May. 25th, 2015


May. 25th, 2015 10:31 am
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I still haven't watched that Vivaldi documentary yet, but I did watch an intriguing related video. It seeks to show how the tenor and "bass" (really baritone, by today's naming conventions) parts of vocal music could have been performed by women at the Ospedale della Pietà, a shelter for homeless girls where Vivaldi taught music.

From the uploader:

"This is the contralto/tenor/bass trio "Gloria Patri" from Dixit Dominus (RV 595), composed for the Figlie di Coro of the Ospedale della Pietà. Here the voice of Anna dal Basso (1670-1742), a documented bass singer at the Pietà, is sung by Margaret (centre), Cecilia dal Contralto (1679-1726) by Victoria, and Paulina dal Tenor (1675-1748) by Penny. Vivaldi's Women challenge the cultural stereotype which assumes that female voices are naturally high and that it is wrong for them to sing low."

I'm not knowledgeable enough about the history to comment on whether this performance is period accurate or not (it seems to be a point of contention), but it is at the very least a fascinating demonstration of the arbitrariness of vocal categorizations. The difference between a "contralto" voice and a "tenor" voice is not always one of natural range, but more one of training and the style one sings in. It's pointed out in the comments that the woman singing the contralto part in this video doesn't sing in the classical contralto style but in a belty "chest voice", which I took to be intentional and part of the commentary on how women's voices are categorized and expected to be used in classical song. Though at first the sound of their blended voices is surprising, I ultimately found it a beautiful performance.

I hope my US friends are having a peaceful Memorial Day. ♥

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment wherever you're comfortable.


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