A piece in today's Corriere (print only), The Importance of the Voice, references Leo Nucci's opinion on the whole Daniel-Day-Lewis-as-Lincoln-vocal-polemic. In the Spielberg-directed film, Lewis affects an auto-toned, mid-pitch tenor that contrasts the general preconception that the sixteenth American president matched a deep baritone to his +6 foot tall frame.
Leo Nucci, currently singing Rigoletto at Teatro Regio di Parma's Verdi Festival, discussed the charisma and authority of the Verdi baritone.
"Verdi raises the voice of the baritone, in the tessitura, and lowers that of the tenor and in a certain sense they're put on the same level and we always think that, Mozart aside, the tenor was almost always the protagonist. But all these years, I've greatly thought about what makes the baritone voice so special: from Nabbuco to I Due Foscari, from Macbeth to Luisa Miller, and Rigoletto, and Germont in Travata -- for Verdi, it's the voice of authority. The voice of fathers. The voice of calm. The voice that as children, we heard in the arms of our fathers, right next to his heart."
"Naturally the americans had attributed a baritone voice to Lincoln, the father of the nation -- in the sense that a century later than the founding fathers of the united states he was the father of multiracial America. The acuto, there's nothing to do, it's petulant. I think about certain popes: what a disadvantage for Benedict XVI not to have that nice warm tone of his predecessor!"
"When I was a kid, know who my idols were? Not the great opera legends but Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby, the father of all of us baritones. And at the theater? Gassman was my hero, another great baritone voice. Like Albertazzi. As a Catholic and thinking about a reader of the bible, I never lost a single comment from the sacred texts of Cardinal Ravasi: a super-learned scholar, sure. And baritone voices are so fascinating. It gives me a sense of calm."
When Lincoln opens in Italy in February 2013, he'll most likely be dubbed in gravely baritone, just like Tom Selleck's whine was knocked two octaves lower for the Italian-dubbed Magnum P.I. We're still feeling it.