June 18, 2010

Maureen Forrester

The world of singing has lost one of its shining stars: Maureen Forrester, the resplendent Canadian contralto who sang Mahler in an unparalleled manner, died at the age of 79 on Wednesday.  The NYTimes obit can be read here, while an excellent tribute can be read here.  

I first heard Forrester in the late 70's, and the beauty of her singing blew me away.  Her singing was womanly, rich and full-bodied, with nary a trace of the early music influence so prevalent today which  strips the tone of any real depth.   

Forrester studied voice with Bernard Diamant, who's own teacher had been Charles Panzéra.  Fortunately, Forrester's own masterclasses were recorded for Canadian television and are now on Utube.  In this snippet, Forrester explains how to use the bridge of the nose, an old school technique that has been addressed more than once on these pages.




Singers like Maureen Forrester don't grow on trees.  And remarkably, she made her operatic debut (in her 40's) after having first made her mark as a concert singer.  Could a talented singer do the same today in our 'you-must-get-into-a-young-artist-opera-program-before-you-are-32' world? 

She was the real deal, and will be - and is- much missed.   An artist with a capital A.

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