An incredible value!
Darby G. Fegan | 03/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I ordered this box set of Leyla Gencer not quite knowing what to expect. I assumed it would be a collection of highlights of various live performances, perhaps a smattering of arias and scenes from operas for which Gencer was well known, but which she had never recorded comercially, as her career was not established through recorded documents. If I had heard the voice, I don't recall, but I have for some time beeen aware of Gencer's career and her cult status, as she has many devotees; therefore, I took a chance with this box set. What I did not know was that I would receive complete recordings of several operas, making this box set an incredible value! It is a remarkable document of Gencer's career, and there are performances by many other fine singers in a wide variety of bel canto operas not often heard. I was particualry interested to start with Alceste by Gluck, as I'm going to hear Christine Brewer sing it this coming summer in Santa Fe. After the Alceste, I graduated to the other operas for which Gencer was known. She was clearly well suited to bel canto repertoire, as her fioratura, pianissimi, and sense of musical style, with phrasing and attention to the text, are always impressive. Indeed, listening to Gencer is never less than compelling! It is sometimes perplexing, however, as she will somtimes push her essentially lyric instrument beyond the demands it is able to withstand, and the voice literally shatters under pressure. She was never afraid to fully employ her chest voice, and the results are often astonishing, not unlike downshifting an expensive roadster into the wrong gear at 90 miles per hour! Nevertheless, Gencer always manages to recover for some exquisitely controlled phrases, singing with the utmost conviction and nuance. There are few singers today who take the chances Gencer does, and what we get is a "safe,' homogenized vocalism and interpretation. Sopranos who come to mind that take the risks Gencer does are, of course, Callas, to whom she was contemporary and often compared, Stratas, Suliotis, Scotto, and more recently, Georghiu. I have read interviews with Caballe and she states that Gencer was a major influence in her own singing. In listening to Gencer I now know why, and it is a remarkable influence that she had on Caballe, in Caballe's choice of bel canto repertoire, the use of glottal attack that both sopranos favor, and the ability to utilize a natural pianissimo. Listening to Gencer on these CD's, I sometimes thought I was hearing Caballe, the similarities are so uncanny! I own a copy of Opera Fanatic, a compelling if not downright peculiar DVD made by Stephan Zucker, who claims to be the world's highest tenor. It is a DVD woth owning, as he interviewed legendary singers who specialized in bel canto and verismo, among them Gencer. At the time of the interview, Gencer was still a beautiful woman and a class act, especially as she had to endure the emasculated Zucker (one has to hear his speaking voice, which defies description) tell Gencer that he finds her "erotic." Gencer humors poor Zucker with the elegance and taste befitting a diva of her stature. When Zucker asks Gencer if she ever deployed chest voice, she tells him emphatically that she did, and that any of her colleagues who say they never did must have "very short memories." It's a priceless moment from one very fascinating diva!"
Orlando | New Orleans, LA USA | 08/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anna Bolena: Gencer, Simionato, Bertocci, Clabassi; Gavazzeni Milan, 1958.
Werther: Gencer, Tagliavini, Tavolaccini, Borriello; Cillario Trieste, 1959.
Simon Boccanegra: Gencer, Zampieri, Gobbi, Tozzi; Gavazzeni Vienna, 1961.
Roberto Devereux: Gencer, Bondino, Cappuccilli; Rossi San Carlo, Naples, 1964.
Alceste: Gencer, Picchi, Roni, Baratti; Gui Rome, 1967.
Saffo (Pacini): Gencer, del Bianco, Quilico, Mattiucci; Capuana San Carlo, Naples, 1967
Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra: Gencer, Grilli, Geszty, Borelli; Sanzogno Palermo, 1970"
I LOVE Leyla Gencer!
A.I.A. | New York, NY | 06/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gencer is a phenomenal artist. In this compilation, here Anna Bolena, Roberto Devereux, and Elisabetta Regina d'Inghilterra are amazing!"