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Contra  

An abbreviation for Contratenor .

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J.B. Steane

Although ‘open’ and ‘covered’ would seem to be layman’s terms and their manifestations in singing easy to recognize, the technique of ‘covering’ and the need for it are probably understood properly only by singers themselves. As voices ascend in the scale, reaching the higher notes of the singer’s range, the method of voice production is gradually modified, partly so as to ensure a musically pleasing sound rather than a shout, partly to protect the voice, and also to secure a greater concentration of tone. This may involve modifications of the vowel sound, shading the brighter vowels towards those that are ‘darker’ and less open. It will also be a difficult exercise, during the course of which the singer seems to him or herself to be producing thinner, less powerful and excitingly resonant sounds in the upper notes than would otherwise have been possible. A further difficulty lies in the areas of the voice called the ...

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John Koegel

(b San Antonio, TX, May 16, 1883; d New York, NY, Dec 12, 1943). American operatic tenor and recitalist of Mexican and German heritage. He was the most prominent Mexican American opera singer of his day, although perhaps to advance his career he used the Italian-sounding first name “Rafaelo,” and press reports sometimes identified him as Spanish instead of Mexican American or Mexican. Díaz attended the German-English School and the West Texas Military Academy (now Texas Military Institute) in San Antonio. He studied piano with Amalia Hander, a local music teacher, and at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. After vocal studies with Vincenzo Sabatini in Milan, he returned to the United States and in ...

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J.B. Steane

A type of soprano voice. The term admits a wide variety of repertory and voice type. Any claimant to it must possess a powerful voice and a style capable of energetic emphasis; yet at one end of the spectrum is the singer whose best roles may be, for example, the respective Leonoras of ...

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Falcon  

J.B. Steane

Term for a type of voice, presumed to have been exemplified by Cornélie Falcon , the dramatic soprano who sang Rachel in the première of La Juive (1835) and Valentine in that of Les Huguenots (1836). Her voice was exceptionally powerful, dramatic in quality and ample in the middle register. Mainly in France, or in association with the French repertory, ‘falcon’ has survived as a word which denotes a soprano of this type. Félia Litvinne and her pupil Germaine Lubin, both of whom sang Wagnerian roles such as Isolde and Kundry, would come under this heading. As Falcon herself sang last in ...

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Irina Boga

(b Bucharest, Romania, March 10, 1921; d Bucharest, July 6, 1998). Romanian soprano and teacher. She studied at the Bucharest Conservatory (1939–42) with Elena Saghin; in Geneva (1946) with Anna Maria Guglielmetti; and in Vienna (1947) with Kurt Nasor and Josef Krips. Her début performance took place in ...

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Flos  

Mary Berry

A species of vocal embellishment. Jerome of Moravia (late 13th century) gave this definition: ‘est autem flos armonicus decora vocis sive soni celerrima procellarisque vibratio’ – an ‘ornamental vibration of the voice, or a very rapid rippling of the sound’ – that is, a shake. He described three types of ‘flowers’: long, open and sudden. ‘Long flowers’ resemble a slow vibrato, taking the note a semitone above the note to be graced. ‘Open flowers’ are slow, taking the tone below. ‘Sudden flowers’ begin slowly and gradually gather speed, using the interval of a semitone. Describing these ornaments in connection with plainchant, the author warned against applying them indiscriminately. Five notes are singled out for embellishment: the first, last and penultimate notes to be graced with long flowers, the second note of the first syllable with open flowers, and the long plica with sudden flowers. Singers may insert several short notes between this ornamental plica and the next note ‘to make the melody more elegant’....

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Lana Paćuka

(b Sarajevo, Bosnia, June 30, 1947). Bosnian soprano, opera soloist, and music pedagogue. She graduated in 1973 from the Music Academy Sarajevo (class of Bruna Špiler), where she also took the master’s degree in the field of solo singing in 1977. During her artistic career she achieved notable success singing the main soprano roles in the operas ...

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(b Ottawa, ON, Sept 20, 1885; d New York, NY, Dec 26, 1958). American mezzo-soprano. She began her vocal training with Frank Buels in Ottawa at the age of 13, then continued her studies in Europe with, among others, Auguste-Jean Dubulle, Jacques Bouhy, William Shakespeare, Carlo Carignani, and Anna Schoen-René. After her professional debut as a contralto at the Ottawa Basilica (...

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Jonas Westover

(b Sigourney, IA). American mezzo-soprano. She took voice lessons from Jocelyn Reiter at the University of Iowa, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She continued her studies with Paul von Schilhawsky at the Salzburg Mozarteum, focusing on German lieder. She has appeared widely on the concert stage and with the world’s premiere opera troupes, including the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera. Her Metropolitan debut was in ...

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James Wierzbicki and Jonas Westover

(b Canby, MN, Jan 4, 1947). American soprano. After studying at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota (BM 1969), and with marion Freschel at the Juilliard School, she won first prizes in the Concert Artists Guild competition in 1970 and the Rockefeller and Minna Kaufmann Ruud competitions in ...

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J.B. Steane

A term widely used to denote quiet (‘soft’) singing in the upper range, or register, of the voice. The singer aims the sound high in the face (or ‘mask’) and may experience it as in the head itself, the opposite of the Chest voice . In practice, what seems like a simple piece of nomenclature can describe very different things, particularly in tenors and baritones, where reference to an ‘exquisite head voice’ may mean nothing more than a pleasant ...

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Peter Mondelli

(b Washburn, IL, Nov 20, 1959). American bass-baritone. He studied at Millikin University and Wichita State University under Richard Cross and George Gibson. In 1986, he made his debut with Central City Opera in Denver as Colline in La Bohème. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in ...

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Thor Eckert Jr. and Beth McGinnis

(b Ojai, CA, Dec 27, 1939). American tenor. He studied at the Music Academy of the West, UCLA with martial Singher and from 1963 to 1972 at the Juilliard School with Jennie Tourel. He began his professional career as Francesco Cavalli’s Ormindo with the Opera Society of Washington (...

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Charles Jahant and Jonas Westover

(b Norfolk, VA, Dec 27, 1909; d Amsterdam, Holland, Nov 7, 1987). American tenor. He began singing at the age of 14, studied with May Hamaker Henley, and in the 1930s sang with Benny Carter and Fletcher Henderson’s jazz bands. He appeared in Marc Connelly’s drama ...

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Jonas Westover

(b United States). American baritone. One of his earliest professional performances took place at the Lake George Opera Festival, where he performed as Damis in Kirke Mechem’s Tartuffe in 1982. He appeared there again as Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, one of his signature roles. His voice, while not overpowering, is full of nuance and carries a light brilliance. A sought after performer, he has served as a principal singer with Glimmerglass Opera, Virginia Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, New York Grand Opera, El Paso Opera, and the Natchez Opera Festival. By the early 2010s, he had performed nearly 150 different roles in a variety of theatrical productions, including bel canto opera, musical theater, and, especially, light opera. During more than a quarter century singing with the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, he has performed in each opera and in more than 20 roles. His international reputation as a premiere interpreter of this repertoire has been built on more than 500 Gilbert and Sullivan performances. Other notable works he has performed in New York include Carlisle Floyd’s ...

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Gerald Bordman

(b New York, NY, March 30, 1858; d Kansas City, MO, Sept 23, 1935). American bass and comedian. He was expected to follow his family tradition and become a lawyer, but after his father’s death he abandoned his studies and used his inheritance to form his own acting company. The company failed, partly because, being exceptionally tall, Hopper towered comically above the rest of his troupe. He then studied singing (he had a fine bass voice), and struck huge success in ...

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Irina Boga

(b Vânju Mare, Romania, June 2, 1930). Romanian baritone. He graduated from the Theatre Faculty in Iași (1948–9) and the Bucharest Music Conservatory (1952–6) where he studied with Constantin Stroescu. He continued his studies in Salzburg (Mozarteum, 1956), Paris (...

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Jabera  

Flamenco-style song form of Andalusian origin. See Flamenco.

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Zana Shuteriqi Prela

(b Rrëshen, Abania, July 18, 1974). Albanian soprano. In 1992 she completed her vocal studies with V. Kosta at the Jordan Misja Liceu Artistik in Tirana. In 1993 she earned a scholarship and moved to Italy to study at the Accademia Mantovana of Katia Ricciarelli, and later studied at the S. Cecilia Conservatorio in Rome with Valerio Papperi. From ...