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The Most Beautiful Faces in Opera


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#1 Old Fashioned

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Posted 20 June 2003 - 10:21 PM

This idea sprung out of nowhere; I thought it might make an interesting topic. Who do you think are the most beautiful opera singers in the world, past or present?

My picks are Maria Callas, Angela Gheoghiu, Elizabeth Futral, Hei-Kyung Hong, and Renee Fleming. Kathleen Battle would be among them if that other part of her didn't overshadow everything else.

As for the men, I'm sorry to say I can only think of a couple. Juan Diego Florez and Placido Domingo (back in his heyday).

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 21 June 2003 - 09:15 AM

Franco Corelli was the complete opposite of the stereotypical short, fat Italian tenor. He was was tall, handsome, and sang gloriously.

Beverly Sills was beautiful. So was Renata Tebaldi, despite what Rudolf Bing called her "dimples of steel."

#3 Marga

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Posted 21 June 2003 - 09:35 AM

Riki Turofsky (Canadian Opera Company and New York City Opera) is my pick.

#4 grace

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Posted 21 June 2003 - 07:19 PM

i haven't seen a lot of opera - indeed NONE in the last 10 years - so my frame of reference is out of date, but i immediately thought of kathleen battle. she always reminded me of fonteyn.

#5 Ed Waffle

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Posted 21 June 2003 - 09:29 PM

Working now:

Natalie Dessay. French. Trained as a ballet dancer. Gorgeous. See her while you can because she is having recurrent vocal crises that might spell a very early end to what has been a fabulous career.

Denyce Graves. She has had a few PBS specials. She sang at one of the immediate post 9/11/01 memorials. Like Dessay, a knockout.

Hey-Kyung Hong. Easy to see her in NYC. The Met is her home company--she doesn't travel much.

Susan Graham Tall and voluptous, seems to work everywhere.

Karita Mattila. Finnish, sings in NYC a lot. Check out the cover of her recent CD "Live in Helskinki". A bombshell.

Anne Sofie von Otter. Swedish. Very rarely gets to North America, but an international star. See the her on the cover of "Ariodante".

Retired from the stage:

Shirley Verrett. Classic African American beauty.

Maria Callas. Fat Callas, Thin Callas, whatever.

Kiri Te Kanawa. Has been on PBS often. She still does some recitals.

Lucia Popp. The girl next door, if you lived in Prague.

Lisa della Casa. Swiss soprano in the 50s and 60s, had movie star looks.

#6 Farrell Fan

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Posted 22 June 2003 - 03:49 AM

On this subject, I think beauty may be in the ear of the beholder.

#7 Old Fashioned

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Posted 22 June 2003 - 07:12 PM

That's true FF, but I was actually merely choosing on looks. They are not all among my favorites. And oh my gosh! how could I have forgotten Tebaldi. She is actually one of my favorite sopranos, and yes, she is very beautiful. :o "Dimples of steel" is an insult?

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 June 2003 - 07:17 PM

And then there was Roberta Peters - part of the "Terrible Trio" of the old Met. Robert Merrill, Jan Peerce, and Roberta. They were the most inveterate practical jokers in the company.

#9 Hans

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Posted 22 June 2003 - 07:24 PM

Anna Moffo was (is? haven't seen her in a while) very beautiful, IMO. I think Beverly Sills looks great now, and I second Farrell Fan's nomination of Franco Corelli. I suppose Roberta Peters is beautiful, but she made the strangest faces when she sang. And how about Ruth Ann Swenson?

I heard that Lucia Popp passed away a few years ago...of cancer? I loved her voice.

#10 zerbinetta

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Posted 23 June 2003 - 12:55 AM

June Anderson is still the most beautiful of all & I've seen her up close & personal.

Lucia Popp, sadly, did die of cancer several years ago.

I remember the Carnegie Hall performance of "Semele" (oh, how I miss those series produced by Matthew Epstein with amazing casts, great conductors & terrific orchestras) with Battle as Semele singing the aria "Myself I do adore" dressed in a fabulous white gown & holding a mirror. I doubt there was one person in the house that didn't adore her right along with herself.

Shirley Verrett was just 70 & is still breathtaking.

Among the men: Alfredo Kraus was an elegantly handsome man (I am entirely partisan here) & Peter Hoffmann was quite the hottie.

#11 Ed Waffle

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Posted 23 June 2003 - 03:59 AM

Originally posted by Old Fashioned
 "Dimples of steel" is an insult?


Bing used that in reference to Tebaldi's negotiation style when it cam to her roles, scheduling, others in the cast and even costuming. She simply didn't budge from what she thought was best.

Which made it very difficult for Schuyler Chaplin (probably spelled wrong), Bing's successor, to tell Renata that it was time for her to move to a less challenging rep.

#12 dirac

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Posted 23 June 2003 - 01:31 PM

Geraldine Farrar. Mary Garden. Frederica von Stade.

I don't know that I would rank Tebaldi along with della Casa, Moffo, et al. here. Beautiful voice, yes.

#13 zerbinetta

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Posted 23 June 2003 - 11:34 PM

Yes, Hans, Anna Moffo is still beautiful, although she has had some health problems lately.

Surprised no one has suggested Angelika Kirschlager; she's truly lovely.

I thought Dessay's surgery had solved her vocal problems, no?

#14 Patricia

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Posted 24 June 2003 - 06:59 AM

Baritone & recent CBE Simon Keenlyside does not only have a voice to match his looks and physique (yoga? Pliates? body building?) , he moves well. The WINTEREISSE staging he collaborated on with Trisha Brown is being presented in August @ John Jay College as part of MOSTLY MOZART. It was performed in December '02 as part of GREAT PERFORMERS & I'm seeing it again.

Another beautiful face, though it is usually disguised in old-guy make-up, is bass Rene Pape. In April I saw him in person at a Met Guild Seminar & he looks younger than 38...he could easily pass for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s long lost Teutonic cousin! Pape's voice could end up being one for the ages. His acting, particularly as King Marke in TRISTAN, is convincing and moving. I don't know if it was intentional but his Orestes in ELEKTRA looked and sounded like the maenads were already driving him insane. He does GIOVANNI but will instead do Leparello next season @ the Met with another heart-throb, Thomas Hampson. ;)

#15 Hans

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Posted 24 June 2003 - 09:07 AM

Glad to hear it, zerbinetta:). She has the most wonderful eyes.


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