Music and theater and opera and art and the whole damn thing.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What if they'd said yes?

A game for opera nuts:

The following list is of famous singers and roles they never sang but were offered. Which ones make you glad they said No? Which ones are dreamy might-have-beens?

Joan Sutherland - Louise
Kirstin Flagstad - Marschallin
Tatiana Troyanos - Cassandra
Leontyne Price - Desdemona
Renata Tebaldi - Norma
Victoria de los Angeles - Adalgisa
Leontyne Price - Abigaille
Maria Callas - Vanessa
Kirstin Flagstad - Norma
Tatiana Troyanos - Idamante
Joan Sutherland - Konstanze
Leontyne Price - Vanessa
Birgit Nilsson - Carmen
Lotte Lehmann - Kaiserin

Any others? (I'm sure there are thousands - Nicolai Gedda said 80 percent of a career is saying No, and he sang everything.)

10 comments:

jim said...

And these singers were offered:

Marilyn Horne - Elisabeth [TANNHAUSER]
Margaret Price - Semiramide
Luciano Pavarotti - Don Alvaro
Edita Gruberova - Leonora [FORZA]
Ljuba Welitsch - Senta
Evelyn Lear - Salome

My dreamy might-have-beens include

Tatiana Troyanos - Cassandra
Victoria de los Angeles - Adalgisa
Joan Sutherland - Konstanze

And Birgit Nilsson as Carmen seems fascinating just because I can't imagine it!!

schwani said...

> Joan Sutherland - Louise
Shudder
> Kirstin Flagstad - Marschallin
I think she was right to turn it down. I don't think the quasi-parlando of a lot of it was quite her thing.
> Tatiana Troyanos - Cassandra
Sounds like dream casting. I wonder why she turned it down.
> Leontyne Price - Desdemona
I hope this isn't racist, but a black Desdemona would be a problem. It isn't PC correct to say it anymore, but one of the main reasons Otello succumbs so easily to Iago's wiles is that he is unconsciously ready to believe she would betray him because of his color.
> Renata Tebaldi - Norma
She didn't have the coloratura technique for it, which I'm sure is why she turned it down.
> Victoria de los Angeles - Adalgisa
Interesting. It would depend a lot on the Norma.
> Leontyne Price - Abigaille
Again not a good idea. Too perilous for her voice, again I imagine she knew it.
> Maria Callas - Vanessa
She said she wouldn't sing an opera in which the mezzo has the best part. It may have been an excuse. I don't really think it was on her wavelength.
> Kirstin Flagstad - Norma
Same problem as Tebaldi.
> Tatiana Troyanos - Idamante
Same as Cassandra. Sounds a perfect match.
> Joan Sutherland - Konstanze
I'm sorry, I always found Sutherland boring. But she would have sung the hell out of it.
> Leontyne Price - Vanessa
Now this I think she would have done magnificently.
> Birgit Nilsson - Carmen
Good lord deliver us! She probably laughed whoever made the offer out of the room.
> Lotte Lehmann - Kaiserin
Sounds good.

> Any others?

She was never offered it, but my unfulfilled dream is Astrid Varnay as Medea. One of the greatest Elektras of all time who also excelled in the more classical lines of Fidelio, which is very close technically to Cherubini's music is exactly what is needed in the role.

Brightshadow said...

I like Jim's ideas, especially Lear as Salome. Having heard Horne as Sieglinde, I'm just as glad she declined Elisabeth.

Schwani -
Flagstad only turned down the M. because she was desperate to retire. She thought it clever of Bing to tempt her with so human a role.
Troyanos was scheduled to sing Cassandra at the Met, the contract was signed - but something scared her at the last minute. Same (but at Salzburg) with Idamante.
Price quite agreed about a black woman singing Desdemona. Sing then, others have done it. She said, "The Met offered me Abigaille and I offered it right back at them." Brains she never lacked (in spite of her denials).
Flagstad sang lots of coloratura, even operetta, but she refused Norma until Edward Johnson had heard her try the music - and then he agreed with her.
Nilsson did laugh when Gentele asked her to do Carmen, but she'd done the same when he proposed Salome. He called her every morning for three weeks at 8am, and finally she let him teach her how to lighten her voice for Salome. When he tried it again for three weeks about Carmen, she was firm. "Although he was so charming, and I'm not at all a morning person."

I heard Varnay in so few roles, I'd have been happy to hear her in any ten of the best she did sing.

But the singer-role match never heard that I'd most have loved to catch is Crespin as Isolde.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl Studer - Isolde

Idomeneo said...

I´d love to hear Varnay as Norma... She did have the technique and lots of temperament. She would be great!

Anonymous said...

In my opinion it is not logical

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