FOREWORD

Ubaldo Gardini was a unique character. Those of us who were lucky enough to work with him during his years at Covent Garden learned more of bel canto, Italian and Mozart than we could have thought existed.

He had both an inexhaustible energy and a fund of knowledge, which could often wear his colleagues to a ravelling. But they took away with them as much as could be known of vowels (open and closed), double consonants and liaisons – plus how to keep them all from ‘cutting off the voice’ and therefore interfering with the true legato, which is the gift that singing renders to its devotees.

Ubaldo was a violinist by training and a mandolinist for fun. He was also an expert on Italian dialects, styles of versification and the intricacies of Italian grammar. But he could, work over, shut his book and be one of the funniest of men, recounting such stories as only his master Lorenzo da Ponte could have admitted to.

His great love was for Mozart’s operas: his dilapidated and heavily annotated scores bore witness to the hours, days and years of his study and experience. Recitativo secco was his passion: the abolition of bar lines, a cause in favour of the supremacy of theatrical declamation and the realisation of every possible nuance of Da Ponte’s masterly librettos. Students may go to the old Covent Garden recordings to hear how effective his teaching could be.

Of course, Ubaldo’s methods could be very upsetting to those who were unwilling to change what they had always done, and he himself would quickly take offence if his authority as an Italian and a musician was challenged. But there were few who quarrelled with him and, certainly, they were the worse off for not listening to him. Those who did learned to love him.

I raise my glass, on behalf of all who remember him with the joy that I do, to Maestro Ubaldo Gardini.

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colin
Sir Colin Davis conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York

CONTENTS

1. PROFILE OF UBALDO GARDINI17
2. MEET THE ARTISTS: Biographies & Interviews Part One43
Sir Thomas Allen, Baritone44
Dame Janet Baker, Mezzo-soprano48
Hildegard Behrens, Soprano51
Stuart Burrows, Tenor54
José Carreras, Tenor57
Elizabeth Connell, Soprano60
John Copley, Stage Director64
Ileana Cotrubas, Soprano67
Ryland Davies, Tenor71
3. COACHING IN OPERA75
4. MEET THE ARTISTS: Biographies & Interviews Part Two93
Mark Elder, Conductor94
Renée Fleming, Soprano98
Gwynne Howell, Bass101
Anne Howells, Mezzo-soprano105
Eugene Kohn, Accompanist & Conductor108
Kazuhiro Kotetsu, Bass112
Robert Lloyd, Bass115
Reveka Mavrovitis, Mezzo-soprano119
Yvonne Minton, Mezzo-soprano122
Eiko Morishima, Accompanist & Répétiteur125
5. IN CONVERSATION WITH UBALDO GARDINI129
6. MEET THE ARTISTS: Biographies & Interviews Part Three151
Akiko Nakajima, Soprano152
Jessye Norman, Soprano156
Yasuhiko Okuhata, Lighting Designer159
Katherine Olson, Accompanist, Coach & Artists’ Manager162
Kazushi Ono, Conductor165
Felicity Palmer, Mezzo-soprano169
Ruggero Raimondi, Bass-baritone172
Akemi Sakamoto, Mezzo-soprano176
7. A PERSONAL VIEW OF ROSSINI BY UBALDO GARDINI181
8. MEET THE ARTISTS: Biographies & Interviews Part Four189
Shinobu Sato, Soprano190
Frederica von Stade, Mezzo-soprano193
Robin Stapleton, Conductor196
Keizo Takahashi, Baritone199
Phillip Thomas, Accompanist & Répétiteur202
Alan Titus, Bass-baritone205
Sumiko Tokushima, Accompanist & Répétiteur208
LeRoy Villanueva, Baritone211
Lillian Watson, Soprano215
9. APPENDICES219
Discography220
Bibliography229