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6. Fast Singing

The Very Great Soprano
Amelita Galli-Curci

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!

          Fast singing can vary from being very entertaining to superhuman. The trills and movements that some sopranos do defy what many could have imagined is possible from the human voice. If you listen especially to the recordings of Una Voce Poco Fa, Sempre Libera, and L’Histoire Amoureuse, you will see exactly what I am talking about. Also, don’t think less of the fast singing from the men either! It is only by getting the bulk of the speaking voice out of the way that one can sing expressively and quickly. Some old teachers said that it took two years to master singing quickly. You are about to see why!

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            The exact clips I prepared for the recordings I list here are Mignon – 3:38-4:39, Una Voce Poco Fa 4:56-5:30, Il Trovatore – 23:21-24:08, Sempre Libera – 0:00-0:40 and 1:56-2:35, C’est l’histoire amourseuse – 2:10-2:38, Di Tu Se Fedele – 2:32-3:07, and La Donna È Mobile – 1:50-2:09.

Je Suis Titania – Mimi Benzell

          This recording is unbelievably incredible. That is why I put it first. Listen to the resonance that the upper part of Mimi’s voice gets in this live recording! Her fast notes ending with the high F are stunning. Trying doing this one on karaoke night!

Una Voce Poco Fa – Anna Moffo

          Anna Moffo did this on Italian television in the 60’s. Here is a great collection of other breath-taking arias she sings if you can’t get enough!. She was so gorgeous and talented.

Trio from Il Trovatore – Warren, Björling, and Milanov

          Many people – including myself – think this is the greatest recording of Il Trovatore ever made. This trio is an absolute favorite of many and is extremely popular.

Sempre Libera and C’est L’Histoire Amoureuse – Amelita Galli-Curci

          Amelita Galli-Curci is my all-time favorite soprano. She taught herself how to sing after listening to her grandmother and attending La Scala for many years. She said that it took her years to carefully and slowly train the voice without forcing it, and therefore ruining it. Her recordings here are so miraculous that they defy words. It is too bad that the recording quality was not completely like today (don’t be scared away by this)! If it was, I think people would understand even more how unbelievable she was. Listen to how she hits each note perfectly (and in many cases lightning fast) as if she consistently throws a bulls-eye in a dart board. She doesn’t scoop or slide like other singers!

Di Tu Se Fedele – Jussi Björling

          Jussi Björling was capable of taking an aria I really didn’t care for initially and causing me to fall in love with it. Listen to the last phrase of this aria leading up to the high note and after it. He doesn’t take a breath!

La Donna È Mobile – Richard Tucker

          It is very funny. In an interview, Tucker said that many of the tenors at the Metropolitan Opera in the 60’s asked him how he sang the quick ending to this opera so well. He said being Jewish helped, because he sang so many songs like it in the synagogue! If you haven’t heard one of my favorite Jewish songs by Tucker, check it out in part 12 of this series, My Favorites!

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