Post by REP Post by email@example.com Post by REP Post by Mike Scott Rohan
And I'd certainly sooner hear him conduct Walkure than sing in it, these days --
Hunding? Wotan? Yike.
Definitely agreed there. His foray into the Italian baritone repertoire wasn't all bad, but I'm not sure I could accept him in any Wagnerian baritone roles. Donner, perhaps, with a good dye-job on the beard. And, crazily enough, Telramund on a really good night. Interesting thought...
Telramund YES since I really think a heavy tenor would be just about right vocally for that very demanding part
Vinay, the Chilean tenor, had a good voice for Telramund, and he did sing it at Bayreuth (there are recordings which really show off his effectiveness in the role). He also sang Otello, Canio, Siegmund, etc. Not many singers fall into his category, unfortunately.
Quite a lot of heldentenors start as baritones -- Melchior, for example, and of course Domingo more or less alternated between the two, to start with. Some, including Vinay, even have a solid baritone career before changing over as the voice develops; so when they lose the top notes it's no great trouble to revert to their old range. The gulf is not really so wide, and many singers can cross the range, especially from low to high; beyond that it's largely a matter of colour and timbre. The Russo-German Ivan Rebroff, who recorded some serious roles but later became a classical pop star, could famously go in one run from low D right through the tenor range and up into counter-tenor; I saw him do this, and it was alarming. Even I, definitely a bass, could hit a top C of sorts, until threatened by those around me. But it works the other way around, too. On one notable occasion, when the bass suddenly went dry during Boheme, Caruso is said to have told him to mime and, turning his back, sung the whole of Addio, vecchio zimarra -- and got an ovation. Fischer-Dieskau could sing low tenor with no trouble, in fact Decca wanted him to sing Siegmund for Solti. Thomas Hampson, too, has recorded Wintersturme.
Vinay, though, was an unusually convincing Heldenbaritone, perhaps because he'd been such a baritonal tenor, but also because he retained an unusual degree of power -- more than Domingo, I think. Still, he only changed back when his high notes began to go, probably, as with di Stefano, through fast living. Robert Merrill tells two amusingly disreputable stories of encounters with a tenor who is obviously Vinay, in one case getting thumped in a very sensitive area by a pretty young fan (quite possibly the one he married).