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3. Diminuendi

The Great Tenor
Jussi Björling

This post is part of the 12-part series, Opera’s Most Beautiful Moments. If you haven’t read the introductory post to the series, click here!

          In opera, a diminuendo is a vocal tone that -on the same breath- changes from loud to soft without any noticeable break. The diminuendo at its most perfect state illustrates how a master singer always builds the loud voice on top of the head voice/falsetto. It is this harmonious mechanism that makes a beautiful diminuendo possible.

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            The exact clips I prepared for the recordings I list here are En Fermant Les Yeux – 2:20-3:20, Aida – 3:42-4:31, Caro Nome – 3:07-3:30, With All My Heart – 1:11-1:40, My Song For You – 1:58-2:20, Cortigiani – 2:00-2:25, E Lucevan Le Stelle – 1:04 – 1:45

En Fermant Les Yeux – Jussi Björling

          This is one of the most beautiful opera arias ever written. My favorite version is with Beniamino Gigli in part 8, “the most poetic moments of opera.” In that section I will explain how beautifully poetic the words are.

Celeste Aida – Franco Corelli

          This is one of the most stunning diminuendi on record that I have heard. Corelli takes a high Bb and diminishes it slowly from very loud to very soft.

Caro Nome – Eva Prytz

          This is a less well known soprano from a live Swedish recording in the 50’s. Even the lesser known singers in that day had great voices!

With All My Heart – Jan Kiepura

          Again, my favorite singer! Jan Kiepura does have a Polish accent here, but we love him anyway (or even more). Here he takes a high B natural and diminishes it. You won’t hear this too often from tenors. This is a very difficult thing to do well.

My Song For You – Jan Kiepura

          What I am showing you here is the opposite of a diminuendo. Here, Jan Kiepura starts on a soft note and slowly swells it into a loud note. He does it so gracefully.

Cortigiani – Leonard Warren

          Some singers think that basses and baritones use the chest voice completely. Some maybe, but not the good ones! Here Leonard Warren shows the soft basis his baritone voice has.

E Lucevan Le Stelle – Tito Schipa

          This recording is very old. Don’t run away because of the technology! If you can make it through the old sounding recording, an unbelievable voice shines through! Also, don’t let the recording trick you into thinking the voice is smaller than it is!

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