Sunday, December 6, 2009

L'Elisir D'Amore: Kathleen Battle or Joan Sutherland -- which version do you prefer?

Through some fluke, I ended up buying two CD sets of L'Elisir d'Amore -- the first with Kathleen Battle /James Levine and the second with Joan Sutherland/ Richard Bonynge -- and both with Pavarotti.

I know you guys are opera NUTS and probably have strong opinions. So tell me --- which version do you prefer?

L'Elisir D'Amore: Kathleen Battle or Joan Sutherland -- which version do you prefer?classical music

Kathleen Battle and Joan Sutherland are both excellent Soprano's so for me it can only fall to technical performace and dedication to the art.

Sound in it's simplest description can be defined by attack, decay, sustain and release as well as its waveform.

Attack is how long it takes from no sound to the highest volume, decay is the time from the highest volume to about half its volume, sustain is how long the average volume is held and release is the time from the sustain to no sound. The waveform can be flat like an extended tone or sawtooth like tremelo.

Kathleen Battle has a long attack, short decay, medium sustain and short release with a sawtooth waveform.

Joan Sutherland has a short attack, short decay, long sustain and short release with a flat waveform.

As a result Ms Battle seems to always be easing into the note whereas Dame Sutherland gets right to it and holds it longer.

For Operatic style we must remember the basic premise: That when a situation is charged with so much emotion the only place you can go with it is into song. That's what makes it beautiful, we are "right on the edge" emotionally before the song even begins. After that it's all tears and terrible, majestic beauty - fair or foul. For the benefit of the audience, especially if offered in a foreign language as most operas are, the words should be clear and deliberate as most structured opera is designed to be.

If you look at Maestro Pavarotti's style, it is very similar to Dame Sutherland's making them an excellent foil for each other. It is clear that they are both communicating at the same level on similar terms.

Ms Battle, to me, always seems to be "searching" for the note which is at odds to Maestro Pavarotti's way of getting to the note expediently.

It is said in the Army that in a tight spot a man will fall back the the level of his training and experience. Without being unfair to Ms Battle, Dame Sutherland has a far greater wealth of both - and it shows.

I also find it hard to imagine Dame Sutherland breaking into a rendition of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" as Miss Battle has done. I know that this shows versatility, but often in polite company an opera buff will like things "just so". As people who appreciate the arts they find it awkward when "watercolours are mixed with oils".

I suppose it could be argued that Ms Battle's style is sweeter abd Dame Sutherlans style is stronger. For opera I think strength is also important.

To this end, and without impugning Ms Battle's dedication to the refined emotomusical art of Opera, I must submit that in this instance I prefer Dame Sutherland.

L'Elisir D'Amore: Kathleen Battle or Joan Sutherland -- which version do you prefer?ms stress opera theater

think i answered one q about pavarotti,,,,%26amp; kathleen battle,she the greatest coloratura soprano of the century
Joan Sutherland, but Kathleen looks better, that's not nice to say, but oh well. I like some of Kathleens stuff that she did with the classical guitarist, Christopher Parkening.
Believe it or not, nearly 40 yrs spent listening to opera, born 100 yds of Toscanini's house, grown up in the most demanding and traditional opera house of Italy, knew Richard Tucker in person, and I don't even know who K. Battle is. Ah, ignorance ...
Definitely the Sutherland.

Never been able to stand Battle.

But the version I prefer above both of them is the Devia/Alagna.

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