Posts Tagged ‘Rolando Villazon’


Tenor: History of a Voice in paperback

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Yale University Press has now published the paperback version of Tenor: History of a Voice. This isn’t an update and the great Lanza/Caruso sheet music on the back cover has been replaced by a long list of flattering press quotes, but it does have the typos etc corrected from the hardback version, together with an extra paragraph acknowledging those who wrote in with corrections and suggestions. I hope I haven’t left anybody out – do let me know if so. I’ll be doing the first update of the tenorography as soon as I have a spare day or two, and the plan is still for a 2nd edition in a few years’ time. I’m still thinking about additional chapters as well as updating the existing material. South and Central America, South Africa and Australia, as well as the eastern Europe countries are obvious candidates, but other ideas will be keenly looked at so do let me know (Comments button or email) or maybe get some discussion going on Amazon.

Having escaped academia I now have more time not only for performing, but also doing that thing that academics fantasise about but rarely have time for: research. I’ve completed two chapters for CUP histories over the summer and Neil Sorrell and I are scheduled to finish our singing history by Christmas. I’m also writing a chapter with Liz Haddon on university instrumental teaching for the book of the IMP project, and there’s an article on Peter Pears’ voice in the pipeline too.

I found myself in a car in Slovenia recently with two people who’d read Vocal Authority, which must be some kind of first. I suppose what isn’t so surprising is that I get more feedback about my first book than anything I’ve written since. Although it came out of my PhD (written on the road with the Hilliards over a very long period) it was before I got really entangled with academia, so it’s much more of a polemic than a 21st century PhD would probably get away with. It’s very old now, of course, but I’m still touched when people tell me what it has meant to them (and sometimes people quote whole chunks of it at me, which is rather disconcerting). Next year I want to begin a sequel, which will take up the story where Vocal Authority left off.  As I’m now released back into the community it won’t be an academic tome so I may have to venture further afield to find a publisher. The working title is Classical Singing and the Death of Creativity. That may be a bit pessimistic – one of the things I hope to enthuse about is the fantastic potential the 21st century has to offer singers.

Villazon, horses and toothpaste…

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Well he was quite something, wasn’t he? What struck me, apart from his tremendous energy, humour and complete lack of divo-like arrogance, was his taste in tenors – Juan Diego Florez and Jonas Kaufmann  in particular – both not only supremely elegant singers but reflective and creative artists. It was great to see clips of old and young Domingo, and to be reminded of the influence of Mario Lanza (particularly apt in view of Marjan Kiepura’s comments further down these pages). There was a bit too much Verdi for me, and not enough Wagner (a bit of Ben Heppner wouldn’t have frightened people too much). Bizarre to have Alagna speaking in French when he’s perfectly competent in English. Rolando singing into the horn was a great idea (and his reaction priceless) – it really gave you a sense of what’s missing from early recordings.

I liked the format. I’m not sure my little contribution added very much – a lot of what I said in the original recording was actually illustrated very engagingly by Villazon himself and it was much better TV that way. It’s a pity I didn’t think to ask him if I could post the cartoon he drew of the two of us, because it’s absolutely him – you can almost hear it.  And it had all been rather tidied up – I remember lots of twinkly bits that didn’t find their way into the final cut. The best bits were where his spontaneous reactions were left in. But what a phenomenon – and that lovely bit at the end which could so easily have been tenor ego-mania in full flood but was just him being almost childishly amazed at what he was doing…

Tenors, texts and TV…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

What makes a great tenor? Rolando Villazon does…

If you’re near a TV set on June 2nd at 9.00 in the evening you might catch me being interviewed by the amazing Rolando Villazon on BBC4. I had a wonderful time at the Royal Opera House; Villazon is a real powerhouse and has an incredibly quick brain. When I arrived he was sitting on the floor doing a piece to camera on Franco Corelli. At the end of the first take I couldn’t resist suggesting he mentioned Corelli’s legs, which were reckoned by some to be the best pair ever seen on a tenor. He began again: …and Franco Corelli, he had it all, including two of the best pairs of legs in the business…immediately realising what he’d said, he added…though he only used one pair at a time, of course. I don’t suppose that will find its way into the final cut.  It was all enormous fun, with Rolando fizzing away the whole time. So much energy! I’d taken the precaution of bringing along my copy of his Massenet & Gounod album – one of my favourites – which now has on the liner a Rolando cartoon of the two of us talking tenor stuff.

Tenor paperback

Tenor: History of a Voice is to be reprinted by Yale as a paperback in September. There won’t be any updated content, but I hope I have  corrected most of the misprints etc – so thank you to all those whose sharp eyes caused me all sorts of embarrassment. There may well be a substantially updated 2nd edition in a year or two, so I hope people will keep sending suggestions for updates.