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For anyone not paying close attention, there was only one Italian tenor during the 70's, 80's, and 90's.

Pavarotti may have had the most beautiful voice ever produced and his technique was flawless.

Every note he sang was consistent in tone and quality with the previous. He was a pretty sound machine.

What Pavarotti lacked was drama, both on the stage and in his voice. Since every note was the same, he couldn't make a dramatic choice with the color of his singing.

His stage presence was corpulent.

There were other Italian tenors during this period. Giuseppe Giacomini and Nicola Martinucci were both plangent, dramatic tenors.

Franco Bonisolli was a vocal force of nature with a personality to match.

Bonisolli began his opera life as a lyric tenor and his American debut was at San Diego Opera as Alfredo in La Traviata.

He grew into a big boy tenor and sang all the heavy repertoire including Otello.

However, his antics got the better of him.

At Vienna State Opera during a public rehearsal of Il Trovatore he became frustrated and threw his sword into the pit. He was replaced in that production by Placido Domingo.

San Diego thought it was an anathema when Jose Cura tossed a rubber chicken into the pit during a curtain call for Pagliacci.

In spite of his personal short comings, the voice was magnificent and exciting. His stage presence was electric and unpredictable. Bonisolli was the anti-Pavarotti.

Both these tenors were a step back from the previous generation. Pavarotti lacked dramatic intention, Bonisolli was called Il Pazzo, the crazy man.

This Youtube link of Bonisolli demonstrates everything that he was. The vocals are unmatched as are the antics. I like the antics and wish more opera singers were like this but I'm in the minority.

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Comments

nan shartel Dec. 15, 2010 @ 10 p.m.

uh oh.... Pavarotti didn't need anything but his voice Garrett...and i know u r well verse in opera...and in tenors in particular...i must say i'm not familiar with all the tenors u've mentioned in ur recent blogs

i have only an afficionadoes ear...

the voice...the voice...i'm blind to everything except the voice....

i cried when Pavarotti died...cried big bold operatic tears...la sua voce è stata presa in prestito dagli angeli

and his Nessum Dorma....was beyond la gamma che gli angeli cantano

years ago my Da used to say that Liza Minelli at her best couldn't carry her mother's bags!!

no other operatic tenor could voice wise carry Pavarotti's bags either where Nessum Dorma was concerned

however i never saw him in an opera so i can't judge his stage presence

JMO ;-D

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sailinsax Dec. 17, 2010 @ 9:04 a.m.

"What Pavarotti lacked was drama, both on the stage and in his voice. Since every note was the same, he couldn't make a dramatic choice with the color of his singing."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! His voice lacked drama, every note was the same... good one!

You must be joking because I am laughing like crazy right now.

"He was a pretty sound machine." Really? Ouch.

"His stage presence was corpulent." Yes, he was fat.

Nobody is going to take you seriously if you are going to say things like this about the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World (pun intended).

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Garrett Harris Dec. 17, 2010 @ 1:51 p.m.

Sailinsax, you walk a very fine line between being on topic and being down right insulting.

Here's your homework:

Explain the different types of tenor from leggerio, Rossini, lyric, spinto, dramatic, and heldentenor.

Name the roles those voices are suited for based on the current and historic performance practices.

Name specific tenors who were those voice types. So you know, the role of Calaf in Turnandot is a spinto/dramatic role. Pavarotti was INDISPUTABLY a lyric tenor. Why is his most famous aria from a role his voice was unsuited for and that he rarely performed? Hint it has something to do with money, lots and lots of money.

Tell me where the tenor passagio lies and how to balance the registration of the voice between head and chest.

Talk about how to cover through the passagio and how to manipulate the vowels to create a consistent tone quality from top to bottom. Explain how using cover can change the dramatic quality of a note to fit the emotion required in the current musical moment.

Explain how vowel production stains the color and pitch of the voice. Explain which vowels are head register dominant and which are chest register dominant. Explain which vowels are closest in relationship to one another. For example Ah and Eh and more similar than Eh and EE.

Talk about what singing with an open throat is. Explain, the role of a lowered larynx and depressed tongue. Of course, I think we all know about the soft palate so you can skip that one.

Explain which consonants are fricatives and how they relate to singing a legato phrase.

Explain appoggio breathing and why it is necessary for consistent pitch, tone, color, and phrasing.

No Googling.

Now explain why I should take your comment seriously.

Those that know already take me seriously, it's just the philistines I have to worry about.

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Garrett Harris Dec. 17, 2010 @ 1:56 p.m.

Undisputed Heavy Weight of the World is not a pun.

Wikipedia does a good job of explaining it.

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sailinsax Dec. 17, 2010 @ 5:43 p.m.

I guess your homework assignment was meant to humble me with your vast knowledge. Well done. You know, at first I was excited to see a music blog with a classical bent here on The Reader because I love classical music and learning new things about it including happenings around town. I have read some interesting things on your blog but sometimes your opinions are so strong and narrow that it seems like you are just trying to get a reaction. I mean seriously, did you really think that nobody was going to speak up after those ridiculous remarks you made about Pavarotti? Sorry if that was insulting but I found it laughable.

Don't worry, you won't see anymore comments from me here. Best of luck.

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MsGrant Dec. 17, 2010 @ 5:47 p.m.

Jesus, Garrett, are you trying to bury yourself with your own shovel? Give your readers a break. There aren't that many.

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nan shartel Dec. 17, 2010 @ 6:32 p.m.

they get that way about Opera Grantie ...la grande passione della cosa...hahahahaha;-D

hey come back again sailinsax

u said: I guess your homework assignment was meant to humble me with your vast knowledge. Well done. You know, at first I was excited to see a music blog with a classical bent here on The Reader because I love classical music and learning new things about it including happenings around town. I have read some interesting things on your blog but sometimes your opinions are so strong and narrow that it seems like you are just trying to get a reaction. I mean seriously, did you really think that nobody was going to speak up after those ridiculous remarks you made about Pavarotti? Sorry if that was insulting but I found it laughable.

u spoke up salinsax...and i think maybe even Garrett may give his High Horse a time out after reading ur comment

i sorta like the fact Garrett is a young operatic type prone to preening in print...THAT WAS A COMPLIMENT YOUNGSTER...HAHAHAHAHAHA

this is an amazing blog and i hope it won't be sullied by too much temperament...altho that's Opera for ya...hahahahahahahha...it's that ethereal air that gets the best of some artist sometimes

er...um...Grantie ...got a good hiding place for that shovel??? ;-D

and the reason u should take it seriously Garrett is because he was brave enough to say it...a tip from a fan of the blog

nobisse oblige ...think about it

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MsGrant Dec. 17, 2010 @ 6:46 p.m.

Yeah, nan - in the grave it dug ;) Anyway, I disagree that the esoteric nature of certain things lending an air of insider knowledge tends to disallow those that just ENJOY a cigar for being a cigar from participation. Shameful. And to pooh-pooh those that actually have more than a degree of breathing room to comment bespokes arrogance.

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nan shartel Dec. 17, 2010 @ 7:14 p.m.

agreed Grantie ...but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water here...this is ONE blog some may deem offensive...and i come here to become more knowledgeable about opera and classical music and music in general...

Garrett is a teacher...arrogant or not...i learn things when i come here

just to make us all feel better i don't think he knows all the tedious artistry involved in making a really good cigar ;-D

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MsGrant Dec. 17, 2010 @ 7:19 p.m.

Unless he survived the Clinton era....:O)

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nan shartel Dec. 17, 2010 @ 7:49 p.m.

~~u r so very very bad Grantie hahahahahahahahahahahaha~~ ;)

i bet he's a Leo

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Garrett Harris Dec. 18, 2010 @ 12:28 a.m.

Nan, thank you for the nobisse oblige reminder. I'm a Libra, to a fault. If I don't perceive it to be fair, look out. It's getting better. My nickname used to be polemic-oh.

MsGrant, I'm not going to try to defend myself, I'll just get into more trouble.

I wrote a defense but it seemed petty so it's deleted.

Sailinsax, I apologize for nuking you. However, if you are lured into commenting again, please include why you have an opposing point of view. Call me narrow, laughable, and ridiculous if you like but explain why.

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MsGrant Dec. 18, 2010 @ 7:46 a.m.

Awww, Garrett, you're such a good addition to this publication, I can't stay mad at you. You know, I was a classical music neophyte until I got married. I had to create my music list and because I married a Jewish man Wagner was out of the question (not to mention I would never consider Mendelssohn's "Wedding March", as march is not something I ever associated with going into my marriage), and I have to say it opened up a whole new world to me. Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" during the seating , Pachelbel's "Canon" in D minor for me, and Bach's "Joy of Man's Desiring" for the recessional. Going back this morning and listening to these well-known but very special-to-me classics brought tears to my eyes. This is what this music is meant for, and preserving it and appreciating it is important. Fight the good fight.

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nan shartel Dec. 18, 2010 @ 2:24 p.m.

ditto Grantie!!! ;=D

my oldest son is a Libra and much like u...he's an overexcited architectural perfectionist about his work most of the time.... and i understand Garrett

carry on young one

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nan shartel Dec. 19, 2010 @ 4:23 p.m.

and Garrett i should warn u now...i'm a terrible tease...Irish u know ;=D

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dmopbuff Dec. 20, 2010 @ 1:09 p.m.

Pavarotti's 1982 performance as Nemorino of Una furtiva lagrima is breathtaking. Saying that every note sounds alike does an injustice to his ability to caress a phrase as he does in this aria. The problem with Bonisolli or anyone throwing anything into the pit is that orchestra musicians can be injured. The behavior is totally uncalled for.

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dmopbuff Dec. 20, 2010 @ 1:36 p.m.

The most interesting tenor phenomenon of the last 30 years is the emergence of the Spanish and Latino tenors, such as Domingo, Carreras, Cura, Ramon Vargas, Villazon (he is probably finished) and many others. Genuine Italian tenors such as Giordani and Filianoti don't seem to have reached true star status. (Filianoti; however, was seriously ill). It will be interesting to see what Italy produces.

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Garrett Harris Dec. 20, 2010 @ 5:26 p.m.

dmopbuff, You are right on the button. Pav is perfect as Nemorino--his voice and technique are ideal for bel canto, Alfredo, Duca in Rig, Rodolpho, etc. For me the issues begin in earnest when he records roles like Cavaradossi, Chenier, Otello (!), Manrico, Canio, even Polione in Norma-you know, the big stuff. His marketing machine made it possible and hurt the careers of legitimate spinto/dramatic types like Giacomini and Martinucci.

You're correct about the Latin tenor being dominate. I've heard a few Met broadcasts with Giordani and have been appalled. We'll see how Licitra does as Jose this season but I'm not going to hold my breath.

No one was condoning throwing anything into the pit. As I mentioned, Bonisolli's antics got the better of him and he was replaced in that production which was at Vienna State Opera with von Karajan--those aren't small potatoes.

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dmopbuff Dec. 22, 2010 @ 2:58 p.m.

I have heard Licitra twice; once in the L.A. Opera Tosca and again in the L.A. Opera Il tabarro. I think he is ok, nothing special, but I understand he is a mixed bag and can turn in an exciting performance, so I have hope for Carmen. With regard to current tenors, based on Met moviecasts and one live performance, I have liked Calleja and Beczala the best. So maybe Maltese and Polish tenors will dominate the stage.:) I have heard that Beczala will return to San Diego for Ballo in Maschera, a very tenor-centered opera. I hope that happens. San Diego's last Ballo was the last time I heard a decent performance from Richard Leech. What a sad decline for him.

Of course in the Bel Canto repertory, we have the great Florez. I think the decline in the Italian tenor simply reflects the decline in popularity of opera in Italy. Although the Italians are proud of their institutions, listening to or attending opera has largely been replaced by the sinister influence of American popular music.

I am looking forward to the development of Stephen Costello. He has great potential, but needs to mature. Since he is not yet 30, he has plenty of time.

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