Operathlete Gold Medalists
Dear Operagasm Readers,
Well, it’s that time of the year again…Awards season! As SOCHI2014 comes to a close, it’s time to remember the Olympians of the Arts World- Opera Singers.
Now Olympic singing is quite different from what most sports fans are used to, we may not toss a ball around, or ski down a mountain, but we are similar in that an Olympian effort goes into our training and performances. Operathletes sprint with their voices, but their bodies have to withstand hours on the stage, and hours of those same sprints. Heavy voices have to power lift sound and color to the top of their range, but marks are taken off if they don’t look and sound effortless as they do it. The breath control of an opera singer must be so absolute that they can soar, unburdened for almost full minutes without stopping to breathe. The voice must be trained for years until it is powerful and resonant enough to carry, unamplified, to crowds of 5,000 or more. An opera athlete must always be in tune, but isn’t allowed the use of auto-tune or reverb machines to help. The choreography of foreign languages has to be perfect, and the steady flow of consonants mustn’t trip the never ending stream of music spewing forth. It takes years of study to become an operathlete.
So let’s get down to the brass tacks of operathletes. Now, if Opera is the Olympic sport of the arts, then the Metropolitan is surely our sports arena. OperaAwards have their own gold medalists this year, but who has caught Operagasm’s eye?
Smooth Ride- Renee Fleming
While Ms. Fleming is also well-renowned for her cross-over singing (David Letterman, anyone?) We can’t deny that she has spent years renowned as one of the silkiest sounding voices in the world. Her legato is excellent, due to her years of experience, her level of comfort with the language, and her probably made-of-gold diaphragm.
The Sprinter-Joyce diDonato
Now, when we listen to Joyce diDonato’s “Non piu mesta,” we know that the fancy footwork done here seems virtual impossible. Joyce diDonato has tamed her tongue, jaw, and larynx with extremely fine motor control, Not only is this particular piece (as well as many in Ms. diDonato’s repertoire) incredibly fast, but the two-octave cadenzas happen at lightning speed, it’s easy to see how this is some of the best speed-singing we’ve seen in a long time.
The Power Lifter- Sondra Radvanovsky
After listening to Ms. Radvanovsky’s Tosca at the Met last January, I was amazed at the ease with which her entire voice and range of color went right up with her. None of her rich middle and low register were sacrificed, and the her full weight of her voice was glorious up top, with some truly spectacular coordination and mind/body integration.
Technical Footwork- David Daniels
#DaddyProspero is the Golden Boy of Baroque and has been for some time now. The technical ability it takes to sing Handel aria after aria at 110% while remaining absolutely calm and within a single opera just goes to show that this modern-day Farinelli has the skill and training to go anywhere he wants with his athleticism and artistry.
The High C- Juan Diego Florez
It’s easy to see why this man has a world-class career, but it’s even easier to hear why. His High C comes out as effortlessly as, well, as his High C’s. He is the current standard for tenor high’s, he manages to keep his throat completely open and vibrating. The problem here is that he is so at ease you have no idea how hard he really is working, and has worked for those 9 high C’s. Congratulations Mr. Florez, you’re the top!
Couple’s Duet- Mariusz Kwiecien and Anna Netrebko
After watching their scenes together in L’elisir d’amore, we were thrilled when Eugene Onegin was announced with these two. The electricity between the two of them as they dance together and around each other in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is unbelievable. Easy to see how they’ve swept the gold medal away.
The High Climber-Rachelle Gilmore
Feel free to skip to the middle and listen to the A’. Once you do, you will see why we gave Ms. Gilmore the Gold Medal for high climbing. She’s essentially scaled Mount Everest in this recording of her Metropolitan Debut as Olympia in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Listen as she soars to the highest of heights without batting an eyelash, managing all of the tricky maneuvering and still managing to produce a sound large enough to fill the Metropolitan.
The Rookie-Susanna Phillips
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a great video of our rookie Soprano, Susanna Phillips. However,we’re sure that will soon change! With her seamless transition of registers, her charming personality (and it’s an Olympian effort to remain charming after three hours of singing Fiordiligi, as she recently did at the Met), and her just absolute beauty of tone, it’s easy to see why she is the rookie of our hearts. Catch her now as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, or as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor next season.
Anything we’ve left off? Let us know in the comments!