to Salzburg and I started at the mozarteum and I resumed my I studied with Eric Verba and then I participated in a competition that they give every year for students with each teacher and I was the final winner of that competition and as a result of the competition you had the opportunity to give a concert and that's when all the European managers come to see who the new talent is that particular year and, in any case, I signed a contract with the Basel opera much to the chagrin of Lord Harwood in London because I had done so.
It was an audition in London and they wanted me to come to London and you'll read in his book where they were. They were very upset with me because I didn't wait for the letter from him, but whatever. wait, in other words, you signed in Basel before Covent Gardens sent out their contract, yes, and the contract came too late, yes, exactly, and as you see, I've always been rather, how can I put it, ah, the type of person who wants to do something already yesterday, you know what I mean, I just couldn't wait, I was very anxious and I saw that Copenhagen was coming too late with their offer and there was one sitting there and it sounded very Good to me, I got all the roles I wanted and I was the number one doctor, so for the house, which meant I got all of them, that is, all the major productions, so I accepted that and, in fact, I'm quite glad I wasn't rather , I'm extremely happy because I know that if I had signed with Covent Garden I wouldn't be where I am today because you know people tend to take a young singer and just do whatever they want with them. them please and in the house the size of Covent Garden that probably would have happened, I mean I can't be sure but I don't think I would have been able to get all those wonderful big roles under my belt so quickly.
I mean, I was in Basel for two years as what they call a Gorgemon festival, you know, there all the time and then one year as a guest because I already had so many gigs at that time that I just didn't do it. I get to sit in Basel all year for the third year and then after that things just took off, then came the auditions for Byroid and some other gigs in Paris and other gigs all over Europe and the rest I think you know pretty well what are laymen's reminiscences oh layman she was a wonderful teacher actually you know she didn't teach voice she taught the art of song performance and opera just the art of acting and in fact I have to attribute my I think my operatic life to Madame Lehman because I didn't really go to the music academy to study opera.
I wanted to be a recitalist. I wanted to be like Marion Anderson. I loved Marion Anderson. I want to do what she did, I mean. even down to the long red nails, you know, I mean, I thought I saw this wonderful woman, this tall woman, I was a 10-year-old girl, of course, when I first saw her and I saw this beautiful woman and with these nails long and me and this beautiful voice and I want her, of course, to be like Marion Anderson and then Layman when I got to the academy Layman insisted that I take opera classes too and uh, I must say that I think she might have been right, believe.
She was right because I have a dramatic nature and that's what she saw, of course I didn't see I was too young to know that and, um, I can tell she brought out something in me that I never thought I had to. specifically you studied with her oh, I studied Aida, I studied rustican chivalry, I did um autor, I did Carmen, some scenes just of Carmen and alone and a lot of recital music, I mean, just because because we had a new set every week. of songs to learn every week and one opera scene was now of the school of thought that you don't just learn one opera scene and move on to another that has to be perfected and sometimes you find yourself in one opera scene only one scene maybe for two or two months and that's a long time when you repeat something over and over again but you repeat it until you get it that way it becomes second nature and that's what opera singing is all about when it's exciting, is it?
Do you remember specific points from the interpretation instructions she gave? No, I don't think she can really demonstrate that here on this show because one and a half women have to listen to it to understand what I'm talking about sometimes. appear not only in white roles for which I assume you use white face well, yes, according to geographical necessity, I mean, let's say, for example, the rustican chivalry is certainly not as white as lady macbeth or macbeth, which is In fact, Lady Macbeth is probably my lightest role, the lightest colored and because I find that the scars are from very, very light people, so I try to put on the lightest makeup possible without it looking ridiculous if you have to take it. in consideration my dark skin and you don't want it to look also uh like a mask um cavalry la santuza I think if I'm not mistaken I use number 31 of the maximum factor um carmen is also number 31. um tosca is number 29 You see, it comes further north, so it's a little clearer.
What will I do for now? 25 25. I am Neres. I can use a combination of 27 and 25. It depends on what the highlights are like. I want that um uh sissy, I told you it's number 21 I think, but it's not just the foundation itself, it's also how you contour it, you have to know, of course, I took the art of makeup to the max. factors in London, so I know pretty well what I'm doing. I don't normally have to have a makeup artist at the Metropolitan, although they are very good, they also give me advice, but I know what I'm doing when to follow when I do my makeup it's not just random uh something that bumbury has slapped on how long it's been good depends of if I go to the opera and I'm usually there two hours before the opera starts I mean this is just my habit whether it's Aida but I hardly need makeup or whether it's um or Lady Macbeth so I'm there I'm there at six o'clock anyway, sometimes even a quarter to a quarter. at six what a relief it must be to play Aida and Africana and Aida are my favorite roles because I don't have to play all that I'm telling you um because you know with all the other roles that I'm there before everyone else and I'm the last one out worst opera for me was uh it was Salomé because we had to do the whole body when you had the dance and you can't do it you couldn't have a face of one color the body of another color so you have to take the time you know this is a profession it's not just a vocation it's not just a hobby it's a proper profession would this be television miss
bumbryis here with the most beautiful eyes we all know she has beautiful eyes and a beautiful face however there are a lot of very subtle shadows around of the eyes, eye makeup is definitely handled not for the stage but for the street.
A lesson for anyone who ever wants to wear makeup. Do you want to share some of that? No, that's it. my secret the black throat the black soft palate the black vibrato observations ideas you know I would like to say that all that is rubbish but I don't know I don't know if it's rubbish or not I don't know one thing about paddles, all I know is that I use them, you see if it's high or low or whatever, I just use them now, let's continue, let's go one step further about the black voice, there is definitely a black voice, I mean, there is.
There's no doubt about it, but I don't see why we worry so much. I mean, there is a Slavic voice, there is the Anglo-Saxon voice, there is an Italian voice, why not be there? An African voice, we are Afro. African Americans, so we have what we call an African voice, it's certainly different, I think it's darker and warmer, and I think a lot of my colleagues think the same and I'm not just talking about my black colleagues. and um this conversation was also had with luciano pavarotti we talked about it and he said the same thing it's definitely a different sound and it's a warmer sound and now either a higher paddle or a thinner paddle or a green leg or a brown leg, I don't know, all I know is that it's definitely a different sound, but let's go a little simpler, let's back up, even a black man's voice is different than a voice of why I mean everyone hears that if even if you hear the voice of an African, it is certainly different, you know that it is an African and if you hear the voice of an Italian, you know that it is an Italian voice, even consider regardless of the uh of the uh, the accent, I mean the uh, thelanguage, you hear a certain sound so naturally, if you hear that sound in the speaking voice, you will hear it in the singing voice too, there is almost no difference, can throat doctors shed light? these differences I don't really know I don't know um I think it really depends on the doctor as you know there are singers and there are singers and there are doctors and there are doctors now dr grobscheit was a genius now dr graduated unfortunately he died last February and before he died we talked on the issue of the blood of the black voice when Charlie Varet and I did that kind of concert at Carnegie Hall because that was his big article at the time in the New York Times, on Sunday. section on the black voice, so I went to Dr.
Grobstrat to ask him what his opinion was on this and he said like he says anatomically, of course, everyone is the same, but needless to say, um, it all depends on the degrees. It has a lot to do with the thicknesses and the resonators and all that kind of thing. I can't begin to explain it all to you, but whatever the case, that's a difference that you mentioned the other day on the phone. It's no use for a singer to know his physiology in terms of regarding the actual singing. You don't trust that kind of thing at all.
No I don't, in fact I just find it confusing. and uh, I have this is not my my statement, I received that statement from dr. norman punt, who has a book published, um, he's an English throat specialist, a very, very, very famous one and his book I think is called the care, the care of speaking and speaking and singing professionally and this was just a little line that I underlined and it was that um, what would you say? I have already forgotten, well, it is useless, it is useless for the singer or the speaker to even try uh Understand it because it is in vain, just as it is irrelevant that a cricketer knew about the shoulder joint that you mentioned, yes, yes Well, 20 years ago, a certain doctor said that because of my height and the distance between my six feet and the distance between my diaphragm and my larynx, it had to be a base, maybe a baritone base, and like without the beard.
You can see my Adam's apple, I have a large and prominent larynx, I was convinced. which had to be a base, I pointed out some counter examples, high tenors corelli melchior mccormick dreschka, some others, well, they were just pushed up, whatever, pushed up, baritone, faces raised, talking about pushed, uh, robert jacobson, at the opera, people called you Grace Bumbry. they are pushed up nicely, you know he might have a good point there, but then, all sopranos are pushed up in one way or another, what difference does it make? A soprano's career is to keep that peak as far away as possible, so what difference does it make?
Robert Jacobs can say whatever he wants to say, does she sing? Not that I know of, thank you, oh no. I don't think he's a teacher either, he's not a singing teacher, no, I don't think so, as far as I know, but you know he has an opinion about him and I think he's a critic, don't you? Yeah, and everyone has the opinions of him, like they are yeah, um, are you a mento or a surprise? I don't know what I am, I only sing the material that I see that suits my voice, whether it's medicine or material, I will sing it if it happens They will also call me soprano material and then I am then I am soprano whatever you want to call me no, no, don't you it matters nothing, just build my name correctly, that's all you think about in those categories.
They are relevant to pigeonholes in most cases they are relevant because most singers fit into a pigeonhole, but I don't fit into a pigeonhole like Madame Falcon did. Dove Hole Falco, a singer of the 1820s and 1830s, had a dark voice, thought to be a soprano, but with what today would be considered a medso overtone, and there are voice types called falcon, named after her , sopranos who knew those who sing sopranos. sopranos who sing mezzo uh falcone the voice seems to have been quite substantial, she created the uh dramatic soprano or, if you want, with high medicines in leso canola, as well as many other important roles, but tell me, Stefan, do you know when this delineation came about ?
I can exchange, that is, between mezzo and soprano. I can trace the term baritone. I came into general use with george joron colney, a baritone of the 1930s, 1830s and 1940s. I have written extensively about the development of the tenor voice, but the voice. The med remains a mystery to me, so I'm not sure who the first mezzo was in Rossini's time. There were contraltos with deep voices, the music for them is low and centers around, for example, the middle C of the f or g above and plummets to low. f sharp um yes, those ladies occasionally went up to high b but the tessi toure focused on very, very low verti he wrote parts today considered medso that were almost indistinguishable in tessitura from the soprano rolls ed bully, who was the first mentor, no I know there was such a person, all those women use chest voice, uh, they are all singers of dramatic roles, but there are many sopranos who use chess voices, yes, exactly, so the distinction is blurred unlike many others distinctions in vocal history at the beginning.
In this century there was still a controls race and a soprano race, few early singers are armed, so there were few early singers to record or what we would consider as mentos eugenia mantelli in the 90s and just after the turn of the century. Her voice seems to have been decidedly lighter than Grace Bumbry's, but if any composer actually wrote for a mezzo voice, one would have to look at the scores to see when composers began using the term medso soprano. I'm not sure either. I, uh, there's work to be done there, I'm not sure, even if one worked, if I could find something very useful, since orphan composers are not specific about such things, they write the name of the character and, uh, no. designate a type of voice in the 30s, 20s, 1930s and 20s, clearly there were medical sopranos before that, there are borderline cases.
You know, the Germans have a very good term they use for a borderline case like that, they call it, but they think it's enough. very, very appropriate between categories, yes, one of Wagner, specifically, Brune Hilde out of the war cry, Tessie's tour for soprano is low, yes, you know, I have thought several times about doing Brown Hill day, especially from uh laundry. Layman suggested I do that as she was convinced after listening to my Solomon that I could sing the soprano repertoire, so her idea was for me to do every day of Burn Hill, starting with the Valkyrie and continuing, for supposed. eventually it gets to them um, but I don't think you should sing something that you're not comfortable doing, I don't mean, I don't mean the voice because I'm sure that the notes of the son No problem for me, it's just that I don't feel psychologically comfortable in that role and I don't think I can give my best if it's something I can't really believe in.
Is there anything in the role or in the music that you find unpleasant, no, it's not the music, but the character, I think it's the character, yes, and I think it's also that Nordic way, yes, I mean, it's very strange because I can relate to Elizabeth from the town halls because I sing. elizabeth and venus very often in performances I can relate to it but maybe because it's real whereas I think I may be completely wrong but I find the whole ring thing to be mythology and I can't really tell. I stick my fingers in this I can't get enough into this I can't relate to it Maybe I'm wrong Maybe someone has to teach me uh otherwise But I can't feel it yet They made fun of you on the phone I put my voice on, where I want people in the middle, sure, yeah, yeah, uh, where do you place your voice depending on what the role is and what, so what and what I'm singing about, what that particular phrase is about, um Let's say you know?
There was a comment that was made, I think it was in one of the papers, I can't remember which one it was, but it was also in the Aida review and it said that Bunbury's middle voice was out of tune, well it wasn't. off high pitch it was just that I placed it differently and probably his ears weren't used to hearing that placement for those notes and I really believe that because I've heard it, I have my own little recording system, you see, and I appreciate that. . God for this for these little cassettes because you can really judge what has been sung and what has not been sung because if you didn't buy what the critics wrote you would really be in a dilemma, so you have these, um, these tapes, I have mine. little my little um cache of tapes and I realized what he's talking about but he wasn't out of tune at all it's just that you're not used to hearing so much voice in a particular area of the midsole in the mezzo voice and I I'm not talking about volume, I'm talking about tone placement.
Where did you put your voice for our nerves in the middle? I can't explain it to you in words, you have to listen to it and since I won't be singing tonight, you will be there. you still won't know if you did it, can you describe the difference or the difference in the results? I can sing it like this or I can sing it now, which do you prefer? Do you hear the difference? I think I would prefer. one in one context the other and that's exactly my point that's exactly my point it depends on what I'm trying to portray if I want to portray anger I use it one way if I want to move the portrait portray sweetness I'll use it another way can you describe what you were doing?
What sensations were you feeling? No, I can't tell you, I can't, I couldn't show you or explain it, I just know that I can do it, is that what you do? I would prefer not to explain it or not, no, I don't know how to explain it at all. It's something intuitive so it's something that my voice will do, my throat will allow me to do it and I think a lot has to do with having I studied with Lotte Layman because when you study the art of a song you try find certain colors for certain words and I think I have also transferred that to my operatic singing, maybe that is the reason why I don't know, but having studied um uh the art of leading I know that I had to look for certain colors I know I remember uh what's your vocal technique?
Are you aware of technique when you sing or do you just say I try not to? I try when I get to the point of going on stage I don't want to have to think about technique because for me technique is technique is limiting and for me singing means singing well means sing this thing for free with your throat free now if you have to find a technique to free your throat you see that everything is very complicated it is not, it is very difficult to explain but you have to find a technique that you can use that will free your throat so that you can sing with a technique that you started with tocca you do not have a technique, you see , you started with almond tochy I did that was my that was actually I think I have two teachers that I really give a tremendous amount of credit to and that was my first teacher who, as you know, is a very important person and then, to Katyan, those two, he was the first and the last, and the cartoon was my last day before I He went to Europe and unfortunately he died, I think the spring that I went to Europe, I was in the following spring of '60 Wait, who is the first teacher?
Kenneth Phillips, his father also died last year. What did they teach? They spoke. Well it's very strange they showed me what I was doing with my voice because they both said that my voice was already so well placed by nature that there wasn't much to do but they wanted me to know what I was doing because that's what will help me Throughout a long career, as long as I've had now, my first teacher certainly wasn't thinking about that, all he was thinking about was getting my voice in place and he told me now, after a year and a half of studying.
I have given you everything I can give you now you must go to another teacher where did he try to place the voice? of the face on the face mask specifically, could you point out here? uh, Miss Bumbry is aiming for the eyes, the cheeks, I think when I make the sound, I think as far ahead as I can think, if it depends again. in the sound if I want to sing a very ethereal sound I don't want that I don't want that location I want it somewhere else for that the area seems to encompass the nose the teeth the lower teeth don't even wait when I I don't know, I just think ahead when you moved your hand around your face, it even covered the area below your mouth, yes, from just above your eyebrows to below your chin, you brought several cassettes for us to play. here at wkcr fm in new york 89.9 on the dial uh we'll talk more about dimitrova martin veret lending price corelli milo many many others ah, it should be a great night, what would you like to play?
Why not?Start with Salome, the final scene of Salome. I think I've already told you where it should be. Is there anything we should know? What should we dive into? Well I think the reason I chose this as the first piece is because it was my first what I would call my um my first real soprano roll even though I had done Lady Lady Macbeth before that but it was my um absolutely oh no I can think of the word now I can't tell you it's so difficult it was okay It was the only opera I chose as a measuring stick, regardless of whether or not I will enter the soprano repertoire and whether I was successful in it,I think we should want to hear that one. first and then we'll go on from there, when was this performance, this performance, I'm not so sure which one I have here because I have so many songs, but I think the first time I sang Solomon was at Covent Garden in 1970. 69 or 70, I think it was 70, although well, I think this recording could have been in Chicago.
I have as many little pros as I have my own bootleg tapes, but I think this is Chicago, we'll hear Miss Bunbury on the selections. by salome tokonda nabuko macbeth and if time permits tourrando and we will talk at length the number here you should call to comment or ask questions is two one two eight um stuart manville critic for Opera magazine phoned to say that one of the most exciting uh The series of performances he heard were three given by Grace Bumpery in Paris at Dukas. This is a difficult part in which the singer participates almost throughout the entire opera.
One of the longest roles. “I am very happy that Grace Bumbury is on the programme,” said Mr Manville. Grace Bumbry has reminiscences about those performances and that role and I thank the gentleman very much because she certainly was right. It is a physical feat unlike any I have ever known. It's extremely difficult because it was a style of music that she had. learning, very similar to Strauss, it was actually a kaleidoscope, I think about composers, sometimes you heard fragments of Strauss, you heard fragments of Rimsky Bremsky Korsakov, you listened to many, many, many composers and, but, but the most important thing is that it is . which it wasn't, it was a new style for me and it was something the French hadn't had in a long time and I must say I had great success and I appreciate this caller's comment about it.
Thank you very much, the new caller Bernard Leopold stated that I am a professional writer. I followed Miss Bumbry's career for many years and it is one of the most exciting. I would like to do a biography of Bumbbury, but I'm told she is very private and he asks: would you be against someone writing a full biography? Complete biographies have been written for many minor artists. Your career is worth my time and effort. It would be a fanta. A fascinating story. One would have to have access to you. It was said that you were private and I have been too shy to approach Miss Bumper, declared Bernard Leopold.
Well, I'm very grateful for her request and for her lovely comments. However, three other publishers asked me for it. In fact, uh weidenfeldton nicholson dodd mead and macmillan and unfortunately I don't have time at the moment, but if you would be so kind as to leave your address with mr. zucker, I will certainly keep it in mind when I decide to have a book written, I already took the address for if anything a call here from ed dowley of elmhurst mr bally states that the singing voice and the speaking voice have different training requirements sills couldn't sing with his brooklyn accent and i wonder about his point of view what do you mean ?
Could you? She can't sing well with the Brooklyn of hers. In other words, her voice is trained so that her Brooklyn accent doesn't come through. I think she is saying and stating that I don't think she is the composer. She wrote for Brooklyn, I thought he, I thought she wrote in Italian, French, German or whatever the case may be, it wasn't her who was singing, it has nothing to do with her English language, yeah, well, you can't separate it, OK, what happened? I think maybe maybe it refers to how one applies it because without saying that you talk one way and you sing another because, first of all, you sing, you sing controlled and speaking, you don't really sing with great control, uh, jonathan.
Brown called to ask about the status of the program. Will I alternate with a student presenter? Yes, I will be there on the 15th when the programmed called to ask what about Gena Dimitrova's statement in the opera news about certain mezzos who changed to soprano parks and now. Dimitrova herself is singing amnesties, well actually he took away my ammunition by telling her what I was saying because he also knew that she had sung um the amnesia la scala actually last season and I find it actually quite interesting in view of the De fact you know the Italians have a wonderful saying I think it was even Pavarotti who said it um uh prima critique et poi copy in other words first you criticize and then you copy and I think that really should be the answer and enough but I do .
I want to continue a little more about Madame Dimitrova. I heard her in New York City here at Carnegie Hall performing during Nabucco. I think it was last year before I forget about it now and I have to say I was a little disappointed because I care. I knew she had a great voice, she knew it, I expected it, but I hoped she would be able to give us a little more nuance in what she did and since she is, reportedly, so great. a great artist and unfortunately that was not communicative, I was quite sad about it and got sick of hearing nothing but loud singing all night long and had to leave unfortunately, I think I had to leave them for more than one reason not just because I got tired to sing out loud, but because the next day I was flying back to Europe and I didn't need to have the energy to sit and listen to the whole concert, but what I did. here I was very impressed with her with the size of the voice and also her wonderful compartment on the stage, I thought it was very beautiful and, you know, all the things like this we always look at women, look at how your hair was and how it was your dress and what shoes you wore and how you moved on stage and of course I found all of that very, very positive, but as for your comment that appeared in the opera news, I can just quote pavarotti prima critique et boycopia , what's happening? ava martin oh that's a good question too because i think madame dimitrov said that except for her and eva marton there were no other dramatic sopranos now, i think she might be right when she says she's a dramatic soprano but as far as Eva Martone is worried.
I definitely don't think she's a dramatic soprano at all and I think she has a very considerable lyrical soprano voice that she's pushed to be complete, come on, come on. she has a certain fullness, but it is not a dramatic soprano voice and I think the best clue to that is when you remember, if you listen to the German operas, when she sang the role of Ortrud compared to her role as elsa elsa is much more beautiful and much warmer and much more affectionate the altru to my ears was stretched a little and quite squeaky I mean, I don't think ava I mean um eva martin is a dramatic soprano and I know the voices are not entirely true, although by nature she is louder, certainly she is creating, but within the limits, uh, shirley veret, your rival, you know, this is a very interesting word that you use here because you never said it about dimitrova, you never said it's about uh martin, why do you say that about shirley verret? because she's black, no, because a few years ago you two gave concerts at conkey hall and albert hall, witch hall, uh, royal opera, royal opera house, and you got a great offer. of publicity you not only appeared on the cover of the New York Times Sunday magazine but you actually appeared on the front page of the page.
One of the times that is true, you received, as I understand it, equivalent publicity in England in the discussions about your performances. together, several writers mentioned that the two of you hadn't been particularly friendly and they were wrong, well, we're not friends, no, we're not friends, I'm not saying that I am, that I'm unfriendly to her, but we're not friends, I mean Jonathan. morris is a friend who is also my pianist curtis dalby is a friend who is also my secretary I hope you are also a friend yes but but um charlie barrett and I sing together she is we could be rivals in the sense that she sings the same repertoire but also um fiorenzo cosoto also marilyn horn also um gena di mitrova but that does not mean that we are not well and as I remember Ayatollah Harold C Schoenberg himself declared to your rivals that you said would you call them again?
So, rivals, you are what Barrett is like as a person. How come you're not exactly friendly? Well, you know, that's if I don't know, we're just not. I don't have many friends among singers. I mean, when you talk about friends, like I talk about friends, it's someone you talk to on the phone and talk to almost every day, to me it's a friend, but someone I talk to from time to time, to me it's an acquaintance, maybe. I got this the European way because they don't accept friends as quickly as in America we call someone a friend.
Did you meet him yesterday? That's a friend, but I don't see it. I don't see friendship that way Charlie Verret is a very good singer and I enjoyed singing with her, um, maybe we have some kind of electricity, uh, between us because what people think is a rivalry, because what she thinks is coming to what I think is a rivalry, I may not know but in any case what is the result is what is important to some extent, you have common stories like you, she started singing medicine roles but then changed to soprano, yes, and today I believe.
She does both concentrating primarily now on the medical parts. I don't know, I don't believe it because I just heard her this year singing Medea in Paris. That's definitely not a mental part. Yeah, they performed duets together, uh, yeah, how did you decide who was going to go? singing the soprano line who was so good, that wasn't so easy, but we just stared at each other until we decided, well, you sang this and that in New York and and and I didn't let myself do it. this Marius she had already played the part of um of uh what's her name giovanna giovanna stuart but I hadn't done either one or the other so instead of her learning some new music, I just learned the part of anabolena and she he just continued To sing them, you know that you also have to use your common sense and you also have to be a little, a little, uh, flexible when it's like when you sing in an opera when you work with a stage director.
You also have to give a little. You can't expect everything yourself. You mentioned the other day on the phone. You named some of your favorite singers. Leontyne Price, who you haven't been particularly friendly with either. You will see again. That's my point. I like it true. voices but that doesn't mean that I like that person I don't have to like that person I mean there are millions of people out there listening to your show who possibly don't like me, they might like my voice and vice versa I like my voice and not me but a lot of things are like my voice that's the only thing I care about what about the crisis is singing what part do you admire in particular I love that beautiful blouse she has that effortless one on top I think it's just amazing how she seems to sit there and just walking around with it like it was nothing, even though the tenor cordelie versus del monaco versus stefano versus tucker fan contest had officially closed you voted for uh for corelli yeah how is that possible?
Because of the emotion that that voice generates, it is an extremely masculine sound, it is um very exciting to my ears, at least I want to say maybe there are those who don't find it that way, but I was always excited when I heard him sing and as a matter of fact, in a way I base my volume, my skill and my vocal volume in working with Corelli, because in order for you to exist you had to try to at least match his volume, I mean, there aren't many. people who can match it, but that's why I say you tried, it's not like today where you have this, oh well that's not another story, sorry, could you tell us that story?
Well, we'll get to that at some point, I'm sure, well, uh. First we want to have heard the final scene of Salomé. Uh, gentlemen, you have her ready to go to the studio with me. Oh, you know, my point is that they already played a jokonda and we had another job in this, before we stayed. with jakonda and then come to salomé. Could you tell us about the joconda excerpt we heard? We were. There's a bit of chaos here, but presumably we're past it. I forgot what it was. AHA. I couldn't. Listen to it I think it was the scene um if I'm not mistaken I think it's a scene where Joconda and her mother are passing through San Marco and um immediately after the friar has sung it's not that that's the place it was that It was that and um, she's begging her mother to, uh, what's her name, support her mother, I'm sorry, because, because of my weakness, I just need you to help me now.
I've helped you, so you helped me now. I don't think that was that scene anyway no, if you don't mind of course which side um um b side right uh it will be Grace Bomber and I will be talking about a lot of singers Olivero uh April Milo many others if there are points that you would like to address Please call us here at 212-280-5223, there are too many of those. Is there anything you want to put into perspective? or not, but I thought you might be interested to know that that was Richard Tucker singing there, that part. of enzo fresh as always in his little voice uh a couple of years before he died actually I think, if I'm not mistaken, several comments from listeners maestro pasquale luizi cordial greetings to Grace Bumbry she sang with me with the chordo d'italia Ah, of course, chaste diva, she can sing both mezzo and soprano.
Seth Wellins of Queens. I heard Grace Bumbry do a Adult Jesus series in Covent Garden. She stole the show. Theperformances of Caballer, who was a statue, how come Miss Bumbry is willing to act when the other protagonist doesn't respond, well, it's not easy, I can tell you, but whatever, the literature is still there and the drama is there. You also have the music blaring in the orchestra, so you live. on on on wings of songs as simple as that, I think the knight was a little over the top about madame caballer because she wasn't exactly a statue, I mean, that's really not very fair, but in cases where you have a singer No Not answering you, of course, is difficult, but you have to do what you have to do to the best of your ability.
Mr. Wellins continues within the same series of performances. Grace Bumbry moved from Giza as an adult to Northman. What does that involve? I guess you mean what's involved in the transition, I imagine it vocally or interpretively, well, I guess you mean vocally because, um, interpretively, this is just another role, right? Is it easier, normal or xyz? The role is all you have. interpret but in terms of music you have to remember that the role the role of adalgisa is not much smaller uh than uh the role of norma um the only change that I really find is in the characterization that's where the difference lies because, as I said before, my nature is quite dramatic so I have to reduce my movements, my thoughts and my feelings for the role of adult giza because she is a much softer and much younger priestess than I am so I have to be more affectionate and young, while In the role of Norma it is exactly the opposite, isn't it?
We rarely hear the two duets of adult Giza and Norma in the written keys when Think, uh, when you sing the aldol part in the original transposed key, everyone transposes it without any step down from there from the original correct jonathan ah so that the top notes be b natural, that's right, be natural and I think the reason is because if you hear it sung in the original key it's too bright it's too white of sound it doesn't have the warmth they need to be natural is not flat to be flat is a completely low tone.
Isn't that right? And um, I don't even think Merlin Horn and Sutherland did it in the original key, whether in the performance, they put them in uh, you know, in the recording, well, I'm sure I could do it too I'm recording, there's no problem with singing and recording, you sit in front of the microphone and sing it enough times until you get it right, but then, um, but when you sing over the course of a night, that's different. story as a whole because you have to know how to phase it and you also have to know how much energy you have and you also want the beauty of the of the of the um of the uh the part to come out in a recording where where it goes to the story it is important that it be done in the original pitch I think john uh donlin from brooklyn uh new caller I was at Grace Bumbry's old debut at the Met and I've been a fan ever since thanks at Marine Park in Brooklyn Grace Bumbry berated the sound guys because she couldn't hear her voice.
This was at Aida's house, but her voice was heard loud and clear. People around us suggested that perhaps Miss Bumbry was bothered that the microphones helped give April Milo a volume she wouldn't have had. In the house also Mr. Uh Donlon would like to know what happens with April Milo's interpolated high E flat at the end of the triumphal scene. Do you mean uh in the house or do you mean outside in the park both well in the in the park, I think it was pretty good because it's outside, the whole atmosphere is free and ad libitum, but I think in the opera I don't think it's appropriate to put it in the way you live. in the um in that performance I just don't think it's right, no, but look, if I had one to sing, I'd put it on too, how loud do you sing?
I vocalized in E flat, but I don't dare try it. in public, how can I sing with a d, how low to go, I don't try to go down, I just go, I don't want to go as far as the music allows me, to the maximum and a c below the middle, I can sing lower, I can sing up to a D if I want in Zolomay coming soon there is a bass it's G flat G flat yes, I think it is yes uh how about an F sharp G flat? Would you rather avoid singing lower than then uh those written notes uh? to save the voice somehow for voice reasons, I don't need those notes, I should work on them if I don't need them, no, do you have occasion to sing high d in any of your roles, d flat, let me?
Look, that's the heart, yeah, thank God for that, it's the highest, I don't need to sing higher than that, well, it's interesting that Mr. Dondelon brought up this question about you and Milo and asked you if you felt that the microphone It gave me a lower vine that I didn't otherwise have because after those Aidas, I think after the Central Park Aida, one of Milo's followers said that the audio engineers sabotaged her by turning off her microphone and that's why she audience listened to you and not her. It really happened and I have no idea what happened, I didn't do it anyway and I do remember at one performance, I don't know which one it was, I think it was in the middle of my three performances, uh, where I told him pitch engineer I can't hear myself, but that was at the end of the first act, I mean, at the end of where the innuendo was the first act, the second, I don't know, but up to that point there was nothing.
I could tell he was there and plus I couldn't hear myself so I thought they were giving his mic a boost so I walked up to his mic and sang into his mic. Two weeks ago you called the program and expressed. yourself on the subject of singing with someone with uh with insufficient fire to match your own you said that you realize that verti's dynamics were scaled appropriately for metropolitan opera and you commented that milo's voice was small scaled for the role you know I didn't say that was what I was commenting on the gentleman's comment, yes my comment was due to what he was saying about me, he said he was trying to drown her and that wasn't the case, like I said, and my opinion then as now it is that I have a great voice and now it is bigger than ever and I can't do anything about it if someone who can't sing up to my volume I can't help it, I think according to the dynamic brands taking into account tell some. the size of the house I'm singing in and I certainly won't reduce my voice for anyone, they wouldn't do it for me so why should I do it for them?
What about the fact that your voice? It's bigger than what you attribute to it, well I really think last year I had surgery, I had a tumor removed, I didn't know I didn't even have it floating and I weighed six pounds, I mean can you imagine walking around there? with six pounds of mass inside you and that was also part of the reason why you didn't have the breathing control you had before. I couldn't, I couldn't understand what the reason was. I tried it at one point. If I could have held a sentence forever and the next moment I tried it and it wasn't there, I just couldn't hold it and then I had surgery and it took about nine months. to recover from that was April May of last year 85 and I think since they took this away, my voice seems to have gotten bigger, it was a five point, yeah, it was, yeah, yeah, what. from milos aida, you know, this is a very interesting thing, people just clean this under the table, but you have to remember that as women get older, they get into these kinds of problems and very often I think that even in the show I heard someone say on your show a couple of weeks ago someone mentioned the fact that women go through menopause and very often have problems with their voice, I don't know what you're showing. or whoever it was, it was probably me, yeah, because I have certain theories, I think and I think you're right and I think these kinds of things should really be taken into consideration because you know people can be very, very cruel without even knowing it.
What is the woman going through? If they knew a little bit about what she has to endure then they would be a little less cruel now, you know, sometimes when you listen to these sports shows, the tennis players and all this, they get all kinds of excuses and Nobody says anything about it, but we can't have an excuse. You're supposed to be one hundred percent all the time and as you know, and as everyone knows, the female body is very, very complex, I mean, it's incredible and there are so many things that make the voice what it is. is.
Sometimes you wonder why I'm singing like that. You don't know why I'm doing this suddenly you're doing something different but you've never done it before or something you did a thousand years ago and suddenly that's my case actually my voice has now gone back to that dark, round, warm sound it had, Let's say, 10 or 15 years ago, and now I don't know if it's just because of the operation or if it's because of me... I'm teaching myself again, you know, or what the reason is, but be there, because there may be a change. You had teachers in the meantime, yes, and you abandoned them, oh, definitely, you can ask who they were.
No, I won't tell you, aha, that's it. not very nice well what are the differences now what are you doing uh what are you doing and what are you doing I go I go I'm back to my cartoon singing way and phillips right to the front of the face and no and no doing the voice very very shiny and metallic simple like I make it very round and black black and black in color and black in race you declared on the phone that you are shy for a few months of 50 yes and that is not that you appear to have one day more than 32 or 28.
I love you I will give you a kiss and uh please and uh are you prepared to say what you think what about me Elisabetta and Aida I said when I'm 50. But since I won't be here when I'm 50, I'm telling you now, I heard to April Milo in the last act, well, actually, from the car dafe to the um that she comes to because I want to hear her, as well as one from here, the lady who was intervening to sing Aboli and it was that the Italian castle of Giovanna was exactly exactly and um, I don't know if I was at a disadvantage where I was standing because I was standing.
Back in the standing section on the orchestra level because I didn't actually go to hear the performance and sometimes you don't really hear the performance as it comes out into the rest of the house from under that ledge you see, but from where I was standing I would say that um it did not go over the orchestra as I hear many times uh with afraini or with a creek or with a zainab urinate that I had many years ago or with a monterey caballer that um and I think you have to go over the orchestra and about the choir uh for that car dafe so that you for that voice to be heard you have to be strong enough it has to be strong enough and hers was not now let's move on to um to the aida um, I was disappointed her first performance but I was less disappointed with the second one and I suppose that is also natural, especially in view of the fact that the first one was like a dress rehearsal for her, without taking into account, of course, that she had done the rehearsals uh the last summer she knew the staging and she had also had the opportunity to work with us this summer with maestro maestro santi so it wasn't exactly like she was being thrown to the wolves uh but in the first performance I feel like I understand her point of view because when you're thrown into a performance, even if you rehearse it in the dressing room and you rehearse it in a rehearsal room, it's not the same as when you go on stage and when you have people around you that you don't even know how it's going to work. match your voice, so you feel your way, and I think that's really what she was doing. that first night she was feeling her way through the aida the second night I think she felt more comfortable and more sure of herself I could see it when when she came on stage I actually knew it then oh oh she's out for blood tonight, so bombard, give it to her, so I gave it to her and she gave it back to me too with her E flat, it wasn't very, it wasn't very big and she sang at the top of her lungs like Mr.
Hanoi Hanahan said, but it was there and Like I said before, mind you, if I had one, I would have given it a run for its money, but she got me in that one if I had a stage rehearsal, yes, of course, with orchestra, no, no, no, no? who understands that? Days, yes, we don't either, we only have one, one stage.rehearsal and that was there in a seven day rehearsal we only had seven days of rehearsal I had to rehearse the pond with you who let me cast no no why should she she is a cover yes what about the voice oh wait but you had performed the role together of course in the parks yes yes how many times uh I only did three or three I think so uh what about milo's voice what do you think of it it's a lovely instrument it's a lovely instrument there's no doubt about it and uh I heard it she sang at that concert at Carnegie Hall in Lombardy, Jonathan and no, you weren't there that day, were you?
But I thought because I called you that night to give you a report on it and I thought it was very beautiful and So I told him that I think his voice blossoms when he passes g, you know, the taiji, um, from then on, I mean, it seems float in the air, but before that I did not find, I did not find the great beauty um that it had in the high note in the upper part of the horse I did not have that in the middle voice do you think that the part of Aida also that of Isabel II like The Italians say a centralized attitude to be ideal for Milo.
I don't, I don't believe that. I think that.I stop immediately, I mean. I just have to stop because I know I don't want anyone shaking their head or making faces, but I'm trying to sing and it makes me very, very, very aware of pitch. Now I know that very often I will. I sing out of tune because I don't think I have a low pitch. I have a habit of singing above pitch because I have so much energy and energy that I will often push it, raise the pitch a little bit above. Most singers sing. a little low pitch like martin does just like uh dimitrova since she also thinks about pitch and corelli sang above pitch also news and also above pitch so I'm in good company you see whatever, but um many, many people think that while she's struggling to take the note, that's not at all, I have so much energy behind a note that it just moves a little bit over the top and then it's what I really need, in other words , uh, by Jonathan Morris.
Your ears help you sing in tune. Oh, he helps me tremendously. No doubt about it. a period where you're a little bit below the field or a little bit above the field or something like that everyone, I'm not, I'm not, I'm no longer different from the next person, yeah, I've realized that too. um uh a singer with a very very big voice especially when they go to the high notes you no longer hear the accompanist or the orchestra well because there is so much violence everything in your head sounds that is a very good point because I noticed it very often in in opera rehearsals and when we're on stage and I can't hear and I often say well, don't we have speakers here on the side of the stage so I can hear myself and this, but we can all hear each other.
I can hear well but I can't and how can you judge yourself if you can't hear this coming into your ears if you can't hear you can't even hear the orchestra you can't hear yourself So how do you judge how you sing? How do you prepare the music? How do I prepare the music? Yes, could you give us examples very carefully? Well specifically, well let me start where I went, by the way, this is wkcrm. in new york 89.9 on the dial I'm stefan zucker and I'm chatting with Grace Bumbry and Jonathan Morris. I'm sure you didn't think it would be such a long night.
I know not, anyway. but it's very interesting, but first I start, I get a piece of music, let's say a song, I get a piece of music, I take the piano and I'll play it, if I can play it, I mean, it could be a very difficult thing. I can't play it uh like strauss so I said forget it jonathan recorded it for me but if it's um schubert brahms schumann foreign of course I take the piano and I learned that first of all musically then I put the lyrics in there but usually When I started with the piano, I also learned the words at the same time, once I stopped learning the words and learned the music enough, there comes a time when Jonathan enters the scene and he enters.
I rehearse and at this point I already know it, maybe not completely by heart, but at least enough without putting my head in the book all the time, and then I start working on the interpretation because I have it in my voice in my throat sometimes there may be some little changes that I might want to make vocally but generally speaking it's already set when he comes on the scene but once he gets there we start working, really start working. about interpretation and balance because without balance you cannot interpret. Could you give us an example of the changes you make vocally and what you mean by location in this context?
Say, for example, we're working on some foreign songs because we're going on a concert tour in December and, what's wrong? There's a particular notice. Let's even make our present of praise. That's even more, a little bit more difficult, because you can do it in so many ways. You can do a revving eulogy in a very airy and ethereal way or you can do it like a cello. I prefer to do it like a cello because I'm really influenced by um carapovich. We went to a concert in Washington DC and the privilege of the list was playing a song.
Rev and I fell in love with the way he played it. I try to emulate that I can't do it, of course, it goes without saying because, first of all, he has a completely different temple than what I can do. because an instrument and you can, it goes on forever without taking a breath and um, but the basic feeling is that of a cello instead of a violin, you see what I mean, say it right, what I learned a lot about working on these songs because you know that we have different interpretations and by interpretations I don't mean nuances because at one point I was thinking that if you had a lot of nuances you had an interpretation that is not an interpretation, you know, the nuance comes because of an interpretation and it is not an end in itself same and many times we analyze psychologically how we would be in a particular state of mind to think about after the dream what happened what is the sequence what attitude what physical state would I be in, I mean Even as a posture, we have even discussed this, for example, in Morgan , how we think about that experience in your life, that this is a continuation of what has happened in the middle of that experience or whatever, and that's how we start to build. our interpretations, which are very interesting, very difficult and very revealing to examine, more examples come to mind, how is Morgan Strauss's morgan um performed?
You can take, for example, just um uh, if you want to take it as a lover or death, but excuse me. For me, it's not just the words because he already has a two or three bar prelude that sets the mood, so he must already have the mood of the song in his mind when he plays, the first thing he thinks about on the d is not Any key would do it, I forget now, so whatever the first note is, he must already have that in mind because he has to prepare me for my mood and we can't really reveal our no, we don't. give as much will as possible in the new york area no, not this year no, unfortunately last week ponaldo jayotti was scheduled to come here and perform and speak.
His wife called me the day before to tell me he had a vocal problem in the Midwest. Everyone was disappointed because you talked about a flying virus that took them three three days to overcome, so it flew very quickly, but whatever, I mean I can understand it because I myself have had a flying virus several times, but I usually understand it when I'm, say, in some seaport or something, but certainly not in New York City. If we move on to the Zolomay, good idea, I'm sure listeners will be worried when the next piece of music comes on.
Let's go at three, are there things we should know well? I think everyone knows the opera Salomé. This is the final scene. um, it's shortly after what no, the head that she already has in her hands at this point. I said before for anyone who's tuned in since this was the first time you sang or Salome was the first soprano role that you understand that I did it intentionally, that's what I was going for intentionally, yeah, scream at the end because they got crushed. until death, I think it hurt me to be under all those shields.
Yes, Zolomay Grace Bumbry, I am privileged to have you as her guest and also her distinguished pianist Jonathan Morris. uh, listener comments. Charles Haye of Hempstead, New York. I heard a rumor that the Met had fired you Stefan and that they would sue you if you removed an opera fan it's true the only defense against defamation is the truth um well maybe I should put a call on my answering machine right before the show about the same topic and then In the end I will move on to other matters, Sonia, there is an unpleasant rumor that your magazine is not going to be published.
A character came in here and said the doctor had taken you out so you wouldn't publish Milo's article from April. Could you clarify it? that because people are starting to panic 724 the magazine is in the press it will be in the mail in just a few days uh charles haye of hempstead asked more uh oh one wonders about a rumor in the context of this kind of rumor that has no basis at all no one has offered to buy me a share one wonders about all kinds of rumors rumors about jimmy levine and so on um all ears well uh there are many rumors standing that have never been specified and maybe they are true and maybe not and people just start saying all kinds of things.
Would you mind expanding on that? I'm listening. I don't know anything what you're talking about. I'm just completely baffling to give you an idea. Charles Haye continued melo. Sounds good, aren't you going to help me at all? Oh, I really don't know anything. I tell you. I am the least informed person on the entire table. I know nothing. There are so many rumors. Grace Bumbry. That one doesn't know where to start uh, for example, on the subject of Levine, does he smoke cigarettes? Oh come on, I've never heard a question like that before. Don't know? I know you use rumors.
I know he uses a red towel. over my shoulder, but that's all I know. He usually appears with the red towel. Usually, well, then that's at least a fact and not a rumor. Charles Haye of Hempstead, New York. Milo sounds small at the Met. It always seems to me when I hear singers who reinforce their voices that they sound small in a room but the voice are bigger in a room but the voices do not carry in a large hall uh aprile fell on her face before the
graceof aida she sang her pants off amnes still zacharias in the news made fun of her calling milos the best aida in the history of the met, a friend called me and asked me what the following sopranos nordica destin mucio poncel de baldi milner price brook have in common they all sang worse assistants what beelows oh that's Wicked and nasty, you're talking about Charles Haye, his comment, yes, very nice, presumably not, but she recorded, of course, not good for you.
October 16th scenario aida
bumbryblew away little miss milo charlie handleman uh bumbry is a fascinating guest and this is a magnificent show she is frank in a very exciting way i designed the jokonda now charlie handelman is a tape pirate but he had Grace Bumbry's impression is that your tapes come from one of Charlie Handleman's rivals, in fact, his archrival. You know, the tapes that I come from a lot of people. In fact, a lot of them I make myself and I have people sitting in the orchestra who make them in rehearsals who makes them for me so I don't know who it is who I'm playing I don't write who designed what we often played here the tapes by charlie handelman charlie handelman yeah i don't think he got anything from charlie handelman, not that i know of, there might well have been, although with parker, gimme, he just knows, anyway, mr handleman goes on, we read about insane productions in Europe, Grace bumpery rejected any or tries to overthrow directors who make parodies of opera, let me think now.
Well, there was that horrible aida there in Frankfurt, of course, that I refused to do and can you think of anything, Jonathan, why you refused to do it right because it's so disgusting? Can you imagine walking around with the rag to clean the dust? I can't at the palace and then there was a production of Norma in who is the director of that for Aida I don't remember I prefer to think it's noise knowing Phil but I could be wrong, I don't know I remember it for sure and Norma in Bonn where Norma enters in a big truck, a big jeep, I know the truck actually and she has a big fatigue suit on, I mean, that's not it, no, I don't.
I don't get involved in things like that I really don't know whose production it was I don't remember but that wasn't that bad that wasn't that bad but the one that I disliked the most I think was the Macbeth that was made in in Frankfurt uh it was Frankfurt Frankfurt where She lies in bed, I think she has three young men in bed with her and then there's this and it's one thing after another. She had this yellow leather skirt and these long boots and oh, it was just awful. I hated every moment. I did one performance and that was it.
I said I can't do more. I'm sorry about that. Why do you hate? It's like that because it's not, it's not what Verdi or Shakespeare wanted and certainly not what I wanted, who was the director again, I don't remember, I liked your, oh no, that was noise, that was my first, my first The experience with North I knew him in Phil, I think his name was How do you spell n-e-u-n-e-u-n-f-e-l-d? If I'm not mistaken, Yolanda Catapult. I have seen Grace Bumbry in everything she has done at the Met and at the New York Opera. The role that impressed me the most. it was amnesty his performance on september 26 was really brilliant and reminded me of bloona castagna in that role years ago ronald renal by the way it's castano somehow in influence i didn't even listen to it there are influences models it's not yourself you yourself have no influences Unless there are a lot of dilemmas, that's all, no, no, can you point to layman influences?
If there are, no, I can't point to any, you know, because she brought out in me what you see today. . Ronald Kidney of Queens. I enjoy the show, it's fascinating. hearing an artist of Bumbry's stature evaluate a younger artist like milo. I agree that critics put pressure on me. She is not yet a finished artist, she will be a major variety singer, but she is still learning. Brava Bunbury, you know, I think everyone. Make a huge mistake, why do they have toinsist that she is going to be a very good singer? Let her just become a singer.
Why should you put a label on it? Give her the opportunity to grow into what she is going to be, but don't force her. any given label let her learn what she wants it's too early to know where she's going to be how i knew i was going to be a soprano how i never would have known 20 years ago i never thought about it so all i wanted to do was sing the best i could let her sing as best she can and she will find her own niche. Barbara Travis. What a warm and lovely woman Grace Bumbry is.
Did she study with Lehman before or after this Zolomay? listen to layman's influence i will study with layman before before Did Lehman play a role in the formation? Yes, no, not at all, in fact, she was right against me singing Salome and, in fact, I converted her because she didn't want to. That I sang the soprano repertoire, how did she hear this? that she heard this warm, dark voice of mine and that's what impressed her the most. I actually remember that when I sang the Odon Fatale I had to learn that in class for one of her master classes in Santa Barbara and she always wanted me to sing it in the transposed key, which was transposed one third lower than the original key and she liked it because she liked to listen to that middle section omiya regina sung very low and cello as you see and it was tokatya who said no, you should learn it also in the original key because you will need it one day, but, layman, she just didn't hear my voice in a lower key high, although I remember it quite well.
There were some singing sopranos that were supposed to be quote-unquote sopranos that were in the class that sang certain pieces and I sang them too and I sang them better than them and then I started to wonder, well, who am I as a medicine kid or am I? soprano or is it medication or what I always said then that what you have to do is find what suits your voice don't put any labels on yourself just do what you have to do and what you can do well peter randsman of the New York City I'm a big Bumbry fan why not I'm not there why not isolde bloon hilda the dyer's wife we would love to hear her in those german roles you know this is very interesting this man is a man, isn't he?
Yes, yes, he said that, in fact, Thomas Shippers before he died, long before he died, he wanted me to do Isolde with Dominic as Tristan. I remember the man's name as Tristan and believe. actually that was too soon since the german said feel fruit and because it wasn't the right time for me or for sunday so i haven't done it um, it's now whether sunday has done it yet or not, i don't know, so i I don't know, sorry, Tristan, I don't think so, no, I don't believe it, what are the other two things that Daiya's wife said now that's very interesting because I remember years ago when they did the new production of um the fraunhoften Mr.
Bing asked me if I would do the dry cleaner's wife and I said oh no mister bing I don't want to sing that thing because I'm so tired of singing roses in those tattered clothes I'm sick of it and then he says oh you'll be great at that I said I don't care how great I'll be I'm tired of those rags, so I didn't see, I didn't even learn about it until now, but they asked me and like In fact, this summer I was in orange, we were doing Tan Hoyza with Leonie Rizzo Neck and Leone, as you know, she is very competitive and I love her I mean, I would really love her and um uh, so we were vocalizing in our dressing room in mine and she got dressed and vocalized in her dressing room and then at one point I had made this high note and I kept the high note and she came Running to my room Chris Chris, that's like a high C, I said yes.
I know I have a lot of them, she says I hate you, I said well, I hate you too, she said well, you know, that's how we are, us divas, although star singers are always like that, we always We hate but we love each other. another one also said but you know gracie Grayson they call me Grayson you know in Vienna Gracel what you should do is sing The Direst Wife and you should sing too Cornry I said but Leonie I can't sing I can't sing um kundri she said but you but honey you have the top you have the lower part you have the pianissimi you like my voice a lot you know and I said well leonie yes but you say you sing the susan kundry there is no honey but you see I I'm giving up now, I'll pass it on to you now so that eventually I can be the wife of the day and Kundri, you never know, I love her, I really am a special woman, Robert Marty, for those who try to call again, we cannot take calls until the music plays there is no one here to do that robert marine franklin lakes ah bumbry is an invigorating guest thank god there are some big voices left jonathan brown what about martina brook broke down during the october 11 part via mia santi kept up the music not waiting, Arroyo has been having problems well I don't know Whether she has been having them or not is not for me to know, but if someone tears up a note, one certainly has a problem that is obvious now, whether it was momentary or not. is it something that has created uh some problem that has been established or this last time I don't know I can just go back what I've heard and that's just this there have been these last performances of aida and that santi He continued on, I mean, he was certainly right, one certainly can't stop there and take a major pause, you can't do that, you have to continue otherwise it seems too obvious what happened, what is your assessment of aida de creek and how?
Does it compare to Milos? Well, he still has a very good voice, I mean, an important voice, for sure. um I don't believe that again, I don't think he's the person to say it because like I said. before I don't really listen to the other singers I'm too busy because I have to do what I have to do when I have to sing I'm on stage singing when I'm off stage I'm concentrating on my next scene so I don't really listen to those ladies because the speaker and I don't have time was the high C on which Brook broke yeah and I heard that only because I was on my way back to the dressing room so I didn't do anything other than that, I wouldn't have heard it, I heard it in the speakers and then on my way, coming from the stage to my dressing room over the speaker, jim burgess, I love Grace Bumbry, a fascinating woman with a fascinating life and fascinating career thank you uh what about magda olivero well, magda oliveira was someone very , very special, I mean, she's still alive, sure, but she doesn't sing anymore, I don't think so, apparently not, I don't think so, but that's what I said.
She was a very special singer in that sense. I think she was actually more of an actress than a singer. I think she was an actress who also sang. If I put it that way, everything she did was a theatrical masterpiece. I remember seeing her in New Jersey, she sang Fedora and I never liked that part, I mean, I just never liked her. I had been asked several times to sing Faith Order and I was like, oh no, that's it. really the tennis part and then until I saw magda oliveira do it and I saw what it could become, I mean, but it really was a wonderful piece of verismo music and a piece of verismo theater that she showed us and the same thing was It's true in the um in the yenuffa that we did together at La Scala.
I was really very lucky to be able to see it because you learned a lot and you know that many people don't like to learn, they already want to be. you know, completely formed by zeus and that's it, but no, you don't come that way, you have to absorb the things that people do sometimes, you can even learn what they don't do well. I'll see and I'll learn not to do it but with Magda that wasn't the case you you saw this person go on stage you saw her I don't know on stage you saw her backstage you saw how she prepared for the role you saw how she got in the mood there was no there was no what do you call it um stupid arginine little stupidity let's do stupid things backstage it was serious you got into the atmosphere the moment you walked into that theater how could you yeah how did he do that?
You saw it, she was not her, if there was no time to look for small things, you go in there with her with a unit of thought and I think that I. I'm very similar to her in the sense that I have what I call a one-track mind, so when you ask me about my colleagues, what they do or when I'm not on stage, I have an idea and I think I learned this. At first I remember a girlfriend of mine was in California from California, but she was in Salzburg and she was in Salzburg a year before me, she was just there, really, just observing, she wasn't a singer, but she told me one.
What you know, Grace, what you have to learn is not to get involved in any of that backstage nonsense, uh, because it takes away your concentration and she was absolutely right at the time that you allowed yourself to get too strict with everyone, from everywhere, simply torn away. here and there and yawn you can't come and bring it bring a wonderful performance on stage your mind is somewhere else you're not really with what you have to do can you imagine a doctor going to a surgeon going? to an operation he was joking about before I attacked him before he went into the operation, I don't think he could do that, do you remember the details you learned from Magta?
I didn't learn anything from magda s4 that I could use for my performance. high performance, but what I could use for my profession is what I learned, yes, how you are professional, how you act on stage, how you behave on stage and off stage and I think that, but you know, it is something that you have innate . either you don't and even the interest itself is innate or it's not what you mean by interest, the interest in wanting to do, yes, be the best, you can be wkcr fm in new york, should we play more? yeah, how about the sleepwalking scene my guests are Grace Bumbry and Jonathan Morris?
I'm Stefan Zucker, have a diva, thank you, Grace Bumbry, my guest here on WKCR, fan of the opera Macbeth, we'll hear more in no time, listener. comments charles haye uh, called earlier regarding the comparison between milo, nordica, and destin poncell. He was joking by comparing milo to north dakota and was in no way being disrespectful to older singers, thank you, and he certainly, lillian anton. from new york city stefan you're doing a wonderful
interviewi'm eating it all ah im going to see
gracebumbry on monday inaida ask her to compare kallus and tibaldi in the same vein uh uh frank copic also from new york city I called to ask if Kallus was an influence on you, Chris Pomprey, well, I never saw Carlos on stage, but I have a lot of her records and I am, and I must say that I really enjoy what she did, from the point of view of The expression and the observance of dynamic marks and the observance of rhythms and what you call um tempe um and the emphasis on the words, I mean, of course, those things are very important to me, but as far as the right influence, I don't think so because we certainly sing differently and two different types and two different approaches to singing, but I think what we do have in common is the great respect for the music and forgiveness for what the composers wrote. uh and you see this when you see that we both tried to serve the composer and what he put on the paper, what about carlos versus tibaldi?
That's very difficult because you know it's like comparing ice cream to candy, they're both very Sweet, right? I think maybe Carlos was more diversified than Tabaldi because she did almost the whole range, the whole spectrum of the female range and repertoire, whereas Tabaldi I think was more limited in what she did, she did more lyrical things and I think she basically concentrated on Carlos's lyrical line. She had a color, but my goodness, she's a dramatic lyrical spinto coloratura, uh, dramatically, she had so many different voices, uh, and I think it's unfair to even try to compare the two , you take them for what they are.
Madame Carlos was what she was she. and madame tabaldi said it was what it was and they were both equally great at what they did, they just enjoyed it, perhaps she should say regarding listener comments that may be published in Opera Fanatic magazine. I hope to transcribe tonight's
interviewand uh. listener comments are subject to editing for clarity and brevity uh howard hearts grace bumbry is fabulous grace goes to everything listen to everything i attend many functions myself how it was added and i always find grace in attendance uh so you're an attendee to the opera, no, I don't really, I go to orchestra concerts more than the opera, but from time to time I go to a performance by another singer, like last week I went to hear Eva Maton in Tosca and on Saturday the afternoon I think so.
It was I think it's probably the only opera I've heard this year outside of my own performances. I can't think of anything else, but there is something that is really interesting and belongs to my repertoire. Oh, never mind, Lombard certainly isn't. My repertoire is that, but I went because I like it, I like to go to concerts when I have the opportunity, what did you do with Marton Storska? I found it quite cold, I didn't find the voice to be dramatic enough for me and dramatic in the Italian sense, it didn't give me enough warmth, um, I don't think even the movements of his body were dramatic enough for me, I thought that whatNext they all had to go to excellent province for the opening of excellent provence you see and they had no more riots after that, what if the Cleveland orchestra had had a long rehearsal period? you do your concert so you can sing, although you were able, despite the back pain, to sing well, I empathize, I have a back problem and I remember that I was once rehearsing for a puritani concert with my back against the wall, somehow it is more comfortable that way and how the performance was inc yes yes and in some way because I was in pain but I was able to overcome the performance if I had had to move it would have been another story stefan, if the same thing had happened to me here Metropolitan I think it was the second performance .
I could barely stand it and thought no. I don't want to cancel my voice. Perfectly fine. I don't want to cancel this presentation, but what do I do to make you? do what you can do, I asked them to take me and give me some flat shoes because that is a very rare stage here for aida production, so they gave me some flat shoes like little ballerina sandals and they lowered the hem of my Suits everyone and I did this the same way, I sprayed the shoes because they certainly weren't gold originally and uh we did the best we could, we did what we could smell, it was a great performance and no one really knew that I was in great pain, doctor. these things are very, very, from case to case, sometimes with the back, the problem is that you feel a lot of pain, it is difficult to move, often it is not that bad, so nabucco from Paris, yes, I think that Is it the correct side, what size did it say? there uh b oy v all the things I think is that I think the side by side is there yes, of course listener of reflections here on wkcr fm in new york 89.9 on the dial peter randsman stefan published the full interview in the magazine opera fanatic grace Bumbry is incredibly informative and is teaching every young singer a lesson.
Publish everything no matter how many pages are necessary. Grace Bumbry, I would love to do exactly that, uh, without touching a syllable, oh, if you want, I think that would be it. It would be a privilege, so I have your permission to transcribe something fantastic, uh, Paul, and that goes for listener comments. If you don't want them published, say so and they can be edited for clarity and brevity, but still, uh. You're a part of this night, so I'd love to wear them, uh, and calm down, no, no, weeks from now, after I'm ready to go.
Paul King, uh, what a battle. Kathleen Battle. Reflections that I don't have. You have listened to it? um, have I heard it? I heard her years ago when she made her debut I think since the pastor is in the Hoysa city I don't want to wait wait wait I think I did also hear her at one of the galas where she says Sophie I believe with um with uh I believe in Elizabeth Sodastrom and who was she? the other person um frederika franzta I think and I don't think I've heard anything else I really have no opinion two people who called mr king and bob gold uh mr king of brooklyn and bob gold of park avenue asked about jesse norman mr king would like to know your rating of norman as a singer mr gold uh says that norman is pretentious he hides behind a british accent you know he miss norman i mean i don't know if you know if she if he knows she or not he didn't say and furthermore any accent What she chooses to wear is her business.
I think we all decide how we want to speak and no one, no one, can dictate to you how you should speak and how. you shouldn't speak, the main thing is that you speak clearly, that's the important thing now, whether it has a British accent or not, it's really a material. I would think that the most important thing is how he sings and then you know there is something else. I would like to say that no, I don't think it's very nice of this person because I think his mentality is quite twisted. I don't know the gentleman, but I think it's unfair for him to do it.
To make that kind of comment, I think Jessie Norman has the right to use whatever accent she chooses to use and, you know, no one seems to say anything about the fact that if she's a white singer that she uses a British um um. accent, but just because she has to be a black person, suddenly you have something to say. I really take great exception to this and wish you hadn't called me. I made that call. actually, well, let me play devil's advocate, real accents affected by calluses, so it seems that if you compare several interviews, in some she speaks as an official wife, in others she imitates the queen of England, uh, marion anderson, However, in public she refers to herself as us and several black artists. are known for that price, sometimes it stands out surely because rhett has come to comment on the same topic, some people laugh, but if they choose to talk that way, that's really their business, so, well, we have the same discussion, I find it rather.
You had actually said before that if a white girl has a southern accent, that's considered charming, but exactly, but if suddenly it's a black person, that's a tie that needs to be broken and he was talking about black voices that are being pointed out. like black saying yes, they have a common denominator, but what about Slavic voices? What about Anglo-Saxon voices? Well, yes, I make that point and I emphasize it again. There is a definite black voice and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, I think it's something to be very proud of, especially considering the fact that when you hear a black voice singing, you immediately know it's a special sound.
Now no one seems to be offended. a a a a a Slavic sound not an Italian sound or an Anglo-Saxon sound um a German sound we certainly have an Afro sound we were African we are of African descent so we also have a special sound because we were born in the United States no I mean we have an American sound, we have our sound from our derivation, which happens to be Africa. Now Bob Gold, far from being mocking, commented that this is a wonderful show. Stefan is one of the best and Bumbry is fantastic. I don't think I was being hostile by asking the question, that's fine, but I think sometimes people have to be taught that these things need to be told to them so they can see them in the proper perspective and I'm not angry either, I'm not being hostile. .
Bill Mcmullen from New York City, have you ever caught Eleanor Stieber's coarse or butterfly? Yes, no, I never did, unfortunately, well, he continued. Bumbry's aerial bully is always awesome and I like it. Zolomay, thank you, uh, John Mongini from Staten Island, fascinating show. Bumbry went. Excellent in forza was she. Did she ever tempt you? He asks Minnie in French and do you have plans for more jokon? I have never been tempted by mini infantula, they have asked me several times but I don't want to sing minnie she doesn't even have an aria it's the tenor's night since it's fedora I won't sing it God willing and yes, I have um I have plans for more gikondas in fact I have some um next summer uh if caracalla gets his show together they act together he should sing something in karakala next year and the following year in barcelona how is that?
Did you say before playing the karaka? No, I never did. I have acted in verona and in machu rata, but. I have never heard in Karakala that the acoustics are very bad and they have to use amplification, so I have been told yes, it is so discouraging, no, it doesn't matter if I can help, I don't have to sing so loud, yes, do you think? That being said, the prejudice against amplification is unfounded, no, no, it's not unfounded, I think it depends on how it is amplified, yes, because sometimes you have a very good sound engineer who knows what he is doing and makes it sound almost normal, but if you get a sound engineer who isn't that talented, it can sound pretty creepy.
I'm going to publish an article on how to use microphones at the Met if what I've discovered is that the Met, well, there's a bit of that. I'll reveal it in the article, but if it appears to be benign, I'll address it later. I finished it. This is the most interesting because I don't know anything about it. I'd rather not give away my scoop, but I'll tell you later, right, um, george thompson from brooklyn, Grace Bumbry's spoken word is a musical delight with extremely interesting rhythms and inflections, Stefan, we'll miss you next week and send you letters thanks to you and our other favorite phil. schapp to the columbia administration as regular listeners who ended up replacing you at the canceled performances of roberto devereux um yeah, an english girl janet something janet janet janet I can't remember her last name now she also did a good job like Actually, as I remember, the lady asks : Did you ever sing to Sarah?
No, you never do. Do you have an opinion? Here's how the role compares to Norma and Abigail. I have no idea what the schedule here is I met her uh several people have asked about future plans what do I have next season giulietta and tales of hoffman and after that uh no plans juliet is a lovely and sweet role but it hardly gives you reign to unleash your holocaust to unleash your temper and I would think they would have thought of something a little more interesting than Juliet to me, but that's how the cookie crumbles, I guess, and after that there are no plans, no there are plans at the Met, there is no reason, but you see, there is no need to do it.
We must not forget that the world does not begin or end with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, yes, and that I sing in other places. I'm pretty busy. I don't care if I sing or not at the Metropolitan. I would be delighted, of course, if I was on the list and on the calendar, sure, but my job is to sing and whether it's at the Metropolitan or anywhere else in the world, the important thing is that I do what I do best and that is sing. It doesn't matter where else where you are I'm singing all over Europe I'm in Hamburg I'm in Muscala I'm in Verona I'm in Caracalla I'm in London I'm in Barcelona I'm in Paris and I do recitals too Jonathan Morris self-proclaimed pianist of Grace Bumbry where do you appear together let me see we appeared in nancy lille paris madrid barcelona oh dear uh alicante valencia vienna did you forget vienna rome rome that's right hello we I have a big tournament, yes, who is your agent in German in Europe?
I have a German Al-Hilbert, uh, Hilbert's office in Munich and in Paris, and here is an artist from Columbia, Bruce's division and in Italy I have Giovanni Lupertine, what's up? current compliance regime versus saying bing oh there's a big difference there's a huge difference, I mean, I'm, you have to forgive me, whoever a router is for the current administration, but when you grew up in the Bing era and you were I was treated so crudely how they treated me. I have to think charmingly and kindly about that period, I mean, I was actually spoiled by Mr.
Bing because almost every year he had a new production and I had many performances under his regime. and uh I got along quite well with mr. no no no uh, I'm, I'm worried that I've set foot in your standard of living, yes, if the board is properly organized for the next selection, stephan, we want to use the record player of course, well, wait, okay, I'll try stand in line blindly. We've reached the end and this needs to be cleaned up. We don't have a tape to put on wildlife. Well, or you want to put me. Jump. here I don't see a brush being worked uh cut why is it is in questa regia de grace you were saying I was saying now tell me what voice it is, is it a mezzo or is it a soprano, I don't know I know, I think one just said I just have I have to sing what suits my voice Grace Bumbry Jonathan Morris How would you compare the two performances?
I prefer the latter because I find it more exciting. I think the center section seems to move. I continue with more urgency than the first time that the first time around us jonathan morrison I feel more or less the same I think it was more Italian the way Italians like it and the way they really appreciate it and the way they shape it but don't forget that maestro Santi was the director of that one, I think it wasn't him, but he didn't direct that one, no, no, it wasn't that one, that Spanish Gomez, something Gomez did direct because it wasn't a maison, they were sitting in the front row watching, but in this in this in this last one was like an Italian who played the piano and was in Italy with that Italian tradition, you know, it was a gala, it was a garlic the whole potini gala with all the puccini diva, so to speak, that It was Magda Oliveiro, I think she was there, she's saying, um, what you're saying, censor mom, no, that was, uh, Layla won, I don't remember who liked the gangster saying, um, Katya Ricciarelli called. robbery oh wow I can't remember all the ladies that were saying that that night who is the pianist I have forgotten, forgive me, oh it wasn't Jonathan, no he plays better than that, which of those ladies can reach our chair ? mortal opinions about me opinions about those genji ladies among them well i think genji is worth talking about but i don't think at this point i don't think katy is worth talking about because katja let us down i think she had a huge voice , enormously beautiful, but I think she became lazy or complacent or something and it didn't work anymore and she seemed to have lost all that beauty of voice that she had.
She actually she doesn't use her full voice anymore, she just sings with um just a part and that's not really satisfying, you want to hear a full voice, you wantlisten to something with warmth, not just not just fluff, fluff and uh and clouds we want to hear a little bit more of what layla lyla was a very important singer that was uh in my opinion uh she didn't really get her due because I think she He got too close behind Maria Carlos. I mean, it's that simple. He had the same kind of intensity. He had the same kind of interest in his profession as Maria.
He also knew how to sing for an audience. He knew what the audience wanted and he knew how to play pianissimi. , was a true artist. I enjoyed I enjoyed working with Lyla and I also enjoyed watching and listening to her. What did you sing with her? We did several help in Ascala. She also did the eighth Octavia for my uh popeya in Las Carla. In fact, well, I think he did, if I'm not mistaken, I think he did it with Elizabeth de Don Carlos with me, uh, yes, and uh, joconda and yes, of course, you're saying that yokonda, I sang the laura to your jokonda in san francisco many years ago, bob.
Gold called back, he had asked earlier about Norman's speech towards him affected and said he didn't want to offend me at all. I would love to hear Ms. Bumbry's thoughts on Jessie Norman, the artist. Well, to be honest, I only heard Jesse Norman in concert a few years ago. and once at the gala here at the uh I'm sorry at the meeting that was at the centennial I think it was and um I don't think I heard it outside of those oh no I'm sorry uh I heard it at um the Trojans is a difficult voice to criticize criticize to criticize because uh I really don't know very well I can't understand it I can't understand it I don't know if it's soprano or medso uh or if she's a recitalist or if she should sing operator, I don't know, I don't know that voice that well, Why should those things stump you of all people, like I said?
I don't know the voice that well if I had the chance to listen to it more often. Maybe I could sit down and analyze it a little more, but at this point I tend to think that she is one of those sufficient voices too, but whose repertoire should be chosen very carefully? Do you think she? Do you find it ineffective in certain points? I don't know what parts they are. What parts does she think? I asked her that because of her comment that her repertoire should be chosen carefully. Is she suggesting that sometimes the options are not? no, no, not at all, what I was referring to was the fact that when you are a singer of fish and foxes, yes, in any case you have to choose your repertoire quite carefully and I would think about it for a woman of Jesse's size already It's a problem, you have to choose that repertoire very carefully and because there are certain limitations in the movement, you can't just do everything and then, but then, beyond that, I think because the voice is mezzo and soprano.
So I have to find out what is good for me and what is bad for me and what is bad for me and then choose those things that are good and take advantage of those that you yourself have rejected as inadequate and what comes most quickly. I remember it's vitalia by clemenco di tito years ago they asked me to sing vitalia on a recording with voting for decca and I waited a little late to cancel them, but I felt that it was not the right music for me, not only the tessie tourer but also the style and i just couldn't relate to it so i had to cancel it and i can't think of anything else that comes to mind quickly brendan brennan from new york city stefan congratulations on the show one of the loveliest love it story of the vicar was the most exciting since Magda Martin put out the most exciting Sunday song that I had heard in years, it was not distant or alien and the voice sounded more freely than in years well, you know, I guess it's like we said before , it's all a matter of opinion and you know, one has to keep in mind that maybe Domingo wasn't having as big a problem as last year or a few years ago. been having vocal problems, we all know it's no secret that you have a better voice now than you did last year at this time, so of course when you have a better voice you can react more easily.
Do you know what this person has? Her writing says what she thinks and I don't agree with her about Ava but whatever, that's her opinion. What about Dominco's vocal problems, what are they or were they? in them, but I know I was going through a very serious vocal problem, didn't you hear it correctly? uh, she said, she said the reason was that he, uh, um had gotten dust on his vocal cords because of the earthquake in Mexico. um, you look skeptical, curious, who am I, um, mr. brennan, oh, joe levecki, here, sorry, uh, one comment mixes with the other in my notes, the Toronto excerpts are tremendously exciting, I just wish that Grace Bumbry was singing for Orlando in the Met's new production. spring uh she is an extremely interesting guest I hope she returns to the show I have worn out Aida's recording of her with corelli sebastian biondo a lovely lady a great artist the bolshoi how did you like it and what about the bass alexander uh ognistev yeah me?
I'm pronouncing that correctly your pronunciation is as good as mine because I don't remember, I don't remember how they pronounced it, but uh and I don't even know if it was the same person saying it with me or not, if they say it was, then I just take their word for it. , sebastian beyond knows an encyclopedia, so he knows well, you know, that was certainly at least 10 years ago. I can't really say that I remember the singers that surrounded me, except that there was a baritone who was very good whose name I don't remember but maybe Sebastian would know that he was quite good, very gentleman, very very helpful and uh and I bring this to mind because I don't forget that that is a foreign country a country in which I whose language I do not speak and uh he was really very kind and warm and outgoing um but the experience of having sung there was really very worth it it was very interesting it was exciting um I enjoyed it , I had enormous success and what more could you ask for?
Rosina Wolf Grace Bumbry not only sings with tremendous resonance but also with brilliant intensity and that's where the excitement lies and she asks: are you considering new roles? Well, I've been considering turondorf for a long time. A long time because I was supposed to do it about four years ago in uh, where was that Jonathan? No, he was in Italy and I think he was in Naples and in Rio de Janeiro, I'm bringing this up. He is one of those and something happened. and they were both canceled and I think we did the green destruction instead and he got something else, but whatever, he's been in the back of my mind, so I learned it now and we worked on it this. summer Jonathan and I and I must say it's quite extraordinary, quite extraordinary, I would welcome the opportunity to sing a couple of performances after Ava Marton or after Gainer Demetrova, then you would see what a dramatic lava soprano, Steven Leopold Bunbury, is all about. the best airpoli ever heard thank you, sang with mario del monaco no, i didn't, no, i'm sorry, i'm sorry to say i didn't have that opportunity, what are your recordings, your favorites, no, i have some favorites, i'm sure would I have them?
In fact, you might be surprised to know that my favorite is Art Fail Rusevici. How come I find the voice to be so beautiful, clear and pure? I think that's because I had come off a vacation and the voice was as fresh as a daisy and I had no difficulty doing anything I wanted to do with it. I might like the slightest pianissimo, the loudest major within the realm of, uh, of gluck, of course, and I just find it extremely beautiful. Are there recordings that you? I would suggest that we stay away from no, no, no, but if someone wants to start, would you tell them to start with the old flop even though that's not the kind of material associated with no?
I would say that you should start with Carmen because then you know, the story is very easy for one to understand and the music hits the ear very well, there is a good rhythm and it is exciting, I think that once you start with Carmen, what about some of these roles, Turranto, Abigail, uh, that's this particular Apache Lane? It is said to be a throat breaker, it is quite difficult. I have to tell you that because it has huge stretches and huge jumps, sometimes two octaves, you have a high C and then you go down from a C to a middle C, it's really extremely difficult, uh, but that's once you get past the first act, then you're free at home because the first act is where you have these huge stretches of um of tessitura of um intervals, thank you and um, but fortunately that comes at the end. beginning of the opera so you can calm your nerves for that and then move on to the other one for me it's easier that way there may be some people who like it who find the first act easier and from the second onwards Acting is more difficult, it all depends on your own vocal abilities.
For me, I find it as I initially said. The first act is the hardest and after that, I'm home. north of mom oh what a shame i didn't bring some norman with me tonight, but i couldn't find anything among my things because you know i don't live here, so my whole library isn't here, but norma really is my favorite opera and I think it's a shame they don't do it at the metropolitan um I heard the one about Renato Scotto and uh unfortunately she was, you know, working in very bad circumstances and things didn't go as well as she thought they were going to go and they really didn't.
I think it is the opera for her in the first place, but whatever the case, it is an opera that should be in the metropolitan opera. and I would really like to sing it, so it's Levine anti-belcanto, I don't know, but that's what I've been told, I don't know what it is, how the Met compares to European houses in casting or what casting rehearsal. conditions, for example, if one is in the second cast, does one have orchestra rehearsal at the Met? I don't know, I've never been second cast, so I don't really know, oh, what's up with that in Europe?
I would say not. Yes, I can't imagine that someone who is in the second cast could have orchestra rehearsals anywhere in Europe or the United States. I can't imagine it. I can't imagine why, in the first place, rehearsals are very expensive anyway with the orchestra, so. I can't imagine they would schedule a rehearsal with the second one with the second cast. Unfortunately, what about the public? Oh, the public is more or less the same at the reception because you know that when you have good singers you will get more or less In almost the same, the same reaction, however, the Italian public is much more receptive and much more critical and much more excitable.
I love them. I love it because they make you have to sing. It makes you want to sing. I enjoy singing in Italy because Italians are very difficult to please. Misadventures huh. Misadventures before them. Things that went wrong.anecdotes reminiscences john I can tell why he knows what happens with the digiconda in Naples I can't remember all the details oh yes yes there was a joke in Naples it was about five years ago something like that and uh there was another thing is I think it was Laura and she had tracheitis and she and during the rehearsal period asked to be excused from rehearsal and they didn't and somehow this tracheitis made its way among the cast and long story short, they were supposed to have a turon point in Naples and I think Kabalyev were supposed to be the children and she didn't show up and the audience was very dissatisfied, so when it was time for the jokonda and Madame Bumbly wasn't well, they thought she wasn't there.
There and there was this young singer who the director and his wife were training and they put her on stage and took her home so they didn't even let her sing because they thought they had the uh the management had done a quick one on them and it just fell using big name stars and had no performances as far as the stars were concerned, but it wasn't true and in the case of the failed bombing because you were sick and you showed up and uh it was announced from the field by the host to an audience that was hurling bad words and insults during lunch and the way they got their attention was that they put the theater in darkness because I was there for a minute to get their attention and then the obvious teacher from the director's podium also uttered some bad words to He got their attention and told them that it was their privilege to do what they wanted to do, but if they weren't willing to listen they would have to come back when Madame Bomber was better.
Think what the next week was and that would be the earliest day and that's how those antidotes go you usually catch the fool with grace we travel a lot together yes yes how many people go with you I usually travel alone really I normally travel alone but I have people who also know me so help me do what I have to do oh and in fact jonathan usually sets me up with almost all my operas you live in switzerland you're just juliet scheduled for the meeting when will new york be able to hear you? Otherwise, I don't know.
I'm glad you won't be singing at Carnegie Hall next week after tonight. What will happen next week? Well, what a shame you don't have to do it so we can all go there. Oh well. maybe we could program one that would be easier to program than programming something on the metro, yeah, so maybe we can program something on our own, that would be great, but it would be nice if the New York audience could hear me on my new stuff in my new roles let's say like a polecat dots and a norm that you've never heard me sing and um and thingsSo they have never listened or even listened to my aida.
They have only listened to me because I am nervous, of course, I prefer that I be nervous, really, how do I do it, I do it, I do it, why, well, I find it much, much more interesting in one respect, the music is very, very dramatic and, um, I. I think she demands everyone's attention, but I like the third act of uh of uh aida once you get past your homeland of course, uh, you don't like people, I don't like your patreon, no. I don't know, he doesn't like you or you don't like him. I'm scared to death.
In fact, I think all the sopranos are except Leontyne Price, who just sits up there like she's walking. the clouds, but I don't even worry about that, but um uh, I must tell you that I must admit that I think about it when I sing just because I understand that because of one note, it is psychologically difficult for me to see. You know, because I think that's how I get to that c. It seems like there's a mile or ten miles between that B flat and that C. It takes forever to get there, but I think I'm still psyching myself up. up, I'm still working on it, you change the syllables like most do at the time, uh, change them, well, let's see, I think it's written on my bench and most sing my breath on the bench, uh, uh, uh Yes, almost all, except I think cavalry.
Does that go from C to A to G A B flat C now I'm talking about the phrase for me, I go I, I take the breath before the G, the breath before the G, and I, and I take those four notes in one G to flat b flat c no one believes it was written and I think this is the standard form uh it is written I think breathless all on the vowel ooh but who sings it that way kabaye on the record where was it written there? I think you're that's the way he looks at us from the score oh, if there's nothing yeah, I see, I see, but does it matter?
I shouldn't think, no, I wouldn't think, so I'm not aware that uh, well, certainly, alternative century. record, no one could do that, who could be a good phone to sing it, yeah, this one, yeah, but that could be the trick, what do you say, conlon? Well, that's how he wrote it, maybe he knew something, yeah, right? I know that Johnson actually caught my attention in Norma en la Casta Diva. You know, singers have decided to end in a certain way that is more suitable for them, but I tried it in their traditional way, in that traditional way, well, it's not like that. it works for me so he gave me the intention to do it the way the composer wrote it and sure enough it works better for me, wait which way works better?
What is the problem with the traditional way? I don't know how it works better. It gives me the wrong breath, I think so, yes, but putting some weight in the wrong place. I guess I really don't know the reason. I just know what works better. What is it? What was it like singing Nabucco at the city opera? As was? That compares to performing at the Met, forgive me, yes there is a huge difference, how would you describe it well? The metropolitan is the metropolitan opera, yes, and the city opera is the city opera. You found the experience, listen, there is no, there is no comparison, the metropolitan is still the biggest and best opera house that we have in America.
You can't compare the state opera. The state theater with the metropolitan one. Where does the state offer the most obvious deficiencies? Don't know. I would think about him and he's in his um musical. That? They call it musical staff, it was the singers, I mean, the directors I had were especially one of them, he wasn't up to par. I'm sorry, who is that? um, a German man, the German man's name, I forgot his name, I have selective memory. I don't want to remember, I forget it immediately and I don't remember his name at all. He was a German man who I've already forgotten and it's a completely different level.
All. Well, you can't compare. two, how can you? It is unfair. Did they give you orchestra rehearsal? Oh, sure, yeah, sure, but even though they just couldn't make it work. Did you have to fight to generate electricity? Oh no, that was electricity, maybe that was it. there was electricity because there were always fights not really, but you are saying that you have to remember that the city opera is a city opera and you can't even put it in the same context as a metropolitan one, the metropolitan one has an enormously long tradition. like being the number one opera house in the United States, they have always had great singers in the metropolitan, the city's offering is an opera house where young people who were just starting out are entering there, I mean, they are making their debut there . they make them just starting their careers and with the metropolitan it's a place you go once you make it, no you're not supposed to go to the metropolitan.
As a beginner, I guess you'd assume you didn't come back. the city opera i think you got that point clear yes paul please obviously very compassionate and exciting and italian you are never boring and many american singers, although they sing wonderfully, seem dull, especially in the italian repertoire, now I Don't think it's because Americans have no personality because we have created great musical comedy stars and great pops definitely um and yet you have no problems in this regard. Can you comment on this? I don't really know you. I think it's a personal thing, it has something to do with nationalities or that kind of thing, I think it has to do with the individual, I mean, either you have um, you have a fire or a and an expression or you or you don't, but I think it can be learned well, Johnny, there are a lot of singers who knew opera singers who will appear on the Johnny Carson show and they will be very funny, they will be witty, they will tell jokes, they will just ooze with personality, you put them on stage. singing truth and nothing happens in other words they seem to have trouble identifying with that personality that you don't know um but you know there are some people who can express themselves um more easily in a joke but and and uh and and in a closed company closed but in the moment When they go on stage they keep silent saying that that is just a characteristic of those people, but that does not mean that they cannot be forced to do it or that they cannot be taught to do it, I think it is It is a question of exposure, a question of being taught and a question of being free.
A lot of people don't really feel comfortable with themselves on stage, they feel embarrassed and maybe hide behind the language. I don't know, maybe that's it. That's just my little my little theory, but I think a lot of times they just feel embarrassed, but what they do and they would rather feel more comfortable with just singing and not having to act, no. Forget that being on the metropolitan top stage is a chore, I mean, you've got to have your wits about you, you've got a lot to deal with and cope with, you've got four thousand people out there you've got to entertain yourself with.
You have to keep them constantly entertained, you have to concentrate all the time and concentrating for long periods for 4000 people is not easy, you have to do it, but, but my clue has been to just forget, grace, don't do it. Even think about Grace, think about that role you are playing and every moment is filled with a thought process. I go from, let's say, if I move from A to B. I have a reason to go from A to B. not just because the director says to go there, I have to think about why I go there, why the composer wants me to go there. , why the director wants me to go there and all those things have already been worked out by the time I go on stage, so from the moment I go from a to b there is a complete reason for doing it and not just why I do it but also how I do it, the movement of the or the movement of the movement of the body of the hand the movement of the head everything is already it is it is it is a great um a great flow did you have to learn to identify with these these personalities or was it there no, no, I don't think I don't think you got it immediately by birth no one gave it to you it wasn't inherited you had to study it you do your homework you go to the libraries you find whatever you can find you do your research work and you do everything possible to become that person, I mean if it is you
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