Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing – 3 Volumes
Save when ordering all three volumes of our book Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing!
1094 pages, 483 lithographs and photographs
Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200 Years, vol. 1 by Stefan Zucker, 6″ X 9″ X 384 pp., with 200 lithographs and photographs, beautifully reproduced.
Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200 Years, vol. 2 by Stefan Zucker, 6″ X 9″ X 352 pp., with 144 lithographs and photographs, beautifully reproduced.
Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200 Years, vol. 3 by Stefan Zucker, 6″ X 9″ X 358 pp., including 139 photographs, beautifully reproduced.
Do not purchase these items individually if you wish to receive the reduced price for the set. To purchase the set, click the “add to cart” button.
Much more information about each title may be found on each title’s page in our store:
- Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing, vol. 1
- Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing, vol. 2
- Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing, vol. 3
The three vols. cover many subjects but fundamentally are about the choices and tradeoffs that caused tenor singing to evolve, from the late eighteenth century until today.
Franco Corelli and Stefan Zucker, in edited transcripts of thirteen years of conversations on the radio, in their theater presentations and master classes and in private, discuss changes in tenor singing:
Beginning in the 1820s Donzelli and Duprez sang with a massive darkened tone at the expense of vocal inflections and agility. Their coarser, more obvious but more exciting style won out over the more nuanced singing that had prevailed until then.
Stefan critiques Donzelli, Rubini, Nourrit, Duprez, de Reszke, Tamagno and De Lucia, and together Franco and Stefan discuss Caruso, Pertile, Martinelli, Schipa, Gigli, Lauri-Volpi, Björling, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Tucker, Del Monaco, Di Stefano, Domingo, Pavarotti and Carreras.
A central question for tenors is whether or not to “cover” their tones (explained in the book). Verdi extensively coached Tamagno who didn’t cover, but Verdi tenors from Caruso through Domingo do, resulting in a very different sound.
Caruso and those who followed him mostly sang at full volume. Compared to his predecessors, such as de Reszke, Tamagno and De Lucia, Caruso had less musical nuance, variety of dynamics and rubato; in short he had less musical imagination. He also had less control over dynamics.
Franco describes how, using Arturo Melocchi’s controversial lowered-larynx technique, he and Del Monaco revolted against sweet tenor singing in favor of older-sounding tones and a more “virile” approach.
Franco explains that he tried to combine Del Monaco’s fortissimo, Lauri-Volpi’s high notes, Pertile’s passion, Fleta’s diminuendo and Gigli’s caress. He describes using more portamento than his predecessors, his copying of some of Pertile’s interpretations and his attempt to emulate Schipa’s Werther.
Stefan describes Franco’s music-driven interpretations and Di Stefano’s word-driven ones, the history of vibrato, Gigli’s two kinds of chiaroscuro, chiaroscuro of dynamics and chiaroscuro of timbre, and compares eighteen Radamès recordings with Pertile, Martinelli, Gigli, Tucker, Del Monaco, Björling, Di Stefano, Corelli, Bergonzi, Vickers, Domingo, Carreras and Pavarotti.
Robert Tuggle, Director of The Metropolitan Opera Archives, contributes a chapter on Björling to the appendices.
The volumes are printed on top-quality paper and feature more than 483 rare lithographs and photographs, the majority provided by the Met Archives.
This is not a biography, nor is it a book of anecdotes. Instead it explains the evolution of tenor singing from 1820 to Domingo.
Stefan Zucker on six revolutions that have reshaped singing.
In this volume, in discussions with Stefan, Franco Corelli looks back on his life and career. Here are a few examples:
FC on the “Rome Walkout”: Callas was a little sick, and that didn’t permit her to sing at her best. Some in the audience heckled her. When she came offstage after Act I she was completely calm, but then she began to stew and announced she was canceling. The management went to her, to push her to continue the performance. She became a lioness and began to scream. She threw some vases and a chair. Little by little she lost her voice. When she left the theater, however, she looked elegant, as if nothing had happened.
This vol. contains interviews of Corelli, Bergonzi, Kraus and Alagna, among others.
Corelli evaluates the singing of many tenors. He advocates that, to uphold standards, “If an artist isn’t good he must be booed,” citing in particular Chris Merritt in I vespri Siciliani at La Scala. Listeners to “Opera Fanatic” confess their booing, including the notorious organizer of the Scotto booings and some who booed Corelli.
Bergonzi: “De Lucia, Pertile, Merli, Schipa, Gigli and Galliano Masini had their personal styles but weren’t faithful to the composer, because they introduced ritards, rests and effects. Del Monaco was the first singer to respect the composer. Toscanini and Bruno Walter were the only conductors who heeded what the composers wrote.” Bergonzi also declares, “The difference between my singing of Bohème and of Trovatore is the degree to which I cover. Rodolfo is a lighter role, so I cover less, but Manrico is more dramatic, so I cover more.” This statement proves controversial among others interviewed in this book. He describes his breathing method as well as the first five years of his career, when he sang as a baritone in casts that included Gigli and Schipa.
Kraus describes his vocal technique in detail, takes a stand against covering and for a variety of reasons excoriates Gigli, Lauri-Volpi, Caballé and Callas. He discusses being partnered by Callas in the Lisbon Traviata.
The origins of lowered-larynx techniques. Jean de Reszke’s larynx-lowering. Caruso’s technique. Melocchi’s teaching of Limarilli. Corelli’s real view of the Stanley method. Marcello Del Monaco’s pupils, among them Giacomini, Martinucci and Lindroos. Tenor Emilio Moscoso on lessons with Marcello and Mario Del Monaco. A Corelli pupil, Enrique Pina, describes “floating” the larynx. Araiza’s describes combining larynx-lowering with mask placement. Aspiration. Matteuzzi and Morino—unaffected by Del Monaco and Corelli. Olivero attacks Del Monaco’s technique.
Roberto Alagna describes placing “behind the nose and between the eyes.” He explains that he sometimes switches to larynx lowering and re- corded an album with it. Like Corelli he learns technique by singing along with records—in his case Gigli’s above all—and recording himself doing so. He discusses tenors on old records as well as his personal life.
Elena Filipova recounts how after learning larynx lowering from Rina Del Monaco (Mario’s wife) her career blossomed. Then she studied a more extreme version with Alain Billiard, lost range, agility and her pianissimo, and her career collapsed. She regained her voice from studying placements with Hilde Zadek. “She reintroduced me to my head resonance.”
Bill Schuman (today’s most prominent voice teacher) explains his technique, which involves floating the larynx, mask placement and, for high notes, lifting the palate, top-of-the-head placement plus smiling and, for breathing, using the diaphragm as a pump. Also interviewed are four of his current or former pupils, Met tenors Giordani, Costello, Fabiano and Valenti. They discuss the tenors who are their models. (Schumann dismissed Valenti from his studio for concurrently studying a more extreme lowered-larynx method with Arthur Levy and dismissed Fabiano and Costello for reasons discussed in the book.)
Reviews of forty-seven CDs and DVDs of today’s top tenors, among them Kaufmann, who continues in Corelli’s footsteps, Cura, Villazón and Fraccaro, who continue in Del Monaco’s, Grigolo, Flórez, Brownlee, Banks, Filianoti, Cutler, Bros and Calleja, who continue in Kraus’s and Licitra, who continued in Bergonzi’s, as well as Galouzine, Beczala, Álvarez, Antonenko and Vargas.
The book features photos from many sources, among them The Metropolitan Opera Archives.
Because of the unprecedented nature of these books, Fanfare published two reviews by two separate authors. The first is above. The second is below.
Ken Meltzer, Reviewing in Fanfare: The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors:
“Stefan Zucker is well known to many of us who, to borrow his phrase, are ‘opera fanatics.’ As President of Bel Canto Society, Zucker has produced numerous recordings, both video and audio, documenting great singers throughout the ages. As host of the radio program ‘Opera Fanatic,’ which aired on Columbia University’s radio station, Zucker interviewed scores of opera personalities, including many of the finest singers, past and present (he was also editor of Opera Fanatic magazine). A singer who traces his lineage to 19th-century artists Giovanni Battista Rubini and Giacomo David, Zucker earned the title of ‘The World’s Highest Tenor’ from the Guinness Book of World Records when he sang an A above high C at the 1972 New York City Town Hall world premiere performance of the fourth version of Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini. Now he has written three books that are fascinating, thought-provoking, informative, and entertaining.
“From 1990–2003, Stefan Zucker maintained a friendship and correspondence with the legendary Italian tenor Franco Corelli. Corelli was a frequent guest of Zucker’s, both on the ‘Opera Fanatic’ radio program, and at live events held in various theaters. During the interviews, Corelli chatted with Zucker at great length on a wide variety of topics, and answered audience questions. Zucker’s conversations with Corelli—both the aforementioned public discussions, as well as some in private—form the cornerstone for the three volumes of Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing. Those Corelli discussions are of extraordinary value. I also had the privilege of interviewing Franco Corelli in the early 1990s for my own opera radio show, which then aired on Baltimore’s classical music station, WBJC-FM. I spoke with Corelli for a couple of hours in his New York apartment. It was clear even from that relatively brief encounter that Corelli was an intensely searching, thoughtful, and self-critical artist, and a keen student of the technique and artistry of his predecessors. Those qualities emerge in even greater depth and detail during the course of the various Zucker interviews. In the three volumes under review, Zucker examines not only Corelli’s life, career, and artistry, but also a host of other issues relating to the history and development of tenor singing from the 1800s to the present. The topics are numerous, wide-ranging, and sometimes, well off the expected path. As you might consider (at least, initially) purchasing fewer than all three volumes, I think it important to list various chapter titles, or a summary of their content:
“Volume I: Del Monaco, Corelli, and Their Influence; Nuance Versus Massive Darkened Tone; Donzelli, Duprez and Nourrit; Jean de Reszke; Tamagno; De Lucia; Caruso; Pertile; Martinelli; Schipa: Unaffected by Caruso; Schipa’s Specter; Gigli; Lauri-Volpi vs. the Verismo Style; Björling; Tagliavini; Richard Tucker; Del Monaco: Corelli’s Chief Role Model and Rival; Polar Opposites: Corelli and Di Stefano; Pavarotti; Domingo; Carreras; The Fluctuating Fortunes of Vibrato; Eighteen Radamès Recordings Compared; Appendices.
“Volume II: Six Revolutions Have Shaped Singing; Seismic Shock (Gilbert-Louis Duprez and the high C from the chest); The Dying Out of the Castrati and Their Traditions and the Decline of Florid Singing; Heroes on the Rise; Last of a Breed (Rubini); Corelli: Tenore del Mondo; Corelli’s Covering; A Note on Vocal Placement; Corelli: The Hamlet of Vocal Technique—and why his voice declined; Corelli’s Letters to Lauri-Volpi, 1962 (?) — 1973; Grace Bumbry; Callas Critiques Corelli; Lauri-Volpi Attacks Corelli’s Technique; Observations on a Career and a Life; Franco Corelli: Some Missing Information; To Return or Not to Return?; Three Botched Bios; Fanizza Refutes Seghers; The Duel with Christoff and ‘Barbieri sola, sola’; Potter’s Corelli Chapter; Collaborating with Corelli; Appendices.
“Volume III: An Evening in the Theater with Franco Corelli and Stefan Zucker, Merkin Concert Hall, June 5, 1991; From Del Monaco to Chris Merritt; Booing: True confessions; Conversations with Carlo Bergonzi; Alfredo Kraus; The Origins of Lowered-Larynx Techniques; Jean de Reszke’s Larynx-Lowering; Did Caruso Use a Laryngeal Method?; Some Lessons with Melocchi (1879–1960); Corelli’s Real View of the Stanley Method; Some Mario Del Monaco Successors; My Lessons with Marcello and Mario Del Monaco (Emilio Moscoso); Del Monaco’s Diaphragm; A Corelli Student (Enrique Pina); Francisco Araiza: A Rossini Tenor who lowers his larynx; Olivero Attacks Del Monaco’s Technique; Different Singing Techniques; The Rise and Fall of Elena Filipova; Roberto Alagna on Sometimes Using Mask Placement, Sometimes a Lowered-larynx; Bill Schuman, Marcello Giordani, Stephen Costello, James Valenti and Michael Fabiano; Four Lowered-Larynx Tenors (Kaufmann, Cura, Villazón, Walter Fraccaro); Mask-Larynx-Hybrid Tenors (Galouzine, Beczala); Mask-Placement Tenors Who Don’t Cover (Grigolo, Filianoti, Florez, Brownlee and Banks, Cutler, Bros, Calleja); Mask-Placement Tenors Who Do Cover (Álvarez, Antonenko, Vargas, Licitra, Botha); Summation.
“Throughout the three volumes, Zucker spends a great deal of time discussing the ‘lowered-larynx’ technique, taught by Arturo Melocchi, and adopted by Corelli’s chief rival, Mario Del Monaco. That technique, as described by Zucker, ‘is based on singing with the larynx lowered to the bottom of the neck.’ According to Zucker and Corelli, this can lead to a vocal production capable of extraordinary power, but little nuance or dynamic variety. Corelli chose to adopt a variant of the technique, one in which the larynx ‘floats’ in order to allow for greater vocal pliability. But this is just one of many technical aspects covered; not only by Zucker and Corelli, but by several other singers interviewed by the author. And among the gems of these three books are Zucker’s interviews in Volume III with tenors Carlo Bergonzi and Alfredo Kraus, both masters of their craft who are able to describe their techniques and approach to performance in precise, compelling, and endlessly fascinating detail. [The purpose of the technical discussions is to show the choices and tradeoffs that caused tenor singing to evolve, from the late eighteenth century until today.—SZ] Other highlights are a series of letters written by Corelli to his teacher and friend Giacomo Lauri-Volpi (Volume II). The letters are quite touching, both for the respectful, tender way Corelli addresses his mentor, but also for the glimpses of self-doubt that begin to creep in during the early years of Corelli’s vocal decline. Also of considerable value are the various scholarly articles by Zucker that trace the history of tenor and castrato singing. Taking us from the sublime to the ridiculous is a 40-page chapter (Volume III) dominated by various opera fans who explain why they believe it is a higher calling to sabotage performances by booing, in order to demonstrate to the world they know more than anyone else. [Corelli advocated booing. Some of the listeners confessed to having booed him. He stood his ground.—SZ] If you are all too familiar with this type of buffoon, it will get your blood pressure going. It certainly did mine. And if you are at all prudish, be forewarned that these books include quite a bit on topics of a sexual nature. They range from the perhaps expected allusions to singers’ affairs and illegitimate children, to graphic discussions of sexual acts preferred by some artists (and even recommended by the author as a way to improve vocal technique!). The author provides fair warning that prurient subjects are on the horizon. But you are just as likely to encounter such material out of the blue (no pun intended). Of course, the concept of the operatic tenor as a sexually charismatic figure is undeniable, and has long been a subject of fascination and discussion. Perhaps the author, either by conscious or subconscious motivation, includes such material to advance discussion of that topic. I’m not easily shocked or offended, and these diversions did not impact my overall enjoyment of the books (they didn’t add to it, either). But in any case, you’ve been forewarned.
“Given the length and breadth of the three volumes of Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing, this is a review that could go on for pages, far more than I am allotted. Suffice it to say that I found all three volumes compelling reading. Zucker is an opinionated writer, but he is also a highly informed one who consistently provides the material to support his opinions. His appraisals in Volume I of the respective strengths and weaknesses of the ‘Three Tenors,’ for example, are as spot on as any I’ve read. And I will give him the highest compliment I can give an author who writes about singers. When I read Zucker’s descriptions, I immediately want to go to the artist’s recordings and listen once again. In addition, the numerous photos, many quite stunning, are reproduced beautifully with the utmost clarity, and the entire copy is printed on the kind of high-quality paper rarely used nowadays. For those who are endlessly fascinated by tenors and their unique impact on the world of opera (as I am), Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing has a tremendous amount to offer, and in a fashion you are unlikely to find anywhere else. If you are at all curious, try Volume I. If you like it, I feel comfortable in saying you will enjoy the others as well. Recommended to fellow tenor fanatics.”
Customers Review Franco Corelli and a Revolution in Singing: Fifty-Four Tenors Spanning 200 Years, All volumes.
Submitted by Henriette Lund on Wednesday, 07/11/2018 at 3:34 pm.
These books are of course mostly for people in the opera business, like myself.
It is basically a history of tenors since early 19th cent., and it is opiniated and subject to Stefan Zucker’s own ideas about voice technique. But that said, it is extremely useful and entertaining! Loads of research are behind, and who else does this?? I applaud Zucker for persevering, at least since the 80’s. I think I have most of his collection of Bel Canto tapes. It is a must for operalovers and professionals.