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Mikaela Minga

[Antoniu, Christache]

(b Bucharest, Romania, Dec 25, 1907; d Tirana, Albania, March 17, 1979). Tenor, actor, and stage director. He studied at the Mimodramatic High School of Bucharest and then in Rome, with M. Polverosi. In Romania, he had a successful career as an actor and singer. He was in the movie industry in the 1920s and early 30s, playing in more than 15 films, including Ciocoii (1931), Iancu Jianu, (1928), and Maiorul Mura (1927). In the meantime, he worked in the Alhambra theater as a singer and stage director of operettas. In the mid 1930s, Antoniu moved to Albania and pursued a singing career. He made only one cinematic appearance in 1943, for the short film documentary Takimi në liqen (‘Meeting at the Lake’). He was a dramatic tenor, with a baritone quality in his voice. This led him to explore a large range of operatic characters from both the Western opera repertory and the Albanian one. He performed and recorded Albanian traditional or folk songs, handled with an operatic vocal posture and arranged with western harmonies. His son, Gjergj Antoniu was a prominent Albanian cellist....

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J.B. Steane

When a syllable is sung to more than one note, some singers are in the habit of inserting a light aspirate, as in ‘Cele-heste Aida’. In Italy, Spain and Latin America this appears not to be considered a major stylistic fault (if one at all), but in Britain and, on the whole, the USA and Germany the practice is generally condemned. Gramophone records suggest that in standard operatic work the habit grew during the first half of the century, and that criticism has subsequently had some effect: Domingo and Pavarotti, for instance, are not habitual aspiraters, unlike their predecessors such as Gigli and Pertile. More insidious are the means used to ‘separate’ notes in the florid music of Baroque composers, where on the one hand they are defended as ensuring greater clarity, and on the other attacked as the makeshift devices of a defective technique....

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John Rosselli

(It.: ‘absolute’)

As applied to a singer, the term crept into opera bills and contracts with the general inflation of titles that set in towards the end of the 18th century. In theory it meant ‘unique’: a particular singer was the only member of the company engaged for a season entitled to be called prima donna (or primo tenore, primo basso etc.), and she or he could refuse parts that did not fit the description. In practice, nearly every leading singer now wished to be called ‘absolute’, however illogically; in Naples the impresario Domenico Barbaia, backed up by Rossini, was still resisting the trend in the 1820s, but in vain. By 1877 the tenor-impresario Italo Campanini could write of parti assolute, meaning simply leading parts; these included Marguerite de Valois in Les Huguenots, one of two leading women’s parts in that work (letter of 29 July 1877, I-Ms Coll. Casati 233). Thus devalued into meaninglessness, the term seems to have vanished from opera by the early 20th century. It is still occasionally used– in its original sense–of an outstanding ballerina....

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Nicholas Tochka

(b Brockton, MA, USA, Nov 4, 1925). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Born in the large Albanian immigrant colony in New England (USA), Athanasi returned as a child to his parents’ hometown of Korça, where he participated in its vibrant prewar choral, theatre, and sports scenes. During World War II, he performed with resistance groups singing patriotic and partisan songs and, in 1948, he was selected as a soloist in the newly formed National Army Ensemble by director Gaqo Avrazi. Athanasi was among a handful of young men in this ensemble to receive a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union, and following the completion of his degree in vocal performance at the Moscow State Conservatory in 1958, he was appointed soloist at Tirana’s Theatre of Opera and Ballet. He performed leading roles in premières of Albanian operas, and was active as a recitalist, performing a broad range of art music works from the Western European and Albanian repertories as well as arranged folk songs into the 1980s. In ...

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Lana Paćuka

(b Herceg Novi, Montenegro, Dec 5, 1921; d Sarajevo, Bosnia, April 17, 2012) Bosnian baritone and opera soloist of Montenegrin origin. He made his début at the National Theatre in Sarajevo (1946), and after that, except for short engagements at the Zagreb Opera (1955–7), his artistic work was tied to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before beginning his musical education he attended the Maritime Trade Academy, after which he enrolled in solo singing at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro. He also worked as a member of the Ivo Lola Ribar ensemble in Belgrade.

His début in the role of Rigoletto (Rigoletto, G. Verdi) enabled him to gain the status of first soloist at the Sarajevo Opera, which was the decisive moment in his career. During his artistic career he interpreted the roles of Papageno (The Magic Flute, W.A. Mozart), Sima (Ero s onog svijeta...

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Trena Jordanoska and Dimitrije Bužarovski

(b Glišikj, Kavadarci, Republic of Macedonia, 1918; d Skopje Sept 25, 1976). Macedonian folk singer. His lyric tenor voice, with its distinctive timbre (simultaneously light and warm), was recognized soon after his first performance in Radio Skopje in 1948, and it was established as a model for the male vocal repertory of traditional Macedonian music. He sang softly, with richness, in a narrow piano dynamic spectrum, and with delicate use of vibrato and ornaments. He became an idol among Macedonian audiences worldwide and has been adored by Balkan audiences as well, taking tours in Europe, Canada, USA, and Australia.

His recorded repertory of over 230 songs (without variants) is published on dozens of LPs and cassettes. 359 recorded songs have been digitized and stored in the Buzarovski Archive (BuzAr) in 2005. His diverse repertory was carefully selected with a refined musical taste, mainly from urban traditional songs of all genres—love, elegiac, patriotic, and humorous songs. His voice was well suited to ensemble performance, resulting in duets with V. Ilieva, A. Sarievski, Mirvet Belovska, Dragica Nikolova, Blagoj Petrov Karagjule, Violeta Tomovska, E. Redžepova, Anka Gieva, and Atina Apostolova....

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Ivan Čavlović

(b Mostar, 1953). Bosnian-Herzegovinian soprano. Bakšić graduated from the Secondary Music School in Mostar. In 1976 she graduated from the Department for Music Theory and in 1979 from the Department for Solo-Singing at the Academy of Music in Sarajevo. She studied solo-singing in the class of the famous opera singer and professor Milica Buljubašić-Zečević. As a student she began to sing at the Music Scene of Sarajevo, first at the student concerts and then on the opera stage. In 1979 she made her début as Rosette in Manon. In 1981, at the very beginning of her career, she performed her first leading role as Floramye in the operette Little Floramye by Ivo Tijardović.

After graduating from the Department for Solo-Singing Bakšić passed the audition at the National Theatre Opera in Sarajevo and has since become a permanent soloist in the opera and operetta repertoire. Some of her leading roles include Rosette in ...

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J.B. Steane

A term used to characterize a particular type of Baritone voice. It owes its origin to (Nicolas-)Jean-Blaise Martin (1768–1837), a baritone with a remarkably extensive upper range, sufficiently famous and distinctive for his name to continue in use long after his death to denote a high, lyric baritone, almost a tenor, usually bright of timbre and light of weight, but with a free, unthroaty production characteristic of the French school. Jean Périer, the first Pelléas, was probably typical, with Gabriel Soulacroix a distinguished predecessor and Camille Maurane (...

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Bass  

Owen Jander, Lionel Sawkins, J.B. Steane and Elizabeth Forbes

(Fr. basse; Ger. Bass; It. basso)

The lowest male voice, normally written for within the range F to e′, which may be extended at either end.

Italian composers in the late 16th century often wrote highly ornate parts for the bass voice, and this continued into the first three decades of the 17th. In opera, however, where bass roles were few and generally unimportant, ornate writing was relatively rare; the emphasis lay rather on dramatic portrayal. In the surviving operas of Monteverdi the bass already appears in some of what were to be its most important historical role types: as a god (particularly a god of the underworld: Pluto in Orfeo, 1607, Neptune in Il ritorno d’Ulisse, 1640), or as a sepulchral figure (Charon in Orfeo). In Orfeo Monteverdi called for special instrumentation (the regal, a trombone choir) which was itself to become a tradition in much operatic scoring associated with the bass voice. A further impressive use of the voice is for the role of Seneca in ...

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Charles Hamm

revised by Kimberly Greene

(b London, England, March 20, 1774; d London, England, Feb 17, 1856). English tenor and composer. He made his debut as a boy soprano at Covent Garden in 1787. He sang in Europe after his voice broke, returning to England at the turn of the century, where he established a reputation as one of the country’s leading tenors. He traveled to the United States in the autumn of 1840 and, at the age of 68, “surpassed all expectations” with the “pathos, sublimity, power, and wonderful execution” of his voice. He appeared first in concert, with a selection of tenor and baritone airs from opera and oratorio mixed with popular ballads. His American operatic debut, at the Park Theatre in New York, was in Stephen Storace’s The Siege of Belgrade, and he went on to re-create many of his famous roles, in Charles Horn’s The Devil’s Bridge, Thomas Dibdin’s The Cabinet, and Weber’s Der Freischütz. At one point he astonished audiences and critics by appearing in seven demanding roles in less than two weeks....

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Trudi Ann Wright

(b Baltimore, MD, Aug 9, 1912; d Oslo, Norway, March 13, 2009). American soprano. Born to a music-loving mother and prominent physician father whose grandparents were slaves, Brown premiered the role of Bess in the original production of Porgy and Bess (1935). She studied music, first at Morgan State College and then the Juilliard School, where she was the first African American to win the Margaret McGill scholarship. Brown learned of Gershwin’s new opera, then titled Porgy, while at Juilliard, and immediately requested an audition. She sang for Gershwin a few days later and left their meeting as Bess. Gershwin frequently invited Brown to his apartment to sing parts of the opera as he composed. As a result, Bess grew from a secondary character into one of the opera’s leading roles.

After the original Broadway run and tour of Porgy and Bess ended in 1936, Brown continued with her career in the DuBose Heyward musicals ...

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Nicholas Tochka

(b Korça, Albania, Jan 24, 1935). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Identified early as a talented singer in his hometown of Korça, he attended the Arts Lyceum ‘Jordan Misja’ in Tirana where he received his first formal training, with the pedagogue Mihal Ciko. In 1957 he received a scholarship to study at the Moscow State Conservatory, where he remained until 1961. On his return to Tirana, Çako was named soloist to the Theater of Opera and Ballet, where he performed a number of leading roles in foreign and Albanian operas during the 1960s and 1970s. Chief among his roles in Albanian operatic works were Dhimitër in Lulja e Kujtimit (by P. Jakova, 1961), Doda in Mrika (by P. Jakova, 1966), and Muji in Vjosa (by T. Daija, 1980). In addition to art music, he interpreted light popular songs and arrangements of folk songs throughout his career. Named as a pedagogue to Tirana’s State Conservatory in ...

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Irina Boga

(b Bairamcea, nr Cetatea Albă, Romania, March 1, 1924; d Bucharest, Romania Nov 27, 2000). Romanian mezzo-soprano. She graduated from the Bucharest Conservatory (1948–52), studying under Constantin Stroescu (singing), Jean Rănzescu (opera), and Jean Bobescu (repertory). She made her début with the Bucharest Philharmonic, performing Mozart’s Requiem (1952), and the same year made her opera début, singing the role of Azucena (1952) at the Romanian National Opera. In 1973 she worked as librettist, director, and sang in the world première of Doamna Chiajna (‘Lady Chiajna’) by N. Buicliu at the Romanian Opera. She was a member of the vocal quartet of the Bucharest Philharmonic (1951–7) and a soloist at the Romanian Opera in Bucharest (1952–77), and her lyrical-dramatic repertory comprised some of the most important mezzo-soprano roles. Her career led her from Bucharest to the stages of the great theatres of the world, in tours with the Romanian Opera and personal tours (including La Scala, the Metropolitan, the inaugural show at the new headquarters of Lincoln Center, the Opéra National de Paris, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Bolshoi Theatre, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Théâtre de la Monnaie, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City). She undertook scientific research in phonation and vocal pedagogy. An active member of the New York Academy of Sciences, she held conferences and lectures on singing, medicine, mathematics, and sociology. She participated in international vocal juries, and edited, in her capacity as a musicologist, ...

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J.B. Steane

(Fr. voix de poitrine; Ger. Bruststimme; It. voce di petto)

A term that is used in two connections (leaving aside the anatomical conditions under which the chest voice functions): the lower part of the female vocal range and the upper part of the male. In both instances it applies to a certain type of voice production and its resulting sound, which is quite distinct from that of the head voice (voce di testa).

A male singer can extend his upward range by using the head voice or the Falsetto (opera) (opera), which may be strengthened and developed as a mixed tone so that the falsetto element is to a greater or lesser extent disguised. Alternatively he may use the chest voice, which produces the ringing high notes of the characteristic modern operatic voice. The tenor roles in operas by composers such as Bellini have high notes which are sometimes so frequent and beyond normal reach of the non-falsetto male voice that it seems likely that they would have been sung originally with the head voice. Tenors would not then have extended their chest voice much beyond ...

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