Sunday, 29 August 2021

Panamese / Dutch soprano died

Last week the Panamese/Dutch soprano Marianne Blok has died. She was 80. She was one of the great voices of the Netherlands, and sang in many opera productions in Holland and abroad. She performed in many recitals and worked with the Dutch Radio orchestras; one of her star roles was the Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute of which the coloratura aria was one of her spectacular feats. She also sang in productions of contemporary opera, of which her greatest success was the central role in Peter Schat’s opera ‘Aap verslaat de knekelgeest’ (1980) which not only had a very difficult singing part but also required acrobatics and fencing skills.

After her retirement from the conservatory she was a much-sought after teacher with young singers coming from all over the world who picked-up the special qualities of her voice and wanted to learn from her.

She had a radiant, spontaneous sound, and immaculate taste and sensitivity, and every part she sang sounded as if improvised on the spot. This is the great quality of a great singer: bringing the music to life as if it were her own.  A vos jeux, mes amis   Où va la jeune Hindoue?   Salut à toi, soleil" "Quel guardo, il cavaliere..." (D. Pasquale)   Granados, Elegia Eterna   Obradors, Del cabello más sutil

She had a special approach in her teaching: not the usual physical training for volume, control and willpower (the feared ‘pumping’ of the voice), but the liberation of natural resonance which is present in every voice. Resonance can carry much farther and with much less effort than volume, and even with an orchestra behind the singer, resonance can easily float above a full orchestral sound. Of course this approach is not suited to everybody but young singers who possess already some of this natural resonance, were greatly helped by Marianne’s insightful training. 

She is an unforgettable voice and she will be greatly missed by everybody who had the experience of hearing her performances.


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