Barbara Bonney (Soprano)
Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works
RecordingsSee: Barbara Bonney - Short Biography
Barbara Bonney & "Heute noch lieber Vater"Doug Sospiro wrote (December 9, 2001):
A while back [quite a while!] I was flipping through radio stations & caught a lovely performance of "Heute noch lieber vater" from the Coffee Cantata BMV 211. Such a wonderful piece! I recently picked up Barbara Bonney's performance of it on her THE RADIANT VOICE OF BARBARA BONNEY - although I'm not fond of compilations, which usually are produced for more commercial than artistic reasons - & she is FABULOUS.
Just wanted to have people toss out their opinions on this aria & performances thereof. Any knowledge gleaned will be greatly appreciated!
Michael Grover wrote (December 9, 2001):
I have not personally heard Bonney's performance of this cantata, but I love her voice in everything else I've heard. This cantata was discussed awhile back on the Bach Cantatas list. Here are the discussions:
Sybrand Bakker thought hers was the best performance of any soprano he had heard.
A Bonney Weekend
Janos Gereben [San Francisco] wrote (February 19, 2002):
Barbara Bonney spent the weekend in San Francisco by giving a recital Saturday evening, a lecture about the business of music Sunday morning, and a master class for amateur singers Sunday afternoon.
It is a measure of this singer-entertainer-teacher-coach-golfer-standup comedienne that seven hours spent with her felt neither too much nor quite enough.
The standup portion came Sunday morning when Bonney told young singers about the reality of singing as a career - "figure on 30% of income cleared after international/US taxes (56% in Germany alone) and make sure your expenses and living costs are covered by what remains, good luck to you!" - and she peppered her eminently practical advice with fun bits of information:
- Be true to your voice, if you're a lyric soprano, don't let 'em try "to make your voice big because that's what sells." Even such respected conductors as Harnoncourt and Rattle can fall for this, Bonney said, rolling her eyes vigorously, the former suggesting Fidelio to her, the latter Donna Anna. Those revolving eyes went into earth orbit when Bonney contemplated Charlotte Church singing "Vissi d'arte."
- Keep track of what you wear for recitals in which city. She does that (and makes sure she doesn't repeat repertory either) with an Excel spreadsheet. The cost of her superb gown Friday night in Herbst Theater: $109, including tax, but she wouldn't reveal the source lest the place is over-run by thrifty singers.
- Don't overdo "protecting the voice." An example: "dear Kathy Battle writing notes." The other end of the scale: Neil Schicoff, "who sings through his entire role three times immediately before the performance, oh dear!" Incidentally, Bonney's own five-hour speaking binge on top of the two-hour recital took place just 72 hours before her concert in Carnegie Hall. That's practicing what you teach, with gusto.
- Being a waiter/waitress is an excellent way of assuring survival for the young singer - Bonney spent seven years doing it - because it helps developing skills needed on the stage: timing, discipline and endearing yourself to the paying/tipping/applauding public.
- Her singing idols: Elizabeth Schumann, Ella Fitzgerald and Yo-Yo Ma.
- An American in Europe: when she started her career in Dortmund, the New Jersey-born soprano had 120 performances in her first year, plus rehearsals, of course, leaving her four days off. A much-coveted recitalist today around the world, last year, Bonney had 35 days at home.
- Recording are good for the ego, as "calling cards," but there is no money in them for the artist. With 85 CDs under her belt, Bonney is still waiting for her first royalty check. But it's all rather irrelevant, she said, because new classical recordings are disappearing.
- "Diva days" are almost over, except for "the Strauss-Puccini crowd." Mozart singers like herself behave much better, she joked. Or did she?
- With all the difficulties, hardship, challenges, dangers in path of the young singer, what is one to do? Bonney suggested sincerity, integrity and "enjoying the hell out of music."
The master class was a hoot. Drawing numbers from a hat, Bonney picked eager, mostly middle-aged volunteers who sing for the pleasure of it. She predicted that there will be some moving performances, and she was right. "Before voices are ruined by training," she said, often they maintain a childlike simplicity, a natural head-voice production, and the love of music comes through. A Palo Alto attorney singing Mahler and one of Bonney's accompanists making his singing debut provided real, lasting musical experiences.
Moments before Bonney began her Saturday night recital, she was playing with the Tiger Woods golf computer training program backstage and the concert turned into a par-busting performance on the back nine, the vocal equivalent of a double eagle on the long par 5 and a hole-in-one on the tough par three.
The opening "Dichterliebe" was among the least satisfying performances I heard from her. There were no actual error (although she came close at times), but she was on top of the cycle, mastering it, but not IN it. If not vocally, emotionally, at least, it was a cold performance.
But oh, how things changed by that back nine of the second half! With the magnificent Margo Garrett at the piano (who was to sightread flawlessly throughout the master class the next day), Bonney became herself again. She sang Schubert and Liszt, with elegance and charm, the most gorgeous "Standchen" since Schwarzkopf (with the same kind of color and sheen), the Liszt and the Clara Schumann "Lorelei" back-to-back, and then a floating, dreamy Liszt "Quand je dors," which then kept running in the listener's head all night long.
Barbara Bonney: Short Biography | General Discussions