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4. Rich Baritone and Bass Singing

The Great Baritone
Lawrence Tibbet
and his wife
Grace Mackay Smith

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!

          Just imagine being out with a friend at a karaoke night, he opens his mouth, and the voice of Leonard Warren comes out (you can listen to this below). What could you say? What words could you come up with to describe such a voice? To give you a chance at describing it, I have listed clips of many of the greatest baritones who have ever lived. Try not to love them.

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Open this playlist in spotify, here.


            The exact clips I prepared for the recordings I list here are Cortigiani – 0:00-1:10, Luisa Miller – 7:43 – 8:43, Carmen – 0:00-0:57, Un Ballo in Maschera (Morro) -3:39-5:31, Un Ballo in Maschera (Eri Tu) – 2:22-3:20, Aida – 4:10-5:18, and Some Enchanted Evening 1:52-3:00.

Cortigiani, Vil Razza Dannata – Leonard Warren

          So, could you imagine your friend doing this? (If you don’t understand this, read the introduction to this post.)

Ah! Il Fu Giusto – Sherrill Milnes

          This aria is from Verdi’s awesome opera Luisa Miller. Here the father proclaiming how he will protect his daughter.

Toreador Song – Lawrence Tibbet

          Listen to the high D that Lawrence Tibbet sings around 0:50. Here he places the tone in the head voice where it should be. Many baritones today don’t place the tone here. The result of this is that the high tones they sing sound strange and are not thrilling.

Alzati and Eri Tu – Ettore Bastianini

          Here I have two Ettore Bastianini recordings, since I wanted to get the whole scene he sings here. He is one of the greatest baritones that ever lived alongside Leonard Warren. I still don’t know which one is my favorite. What do you think?

Aida Ciel, Mio Padre – George London and Astrid Varnay

          In this duet, Amonasro (the bass) denounces his daughter for turning her back on their country. George London studied with Enrico Rosati, the famous teacher who taught both Beniamino Gigli and Mario Lanza. Also, his partner in the duet here, Astrid Varnay, isn’t bad either.

Some Enchanted Evening – Ezio Pinza

          Ezio Pinza is probably the most famous operatic bass name in history. He has a bit of an Italian accent here, but we still love him. At the end of the song, he shows you how even a bass uses the soft voice/head voice skillfully.

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