The iconic American soprano was born April 14, 1958.
Heaven, happy birthay Aprile!
Amazing…and only 28 at the time. She certainly had it right. Too bad there is NO ONE even close to this kind of singing these days. It seems as if the Verdi soprano Fach has disappeared.
She’s only 53, any reason why she’s no longer at the Met?
Have you heard what she sounds like lately?
not since Met broadcasts, no.
Peter, have you heard what she sounds like lately? I was at her recital at Lincoln Center in 2009, and it was pretty amazing. Did she sound like she did at 28? No. Did she still sound pretty damn good? You betcha. She still has a lot to offer the opera world and, specifically, The Met.
What a riveting Luisa Miller she is. Verdi has been so well-served by her artistry.
But this performance also is stunning. I think it would have been overwhelming to be sitting in the front row that day.
This performance is just great. What a contrast in a how their careers played out. Both burst into stardom in the late 80s and both were great hopes of Verdi singing. Zajick delivered on that promise and is still going strong. Millo had a brief prime and is all but retired. What a shame.
As a teen, I first fell in love with opera through the Met broadcast of Aida with these two ladies. What a pairing.
Are there youtube videos of their OONY Adriana Lecouvreur?
Happy Birthday to the glorious Aprile Millo!
OT, I suppose, but given how often this topic arises here, what do we all think of this man’s animadversions on camp?
Loved the article…!!
How could anyone not love a a gent who names (whether true or not…) his pooch “Liberace”..?-lol!
..and- was happy to see a “nay-sayer” against the highly-touted HBO “Mildred Pierce” (I know…I KNOW..it WAS based on THE BOOK, not the movie..but it was unbearbly Dull, just the same…..I might be one of the few fags who finds Todd Haynes work deadly. boring…)
They just so desperately wanted Winslet not to be compared to Crawford. And she won’t be…not to the living Crawford, anyway.
The manner is perhaps a little overblown (but then, perhaps he was not writing so much as “writing”), but the general drift is sound enough.
One point that Doonan doesn’t seem to state in so many words is that most Sontag-style camp is made so because it is dated or otherwise observed by an unintended audience. Joan Crawford’s performance in Mildred Pierce wasn’t camp in 1946 — most people thought it was effective and (a few) others found it coarse or amateurish, but nobody squealed with delight at just how deliciously bad it was. (I still don’t think it’s anywhere near bad enough a performance to be “deliciously bad,” but I can see that others might disagree.)
So the flaw in Doonan’s reasoning is the idea that an artist can choose to make something camp, as if the current film of Mildred Pierce would have been camp except that Todd Haynes forgot to order the shoulder pads and false eyelashes or Kate Winslet doesn’t know how to google her eyes. (The further point here is that camp exists only in a non-ironic context and Haynes of course is a terrifically ironic filmmaker: so unless he makes some enormous failure of taste or judgment, he’s not going to create anything camp.)
The other important unstated theme in Doonan (and others) lamentations over the loss of camp is that its partially victim of the gay liberation-rights movement of the last few decades. Camp could only be “read” by those who knew the language, i.e. those who ran in the underground circles that made up “the gay community” from the 1960s through the beginning of the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Those who were brave enough to venture out into “the gay community” in those days represented the minority of people who experienced same-sex desire and they developed a specialized way of interpreting culture that Sontag calls camp. But Camp was also an important component of gay political project in those days. In the 60s and 70s gay politics was very much about pointing out that our culture’s valorization of “the family” was at the root of a lot of anti-gay hysteria. Gay activists argued that the sentimental feelings around the family and marital devotion were foolish, manipulative and as manufactured as Joan Crawford’s shoulder pads. Exposing sentiment in movies as not only humorous, but humorous because they’re working just so darned hard to manufacture that sentiment comes from a gay political subjectivity that doesn’t really exist anymore.
These days gay politics is all about buying into really old fashioned ideas about the family as the center of one’s emotional life, monogamy, fighting for the right to parent, marriage all of that. And all of those issues are at the center of the original Mildred Pierce. Access to those things have been framed as a civil right, rather than as a social structure that oppresses us (whatever we think about that, the gay civil rights kingmakers have spoken).
Real true camp: go to someone’s wedding where they go for the whole bag and dice. Followed by the reception where you sit back and watch the antics on the dance floor of the overweight guests, getting youthfully enthusiastic ,trying to recreate when they were allegedly young, slim, and beautiful. Dancing away to the pop songs they have not heard for 20 or 30 years. The look of stupid ‘disbelieving’ dumb surprise on their faces suddenly, embarrassingly dates them. You quickly make an excuse, you must leave to go elsewhere.
Knowing next morning, many will be suffering aches, slipped discs, twinges, cramps and worse.
Weeks later, you try and avoid a further invitation from the married couple “Would you like to see our photo album…or our wedding video,.. perhaps?” Forgetting you do not subscribe to all of Life’s Shrine of silly rituals, that they desperately need for validation.
Yeah, I hate it when people have fun. Especially at weddings.
Excellent points, La Cieca. The Joan Crawford vehicle BECAME camp as time moved on -- as most of her movies have. I happened to read, via a 25 cent flea market copy, the James M. Cain book several years ago, and realized it had been stylized as a glam vehicle for JC’s image, rather than as a faithfully realized rendering of the story. I re-watched the 1945 version shortly after I saw the stunning HBO miniseries, and I found it laughably stilted; the attempts at a flippy, quippy humor date badly; and Crawford is granitic and sexless -- and unbelievable as a “common frump.” I think if Barbara Stanwyck, say, had done it, she would have done so with the same realism that made her Stella Dallas so memorable, and perhaps served the novel better. I found Haynes’ miniseries extraordinary.
Doonan’s argument is disappointing in that he can’t get over his camp ostensible fetish (which further propagates tired stereotypes) past himself to recognize Haynes’ work on its own terms. It’s Doonan’s flaw -- which he tries to make Haynes’.
I just watched all five episodes in a marathon. I must say I went in with great trepidation. I wasn’t impressed with Winslet in Revolutionary Road; I didn’t like her American accent, and thought she was pretty blah. But I have to say that I loved everything about Mildred Pierce. Brian F. O’Byrne was terrific, and Mare Winningham was a revelation. But Kate Winslet was wonderful. I was interested to see Niel’s comment about Barbara Stanwyck, as I thought about her, too. The other actress that came to mind was Olivia de Havilland. Both of them were much more subtle, capable actresses than Crawford. The former are actresses, the latter, to me, was a personality. Like Stanwyck and de Havilland, Winslet has the ability to listen and react to what the other characters are doing and saying.
But there were other things that impressed me as well. The cinematography was gorgeous. My mother kept photo albums from the late 30s to the late 80s. Mildred Piercwe captured the look of faded 30s photos. Rather than over saturating colors as he did in Far From Heaven, he desaturated the colors. I thought it was just lovely. And the costuming was gorgeous. Everything rang true, unlike, say, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, which didn’t work for me on any level.
I left this comment after thoroughly reading and rereading his comments on camp:
Am I mistaken, or are two of your statements in direct conflict with each other?:
#1: a camp person, in sharp contrast, purposefully and glamorously and knowingly plays the part (a la Joan Crawford).
#2: The most deliciously campy camp—whether it’s The Terminator or Busby Berkeley—is always unintentional.
How can one unintentionally / purposefully and glamorously and knowingly play the part? If it’s purposely done, it isn’t unintentional; knowingly playing a part is a choice, in fact two choices: deciding to play the part in the first place, and then deciding which of many hundred of parts to play.
How on earth could a discussion of camp be “off topic” under a thread devoted to Millo?
I was wondering whether Doonan’s article would cross-over to Parterre.
I’m starting to think over-analysis nullifies any camp anyway.
Happy Birthday Darling Aprile. Your singing has given me much joy.
I am sorry, but:
1958: Give me a break!
..I never thought I’d use the tea-bagger line…”Show us the Birth Certificate!!”
Warning: Fading memory! Sometime in the 1980s (I think), the Los Angeles Times ran a detailed article about this singer. I seem to remember that the article first described some contretemps concerning a concert that the singer was to have given at the Wilshire Ebell theater.
The article went on to talk about discrepancies abour her real name and age (in other words, concerning whether what the PR flacks were saying was true), and some “curious” information about her parents.
I tried to look this up, however, the LA Times seems not to have online archives (I was willing to pay an access fee). Apparently the LA Public Library has searchable archives, but one must have a library card to use that resource.
A different L.A. Times article on Millo (from 1989):
I’m still looking for the one you mention.
I remember when Aprile and Dalora were the “new” voices. I almost recked my car the first time I heard Aprile. She was singing Luisa live from the Met one Sat afternoon. I, in the full flush of youth, had to pull the car to the curb where I could scream BRAVA without killing myself or someone on the street. In fact, I wrote Aprile a fan letter stating that fact.
I just about did the same thing a few months ago in the car listening to a Sirius broadcast with her singing “La mamma morta”!
ON, CO, Kashie:
I loved early Millo. There was something authoritative in the singing and phrasing that was incredibly refreshing after the struggles of Ricciarelli and Freni to assume the elusive Verdian mantle dropped by Lee on her way to recital heaven.
(True, I felt at the time that Dunn had more of what it took to become a true golden-ager (her flexibility and more diaphanous sound offered broader rep possibilities), but Millo seemed to be destined to dominate the italian spinto roles. When Dunn cratered (and Studer announced that she would be recording the Ring, by herself), Millo had the field to herself.)
That initial incredibly positive reaction was tempered by two concerns (yes, I was a self-important youngun):
1) Why did that first aria recital leave out ALL of the florid music -- no cabalettas as I recall?
2) How could such a young singer have such a mature ripe sound?
I had listened to Renata and Price on pirates and knew that their “young” voices were just that -- young, fresh, lighter than there mature sounds, etc. Millo, in her late 20s sounded, sounded like late Renata and middle Zinka. I wondered if that boded well for her longevity. . . .
Later, I felt a little cheated that Millo did not seem to develop her own artistic voice. Too much of her singing sounded like RenZinka Tebaldov. That said, there were many times when that sound, however superficially derivative, was just what the doctor ordered.
In the end, for whatever reason, it didn’t last nearly as long as it should.
A toast to a flame that should have burned longer and more brightly than it did. But I am thankful for the recorded legacy that she left us.
I heard one of those early Simon B’s and thought that we were in for some kind of golden age. But it was a short and incomplete one. Too bad.
Did she respond?
I honestly don’t think there are sopranos today with the same luxuriant rich and Italianate timbre. If there are, they are hiding them pretty well.
I actually believe the 1958 birth year, Adalgisa. That would make her 26 at the time of her Met debut. Her quick rise at a young age could also explain a technique that never quite got settled, resulting in the vocal crisis at age 35 during the Met’s Lombardi run; natural talent can cover up a lot at a young age. That combined with the psychological pressure of being a top diva so young might also explain some of the erratic cancellations she had. Ricciarelli also had a very early rise to superstardom.
I think Arianna is probably right. Even before the crisis there were a few too many (high)notes that would suddenly disappear, the kind of thing that can up the psychological pressure to the level of terror if there is not a technical answer that will work.
Few flowers that bloom early in April make it through the summer. Gorgeous as they might be.
I wish I’d heard her live in her heyday. I was blown away by her early Met broadcasts. Her singing was extraordinary. She sang Tosca for Cincinnati Opera in 2006 and I was so disappointed with her performance, especially since one could hear there were aural glimpses of a superb dramatic soprano. Alas, she was under par; I remember cringing when she scooped up to “Vissi d’arte.” The evening belonged to an unknown tenor, one Antonello Palombi.
This was almost exactly my experience when I saw her as Tosca in 2006 at the Met- flashes of what had been, but overall an uncomfortable performance.
Who on earth is that dreadful Wurm in the Luisa clip? That is singing typical of university-level comprimarios.
Isn’t that Franco de Grandis, brought to the Met by Bonynge alongside Livia Budai for to make Dame Joan’s Leonora sound better?
Regarding “Mildred Pierce,” I found the HBO rather too long and mostly tedious, except for the last part. The production values were totally gorgeous and the acting excellent; and, of course, the TV show does follw the book rather closely. I did read the book years ago and found it a bit tedious to read as well.
Comparing the movie with the HBO show is, imo, apples and oranges. The movie is a kind of film noir, an excellent one, which takes place in the forties. So all zzzzz depression stuff was out. And I personally don’t find shoulder pads, snoods or Joan Crawford “camp”.
Have seen the movie seen many times and always enjoy it. I guess I could get through the TV show, maybe one more time if my bf wants to see it.
It was nice that Haynes took the material so ‘seriously” bu.I prefer Written on the Wind..LOL
And If I want camp acting , Niel, I can always watch one of Gruberova’s later DVDs.
I hope that that potshot, from your anonymous vantage point, evened out the score for you.
In fact, this is a great site for people to hide and say whatever they want. I decided to use my name because I didn’t want to be a coward…and declare my likes as I am. Evidently, it has not done me any good, as the anonymous jungle red claws get bared.
Therefore, I don’t belong on here. Addio.
Is this Palombi the same one who replaced Alagna at La Scala’s Aida when he was booed and walked out? I may have the names mixed up.
I thought that was Walter Fraccaro.
Walter F did the subsequent performances, but Palombi was indeed the unkempt guy in black jeans who replaced Alagna without the orchestra missing a beat.
Niel, come on! Really?? “Jungle Red” I love it!
1. Most on this list have fun names and obviously don’t use there real names. No one is hiding. Coward?? If you choose to use your own name, that’s entirely up to you. Don’t expect others to follow your example..
2. No one gets away with dissing Joan!!! If you think she has no sex appeal, that’s your call; but Clark Gable and many (too many others) would have, however, differed with you.
3, I think that Gruberova is a great singer and I always look forward to her Elvira when they play it on Sirius.
4, Where is your sense of humor? Anti camp?
Niel likes to congratulate himself for using his real name every so often.
“Gruberova is a great singer”
Indubitably the greatest Fiakermilli since Herma Handl.
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