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J.B. Steane

(Fr. voix sombrée; Ger. gedeckte Ton; It. voce cuperta)

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 ...

Article

Amra Bosnić

(b Kuršumlija, Serbia, 1966). Bosnian and Herzegovinian composer. She graduated with a degree in composition from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo (1991), in the class of josip magdić, after which she gained the Master of Composition (2004) under the mentorship of composer dejan despić. Her first position was at the Srednja muzička škola (‘music high school’) in Valjevo, Serbia (1992–2000). She returned to Eastern Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to work as an Associate Professor of Harmony and Harmonic Analysis.

Dutina’s compositions reflect her interest in Balkan folklore, mostly of a rural-vocal type, and in the formal and harmonic devices associated with neoclassicism. She has composed solo songs, chamber music, symphonic works, vocal-instrumental music, choral music, music for children, and film music.

Dutina also cherishes folkloric vocal traditions through her engagement as founder and artistic director of the female vocal ensembles Rusalke (...

Article

John Koegel

[Francisco Rafael ]

(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 1911 began appearing in small roles with the Boston Grand Opera Company, quickly moving up to more prominent assignments. He accompanied the soprano Luisa Tetrazzini on a tour in 1913 and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Massenet’s ...

Article

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 Il trovatore and La forza del destino, and at the other is the singer who encompasses the heaviest of the Wagnerian soprano parts, Brünnhilde and Isolde. The first type may be described as lyric-dramatic and the second as heroic. The more narrowly defined dramatic soprano would then look for parts such as Aida, Lady Macbeth and Abigaille in Verdi, Senta, Elisabeth and Kundry in Wagner, Leonore in Fidelio, and the title roles in Medea and possibly Turandot (the last of these raises a problem for many dramatic sopranos on account of the high tessitura; it is beyond the reasonable ambitions of those who have an admixture of mezzo-soprano in the voice). Contrasted voices which might still come within the general category of dramatic soprano are, for instance, those of Jessye Norman (an exceptionally full-bodied sound, shaded towards the mezzo and nearer to the lyric-dramatic) and, in an earlier generation, Eva Turner, whose voice was pure soprano but of such penetrative power that the heaviest Wagnerian roles came within its scope and with such brilliance in the upper register that it was ideal for Turandot....

Article

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 1939 with a radio broadcast of lieder by Henri Duparc, Robert Schumann, and Alfred Alessandrescu; her concert stage début took place at the Romanian Atheneum (1941) alongside pianist Nicolae Rădulescu. Her operatic début took place in 1942 at the Romanian Opera in Bucharest, where she sang the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor under the baton of Jean Bobescu. She was a soloist for the Romania Choral Society in Bucharest from 1937 to 1942, after which she became a soloist for the Romanian Opera, becoming the company’s prima donna in 1945, a post she held until ...

Article

Flos  

Mary Berry

(pl. flores) (Lat.: ‘flower’; Fr. fleuretis)

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’....

Article

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 Il trovatore (G. Verdi), Ero s onog svijeta (J. Gotovac), The Bartered Bride (B. Smetana), The Marriage of Figaro (W.A. Mozart), and Madam Butterfly and La Boheme (G. Puccini). Her artistic activity was interrupted due to the wartime events in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. Her actions were diverted to performances within small artistic ensembles, which corresponded to the conditions of the social and cultural life of that time. She distinguished herself in appearances at the concerts of the Sarajevo Winter Festival, Summer Chamber Music (1993), and Days of Culture of the Czech Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina (...

Article

(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 (1902), she toured with Emma Albani in Britain and Canada (1906) and made her stage debut as Micaëla in Pavia (1909). In 1910, after her contracts with Covent Garden to sing Yniold (in Pelléas et Mélisande) and Mallika (in Léo Delibes’s Lakmé) had not led to performances, she left London to join her future husband, a plantation manager, in Java, and began to study the traditional songs of Southeast Asia.

After concert tours in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, Gauthier settled in New York, where from ...

Article

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 2002 as the wardrobe mistress/schoolboy in Berg’s Lulu. She has also appeared there as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Ascanio in Benvenuto Cellini, Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette, and the Page of Herodias in Salome. Her many appearances at the New York City Opera have garnered her both the Betty Allen and Diva awards; with the company, she has performed the roles of Erika in Vanessa, Suzuki in ...

Article

James Wierzbicki

revised by Jonas Westover

(Ann )

(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 1972. She has appeared as a soloist with most of the major American orchestras, including the Baltimore SO, with which she toured East Germany, and the New York PO, with which she gave the premiere (under Pierre Boulez) of George Crumb’s Star-child (1977), a work commissioned for her by the Ford Foundation as a result of her winning its performance competition in 1971. She has also sung in Europe, with such orchestras as the Stuttgart RO and the Bavarian RO. In 1980 she won the Naumburg International Voice Competition, and the following year she made her opera debut as Mimì with Opera St. Paul (Minnesota), in addition to giving her first recitals at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center; since then she has been increasingly active as a recitalist. Gubrud’s wide expressive range and sure technique allow her to meet the demands of music from all periods. She has recorded widely on a variety of labels and has been a regular participant in the Aspen, Blossom, and Meadowbrook festivals. Gubrud’s role as a teacher has been a key facet of her career. She taught at Washington University, St. Louis (...

Article

J.B. Steane

(Fr. voix de tête; Ger. Kopfstimme; It. voce di testa)

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 ...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

[Carmen Mária Štefánia (Beatrix) Farkašová-Čelková]

(b Bratislava, 20 Oct 1931). Czech singer of Slovak origin. After completing her studies at the Gymnasium in Komárno (1950), she was unable to proceed to higher education owing to her political unreliability, but she completed a theatre course at the State Conservatory in Bratislava, and worked as an actress in the 1950s in theatres in Žilina and Bratislava. In 1958 she moved to Prague, where she acted and sang in the Alhambra and in the Rokoko and Semafor theatres. However, she established her career primarily as a singer of chansons, building her repertoire from songs by Petr Hapka and Jiří Šlitr, with texts by Petr Rada and Pavel Kopta, who also provided Czech texts for her to numerous French chansons. In the early 1960s she appeared at the Olympia in Paris, and in Switzerland and the German Federal Republic, where she also made recordings for the radio and appeared on television. She sang more frequently at significant foreign festivals such as Ostend, Wiesbaden, Cannes, and Sopoty, and in countries outside Czechoslovakia (Argentina, Cuba, Canada, and others), than at concerts in Czechoslovakia, though she played minor roles in many Czechoslovak films. Up to her retirement, on health grounds, in her 80s, she gave full-evening recitals in the Kalich and Ungelt theatres in Prague, and in other venues, accompanied on the piano by Petr Malásek. Outside the Czech sphere she has sung chansons in the original languages and has been nicknamed ‘the Prague Edith Piaf’ or ‘the Czech Juliette Gréco’, though as a singer she has retained a very distinctive Slavic style....

Article

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 1989 as Mr. Redburn in Billy Budd. He has since been heard with many major companies, including those in Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Vienna, Salzburg, London, Paris, and Milan. He is a winner of the Birgit Nilsson Prize. His rich-hued, powerful voice is especially well suited to the operas of Wagner and Strauss, including such roles as Wotan, Kurwenal, the Dutchman, Jochanaan, and Orestes. He has also been successful in such dramatically demanding roles as Wozzeck in in comic roles such as Leporello and the Four Villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann. As a concert soloist, he has performed with the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Paris Orchestra, and the Kirov Opera Orchestra. His recordings include Donner in Wagner’s ...

Article

Thor Eckert Jr.

revised by 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 (1969) and as Tonio in a concert performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s La fille du régiment with Beverly Sills at Carnegie Hall (1970, recorded on the Adagio Classics label). Shortly thereafter he made his New York City Opera debut in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and went on to sing with opera companies in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, France, Switzerland, and England. His repertoire of more than seventy roles includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Ferrando, Belmonte, and Tamino, Charles Gounod’s Faust and Roméo, Georges Bizet’s Don José, and Claude Debussy’s Pelléas. He has appeared regularly with major American orchestras, choral societies, and music festivals and has performed Franz Schubert’s song cycles with fortepiano. Known for his versatility and acute attention to style, he has sung in the premieres of works by Leonard Bernstein, Jack Beeson, Thomas Pasatieri, Alberto Ginastera (...

Article

Charles Jahant

revised by 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 Green Pastures and the film Hullabaloo (1941), and had a 13-week concert program on NBC radio. He then became a pupil of Georges Le Pyre, an assistant to Bruno Walter, in Hollywood, California. He moved to New York, where he studied with Clyde Burrows and performed in Jeb (1948), Hall Johnson’s Run Little Chillun’, Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, and the premiere of Blitzstein’s The Airborne. Holland felt that he was unable to make a life for himself as a respected singer in the United States due to racial prejudice, and thereafter decided to make his home in Europe. After settling in France in ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 1884 when John McCaull cast him in John Philip Sousa’s Désirée. He solidified his reputation in The Begum (1887) and The Lady or the Tiger? (1888). He then played leading roles in several shows opposite the diminutive Della Fox, where the disparity in their height was deliberately exploited for its comic effect; productions included Castles in the Air (1890), Wang (...

Article

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 (1958–60), and Rome (1960). He made his début in 1949 in the operetta Cântec de via ță nouă (‘Song for a new life’) by Florin Comișel; he gave his Bucharest Opera and Ballet Theatre début in December 1956. He performed 262 international tours in 61 countries, appearing in almost 1100 opera performances across the globe. He performed 45 operatic roles, and gave over 1600 lieder recitals. He sang on the major stages of Europe and North America, in productions alongside Mario Del Monaco, Placido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Renata Scotto, Virginia Zeani, Montserrat Caballé, Luciano Pavarotti, Franco Corelli, N. Rossi-Lemeni, and Giuseppe Di Stefano, among others. He was awarded various prizes throughout his lengthy career, including the Robert Schumann Prize (Berlin, ...