I came across the vocal music when I was a child in primary school. I attended the classes in the morning, while the afternoon was dedicated to some homework. My grandparents kept the radio on while doing my job. The afternoon radio schedule included instrumental and vocal classical music. The music was an excellent background for carrying out my work.
Little by little I got familiar with famous pieces authored by Mozart, Beethoven and others. It was too early to feel and understand that a performance always features a personal touch. Years later I already had my favourite pieces of instrumental music.
When it came to vocal music, I was not very fond of lieder. They looked to me a little bit depressing and hard to understand. I am unsure whether even today the lieder are to my taste. Being songs based on a poetic text, I cannot resonate with the melodic line, which is equally shared by the piano and voice.
But I like opera music. I began to enjoy opera performances by Maria Callas, Nicolae Herlea, Arta Florescu, Elena Cernei, Pompeiu Hărăşteanu, Ion Dacian, Ion Buzea, Dorin Teodorescu, Ludovic Spiess, and many others.
As soon as I discovered the voice of Maria Callas my perception of the vocal music standards changed. I was tempted to compare voices and establish a hierarchy. I considered this a natural need and I was trapped myself with this approach for many years.
My attempt was somehow later supported while watching “Verdi”, a famous TV series. It included a number of Callas’ famous performances while telling the story of the composer’s life.
I enjoyed two hours a week of music classes while attending the lower-secondary school. In addition to theory, almost half of the music curriculum included musical auditions, which meant listening to a set of vinyl records.
Even today, I recall those years, which contributed to my musical education. The teacher introduced every piece we were going to listen to. The teacher never missed to share the story on which the piece is based on. That was the main reason of enjoying the music lessons so much. With names and titles in my head, I always went back home to consolidate the knowledge I got in class, while doing my homework and listening to the afternoon’s radio programmes.
I believe that listening to classical music requires some imagination efforts. Actually the music as such does not limit imagination. On the contrary the listener can imagine everything, which may be inspired by the melodic line. I believe that music enables one to enjoy a freedom of imagination.
Years after I understood that human voices should not be compared. A listener should not classify voices, but discover the beauty of each voice timber and colour. Every voice as such is unique. It is also true that one singer can perform better than the other. This is what matters, when judging a performance.
Callas is still my reference point in the field of vocal music. Her powerful voice with dramatic accents made me imagine her to be a powerful human being. Many years after, while reading more about her and her artistic life, I realised that she was a fragile soul. I tend to believe that her restless activity and the need to touch the perfection made her burn earlier than expected.
Callas changed the opera as such and pushed the human voice to new limits. Critics often say “before” and “after” Callas, when they discuss opera. Her legacy actually is still valid today and nowadays artists and critics refer to her performances as the referential opera benchmark.