Curator Melissa Wolfe talks about the inspiration we can all take away from the Columbus Museum of Arts newest exhibition showcasing the work of home town hero George Bellows. George Bellows and the American Experience through January 4, 2014. This exhibition follows on the heels of a major retrospective of the artist organized by the [...]
Tenor Carlo Bergonzi Turns 90
Carlo Bergonzi! Onstage, he was a short dumpy man who looked like everyone’s favorite ItalianÂ Nono. Vocally, his was a voice of power and sweetness. Bergonzi had the greatest sense of line I have heard from a vocalist. Line is the heart of music making, stringing the notes together smoothly, allowing the tones to “bounce” on the breath. Such singing sounds effortless-it is not.
UPDATE July 18 It is reported that Bergonzi has beenÂ admittedÂ to hospital in serious condition. Let’s pray for a good recovery or aÂ peaceful passing.
I knew Bergonzi from records when I first heard him ‘live’. The Metropolitan opera on tour preened Verdi’sÂ Il trovatore.Â I’d tell you the plotÂ but the story ofÂ Il trovatoreÂ evenÂ defeated The Marx Brothers inÂ A Night at the Opera.Â What you need for this opera is four great voices and a conductor who doesn’t get in the way.
It was April 23, 1977. Bergonzi was joined by Renata Scotto and Fiorenza Cossotto. James Levine conducted. It was a great ‘get in thereÂ and fight performance. The tiny Scotto was good at shoving her colleagues out of the way and screaming from the footlights. Bergonzi shoved her right back and gave us a full-grown magnificent Italian tenor.
Later in New York I heard Bergonzi in Verdi’sÂ Un ballo in mascheraÂ and as the clown Canio inÂ Pagliacci.Â By 1980 the bloom was off of his voice-but there was plenty left to enjoy. His range had diminished, but his was an artist that madeÂ musicÂ out of Italian operas written in the 1850s.
In 1996 Bergonzi appeared without prior announcement at a gala honoring James Levine. Listen to the audience at first sight of this beloved tenor
They don’t make ‘em that way anymore.
Today, Carlo Bergonzi is in declining health. He was able to greet several of his fans on the phone last week, responding to birthday greetings. One wishes for him a blessed and healthy retirement. I haveÂ noÂ doubt that at 90 he could produce a vocal line to shame tenors half of his age. I heard Bergonzi several times. Lucky me!