Monday, April 13, 2020


Q. Here is a question for you: Can you differentiate country/culture of origin of a singer solely by listening to them?

How about an Asian singer vs European or even American?

Me: I would guess not. Unless they're singing in their native style. If you mean people singing opera, today they are from everywhere.

Q.They are from everywhere- mostly. So you cannot tell a Russian soprano singing Puccini from an English woman singing Tchaikovsky? A German singing Gershiwin? We were also trying to call to mind Big Name singers from Asia?

Me. Kathleen Kim is from Korea. Sumi Jo also. Yonghoon Lee tenor also. These are the main ones I know. The biggest hot singer today is Pretty Yende, a black woman from South Africa. And yes, she is very pretty.

Some foreigners sing other languages quite well. If I'm listening to Song to the Moon, I know that only Lucia Popp is Czech, but the other people don't have accents from their own countries. I for instance have no trace of an American accent in German. I don't speak Czech so I can't tell. People on YouTube who speak Czech complain a lot.

Q,And Pavarotti could sing in another language without a trace of Italian accent?🤗

Me. I know he sang in English in his pop singer phase, but I don't know if he bothered to try to sound American. He was famous for Daughter of the Regiment which is in French. This is very wowie.

If you speak the language, the crucial bit is to understand what they are saying. If you are in Munich and they are singing in German, and you speak German, you will understand a lot more than you will other places. This can be attributed to the coaches.

Q.And wasn’t Fledermaus one of his roles? German?

Me. In Fledermaus there is a party scene.  He appeared with Sutherland as one of the entertainers at the party.  No role.  No dialog.  He also appeared in Rosenkavalier as The Italian Singer. He sings in Italian in both places.  


If you see a film of people rehearsing for a professional opera recording, in the circle of professionals will be the language coach.  It is very important that everyone seem to be speaking the same language.  There is a very wide variation in how singers perform in foreign languages.  In every professional company there are coaches.

In Ulm we did everything in German, and the coaches came from the theater part of the house.  We learned Buehne Deutsch. The main person who did this was from Berlin and spoke an almost incomprehensible dialect in real life.  This always made me laugh.  Her stage German was very beautiful, but it would be like learning a foreign language.

It is important to distinguish language and style.  I took this question to mean language, and maybe there would be a completely different answer if it referred to style.  OK.  Pavarotti is the very definition of Italian style and shows it in everything he sings.

So where do you think this woman is from?


BeachyGal said...

Okay so if a singer sings almost everything in "Italian style" why would I not think that they are Italian? Pavarotti totally sounds Italian singing in French. I think he was coach proof.

Dr.B said...

Citing Pavarotti, the most Italian of singers, and making a generalization from it, just won't work for me. Pick someone less obvious.