PO Box 2052 Astoria, NY 11102
Sue Hassel The Soprano On The Bridge Logo

Performances

Sound Bites On YouTube

This site will have click-on links to the following arias: In Questa ReggiaRachmaninoff Vocalize, Et Incarnatus Est, and Linda di Chamounix. (See the Contact page for contact information to purchase a CD containing all of them and more.)

To find out what I sound like, click on the links provided on this website which will lead you to those specific YouTube entries. Whether or not I want to have my name there, it’s there. Why? My voice is a throwback to the likes of Maria Callas, Rosa Ponselle, and Kirsten Flagstad—at least up until I hit age 59.

Musical CDs for Sale (Sue Hassel, Soprano & Piano) (David Smith, Sound Engineer)

Pre-59, I had been taught by an important NYC conductor immediately after arriving in NYC. My voice was huge, heroic, and Wagnerian in scope. I was lucky to work with Edwin McArthur, Kirsten Flagstad’s conductor. How did this happen? I went to a Lutheran Church in Queens one Sunday. My voice stood out over a big congregation of people on the hymns, and, as I left the church, I was approached by a member of the Metropolitan Opera Chorus. She recommended me to her coach, Leila Edwards. I sang for Leila Edwards one time, and she said, “You are a Wagnerian soprano, and you need to work with a Wagner specialist,” and so I ended up with Edwin McArthur, Flagstad’s preferred conductor.
Initially, I sang a lot of heroic repertoires in NYC. Then in my early 50s, my voice began to shift, and at 59, I sang my first “The Queen of the Night” with the repeated high Fs! At this moment (see the crazy pic of me on the Turandot clip), I am a large-voiced lyric coloratura soprano since I can manage all the major Mad Scenes in Italian opera easily.
Sue Beside a Piano
A side note to the recordings: during the time of Callas, Ponselle, and Flagstad, it was considered bad form to sing with a wide vibrato. So, the preferred sound of the time was instrumental, like an English horn, flute, or oboe. Times changed, and these days, the preferred sound among dramatic sopranos is a very wide noticeable vibrato which generates more brilliance and a less calm, steady sound. A wide vibrato is more forgiving of bad intonation. An instrumental sound with little vibrato is not well tolerated in the USA unless the audience is European. It’s just that most Europeans will know who Flagstad is, who Callas is, and who Ponselle is. Additionally, the general concert pitch in the USA is ¾ to a full tone higher which matches the generally more frenetic life force in the USA.
I was able to get an audition at Covent Garden (I sent a tape) years ago. On principle, they do NOT hear American singers, but I sent a doozy of a tape playing and singing. I sang the Battle Cry from Die Walkuere, and then they asked for more, and I sang the big Ernani aria (Verdi). The response from the six panelists: “You remind us of Joan Sutherland (a former apprentice at Covent Garden and still world-famous, still deserving the title “La Stupenda”), and we can’t offer you anything this season.”
Sue Hassel Standing Beside a Piano
Even now, my voice is more heroic, but I belong in the big leggiera repertoire, and that’s where I stay with a very broad recital presence as “Sue Hassel, Soprano and Piano.” Perhaps this explains the sheer carrying power and focus of my voice. If I sing heavier repertoire now, my voice could be ruined, so I am very precisely aware of how I sing and what I sing, with many sessions refining how I sing in a neighboring park. I am in the best vocal balance of my life now.
On YouTube, you can hear me singing In Questa Regia, etc. Then you see an odd clip of me in a purple suit. That’s what I had to submit for a competition. We worked in a tiny loft. I sang acapella. The first time I ran the aria, the technician’s professional camcorder shut down and nearly fried! The only way we could get some of my voice on accurately was to open the window wide so that I stood in front of it sideways. You can hear people further on down the block yell “shut up” in response. That’s the difference between a good hall and an onsite performance where you must take what comes and survive. All the overtone to my voice disappeared, and, in the video, the listener only hears the central core sound (which is not particularly inspiring). I sound fabulous outside. However, inside, the hall has to be really big and deep!
The other wonderful cuts were recorded in a very famous NYC hall with the very best technician at the time, David Smith (he died from Lyme disease months later). We recorded with one mic (his best mic) on the front row of the balcony 30 feet away overhead from me as I sang onstage, playing for myself at the piano, sitting sideways (to the audience view). Thus, the major thrust of my voice in the recording projected into the wings! That recording is accurate and true to my sound.
A NOTE: this last Christmas, I sang a 20-minute set of arias and songs on each of eight floors in a fine rehab center in Queens. After which, I went to the park and sang another 45 minutes in the bandshell nearby—all of that without amplification! At rehab, I went to the back door of each floor and sang from there acapella, and my voice easily carried the entire length of the building on each floor without amplification. The staff and patients loved it.
In summation, the purple suit clip loses 80% of my voice’s opulence and size. It only captures the very center of my voice while losing all the overtone. However, it shows what I look like in person. The remainder of the clips are true to sound and recorded by David Smith (sadly no longer with us). It explains why people on Roosevelt Island heard me from the 59th Street Bridge three miles away. My father’s voice carried equally far, and my mother and sister had more lyrical but similarly beautiful voices. It is an inherited gift and runs through both sides of my family.
I anticipate that unless you can listen online on earphones, you will not be able to gauge the size of my voice or its level of natural projection. Why do I warn you? To avoid a big surprise when you hear me live! That’s crucial since, in Europe, they immediately realized that I had a big voice in the first audition, and not all concert halls in Europe are big, so size and carrying power are bona fide issues.