One night in London in 1734, two opera stars ended up on the same stage. Senesino played the part of an angry tyrant, Farinelli a hero in chains. The two were bitter rivals, but, so the story goes, when Farinelli sang his melting opening aria, “he so softened the obdurate heart of his oppressor that Senesino, quite forgetting his stage character, ran to Farinelli and embraced him, much to the surprise of the audience.”
Senesino, we would say, broke character.
I once asked the late, esteemed voice teacher Beverley Johnson what distinguished a truly great singer. “An inner light,” she said. “Whether you’re talking about Piaf or Pavarotti, the great voices have a way of illuminating their soul.” On Monday, July 3, the most luminous voice I’ve ever heard was extinguished when the American mezzo Read More
On cabaret stages and movie screens, the New York ozone has suddenly been invaded by the sounds of music, and applause for the people who made it happen. It’s a coincidence I can live with. Two more polarized musical icons than Maria Callas and Ray Charles would be unimaginable, yet here they are in Technicolor, Read More
The old muumuu-clad you–the jolly gal with more chins than the Peking phone book–she’s gone forever. You just lost a ton of weight (congrats!), and you are now a tabula rasa–a free woman ready to reinvent herself.
Your exaltation is, however, tinged with Schadenfreude . Despite the weight loss, you still think of yourself as Read More
Maria Callas’ Abortion Debate
None of the news in Greek Fire , Nicholas Gage’s new book about the love affair between Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas, made as much of a splash as the author’s revelation about the couple’s love child. Mr. Gage, a Greek-born former New York Times correspondent, wrote that contrary to Read More
My first exposure to the hardships of life off the opera stage came as a kid of 12 or 13, when I was allowed to stand backstage at a Metropolitan Opera matinee of Der Rosenkavalier . Disregarding the admonition to stay “well out of the way,” and thinking that I was invisible in my green Read More
It was the year of the Attic Sale. Having glutted the bins with overrecorded masterpieces, having run out of marginal figures to “rediscover” ( another Syzmanowski Violin Concerto?), the classical CD makers went to their archives and emerged with a slew of special editions of repackaged goodies that originated as 78′s and LPs. There were Read More