One of the things I miss most about California is my opera friends and the opera parties we had together. Every now and then we would get together and watch opera videos. We did a little competitive video finding. My biggest find was The Big Broadcast of 1935 with Kirsten Flagstad in her horned helmet singing Brünnhilde.
So Saturday night we had another party. We watched parts of Queen of Spades, a short film of Beverly Sills at the peak of her skills, and a long video of a recital by Franco Corelli.
Franco Corelli was a very special singer. His obituary in Opera News says that he was self-taught. This is completely believable. What teacher would have the nerve to teach such an incredibly open tone? Birget Nilssen also expressed a similar mistrust of voice teachers.
He was a beautiful man with a wonderful voice (I would call him a spinto tenor), but that isn't what makes him the icon he has become. It is his utter fearlessness that sets him apart. He is known to have had terrible stage fright, so how can I say he was fearless? His heart was as open as his tone, and it may have been this artistic fearlessness that frightened him.
His tone knows no compromise. His passion is complete. His use of portamento is completely unbelievable. You simply have to hear his amazing slow downward arc to believe it. No one takes these kinds of risks today. He is the gold standard.