Thursday, October 17, 2013

The great Lillian Nordica (1857-1914) A great voice in an age of not too great recording ability

The great Lillian Nordica, one of the great sopranos of the gilded age. She sang at the Met for many years and was known to have a voice of stellar qualities. She could sing a wide range of roles, and that voice was one many longed to hear.She was convinced to make recordings for the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1907. These recordings are not what one would expect of Nordica.

I am of the a mind to think that she scared the hell out of Columbia's recording engineers.

Here was a voice that was so powerful and a system to record that was so weak.
I really think that the recording engineers had no idea what to do with her vocally. There were a series of recordings made, and all of them leave much to be desired. They did their best to keep her from over powering the recording horn. This means she was away from the recording device to such an extent that the recordings sound muddy and lack much of anything.

Oh if she only recorded for someone else. But those few and rather poor sonic gems are all that exist outside of a few moments on Mapleson cylinders. By 1914 she had died on a remote island in the Pacific.
This Columbia recording of "Omaha Indian Tribal Song" and "Mighty lak a Rose" is one of the few recordings made by this most talented performer. The great soprano who scared the hell out of Columbia's recording engineers.

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