Verdi vs Wagner part 5:
Verdi 200. Wagner 200.
Now it’s the turn to talk about one of the greatest singers of history of the opera, and one of my all time personal favorites, Jessye Norman!
In my opinion, Jessye Norman has one of the most amazing and powerful voices of history of the Opera.
She is often referred to as a dramatic soprano but some vocal critics assert that Norman is not a dramatic soprano but has in fact a rare soprano voice type known as a Falcon.
The Falcon voice is closer to a mezzo soprano timbre, but closer to a dramatic soprano tessitura. Falcon roles specifically refers to pants roles written to be sung by sopranos instead of mezzos, as was written for Falcon.
The roles are thus often sung by lyric mezzos.
This mix of sound is why many fans, conductors, and critics immediately refer to her as a soprano or a mezzo with complete assurance and fair accuracy.
In my opinion, Jessye Norman is the greatest Sieglinde in history of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”!
She is also wonderful as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser.
Critics at the time described Norman as having “the greatest voice since the German soprano Lotte Lehmann.
Jessye Norman’s range was uncommonly wide, encompassing all female voice registers from contralto to high dramatic soprano.
She has great critical acclaim from the musical and operatic critics and she has a very wide repertoire that includes: Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Brahms, Schubert, Messiaen, Handel, Meyerbeer, Mozart, Berlioz, Strauss, Stravinsky, Purcell, Schoenberg, Bartók, Gluck, Janáček, Rameau, Haydn, Offenbach, Fauré, Bizet, Mascagni and of course, Verdi and Wagner!
I not only admire Jessye Norman as an artist but also as a human being.
She serves on the Boards of Directors for Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, the New York Botanical Garden, City-Meals-on-Wheels in New York City, Dance Theatre of Harlem, National Music Foundation, and Elton John AIDS Foundation.
She is a member of the board as well as a National spokesperson for the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation, and spokesperson for Partnership for the Homeless. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Paine College and the Augusta Opera Association.
In 2003, the Rachel Longstreet Foundation and Norman partnered to open the “Jessye Norman School of the Arts”, a tuition-free performing arts after-school program for economically disadvantaged students in Augusta, Georgia. Norman is actively involved in the program, including fundraisers for its benefit.
Jessye Norman is now retired from Opera but she still gives concerts and recitals.
Two of my all time favorite concerts with Jessye Norman is “Jessye Norman at Christmas”, a carol concert filmed at Ely’s stunning Gothic cathedral in 1987 and also Jessye Norman at Notre Dame.
Those two concerts are so beautiful, with class and fantastic.
Jessye Norman is an extraordinary artist and I admire very much.
Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi would have been very, very proud of Jessye Norman!