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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Peerlessly Expressive Voice Swelling the Chorus of the Thrice-Holy Hymn, Magda Olivero Dead at 104

I know one shouldn't presume on God's grace, one should pray for the deceased, but I must say, if Magda Olivero was not the kindest, gentlest, most gracious, most generous woman you ever met... well, than she was an even greater actress that she was given credit for.
I believe she is even now singing, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus at the throne of God.
And God is enjoying it immensely.

A hundred and four... my, my.
When I say that I had the great good fortune to meet her and even appear  with her onstage it makes me sound even more ancient than I am, but remember, not only was she pushing 60 when she made her American debut, but the verismo roles which were her meat and potatoes often feature choirboys and urchins and shepherds and the like.
"If one just sings, without putting in any heart or soul, it remains just beautiful singing and not a soul that sings!”
And hers was a soul that sang.

And there I was, just complaining about the canonization of the recently deceased.
Do I contradict myself?
Well, then - I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.

And here's another - some beauty of voice is the sine qua non of operatic singing.
And what did she think of herself?
"I never had a voice, what I had was expression, a face, a body, the truth. If one prefers the opposite, that is his right."
She sells herself short, her sound could be exquisite.

But with Mme. Olivero mere beauty of tone was superfluous, too much would have been gaudy, trivial, vulgar -- set beside her eloquence, merely pretty singing would have been unsatisfactory indeed.

And yet, Ira Siff in Opera News reminds us,
in 1993, at eighty-three, Olivero recorded excerpts from her beloved Adriana Lecouvreur, making a final artistic statement on the role, still able to offer passages of ethereal beauty and expression. [emphasis supplied] Her art is extensively documented in live-performance audio recordings and a handful of video documents —  every one a lesson.
Rest in peace, you lovely, lovely woman.

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