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Pêches de vieillesse

“In her first television acting job [Dame Kiri te Kanawa] portrays Dame Nellie Melba, her fellow antipodean soprano, whose purity of voice inspired a peach-based pudding.” [The Australian]

  • Henry Holland

    I love the first 3 series and various specials of Downton Abbey but from the spoilers appearing about series 4, I’m worried that it might be taking on too many characters. It’ll be interesting to see how the deal with “Dame Melba” as the Crawley’s aren’t presented as very cultural-minded sorts at all.

    • armerjacquino

      Series 1: Entertaining. Series 2: Hilariously inept. Series 3: Embarrassing.

      It’s pretty much a joke show now over here. Huge audiences still, but only for camp value.

      (Dame Nellie, by the way. Always the Christian name after a knight or dame hood)

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        I agree with your assessment AJ, except that there do seem to be a lot of people still taking it seriously as far as I can tell, daft and downright terrible though it is in many ways. The girls at the office love it sincerely, for instance.

        • Regina delle fate

          lol -- what kind of “girls at the office”?

      • alejandro

        I dunno. I always considered it a soap opera with Merchant-Ivory drag, so I never had issues with it. I loved last season, but really hated how it ended and all because of Dan Stevens’s idiocy.

        • SF Guy

          Given the ludicrous “He’s up! He’s down! He’s up again!” (in more ways that one)plot contortions poor Matthew Crawley endured in Season 2, it’s entirely understandable that Stevens would decide to jump ship. And don’t blame him for the car crash; I’d have been fine with a juicy divorce. Actually, I’m looking forward to the post-Matthew Mary; to paraphrase Anna Russell, “Marriage certainly took all the ginger out of HER!”

          I’ll take Parade’s End any day.

          • I remember an interview with Stevens when he mentioned meeting Theo James in New York for dinner or something, and they’re walking down the street, and people keep pointing and saying, “Look, it’s Mr. Pamuk!” And Stevens points out that James played that role in just one episode of the show, but now that’s who he “is” to the American public.

            Stevens is still quite young and I can understand why he would have a horror of being typecast so relatively early in his career. (And, though Stevens doesn’t mention it, how much more awful to be typecast in a series with so much bad writing as Downton Abbey has suffered over the last series and a half.)

            • alejandro

              Well, it remains to be seen if Dan Stevens will be able to have any sort of career post Downton. I thought he was fine as Matthew, but it was more my investment in the Matthew /Mary story than anything else.

              Anyway, I’m now all about Edith. I want her to get her groove on and discover herself.

            • damekenneth

              “How much more awful to be typecast in a series with so much bad writing as Downton Abbey.” It’s not just the bad writing that I object to; it’s the whole tone and delivery. Surely part of what was great about the past great historical dramas from the BBC and LWT was the glacial pace, long shots with limited editing, and investment in tone and character. There is so much herky-jerky camera work and constant editing between whoever is speaking that one -- or I should say this one -- never invests in the characters, the writing or anything else. It leaves me completely cold.
              (It’s funny that I complain about hand held cameras and fast edits, yet these work very well when handled brilliantly, as in Sherlock and the excellent Danish t.v. series “The Killing” -- or “Forbuldensen.”)

            • armerjacquino

              Stevens is an established stage actor in the UK and has a couple of big Hollywood films coming up. He’ll be just fine.

              And once he had SPOILER ALERT (a) inherited the cash and (b) married ol’ oneface Mary, there wasn’t really anywhere for the character to go. I think the time was right to jump.

            • Howling in Tune

              Oh, there was one place for the character left to go, and I’d have loved to see Matthew Crawley go there.

              Thomas’s bed.

            • Henry Holland

              The acting professions are quite different in the UK and the US. For example, take someone like James Wilby, who played Maurice in the Merchant-Ivory film. A decent actor, he’s worked steadily since ca. 1985:


              It’s expected of actors in the UK to go between the stage and TV, doing Hamlet one month, playing a doctor on a decades-long series like Holby City another.

              The US, however, has a lot of TV/movie actors who haven’t set foot on a stage since high school and if you’re of a certain “type” (leading man, for example), if you don’t make an impression quickly, you can be on unemployment for ages.

              Also, there’s the black hole consisting of British actors who have tried to “go Hollywood” and end up only playing butlers and chauffeurs. James Wilby has talked about how he was pushed by his agents to “go Hollywood” as a leading man type after Maurice and A Handful of Dust and he stayed put, he’d seen too many of his countrymen chewed up by the Hollywood system.

            • Wilby did a wonderful follow-up collaboration with Merchant-Ivory in Howards End. Not the title character but still held his own with the likes of Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave and Helena Bonham Carter. The whole cast of that film was fabulous. Ditto Remains of the Day.

      • As someone who is starting season 2, I am not encouraged by the comments on this thread. :(

        • peter

          Kashie, it’s good fun. Totally mindless entertainment with pretty sets and costumes. There’s nothing wrong with that.

          • Good. Mind you, I’ve always been as sucker for the whole “upstairs, downstairs” type of story (though I haven’t watched the series by that name) and have been a devoted fan of English period drama for as long as I can remember.

            Besides, once I like the characters on a show, I just like to spend time with them. I’d probably watch even if nothing happened.

            • rapt

              What a relief! Kashania, you are such a sunny spirit--at least, as you reveal yourself here on Parterre--that that unhappy face brought a bigger lump to my throat than Mimi’s “Sono andati?”….

            • Oh, rapt! :)

          • Henry Holland

            So true. I didn’t watch the first two seasons as they aired as I wrote it off as an Upstairs Downstairs clone, which it kind of is. I started watching when Series 3 started in the UK (I watched via BitTorrent, I didn’t want to wait for the PBS airings) and I was hooked immediately. I love that period of English history, I’m fascinated by the class system and how even downstairs has a class hierachy, it looks fabulous and the music is terrific too.

            I soon just took it for granted that some of it was utter tosh (the upstairs people hugging the downstairs people), how the downstairs staff are always perfectly coiffed and clean despite the utterly miserable conditions real downstairs staff worked in etc.

            Can’t wait for Series to start in a few months.

      • Nerva Nelli

        “Dame Nelli, by the way. Always the Christian name after a knight or dame hood”


        “Oh, that’s all right”, she laughed graciously. “You lot can just call me ‘Nerva'”.

      • Henry Holland

        (Dame Nellie, by the way. Always the Christian name after a knight or dame hood)

        [touches cap] Apologies m’lord, it won’t happen again. [slinks away downstairs for a stiff drink]

  • Henry Holland

    Great Photoshop job BTW, La Cieca.

  • skoc211

    So Anna Netrebko’s Verdi album has leaked….

    • Feldmarschallin

      Well I bought it in Salzburg on Saturday but haven’t had a chance yet to listen to it.

    • No it hasn’t. It has been posted for advance listening. I know NPR did and it was also available from a German site. They did the same thing with Griggolo’s and God knows who else

  • Cocky Kurwenal

    Dame Kiri actually sings, I believe- an acquaintance of mine is in it as her accompanist, at any rate, and he is a real pianist as opposed to an actor.

    • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

      She does indeed, CK -- and Jack Malvern reports in today’s Times that she had such an attack of nerves that she basically stayed up all night before the shoot. “I can’t sleep for something like this. It was a long day, but I made it longer by staying up all night”.

      It is also reported that her renditions of O Mio Babbino Caro and Dvorák’s Songs My Mother Taught Me reduced the cast and crew to tears. [Can’t wait for my fellow parterriani to feast on that particular titbit]. And Dame Nellie will speak a few words in addition to entertaining the family and guests.

      • Regina delle fate

        Was O mio babbino caro written by the period Downton Abbey is set in? I haven’t watched it since the first series, so it may have moved on a couple of decades since then for all I know.

        • The new series is set in 1922-1923. Gianni Schicchi premiered in 1918 and was first hear in London in June 1920. So “O mio babbino caro,” though very new, might plausibly have been sung by Melba in the early ’20s.

  • When will this be aired?

    • SF Guy

      September in the U.K., January in the U.S. is what I’ve heard.

  • La Valkyrietta

    From the point of view of Lady Mary, how absolutely devastating must have been the husband’s accident and death…and then later how grand to have real live Melba singing, for comfort. For us viewers, how grand to see Kiri again.

  • -Ed.

    I do like DA, even after it derailed in season 2. It’s very pretty and the characters are engaging. All 24,748 of them. Well, 24,749 now that winsome Jimmy has arrived. Thomas is gonna bed him, I can just feel it in me bones.