Thursday, August 23, 2007

Greatest record cover EVER?

They should give awards for these things. I remember buying a copy of this in a close-out bin when I was a youngster. (Yeah, I was doing things like that when other kids were playing baseball or kickball.) I already knew Cristina Deutekom from the Solti Magic Flute recording (yeah, I know he recorded it twice; this was the relatively good one with Pilar Lorengar (another big fave of mine), Stuart Burrows and Hermann Prey.

From the very beginning she was a controversial singer. Singers often aspirate their runs when they are singing fast passagework. I don't find this to be such a grave misdeed. I have been known to do it myself; just the idea of an 'h' before each note creates a smoother emission of the air. But I have never known another singer who aspirated (or whatever the equivalent would be) with a 'g'.

I wish I had some examples of her singing to share, but I don't believe she is in my collection. So this is how the second phrase of the first act cabaletta from Ernani would have sounded. Instead of "Non v'ha gemma che in amore possa l'odio tramontar" followed by a trill, we got: "Non v'ah-ga-ga gemma-ga che d'amore po-ga-ssa-ga-ga- l'o-go-go-dio-go-go-tra-ga-ga-mo-gon-tar. Ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga" (that was the trill). To say that this was a peculiar effect would be an understatement. It sounded a little bit like one of those strange "forest creature" sounds that Yma Sumac would make.

But I digress. Suffice it to say that Deutekom proceeded, undeterred, with her career and her assumption of roles for which she was not, by nature, necessarily intended. Lady Macbeth, Norma, Odabella, Abigaille. The biggies. A friend of mine told me of going to hear her Lady Macbeth at New Jersey State Opera, or whatever it is/was called. At the intermission, he bumped into an acquaintance of his who asked him, "So what do you think?" To which Nick replied that it was about the worst thing he had ever heard. The Deutekom queen turned on him in a fury, told him that he was dissing one of the greatest performances that he would ever see, and never spoke to him again.

So clearly, she summoned up passionate feelings in admirers and detractors alike.

But no one EVER claimed that she was a fashion plate. Which brings me to the album cover. This is the sort of thing one should not even comment on. Merely present the evidence. In this case, I will simply do an A-B comparison and ask, which diva would YOU rather hang out with, much less be seen with?




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Blogger AndrewGoesBroadway said...

That's one hilarious album cover! I couldn't help thinking about her aspirating with a "g" (although should we still call it "aspirating"?) of Russians transliterating an English "H" to a Russian "G". Thus, they have "Garry Potter" instead of "Harry Potter." Very strange . . . the cyrillic "X" is pronounced like our "H." Why they change our "H"s to "G"s I don't understand.

August 27, 2007 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Will said...

What's really interesting that after her career was over the critics who had described her coloratura as yodeling began to come around and decided she was sui generis and really pretty thrilling. I hope someone sent her their retractions.

August 27, 2007 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Counterleben said...

Hi Will!

Yes, Deutekom might have been a strange singer on some level, but there was also something thrilling about her. I agree with you completely. When I was a kid, I certainly listened many, many times to the album pictured above and learned most of that rep from her performances.

August 31, 2007 at 8:29 AM  

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