|Lament (short) Monophonic
From Legend of the Sun Virgin (1952), this single bar was used in the 1957 film Omar Khayyam, which featured Yma Sumac in a small role. (Moisés Vivanco - 1:18)
Recorded in 1952
|Review and Analysis of Lament (short) by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
Read more on the Legacy of the Diva Web site!
|"The yearning for the Andes with its stark loneliness and the inky darkness of its night. (Dedicated to Miss Sumac by Mr. Vivanco)" - Program notes, in Chicago, 12/10/54.
"Yma's Lament," as this was often called on concerts, has an operatic quality to cadences and was quite popular with audiences. A lush piece, it is a vocalise accompanied by string orchestra, brass, percussion, and gong. Much of it's success is due to Yma's warm and lyrical singing. At times her voice shows quite a cutting edge and is so forwardly placed it is almost nasal. This is especially noticeable in the rising patterns where Yma uses an unusually brilliant lyric soprano focus up to high C. She carefully switches into a softly floated head voice, however, to facilitate the rise from high C to E flat.
There are some pseudo-chant phrases peculiar to Yma in the following sections but they are so brief they could have been omitted without any distortion to the music. This section, accompanied by rattles, drums and rhythmical statements from the orchestra, has a nice (if contrived) primitive quality. Unfortunately, it goes nowhere. Nonetheless, the pointed and measured staccati Yma provides are nicely done. During a ritard, Yma alters her tone quality for a rise to high E flat that is seamlessly floated.
The final section has a short, cadential figure of stacatti Gs followed by a rise to a delicate, flute-pure high D which descends to a final high C, rich in upper harmonics. This particular cadence is similar to one favored by operatic sopranos active during the 1920s, especially the coloraturas, Maria Barrientos and Amelita Galli-Curci. Because their voices were slender in volume, both singers used this particular formula to simulate thrust and power for the endings of some of their concert showpieces. If possible, Yma's version is even more delicate. The crash of a gong brings the song to a suitably exotic close.