There are some stunning female vocalists nowadays but none will ever really compare to Yma Sumac and I’m very excited to have this in the collection.
Yma Sumac (September 13, 1922 – November 1, 2008) was a Peruvian soprano. In the 1950s, she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music.
She became an international success based on her extreme vocal range, which was said to be “well over five octaves” or otherwise was claimed to span over five octaves, at the peak of her singing career. Yma Sumac recorded an extraordinarily wide vocal range of slightly over four octaves from E2 to B♭7. She was able to sing notes in the low baritone register as well as notes above the range of an ordinary soprano. Both low and high extremes can be heard in the song Chuncho (The Forest Creatures). She was also apparently able to sing in an eerie “double voice”.
In 1954 classical composer Virgil Thomson described her voice as “very low and warm, very high and birdlike”, noting that her range “is very close to five octaves, but is in no way inhuman or outlandish in sound”. In 2012, audio recording restoration expert John H. Haley favorably compared Sumac’s tone to opera singers Isabella Colbran, Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot. He described Sumac’s voice as not having the “bright penetrating peal of a true coloratura soprano”, but having in its place “an alluring sweet darkness …virtually unique in our time”.
Voice of the Xtabay
Virgin of the Sun God
Dance of the Moon Festival
Dance of the Winds
Chant of the Chosen Maidens
Lure of the Unknown Love