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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Great figures in opera? All gone.
In Memoriam Cesare Siepi.

I’m kind of getting off the track here, but the other day I was having a casual conversation with a couple of friends on great opera singers of all times inspired by the recent death of Cesare Siepi which eventually ended in reflections on the demise of great figures in opera. Although with some delay I’d like to pay tribute to one of my favourite bass-baritones, because I owe moments of elevated joy to artists like him.

What can you say when a genius dies?

Bewail not life with its exhausting breath,
What’s life and death? But moan about the flame,
That over the whole creation blazed,
And parts into the night, weeping as it fades.
A. Fet (copyright © 2010 by Brainstorming Ideas)

Cesare Siepi
Cesare Siepi

Sadly, Cesare Siepi was the third of mythical opera singers that left us in the past two months. First, it was Giulietta Simionato, then Giuseppe Taddei and now Cesare Siepi. One of the greatest mezzo-sopranos of the 20th century and the last two true Verdi baritono and basso-baritono respectively with saturated massive virile voices, remarkable artistic talent and vivid personality disappeared forever.

Giulietta Simionato
Giulietta Simionato
Giuseppe Taddei
Giuseppe Taddei
There’re three indispensable qualities that make a great opera or any other serious music genre singer: a  big robust distinctive voice, a passionate soul, the ability to convey passion filling every note with vibrating intensity, and rich deep personality behind the voice. Contemporary singers are just small fry compared to these monuments — a logical product of modern throwaway society. Fast buck mentality doesn’t exactly contribute to intellectual depth or serious honourable approach to one’s trade, which together with general physical degeneration of human species practically leaves but a slim chance of the emergence of big voices.

An unsurpassable Don Giovanni or Don Basilio, Cesare Siepi was one of those exceptional performers who combined outstanding artistic talent with remarkable personal appearance that tallied to the uttermost degree with what the word “man” is supposed to mean.

If Paradise exists, it must be inhabited by great artists, and not by saints mumbling prayers or fanatical martyrs. At least mine is.

Meanwhile true music lovers are left paddling in the vast lonely ocean of mediocrities.

It goes without saying that the best way to appreciate great singers’ art is to simply listen to their voices, rather than describe profusely their qualities.

Then, a couple of days later Olga Guillot, La Reina del Bolero, passed away. She wasn’t an opera singer, but still she was an outstanding performer, one of those rare singers capable of evoking strong feelings and stirring your blood by the mere timbre of their voices.

Olga Guillot
Olga Guillot

Hanno havuto una vita lunga e meravigliosa, adesso che riposino in pace.

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