• Paul

    Paul's vocal writing is fascinating, but also very difficult to sing.

    There are very lirical moments, together with some dense orchestration and the need to be on stage for a long time. In performance of Die Tote Stadt, at Liceu in Barcelona, German tenor Norbert Schmittberg, was unable to finish the opera. His voice just cracked in the Second Act, and he was replaced by Torsten Kerl.

    Some Wagnerian tenors have sung the opera, but the tessiture of the role is very high: it's not only the B3s, there are also many A3, Aflat3, G3... For some you need to sing piano, for others, forte, some difficult dynamics, especially diminuendos,... And many notes are written just there, in the middle of the passagio. In the second scene alone, while singing with Frank and then his monologue, there are written for Paul 120 notes F3 and above!. And after some fifteen minutes of that, Paul needs to become very lyrical for the first meeting with Marietta, and then Marie's apparition...

    What's the right balance between the more heroic phrasing, and the sweetness evoked by the memories of Marie?.

    Ideally, we will have a dramatic and a lyric tenor and fused them together. As this is not possible, the best bet would be to use a lyric tenor with stamina.

    Historically, Korngold was very pleased by Tauber singing the role. Perhaps, tenors like Völker or Rosvaenge would have been closer to the ideal Paul.

    Today, we can get three brackets of singers: the rough one (Gould, and also King in the German video from the 1970s), the intermediate one (Brubaker, Kerl) and the more lyric approach (Vogt).

    Probably, the last one is the best approach, as this underlines Paul's complex and very modern personality. Paul is not Siegfried.


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