Heldentenor - Poem by gershon hepner
The qualities of Heldentenors should include
a brightly burnished tone when they are singing;
their cast must always be heroic and not crude,
while they produce with throbbing, thrilling pinging
the high notes that seem effortless as fish
that swim in goldfish ponds where they are kois.
You hope their leading lady is a dish,
especially if you can’t stand their noise.
Anthony Tommasini writes (NYT, March 27,2008) about the qualities of Heldentenors in a review of a performance of Tristan in which Ben Heppner appeared although Deborah Voigt was indisposed, replaced by Upper Westsider Janice Baird:
The main rationale for the Metropolitan Opera’s decision to revive its 1999 production of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” — the selling point, to put it bluntly — was to bring the tenor Ben Heppner and the soprano Deborah Voigt together to sing the title roles. Though these acclaimed Wagnerians have performed excerpts from the opera in concert, they have never appeared together in a staged production…. There were more signs of his ailment in his movements (he seemed uncomfortable on his feet at times) than in his singing. Occasionally in softer lyrical passages, as in the beginning of the sublimely tranquil “O sink hernieder” love duet, his voice became a little crackly. But for the most part he sang splendidly, with burnished tone, heroic cast and thrilling ping, all the marks of a genuine heldentenor. And unlike many Wagnerians he is a scrupulous musician, who brought rhythmic integrity and crisp diction to his performance. In the last act, when the dying Tristan deliriously awaits his beloved Isolde, and the tenor has to maintain his voice through vocally torturous outpourings for nearly 40 minutes, Mr. Heppner was at his best, singing with fearless intensity.
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