I just read the brilliant article by Smorg, concerning belcanto, our conception of it, beauty, and love, which reminded me a lot of our discussion springing from the unexpected discovery of Joyce Dion. I started to write a comment, and then decided to spam my own blog instead.
I am not a person picking on flaws. (The lovely word “Fehlergucker” describing this kind of person only exists in German, unfortunately.) Yet, I am perfectly able to notice, e.g., when Jaroussky’s voice is in fact a bit too light for a certain role, or how he manages to avoid having to deliver a “manly” sounding chest voice at times. I play various instruments and have sung myself, even performed a lot in my earlier life. When I was forced to move to a smaller flat, I sold about three cubic meters of sheet music; now I have to go to a library, before, I was the library.
But I just added this to state I have ears, and even have a concept about art, music, musical history, performance practice, etc. Still, it doesn’t make so much of a difference; even if I can place sometimes what I love about a piece of music or a singer — if I try to isolate it, it seems to be slipping through my fingers. A German linguist, Wolfgang Schneider said, to try and describe something with words was like trying to catch the essence of water with a net. This is even more true concerning the things that really matter — music, and love. (Music being the food of love, as we all know 😉 )
Even if I can be caught at times to utter that Mr. Jaroussky, in particular, is perfection (or rather, purr-fection, in this case^^) I know he is not — perfect? What is perfect? For me, he is. His voice is like it is — it is like he is. He doesn’t pretend, he doesn’t fake, I guess that’s what I love about the person, and the voice. Hearing him sing is like being given insight into a soul; for me, it is more than personal. I admit, I have more than a slight crush on him — even leaving his striking appearance out for now. It is his soul, I suppose, as little as I can know it — only being able to tell by the way he sings.
To leave Mr. Jaroussky alone for now — In general, I like singers who seem to get washed away by the energy of their own performance. Callas. She is not perfect. But if she had been? She wouldn’t have been Callas, then. Listening to her is like watching someone on a tightrope. Her last tour she did in Germany — available on CD — is more than sad; When her low notes just break when she sings her “Pleurez mes yeux” I feel like my heart stops out of sheer sympathy. And yet, I think it is my favourite “Pleurez mes yeux” of all times. Callas has an edge to her singing that achieves to bring tears to my eyes with a simple “Nacqui all’affanno“. It is not quite perfect; yet, for me, it is. It does the trick to make me fall in love.
A few of my other beloved musicians? Glenn Gould — a genius; Aureliano Pertile — a guy in love with his own voice, apparently a type maybe a bit like Bonisolli. I cannot help it, his voice just manages to touch me. He sings my favourite “Gralserzählung” of all times; you may officially roll your eyes now. Maria Cebotari, Irene Minghini-Cattaneo, Ceclila Bartoli, Kiri Te Kanawa, …
I don’t know what love is — doubting it is something even possible to grasp for a human mind. As little can I tell what makes us fall in love with a piece of music, or a singer. I’m quite sure it is not perfection, though. We don’t love someone for what they should be, as love is not demanding. We love them for what they are.
What is this thing called love
I was a hum-drum person
Leading a life apart
When love flew in throuhg my window wide
And quickened my hum-drum heart
Love flew in through my window
I was so happy then
But after love had stayed a little while
Love flew out again
What is this thing called love?
This funny thing called love?
Just who can solve its mystery?
Why should it make a fool of me?
I saw you there one wonderful day
You took my heart and threw it away
That’s why I ask the Lord in heaven above
What is this thing called love?
You gave me days of sunshine
You gave me nights of cheer
You made my life an enchanted dream
‘Til somebody else came near
Somebody else came near you
I felt the winter’s chill
And now I sit and wonder night and day
Why I love you still?