singing voice

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Bart Hindmarsh's picture
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it might be in the biog - I've only read the last section. His speaking voice suggests a bass singing voice. But does Mr Lee consider himself a bass or a baritone?



Stuart Ball's picture
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Re: singing voice

I believe Mr Lee is a baritone.Cool

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Seth de Graaf's picture
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Re: singing voice

Do you guys ever heard him sing? Cause I haven't and I'm convinced that he can sing very well. Does anyone know where I can get my hands on a song or something like that?

TC

littleb (not verified)


littleb's picture
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Re: singing voice

Try to get a copy of two films: The Wicker Man, which is a classic by any standard, and The Return Of Captain Invincible. These contain Mr. Lee singing, and can be obtained fairly easily tho the second one is a bit off the wall. You might want to look up his current activities with the metal band Rhapsody at their website: mightyrhapsody.com. Fantastic stuff! Good luck with your search, and let us know what you think when you finally hear that great voice. Smile



Andrés Verdú's picture
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Re: singing voice

Hello everyone,

Regarding Mr Lee's singing voice, the following account appears in his autobiography, describing attempts by an "Austrian madame" to turn Lee into a tenor:

Her grandmother and daughter sat in on every lesson, enchanted by the incredible contorsions of my uvula as I tried to produce a tenor ring. I had a very fast vibrato, which they declared was not unattractive, if I would try not to slow down into a wobble. Hard as we all tried though, to whoops of encouragement from the attendant family, I would not turn into a tenor. What they produced was a voice that could not make up its mind, and when my basso profondo reached the 'bridge' from bass to baritone, it pirouetted over the parapet into a tenor baritone timbre. Unusual and distinctive, but inconvenient.
_______________________________________________________________
Lee, Christopher, Lord of Misrule: The Autobiography of Christopher Lee, (London, England: Orion Books Ltd., 2003), p. 118.

As for his performances as a singer, Mr Lee provides a long list of these in the same book, under Chapter 72: "Words and Music" (pp. 329-332 inclusive), which also lists different audio work he has recorded, such as audiobooks and radio broadcasts (he recently added to the latter with his Christopher Lee's Fireside Tales for BBC Radio 2, (December, 2004)).

Besides those mentioned by Patty (littleb), there is The King and I (which is fabulous), The King of Elfland's Daughter, The Soldier's Tale by Stravinski, Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev, Christopher Lee sings Devils, Rogues and other Villains - from Broadway to Bayreuth, "It's Now or Never" (duet with Gary Curtis), Wanderin' Star (again, I believe, with Gary Curtis), At Dawn in Rivendell (with the Tolkien Ensemble - a beautiful rendition of songs and narration from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings)...

Quite a few to be going on with, and, if and when the projects mentioned by Mr Lee with Richard O'Brien and Rhapsody are completed, he will have added more to his singing career. It's a shame that nobody recorded him (or did they?) in his younger days when he would sing those arias in his dressing-rooms, so often favourably recalled by the many actors who worked with him over the years. Now those I would really like to hear!

Kind regards,

poeraven Smile



julie's picture
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Re: singing voice

Try E-bay, there is always one or two of Mr Lee's CDs up for sell.
I'm lucky I have some on 45 rpm.
Mr Lee has a lovely singing voice, has also sings in some of the films he has made.
if you ever get the chance to buy any I would say go for it, because you will not regret it.
rats



Renate Knobloch-Maas's picture
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Re: singing voice

poeraven wrote:
Quite a few to be going on with, and, if and when the projects mentioned by Mr Lee with Richard O'Brien and Rhapsody are completed, he will have added more to his singing career. It's a shame that nobody recorded him (or did they?) in his younger days when he would sing those arias in his dressing-rooms, so often favourably recalled by the many actors who worked with him over the years. Now those I would really like to hear!

I absolutely agree with your posting, all of it, and especially that last sentence! Thank you for the quotes and the extensive list, poeraven.

For a while now, I have been working on a complete list of all of Mr. Lee's audio recordings. There are quite a lot of them, he does not mention them all in his books, but unlike filmographies, I haven't seen a complete audio recording list anywhere yet. I had planned to put the list on my homepage sometime during the next weeks and then ask here in the forums for comments and help, but since the subject has come up now, I thought I'd mention that I'm working on it.

A few remarks to poeraven's extensive list:

"At Dawn in Rivendell" can be easily bought from online stores. It features several narrations and poems recited by Mr. Lee, but also two songs with Christopher Lee singing as Treebeard. I'd say this CD is definitely worth buying!

As for "Christopher Lee sings Devils, Rogues and other Villains from Broadway to Bayreuth", it's wonderful, but difficult to get. I've seen it fetch $150 on ebay.com a few years ago! But it's good to keep a watch on the German ebay (ebay.de); I've bought mine from there for a reasonable price, and quite a few of these CDs have popped up there during the last years. Most German ebay sellers speak English and will ship their items worldwide. If you find one who doesn't, please let me know, I might be able to help out. I've been looking for that same CD for 2 years, but it was definitely worth the wait. I can let you know here if there's one for sale on Ebay.de, if you like. I got mine, so now I can afford to be nice to others Wink.

Of "The King and I" starring Christopher Lee and Valerie Masterson, there are two versions that I know of. Apart from the full-length 2-CD version, there is also a "best of" CD. This "Highlights" CD is somewhat easier to find on Ebay, but it does not contain all of Christopher Lee's songs. However, if you can't get the longer one, it's better than nothing, and it does contain "A Puzzlement", which is one of Mr. Lee's key songs in the musical. I managed to find both on Ebay (ebay.co.uk, this time), but it also took several years to find the complete album for a decent price.

Then there's the soundtrack of "The Wicker Man", which is available online from silvascreen.co.uk in Europe; there is also a link for North American customers. I think Christopher Lee only sings "The Tinker of Rye" on that soundtrack - I have no idea whether he also sings with the choir in the final song of the movie, "Sumer is a-cumen in". In the movie, of course Lord Summerisle does, but I don't think Mr. Lee is singing with the performers on the soundtrack. Does anyone know for sure?
Anyway, I like the soundtrack as a whole, I also like the movie, and although I said that it's "only" the Tinker of Rye where Mr. Lee sings, that song is a great one. I played it once to an unsuspecting audience who liked the song, but were very surprised when they learned that this was indeed the same voice that they knew as the Voice of Saruman Laughing out loud .

"It's now or never" is a single that can be found on Ebay; I got it from the U.K. ebay. It's a duet of Mr. Lee and Gary Curtis, Mr. Lee singing the Italian text and Mr. Curtis singing the English version, and there are several different edits (normal, disco mix...) of the same song on the single. Well, to be honest, I don't regret that I bought it, but sometimes I'd rather prefer they'd sing separately. I don't think their voices go well together. But that's a matter of personal preference.

"I was born under a wandrin' star" was also recorded with Gary Curtis (yes, you are right AFAIK), the CD was published in 1999, but I haven't been able to find that recording anywhere!! Anybody here who wants to get rid of it, you've got a buyer.

"The Return of Captain Invincible" is the second movie where Christopher Lee sings, "The Wicker Man" being the first. By the way, IMDB is wrong here, they've listed "Captain Invincible" as the only movie where he sings - it's not. I have not been able to find the soundtrack separately, but the DVD is available from online stores - in North America, at least. I haven't yet seen a RC 2 version, and I haven't seen it available anywhere in Europe.
As for the movie... well, it is kind of funny, but Christopher Lee has said in his autobiography that at the end, it remained somewhat incoherent and chaotic, and he says there are "many others I'd rather drink to". (I'm paraphrasing and quoting from memory because I don't have the book at hand, so any mistakes are mine.)
Anyway, Mr. Lee sings a duet with Alan Arkin (which in my opinion is _way_ better than the one with Gary Curtis), and there's also a great solo piece for the villain. If you can rent the movie, rent it, if you can't, then buy it - even if you hate the movie, Mr. Lee's singing is as great as usual (and with a DVD, you can skip right to the songs).

These are all the "song" items on my list - I have a couple of question marks somewhere, for example the role of Chief Sitting Bull in "Annie get your Gun", where I don't know whether it is narration or singing. Does anybody know?

I can't wait to hear the duet of Mr. Lee and Fabio Lione from Rhapsody which has already been recorded. Right from the beginning, when I first heard that Mr. Lee was to narrate on "The Dark Secret", I hoped that it wouldn't end there and that Mr. Lee would also sing with Rhapsody some day. Now a dream has come true! (And just for the record, I have been a Rhapsody fan since "Legendary Tales", which came out a long time ago, when there was no mention yet of a Rhapsody album with Christopher Lee.)

BTW, as for the other part of the original question - I keep thinking that Mr. Lee has said it somewhere that he considers himself a bass-baritone, but I have no idea where he said that. If I remember, I'll post it.

I was among the 2000-odd people who had a chance last year to hear Mr. Lee singing live in concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. This post is long enough already without me trying to describe that concert. Under the influence of the concert itself, a long drive there and back again, sleep deprivation and the diploma thesis I was supposed to write at the time, I wrote down a lengthy and in parts overly sentimental full report for friends right after the concert. If you're interested, it can be found on the construction site that will eventually evolve into a homepage, here: http://home.arcor.de/tauremorna/, just scroll down.
Oh, as for the a lot of the interpretation I give there for Treebeard's song from "At Dawn in Rivendell", I was plain wrong. I just haven't had the time yet to put that into a footnote. However, it was a personal interpretation of what I saw and heard, and if the sadness in that song was indeed just acted, it says something about Mr. Lee's acting capability that he had me so completely convinced.

Anyway - if you get a chance to hear Mr. Lee singing, do it. I really hope he will do another concert sometime, and if I hear there's another one somewhere in Europe, I'll be there.

guest


littleb's picture
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Re: singing voice

I think Mr Lee dreamed to be a tenor but nature has given him a broad bass baritone voice which allows him the deepest notes of a bass voice and the highest of a baritone.What an opera singer he would have been!The only songs in which I heard him were:The Tinker of Rye from Wicker Man,"Name Your Poison"from Captain Invincible and the first notes of Wand'ring Star,Man of La Mancha,on this site two or three years ago.When I learned,six years ago,that Peter Jackson was going to adapt LOTR for the big screen,by this time the cast wasn't chosen and rumours went on: Sean Connery would play Gandalf...,I dreamed to see Christopher Lee playing Saruman.Nobody but him could have incarnated the white wizard:he has the awesome presence and a superb voice required for this role.My dream came true!
Now I remember I have seen Mr Lee singing.It was on a french channel,something like twenty years ago.He gave an outstanding performance of The Golden Calf from Gounod's Faust.The audience was impressed.It was him who gave me the passion for opera(I studythe singing art in France,I myself am a baritone).



King Haggard's picture
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Re: singing voice

Mr. Lee is a very good singer, he has a very deep and loud singing voice, much like an Ent actually. I believe he is a Barritone. Smile



gyllenegevær's picture
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Re: singing voice

It would be quite a treasure indeed to hear some of these recordings that I have been reading about. I haven't heard him sing yet myself and endeavor to do so sometime soon! Very few actors actually have a great singing voice as well, although some of them would like to think so and there seems to be an increasing trend in musicians and actors switching roles. Most of them are talentless in both aspects, or weak at the most.

Just a strange sidenote about the Lord of the Rings audio tracks, I really enjoyed listening to the voice over - where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli meet up with the "White Wizard" and they used both Sir Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee's voice and mixed them together - awesome sound.

GoldenGun



Maria Silbermann's picture
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Re: singing voice

I wonder how he copes with nerves when he sings? I found it easier to act on stage than do any vocal solos. I was an absolute nervous wreck, and could never seem to reproduce some of the more memorable moments of my voice lessons. I'm said to have a big alto voice myself, but can manage a very respectable tenor in my old age! All of the dramatic sopranos and alto divas can relax, I only sing in the church choir these days. I admire everyone who can belt out a great song without feeling abject terror!

MariaS.



Bart Hindmarsh's picture
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Re: singing voice

Thank you everybody. That was a truly amazing response demonstrating a high degree of scholarship. Especial thanks to poeraven (he/she sounds like a fan of karloff/lorre/rathbone/price too). The evidence does point to his being a bass-baritone - a very respectable category. But for Mr Lee to be able to sing that Lee Marvin Wandering Star song, his range must reach down to the extreme lowest notes of the bass register - low B flat at least.
Love Bart



Renate Knobloch-Maas's picture
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Re: singing voice

As many of you are still looking for that "Devils, Rogues... " CD - there's another one up right now on the German Ebay, http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=21726&item=4700488370&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW.
Good luck! If you need anything translated, let me know.
The song "The Golden Calf/Le Veau d'Or" that was mentioned is also on this CD.

Or should we open a "Christopher Lee Singing" Thread in the general board for such notices, as this strays a bit from the original question? :confused:

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