Singers on Singing: Great Artists in Conversation is an interview archive, featuring interviews created and executed by award-winning documentarian Jon Tolansky. Tolansky’s interviews profile the lives and artistry of some of the most acclaimed opera singers in musical history. In this archive, you will be able to find interviews with and musical clips of some of the most distinguished singers of the past century.
The Singers on Singing pantheon of great artists in conversation was launched in the fall of 2012 with two generations of legendary singers who were born in the same country: Romania. Sopranos Virginia Zeani and Angela Gheorghiu collectively span in their careers a 65 year compass of operatic history, from 1947 to the present time. In each of their documentary profiles they recall their lives going back to their earliest beginnings studying singing, and they discuss artistic and technical elements of some of their most highly acclaimed roles. Their profiles were followed by documentary portraits of Jon Vickers and Mirella Freni, recalling their histories and discussing their most celebrated roles. The canon has grown in the first part of 2013 with Ruggero Raimondi, Marilyn Horne, Sir John Tomlinson, Sophie Koch, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. It continues through 2013 with Giuseppe Di Stefano (June), Thomas Hampson (July), Dame Joan Sutherland (August), Luciano Pavarotti (September), Tito Gobbi (a centenary documentary in October), and Renata Tebaldi (December). The series continues to expand in 2014 with Lotte Lehmann (January), and Renata Scotto (February), Nicolai Gedda (March), Maria Callas (April), Peter Glossop (May), Richard Strauss (June, Singing Strauss in honor of the 150th anniversary month of Strauss’s birth), and Montserrat Caballé (July).
In December of 2012, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth, Singers on Singing carried in text form a special feature on Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, in which several of the most distinguished interpreters of the opera discuss their roles: they are Colette Alliot-Lugaz, Jose van Dam, Francois Le Roux and Frederica von Stade.
In November 2013 Singers on Singing published the first of an annual series entitled the Singers on Singing: Composer Profile. This first audio documentary commemorates Benjamin Britten at the centenary of his birth and will be called Singers on Britten.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss in June 2014, Singers on Singing will present a new exclusively-made audio documentary called Singing Strauss. The second of the site’s annual Singers on Singing: Composer Profile features, it will be hosted by producer Jon Tolansky, and contributors, including two from the archives who knew the composer, will include singers Maria Ewing, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Martha Eggerth, Renée Fleming, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Lotte Lehmann, Dame Felicity Lott, Thomas Hampson and Nadja Michael, and conductors Sir Mark Elder and Bernard Keeffe.
We acknowledge with gratitude the generosity of the WFMT Radio Network and Opera Magazine for agreeing that some materials originally commissioned by them can be included in Singers on Singing. Other materials are appearing here for the first time.
English baritone Peter Glossop (1928-2008) called his autobiography “The Story of a Yorkshire Baritone”, displaying in the title the simplicity of his background and hiding the international importance of his career in the history of English singers.
When the legendary Maria Callas died in September 1977 at just 53 years old, she could not have known that more than three decades ahead, her recorded heritage would create almost as much impact as she had achieved in her short career.
From the time of his debut in 1952 right through the remarkable 51 ensuing years of his career, the great lyrical tenor Nicolai Gedda won exceptional accolades for the virtuosity of his technique and breath-control.
Soprano Renata Scotto has the highly unusual distinction of having begun her career as an exceptionally agile and virtuoso lyrical coloratura in early 19th Century bel canto repertoire after which she subsequently flowered into one of the most powerfully dramatic spinto singing-actresses of the last 50 years.
When hundreds and thousands of people flocked to Luciano Pavarotti’s park and stadium concerts, the audiences included not only connoisseurs of opera but also large numbers of people who rarely if ever go to the opera.
This two hour documentary feature was made by the WFMT Radio Network as a memorial tribute to the great coloratura soprano Dame Joan Sutherland and was aired in the spring of 2012.
Sophie Koch has won special distinction and admiration for her vocal and stylistic mastery and also her subtle, imaginative and powerful acting in the vastly differing stylistic worlds of German and French opera as well as French opéra-comique.
The weight, range, and dynamic impact of Sir John Tomlinson’s voice and the intensity, power and deep intelligence of his vocal and acting characterisation have made him one of the most sought after operatic basses.
A special feature in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth, including interviews with Frederica Von Stade, François Le Roux, José van Dam and Colette Alliot-Lugaz
From early engagements in 1957 up to his retirement in 1988, dramatic tenor Jon Vickers held audiences spellbound with the huge dynamic and expressive range of his singing and his powerfully gripping acting.
Before the virtuoso soprano Angela Gheorghiu launched her international career, she had for some years already been singled out in her home country, Romania, as an exceptional talent.
From her early days as a brilliant lyric coloratura to her later years as a resonant dramatic spinto, Virginia Zeani (b. 1925) sang 68 roles in Italian, French, German and Russian operas.
…Music gives us ontological messages which non-musical criticism is unable to contradict, though it may laugh at our foolishness in minding them. There is a verge of the mind which these things haunt; and whispers therefrom mingle with the operations of our understanding. — William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience