A Conversation with Francisco Araiza: "Opera Fanatic," January 5, 1991

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Interview on "Opera Fanatic," January 5, 1991

Francisco Araiza, Guest

Stefan Zucker, Host

Topics Discussed by Francisco and Stefan:

Problems in switching from heavy to light repertory
Problems of tessitura
How Araiza's voice evolved
The roles he gave up
Singing lieder
The risks of changing Fach
The booing of Chris Merritt in I vespri Siciliani
The attraction to sing Romantic repertory
The demands of singing Mozart
What is Mozart style?
Portamento
His perceptions of early 20th-century tenors
Historically informed performance practices vs. how one feels about the music
His abandonment of the French repertoire
Richard Leech
The benefits of having a good musical background
Singing 16th notes
Singing in chorus: the pros and cons
Fritz Wunderlich
Are Mozart roles emasculating?
The lost school of voix-mixte
The C from the chest
The tonal character of the voix-mixte
Singing Mozart vs. singing Italian bel canto
The vocal character of bel canto music
Finding the right spirit for "Prendi: l'anel ti dono" (La sonnambula)
Alfredo Kraus's difficulty with Elvino (Sonnambula)
Sonnambula transpositions
Giovanni Battista Rubini
Rubato in 1831
Is Sonnambula Romantic?
Mozart, Rossini and Bellini compared from a singer's point of view
Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola): Araiza, Monti and Valletti compared
The tuning pitch in Rossini's day
The challenges for Araiza of singing Rossini
Blake, Merritt, Gonzalez and Matteuzzi as Rossini singers
Aspiration
Why Araiza aspirates
Coloratura supported by the throat vs. coloratura supported by the diaphragm
His breathing method
Germany accepted him, a Mexican, as an exponent of German-language Mozart roles
Booing
Self-critical singers
When is booing justified?
Premeditated booing
Have you yourself ever been booed?
Being booed after "La donna è mobile," in Florence
How to interpret "La donna è mobile"
His relationships with conductors
Carreras vs. Bernstein in West Side Story. Araiza wouldn't have accepted such treatment
Carreras was the third or fourth choice for the role. It first was offered to Shicoff, then to Araiza
Tenor contests
Domingo's strengths and weaknesses--his high Ds
Franco Corelli: his strengths and weaknesses
If you had Corelli's voice, what would you do differently?
Björling
Di Stefano
What is covering?
His placement
I once wrote that in the early 19th century no one produces his voice as you do, with the locus of resonance in the front of the face.
Would you compare Luis Lima, Peter Dvorsky, Richard Leech, Neil Shicoff and yourself?
Who's best in what?
Richard Leech shouldn't be singing Samson.
Neil Shicoff is crazy.
If you had to take a God's eye view of Francisco Araiza?
Why he dislikes nearly all his records
Leicester in Maria Stuarda
Changing repertory
His Lohengrin
Domingo's Lohengrin was inadequately prepared
Regrets: recording Pong with Karajan and La Wally
How the media benefit Pavarotti and Domingo
People who hindered me
A production I wouldn't appear in

Apologies for being hoarse on this tape. Mr. Araiza had kept me waiting outside for 45 mins. It was eight degrees Fahrenheit (minus 13 celsius), with a wind. I was shivering and lost my voice.

--SZ