kottke.org posts about richardwagner

The solution to the soprano problemAug 26 2009

The soprano problem is the mispronunciation of lyrics by sopranos at the high end of their range. In order to make themselves heard in opera houses, sopranos need their voices to resonate, which they only do when making certain sounds.

Jane Eaglen, a critically acclaimed soprano who has performed Wagner's works in opera houses worldwide, explains that sopranos must try to find a balance between power and clarity. "It's really about how you modify the vowels at the top of the voice so that the words are still understandable but so that you are also making the best sound that you can make," she says.

A pair of scientists have found that the meticulous Richard Wagner may have been aware of this problem and wrote the soprano parts in his operas to minimize the mispronunciations.

Radio program on The Ring CycleAug 22 2008

Speaking of leitmotifs, it's a primary topic of conversation in this wonderful WNYC radio program about Richard Wagner's quartet of operas, The Ring Cycle.

It might seem hyperbole to claim, as many Wagnerites do, that The Ring Cycle is "The Greatest Work of Art Ever." But the grandeur and power of this monumental work have permeated our culture from Star Wars to Bugs Bunny to J.R.R. Tolkien.

And Led Zeppelin! The program is hosted by Radio Lab's Jad Abumrad. (thx, billy & laura)

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