Forgot, in my earlier posts about opera acting, to mention Carlo Bergonzi, one of my dearest, most loved opera actors.
Then he started to sing, and (especially if you knew the opera) you’d be mesmerized. Such truth, such revelation, such honesty, and such moment-to-moment acting detail in his singing! I hung on every word. In the last act, in the recitative before his big aria, when he sang the words “l’immenso ocean,” I could almost see the “immense ocean” stretched before me. He sang those words with such eloquent sadness (since the ocean would divide him from the woman he loved).
After a while, he made everyone else on stage look like they were just feebly pretending to act. Even though, physically, he did almost no acting at all.
Another, smaller high point: the 1963 studio recording of Kurt Weill’s Broadway hit, Lady in the Dark, featuring two opera singers, Risë Stevens and John Reardon, she toward the end of her career, he in the first half of his. They’re both so nimble, so lively, and so funny that you’d swear they’d been singing nothing but Broadway for all of their lives. With just one footnote. Reardon’s voice is so gorgeous that, if you didn’t know who he was, you might think, “Wow, maybe he should try singing opera.”
Which isn’t to say that Stevens doesn’t sound terrific, too. But she’s singing in a Broadway belt voice, so you wouldn’t immediately think of her in opera. Reardon’s baritone sounds like it would work on either side of this sometimes porous fence.
The CD isn’t currently in print, but it’s available used on Amazon.