This post is dedicated to my mom, who will (hopefully) never read this blog, but it is dedicated to her nonetheless. In this post we’ll be looking at some of the Christmas music of Jessye Norman. It is Jessye Norman’s Christmas album Christmastide that is my mom’s all time favourite Xmas album, hence why this post is for her
First, a little background on Ms. Norman:
“Jessye Norman (born September 15, 1945) is an American opera singer. Norman is one of the most admired contemporary opera singers and recitalists, and one of the highest paid performers in classical music. A true dramatic soprano with a majestic stage presence, Norman is associated in particular with the roles of Aïda, Cassandre, Alceste, and Leonora in Fidelio. Norman has been given the nickname ‘Just Enormous’ for her powerful voice and range...” ♦And believe me “just enormous” is very appropriate Her voice is simply amazing. While her style of singing may not be your cup of tea, I do not think it can be denied that her voice is a beautiful & powerful instrument.
Speaking of her voice, I didn’t realise that there were certain “voice types” I just thought a soprano was a soprano. For any of you who have knowledge of these things, perhaps you can offer your own thoughts on her voice in the comments.
“Norman is most often referred to as a dramatic soprano but unlike most dramatic sopranos, Norman has become known for roles more traditionally sung by other types of voices. … Some vocal critics assert that Norman is not a dramatic soprano but has in fact a rare soprano voice type known as a Falcon. The Falcon voice is an intermediate voice types between the soprano and the mezzo soprano that is similar to the dramatic soprano but with a darker-color. Norman, however, refuses to place any labels on her voice...” ♦
Getting back to her music, it was her Christmas album, Christmastide, which my mom always played (and still does) at Christmas time when I was growing up. Yes, at my home, there’s never a trace of Frosty the Snowman playing, it’s Jessye Norman, the Westminster Cathedral choir, or the album Christmas Goes Baroque, which has in recent years become a close second to Ms. Norman’s album. I think it’s because of all these classical Christmas albums that I found myself, in my teen years (and to this day), drawn to the music of (old) Nightwish, and other bands which feature female leads and have that classical/soprano influence.
So how about hearing some of this fantastic music? Here are some of the songs I found on YouTube. These all seem to be taken from a TV Christmas special at Ely Cathedral. If anyone has any more information about these performances, you can let me know in the comments
O Holy Night
I get cold shivers when listening to this song, especially at about 1:00, now this is what you call epic
The all boys choir at the beginning are simply lovely
This is one of mom’s favourites