Author Topic: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques  (Read 16846 times)

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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #80 on: August 09, 2011, 07:15:35 AM »
I understand what you say about force and its becoming "forcing" (is this grammatically ok?) but one cannot forget the huge amount of athletic exertion behind the operatic voice. In Hines' book "Great singers on great singing", Magda Olivero recollected having shed bitter tears as she learnt to use the right muscles to support the famous "column of air" - "I cannot do it. It's too strenuous" - she complained - "Don't say you can't! I won't hear you say that ever again. I'll make you do it and then you can die if you want. But - I can't - never again." - His maestro told her while clasping her head. We can say she succeded.

Now there are teachers at the conservatoire who encourage their pupils to sing without the "obsession with support". They teach them to place their voices without proper support. They simply love they all produce the same pale, "vibratoless" falsetto, as you comment on other thread.

It IS really strenuous to get a proper support, but once the muscles start working right and a routine is achieved, maintenance is easier. I remember how awful it was to have to change a wrong approach. It was almost impossible to connect up the sound with the abdominal support, although one of my teachers said the sensation is like when you would try to lift a piano.  The paradox though is you can't just contract the muscles and expect opera to happen. Usually there are all kinds of compensating tensions one has to get rid of. Also bad habits tend to come back when you least want or expect them to.

ZB
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #81 on: August 09, 2011, 07:48:10 AM »
Excellent description. In a nutshell, Schlusnus sang on his breath while Gerhaher sings with his breath (as anyone can do). Another difference can be felt in the D-E fach, where Sch. changes register (from "chest" to "head") by means of the covered tone while G. tries to swell  his falsetto in the throat.

When a singer does as Schlusnus, the listener in the theatre gets an unforgettable impression. That of the voice floating above the singer's head, filling the space, making every single particle of air vibrate. It's as if the singer was singing close to your ears (but not whispering, mind you!). I never get that impression from singers like Gerhaher.

Wow, Schlusnus sure gets more out of each note, not just a pitch to hang on a word.  I don't understand or hear what you are saying about his changing gears on a D-E.  Here his pianissimi are practically transparent, and high too. Ging heut morgen übers Feld  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NotkmKyPOEA

Also quite extraordinary:  Die zwei blauen Augen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6H26Syxuw

With regard to the discussion on vibrato, one is not aware of it as amplitude, but a warm quality in his singing.

ZB
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Offline Guido

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #82 on: August 09, 2011, 08:07:14 AM »
That Ferrier clip above is amazing - she had never really registered on my radar before. I love it. What are her technical deficiencies as you see them Mike?
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Offline knight66

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #83 on: August 09, 2011, 08:54:51 AM »
If you have Spotify: and you can join it for free, that Mahler recording is there sounding pristine and utterly without hiss. She had possibly one of the best natural voices ever and although she did indeed study, once she was 'discovered', she was provided with remarkable opportunities. I see her main problem to be that she was probably that lost treasure: a contralto. Her tone at the top was not secure or securely in place. She would find ways round this, but she died before she really had a chance to work out this issue. She could on occasion hoot, a very common fault in English singers at the time.

She was a naturally musical person and had a unique way of transmitting the music to the individual. I think it the same kind of openness and directness as Hunt Lieberson conveys, but the younger singer had a deal more skill to back it up.

Some claim she was just one of these English singers that the English like to overrate. But Bruno Walter and Karajan both rated her as totally exceptional.

I have an off-air recording of her singing a rehearsal of the B Minor Mass with Karajan and duetting with Schwarzkopf. I can't find it on Youtube, but it is on Spotify. It is attached in truncated form to the end of a complete Karajan B Minor Mass on EMI which has a different mezzo. Why each aria/duet is incomplete I don't know as the separate disc I have had for years has each extract complete.

But the outcome of this mere rehearsal is exceptional. I don't think I have ever encountered Bach singing to excel in communication and sheer beauty what she does. But she does produce some bumps in the line. She blends well with Schwarzkopf; more so than say Ludwig's voice ever did. Try the Christe eleison.

Legend has it that Karajan only was known to cry twice; one of those occasions was after the Ferrier Bach performance. Her singing is about much more than the technique. Incidentally, if you do tune into these extracts you may be surprised at how swiftly Karajan moves through. This was not a rehearsal speed; as he does this on the full performance. A pity he became so funereal and po-faced in his Bach by the time the Janowitz/Ludwig versions were recorded.

Mike
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Offline Guido

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #84 on: August 09, 2011, 08:57:58 AM »
If you have Spotify: and you can join it for free, that Mahler recording is there sounding pristine and utterly without hiss. She had possibly one of the best natural voices ever and although she did indeed study, once she was 'discovered', she was provided with remarkable opportunities. I see her main problem to be that she was probably that lost treasure: a contralto. Her tone at the top was not secure or securely in place. She would find ways round this, but she died before she really had a chance to work out this issue. She could on occasion hoot, a very common fault in English singers at the time.

She was a naturally musical person and had a unique way of transmitting the music to the individual. I think it the same kind of openness and directness as Hunt Lieberson conveys, but the younger singer had a deal more skill to back it up.

Some claim she was just one of these English singers that the English like to overrate. But Bruno Walter and Karajan both rated her as totally exceptional.

I have an off-air recording of her singing a rehearsal of the B Minor Mass with Karajan and duetting with Schwarzkopf. I can't find it on Youtube, but it is on Spotify. It is attached in truncated form to the end of a complete Karajan B Minor Mass on EMI which has a different mezzo. Why each aria/duet is incomplete I don't know as the separate disc I have had for years has each extract complete.

But the outcome of this mere rehearsal is exceptional. I don't think I have ever encountered Bach singing to excel in communication and sheer beauty what she does. But she does produce some bumps in the line. She blends well with Schwarzkopf; more so than say Ludwig's voice ever did. Try the Christe eleison.

Legend has it that Karajan only was known to cry twice; one of those occasions was after the Ferrier Bach performance. Her singing is about much more than the technique. Incidentally, if you do tune into these extracts you may be surprised at how swiftly Karajan moves through. This was not a rehearsal speed; as he does this on the full performance. A pity he became so funereal and po-faced in his Bach by the time the Janowitz/Ludwig versions were recorded.

Mike

Am a long time spotify user, and have been for almost 3 years now: it changes everything. Will definitely look this up!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 09:01:34 AM by Guido »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #85 on: August 09, 2011, 09:01:15 AM »
I am listening to the Agnus Dei right now and she is giving me gooseflesh. That fining the tone down, yet projecting on the recapitulation is something she also does at a live recording with Enescu, so no fluke.

Let me know what you think.

Mike
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Offline Guido

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #86 on: August 09, 2011, 09:25:50 AM »
This is unbelievable. So beautiful. Which living mezzo could manage this? Thank you!

This is now completely off topic and just because it occurs to me: A singer that I have just loved everything of that I've heard is Arleen Auger. Want to get to know her recorded legacy better, but her catalogue seems so dispersed and disorganised! One would have though that there'd be a Strauss songs disc, but apparently not - she did the four last with Previn and there's a live recital disc with other german repertoire from the BBC archives. There are two discs that look like highlights discs, "Love songs" and "Arias", but not sure if they really are. Spotify has loads, and I think she recorded a lot, but little seems to be very central repertoire. Hmmm...

One of the most perfect techniques of all time it seems - I'm attracted to these effortless sounding voices in general... Popp also springs to mind in this category. Though sometimes with Auger it might seem a little too perfect, when it's not called for. Ridiculous as that may sound.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #87 on: August 09, 2011, 11:19:45 AM »
I am glad that Ferrier hit the spot.

Heck, you seem to have hit on yet another of my enthusiasms. Auger has some discs on Dorian, the Love Songs is a wonderful encores disc with a lot of beautiful songs and is a lovely disc, not a ragbag. There is also a Handel/Bach aria disc, not highlights, but a recital.

She recorded most of the Bach Cantatas with Rilling, plus the St M, St J, Christmas Oratorio, B Minor Mass and Magnificat. The major ones are all in a 10cd box from Sony.

From the cantatas there is a lovely disc of arias with her alone. It was on Hanssler but I can't find it available; I assume the recording now belongs to Sony. A BBC disc of lieder, Schubert/Schumann. On Hyperion she contributed an excellent disc to the complete Schubert songs.

But solo discs are thin on the ground considering she was once said to be the most recorded soprano in history. Mainly attributable to her contributions to so many Bach recordings I guess.

Complete Handel Belshazzar, EMI Alcina and Hogwood Mozart Grand Mass, Ostmann Don Giovanni. All must have discs for me. I was very lucky to be in choir for a number of her performances including a tour of Belshazzar. I thought that she was as good as it gets and for sure under recorded in terms of solo albums. The Four Last Songs disc gets little attention, but it is a very lovely reading.

There is great tenderness about her singing, but not soft centred. She was a terrific technician and clearly understood where her best repertoire lay. Another of the top rankers who died young.

Mike
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 11:23:59 AM by knight66 »
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Offline Harry Powell

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #88 on: August 09, 2011, 12:09:56 PM »
It seems you are very chatty today!

Wow, Schlusnus sure gets more out of each note, not just a pitch to hang on a word.  I don't understand or hear what you are saying about his changing gears on a D-E.  Here his pianissimi are practically transparent, and high too. Ging heut morgen übers Feld  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NotkmKyPOEA

Also quite extraordinary:  Die zwei blauen Augen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU6H26Syxuw

With regard to the discussion on vibrato, one is not aware of it as amplitude, but a warm quality in his singing.

ZB

I wasn't suggesting that there was a sort of audible click between registers. On the contrary, where others become strained or unsteady, change color or simply croon, Sch. delivers firm, beautiful tones which flow without interruption. But if one listens attentively to "Da mußt ich Abschied nehmen vom allerliebsten Platz!" ("O Augen blau, warum habt ihr mich angeblickt?") will notice that he takes advantage of the portamento on "allerliebsten" to make the change. At first, that "a" is a preparation sound, just slightly shaded, but then becomes a "head sound" as he covers it.

In this song I'd single out the way Sch. sings "O Augen blau, warum habt ihr mich angeblickt?". In that "why" a whole life of love and hate and fears and bitterness is enclosed. You have to be a true master to sing like that, but also must have lived many years.
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Offline Harry Powell

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #89 on: August 09, 2011, 12:43:06 PM »
Mike, you're right in all you write about Ferrier (maybe you're too harsh now with her technical shortcomings). The only one of her recordings I tend to discuss is the Walter set of "Das Lied von der Erde". I listened to this recording before learning the special circumstances under which it was made and I've never forgot my mixed reaction to her performance there.
I'm not an native English speaker, so please feel free to let me know if I'm not expressing myself clearly.

Offline knight66

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #90 on: August 09, 2011, 01:02:39 PM »
She sang it at the Edinburgh Festival when she knew the cancer was terminal. The final 'Ewig' was one too many. But who could criticise that. Her last stage appearance was in Orfeo in Holland. On stage while singing her hip broke. She completed the scene leaning against the scenery.

She was a remarkable person who brought something special to those who knew her. Some of her recordings I find really special; a shame she sang so much dross and had poor accompanists for a lot of her earlier recordings. Once the really great musicians started to work with her; they brought out the best and she acted like a sponge with the likes of Barbirolli and Walter.

Mike
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Offline Guido

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #91 on: August 09, 2011, 02:30:56 PM »
Thanks for the Auger recommendations Mike - will definitely look out for them on spotify.

Getting back to baritones: so who is people's favourite current baritone/bass-baritone? I do like Gerhaher, but he's not my favourite. I think mine is Andreas Schmidt - I've only heard him in German rep - Schoeck's Elegie (sublime), Strauss orchestral songs (also wonderful, and very rarely heard), and Mahler songs. Does anyone pass Harry's test?
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Offline Harry Powell

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #92 on: August 09, 2011, 03:16:19 PM »
Hi Guido
Sorry for forgetting your previous question. Reverend Powell's judgement about Finley and Tézier is benign, provided thay they don't go too far from Mozart. On the other hand, one of the most obnoxious things I have ever heard is a certain Ryan McKinny. He sounds like a toad from the bottom of a pond.

As for the reasons for the singing decline in the lower strings, I'd point out a few for the Italian case:

- The influence of verismo with its demand of extrovert personalities. In singing, extrovert means: "Sing mezzoforte and forte".
- The fashion of dark voices which induced baritones to darken the delivery.
- Again, verismo and its noisy orchestrations. With a loud accompaniment, mezzavoce is out of the question.
- Of course, imitation of gifted singers who incurred those faults. If Leo Nucci was successful no wonder that a vocal disaster as Marco Vratogna can now sing bark before an audience.

You asked for a sermon and I gave you a sermon.

Harry.
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Offline Guido

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #93 on: August 09, 2011, 03:34:46 PM »
Much though I'd like to blame Verismo for the fall of man as well, it has to be said that Teutonic Baritonal writing post Mozart isn't exactly easy on singers either, volume wise. Wagner, Strauss, Berg... And what about Verdi Baritone roles? And is Verismo really more in fashion now than it used to be?

Forgot about Finley - I'm also a fan. I actually loved him in the recent Glyndebourne Meistersinger - completely unexpected for him to do this part, I didn't think he had the power, but it was amazing, very moving indeed, and though he wasn't booming, the beautiful vibrancy of the sound and excellent diction meant that he had more presence than anyone else on the stage.

And Hvorostovsky - he's excellent in some roles I think. Eugene Onegin for instance.
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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #94 on: August 09, 2011, 09:21:23 PM »
She had possibly one of the best natural voices ever and although she did indeed study, once she was 'discovered', she was provided with remarkable opportunities. I see her main problem to be that she was probably that lost treasure: a contralto. Her tone at the top was not secure or securely in place. She would find ways round this, but she died before she really had a chance to work out this issue. She could on occasion hoot, a very common fault in English singers at the time.

She was a naturally musical person and had a unique way of transmitting the music to the individual. I think it the same kind of openness and directness as Hunt Lieberson conveys, but the younger singer had a deal more skill to back it up.
Mike

When I was first introduced to Ferrier's singing in the Four Serious Songs of Brahms, I was really struck by the unusual quality of the voice. Later, it occured to me that maybe this was somewhat contrived.
(Oddly enough, there was a local singer who thought she was Ferrier's duplicate and tried to imitate her deep, dark tones but this was a total flop. Singers who sell timbre like Fleming can be irritating at times.)

I tried to figure out what didn't sit exactly right with Ferrier and yours is a good explanation. I also think this might have had to do with separation of registers that perhaps she didn't want or know how to do. In other words, a lot might have been lost if the chest voice stayed there in the lower notes and the quality not be applied to the upper notes. 

At any rate, though, Ferrier was a great singer and moreover, a great spirit.

ZB
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #95 on: August 09, 2011, 10:09:32 PM »
It seems you are very chatty today!

Likewise!

I wasn't suggesting that there was a sort of audible click between registers. On the contrary, where others become strained or unsteady, change color or simply croon, Sch. delivers firm, beautiful tones which flow without interruption. But if one listens attentively to "Da mußt ich Abschied nehmen vom allerliebsten Platz!" ("O Augen blau, warum habt ihr mich angeblickt?") will notice that he takes advantage of the portamento on "allerliebsten" to make the change. At first, that "a" is a preparation sound, just slightly shaded, but then becomes a "head sound" as he covers it.

In this song I'd single out the way Sch. sings "O Augen blau, warum habt ihr mich angeblickt?". In that "why" a whole life of love and hate and fears and bitterness is enclosed. You have to be a true master to sing like that, but also must have lived many years.

Ach, listening to Schlusnus just spoiled me for anyone else, including (not surprising DFD) I found this quote quite astonishing posted under his rather wooden delivery of  Ging heut Morgen übers Feld (1960).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKtRombx5DM&feature=related

"Fischer-Dieskau has always had an encyclopaedic knowledge of other singers. 'It is remarkable when people say how different I am from earlier singers,' he says, 'because I overlapped with singers like Heinrich Schlusnus and Erna Berger and I was not conscious of being different in approach. On the contrary, I tried to be like them, to be as perfect as I thought they were.'"

--from an interview with Martin Kettle on his 80th birthday, at Guardian Unlimited Arts

PS  Hampson lightens up on the repeated notes in the beginning of the phrase. What Sch. does is infinitely harder, to make the switch later - Bravo! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW-prMveXbY&feature=related
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 10:18:32 PM by zamyrabyrd »
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Offline Harry Powell

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #96 on: August 10, 2011, 01:29:38 AM »
Interesting remark by DFD, thank you. And yet if one listens to his own "Songs of a wayfarer", recorded just a year later, can't fail to notice the difference from Schlusnus, as Callas was different from Ponselle. The senior singers had a certain "innocence" in their approaches which is lost in their analytic successors.
I'm not an native English speaker, so please feel free to let me know if I'm not expressing myself clearly.

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #97 on: August 12, 2011, 09:08:57 AM »
I cannot add anything to your analysis. I'd just recommend anyone still thinking us "nuts"  ;D  to listen to "German" baritones from the early years of the gramophone. They all had easy top notes, they could cope with any tessitura in half voice, they could even attempt a true "filatura". Take Janssen, Nissen, the forgotten Joseph Schwarz for example. Even if they studied in Central Europe, they were Italian schooled.

In Italy postwar most baritones began ignoring the right technique and preferred to take their chest resonance up to the high notes by means of forcing. In Germany everyone has been imitating Fischer-Dieskau, a singer who used a very personal way of joining registers but certainly sang true legato.


I just want to add as a footnote to this point (although it has the possibility of sparking off another long and spirited discussion), a distinction should be made between heavier and lighter voices of any range, male or female. One cannot expect a lyric voice of any type to excel in dramatic material and for heavier voices to do the kind of filagree work that a lightweight just breezes through.  As the discussion was about baritones, well, Hvorostovsky seems like a natural heavyweight, for instance, so a voice like his could not be expected to sound remotely like Schlusnus.

ZB
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

― Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Offline knight66

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #98 on: August 12, 2011, 09:36:52 AM »
That seems uncontroversial on the surface and even self evident. Of course there will be a bit of overlap here and there.

But looking back: Hotter went from Wotan to Bach through lieder and was admired in it all. He was recording Bach when he was singing Wagner live. Now we talk about people moving out of Mozart to adopt Wagner. Out of Bach to move onto the heavier Verdi and so forth. Which as Harry has said; with the men, they have simply been encouraged to sing louder and louder. So indeed, the voice becomes less steady and flexible. I am not sure it has to be like that. But people are conditioned to hope for more amplitude to then ride louder and louder orchestral sound.

Mike

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Offline Harry Powell

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Re: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson and vocal techniques
« Reply #99 on: August 12, 2011, 10:34:44 AM »
Hi!

Mr. Hvorostovsky is one of those baritones who think dramatic voices must be dark and thick. He has done everything to swell his instrument. It's a "phonogenic" voice, to be sure, but when he performed in Teatro Real we were very disappointed to hear it didn't carry well enough and sounded rather throaty. He doesn't have an easy top either.

Schlusnus may sound lighter, but he sang the heaviest Verdi roles for thirty years. He had a ringing top, which is the main feature of the Verdi dramatic voice.
I'm not an native English speaker, so please feel free to let me know if I'm not expressing myself clearly.