Tuesday 6 August 2019

Sheer beauty - the voice of Joan Sutherland

Joan Sutherland makes - to my ear - the most beautiful sound I have ever heard from a human being; on top of which her technique and upper range are unsurpassed; and (perhaps most importantly) her musical phrasing is gorgeously lyrical. Just singing this stuff is a major achievement, but there is a level beyond. 

Like a lot of Italian Opera, Caro Nome is mainly a vehicle for the singer - although it comes from Verdi's Rigoletto which is a powerful, pathetic (i.e. full of pathos) and indeed (to my mind) horrible melodrama.

It starts out quite innocently, as a simple - rather banal - tune; but that is just to lull us. Once it gets-going with elaborating and decorating the melody...

And Sutherland saves a treat from the end, the 'walk-off' high note with the most extraordinary trill, that demonstrates what I mean by Sutherland's musicality of phrasing. Most professional singers would be more than happy simply to be able to do a straightforward trill (and many can't) but Sutherland rounds-out with... well, listen. 

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