Mashinka

Do current opera stars lack stamina?

41 posts in this topic

I mentioned in another topic that Deborah Voigt was once one of the outstanding voices of our time, but after gastric bypass surgery she is a shadow of her former self voice wise (although she's probably a happier person and she does act better).

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Yes, Voigt is better looking and probably happier and healthier. She has become a more interesting actress. However, I think her voice used to be a force of nature. The selfish side of me misses that force of nature. She can still give decent performances, but it no longer astounds you in pure vocal terms, in my personal opinion.

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Do you think the gastric bypass was the source of her vocal decline, or perhaps just the result of age.

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Do you think the gastric bypass was the source of her vocal decline, or perhaps just the result of age.

I think the gastric bypass is the direct result. A soprano who is singing with a good technique is usually in her prime around 50 and maybe showing tiny signs of wear if she has sung heavy repetoire, but many great sopranos sang into their 60s decently, and I think she is 52. Hypothetically, she should still be in good or possibly excellent form.

I could be wrong but I think the Salome in Chicago that she sang was her first or one of her first appearances after the surgery and I heard a totally different voice (loss of strength, loss of size of voice, high notes not as good, etc.). Of course, she was learning how to use her muscles differently due to no longer having weight to depend on to help force the column of air out. I have heard even when you lose weight without surgery you sometimes have to relearn your technique.

Ever since that surgery she has never sounded superhuman like she used to sound (in my personal opinion). She improved after the Salome that I heard but I still hear a voice that is a shadow of what it once was. Of course, all of this is my own personal opinion. Some people still love her. I want so very much to love her as a singer, but for me her tone is now very ordinary. Before the surgery I thought she had everything (high notes without strain, low notes, agility in the voice....she even trilled as Lady Macbeth, large voice, etc). I was actually waiting for her to gravitate toward the dramatic soprano repetoire back then, but she was careful and then after surgery she started taking on more and more heavy roles (Minnie in La Fanciulla, Brunnhilde, etc) when I feel she should now avoid heavy repetoire. Now I hear she will do Marie in Wozzeck next season! Gran Dio!!!!

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I work in a bariatric unit-(gastric bypass patients). There's a before and an after procedure for every single body system in relationship with the aftermath. There's a lot of gain, but substantial losses too, particularly to the gastrointestinal system. There is basically a complete makeover to the abdominal walls, being the most common danger what we call "dumping syndrome".

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I work in a bariatric unit-(gastric bypass patients). There's a before and an after procedure for every single body system in relationship with the aftermath. There's a lot of gain, but substantial losses too, particularly to the gastrointestinal system. There is basically a complete makeover to the abdominal walls, being the most common danger what we call "dumping syndrome".

That makes sense, and opera singers use their diaphragm and stomach......so the technique has to be relearned, because skinny singers probably use muscles and heavy singers use a combination of muscle and weight (the weight helps push more air up and out). So without the extra weight, suddenly you need more muscles controlling the diaphragm. I don't know the exact mechanics, but I have had a voice teacher explain this. I think someone who learns to sing while thin and gains weight and then loses it knows how to adjust, but if you have been heavy your entire life and learned to sing while heavy, I think it is a big adjustment to relearn your technique, and some voice teachers are scared to help a singer re-learn his/her technique, because people develop habits (both good and bad) and re-teaching how they use their body could totally ruin the voice.

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All in all I tend not to agree with Christiansen (I rarely do) as unreliable singers have always existed and it is hardly fair to pick out the singers of today. As a lover of baroque opera above all else, I'm now in opera heaven with so many operas getting premiere recordings and more counter tenors than you can shake a stick at, but perhaps outstounding interpretors of the conventional opera repertoire are fewer than when I started opera going back in the 1970's.

There are comparisons to be made between opera and ballet stars as the greats are now names from the past in both art forms, however the disintegration of ballet technique, the celebration of the tawdry and tasteless, not to mention the current instances of corruption all conspire to lead me away from ballet to more frequent opera visits where I only have to contend with the odd mad producer.

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the celebration of the tawdry and tasteless,

I need to remember this...happy.png

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Since the advent of air travel and the speeding up of schedules and careers, the same debate has gone on about reliability and, not unrelated, a rush of offers to take on inappropriate roles and burn the voice out long before they should have. I remember an interview in the Sunday NYT with Richard Tucker in which Tucker described advising a young tenor to wait for some role, and when the young tenor replied, "What, you're worried?" he decided to keep his opinions to himself from then on.

I've read lots of interviews with singers lately who described having all kinds of inappropriate roles offered to them in their 20's and 30's and saying no. I hope most of the ones I've heard lately continue to say no.

Another factor is the exponential development and use of long-term maintenance drugs for blood pressure medicine -- Ben Heffner became the poster child for having his blood pressure medicine affect the blood flow to his voice -- cholesterol, anxiety, depression, as well as drugs like Viagra, different drug regimens for traveling, etc. that affect equilibrium and the immune system in addition to voice and voice-related systems.

I would think that being in better physical shape would be a positive. For that, there's one word:

Barihunks

They also have tenor crushes who are featured.

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Getting back to the conversation about Grigolo's abilities, here is the NY Times' review of Grigolo's recent performance in Rigoletto. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/arts/music/george-gagnidze-in-the-rat-pack-rigoletto-at-the-met.html?ref=music

Part of the problem may have been that the object of [Gilda's] tragic infatuation was hardly deserving of it here. The handsome tenor Vittorio Grigolo struggled to make up in volume and aimless energy what he lacked in vocal and dramatic style. He either bellowed or crooned, without the arresting sweetness of his 2010 house debut in “La Bohème.” It is depressing that he, of all the company’s singers, has been chosen for the honor of a solo recital on the Met stage next year.

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For that, there's one word:

Barihunks

They also have tenor crushes who are featured.

Ah, the Hunkentenor! When it's a tag on Parterre Box, you know it's real.

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"Hunkentenor" -- what a great description!

I've noticed more and more of them sneaking into the Barihunks site.

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There was an actual site on Hunkentenors, but the person running it stopped posting, and I don't think it even exists anymore. Barihunks always had many more singers to choose from b/c baritones tend to be more fit! LOL

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Hmm... in my view Hunkentenors are still a rarity. There are some very tasty counter tenors around at present, any idea of a collective operatic noun for them, Birdsall?

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Mashinka, I can't think of one, but I am sure someone will coin a term for them! LOL

Some call themselves a male contralto or male mezzo instead of counter tenor, but those are not fun terms! I am sure parterre box will come up with a term eventually!

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