Saturday, October 25, 2008


Talk at Parterre was of Vaness, and about how she did many fine years of service and a few not so fine. Well, I think I only ever heard her live as Norma in Houston (in which the main draw was Mentzer) and otherwise associate her with that mixed bag of a Cosi from t.v. and a really weird OperaNews interview. Anyway, the non-lunatic portion of the crowd over there seemed to have some really good memories of Ms. Vaness, and I'm always open to persuasion, so I went plunking around on youtube and here's the first thing I found.

Pretty demented, alright. This scene is a bit of a drag unless the soprano finds a difficult balance of poise and ferocity, which CV obviously nails. I think I'm off to youtube again to dig up some more fun. Because it's Saturday evening and my life is like that lately.


manprano said...

Imagine how happy I was when one of my friends was told to get Donn'Anna up and running; I told her to listen to Vaness' reading because you can't get any better for Anna Technique and fire. Then, when she ended up coaching "Non mi dir" with La Carol, my friend related my advice to the diva herself. Ms. Vaness obviously agreed with my opinion.

Will said...

What irks me is that the same lack of historical perspective that infests our children also blinds some opera lovers--they judge an entire career by the work done nearing its end. Vaness was hell on wheels and the woman could SING. Her vitellia was first rate, too.

That said, try to get a listen to "Or sai" sung by Elizabeth Grummer on a complete Don G. from Salzburg conducted by Mitropoulos with Siepi, Corena and Leopold Simoneau, among others--a dream cast. Grummer not only sings the scene like an angel, her top notes could heat weld you into the back of your chair. And technique to burn--it was one of the really great voices.

Philip aka Oberon said...

Vaness in her peak seasons was phenomenal for vocal sheen, technical facility and dramatic urgency. Her Vitellia, Alcina, Donna Anna, Violetta (I saw the one that immediately followed her famous walk-off), Elettra, Leila and other roles were really top-notch.

Extremes of weight-loss in singers are a pet peeve of mine and we have many examples of the result. I remember going to a OONY BOLENA - I do not recall the exact year, probably early 1990s - and Vaness was to sing Anna. I hadn't seen her onstage for a few months. This extremely slender, elegant blonde woman walked out. I reached for my Playbill: had the cast changed? Was there a slip announcing some unknown soprano stepping in? But then I realized, this WAS Vaness. She had lost a great deal of weight. Well, she looked fantastic but when she started singing I was truly dismayed: the voice was greatly reduced in amplitude and impact. She sang the music with her usual skill but it was a shadow of the volume and 'zing' she had previously displayed.

I saw her a few times after that and always felt that, though she sang well enough and looked great, the things that always made me excited about her performances were no longer on display.

People - including some prominent singers - have told me that abrupt or excessive weight loss should not affect the voice. I remain unconvinced.