Cher Public

Now and for always

Happy 84th birthday soprano Montserrat Caballé

On this day in 1826 Carl Maria von Weber’s Oberon premiered in London.

Born on this day in 1898 soprano Lily Pons.

Born on this day in 1927 baritone Thomas Hemsley.

Born on this day in 1933 baritone Peter-Christoph Runge.

Happy 83rd birthday baritone Hans Helm.

Happy 69th birthday soprano Mariella Devia.

On this day in 1960 Bob Merrill‘s musical Carnival! opened on Broadway.

  • ines

    Montserrat Caballé… congrats….( frankly my dear…. I don’t care so much who will sing Tosca on New Year’s eve coming … opolais, netrebko or tiny voiced angela ) Today I look up at this immense artist!

    • fletcher

      You know, the Caballé Tosca for Davis is overlooked, I think, or at least was by me for a while when I thought there was NONE OTHER than the rightly famous Callas recording (… even though my first Tosca was that Maazel record with Nilsson & Corelli…) -- Caballé sounds great and Carreras is really firing on all cylinders.

      Apropos of nothing, they just announced Parterre favorite Patricia Racette is starring in The Consul this fall in Long Beach -- I’m totally unfamiliar with the opera.

      • MisterSnow

        Here’s the famous aria. The role should be a good fit for Racette and the opera is still timely -- unfortunately.

      • Camille

        It’s pretty much post WW II depression and mighty dreary, even if a big Broadway success back in its day. I’ve only seen it done on PBS, about, what?--twenty-five or thirty or so years ago. It starred Marvalee Cariaga, who was a noted SoCal Mezzo/Soprano at the time, and seem to recall it being under the express direction of Giancarlo Menotti, himself. I do not know whether you may go fishing for it on Youtube and find it — you might and it may be a good place to start.

        That recording posted below by Mr Snow is pretty much a reverential reference of sorts for this aria. Hard to top Farrell but, strange to think, the role of Magda was that great singing actress Inge Borkh’s first major success and there is a very good recording of her singing of just the aria, albeit in German.

        I cannot say much more as I have mostly avoided this work. I am wondering how it will be remanaged and reimagined by the inventive Long Beach Opera?

        • chicagoing

          There will also be three performances of the Consul with Ms. Racette in November here as part of the Chicago Opera Theatre season.

  • Camille

    Just last week I had the wonderful experience of hearing I Vespri Siciliani from the Met in 1974, twice, and it was one of those times in which Caballé came to the stage not only with all her voice, but every bit of her vocal armament along with, and, it was just a feast, especially as it featured Nicolai Gedda alongside her: both of them collaborating with, and outdoing one another. It was positively inspiring and inspired. Lucky those who were there.

    Of the many disappointing experiences I had live with this exceptional and rare singer--I can forgive her everything for the ONE instance in which she brought it all to the stage. She was glorious--in a way one hears maybe a few times in life-and IF one is lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time.

    Callas and Tebaldi, and a host of others, I missed out on, but--bei Gott--I got to hear Montsy on one golden night when all the stars shone in the sky and I’ll have that in my soul always.

    Gracias mil veces, estimada Doña Montserrat!!!

    • Magpie

      Hi Camille!
      I am glad you are a fan. Like you, I have seen her 5 times (or is it 6??) and I am lucky I have seen her in good form, and in one instance, on fire, insane, ecstatic (audience and performer both)
      I mentioned this before but she is one of the few (Nilsson comes to mind, though I only can assume from her records) that didn’t seem to have to push and hurl the notes. She sang it delicately, and powerfully. With attention to detail, and passionately. Her concert in later 70’s (I was a kid and we had paid for the last seat on the last row of the last balcony- I recall it was 80 pesetas-what is that? $5?, but later snuck down and hid behind the curtains near a box, and the lady caught us and was so kind to let us seat with her, but i digress with this trail down memory lane. What I wanted to say was that she sang sublimely. As you said, she came armed with all her armament!!! Ready for war, while cloaked in the most sublime artistry…
      I am glad you got to hear that insane Vespri!

      • Camille

        Cheers to you as well.

        She was the most frustrating diva, but diva she was, and it was worth it when she was “on”, as only the very few ever are capable of being.

        80 pesetas? Were you in Spain? I do love that old zarzuela album done with her husband, so long ago now.

        • Magpie

          When I was a kid we lived in Barcelona and Madrid. I seemed to recall I saw her first in Madrid. The Zarzuela album is great, as well as her “L’Art De Montserrat Caballe ” which has that aria Sposa son Disprezzata, which is my permanent rotation.
          Anyway. I kinda remember that when my parents sent me to the Charcuteria to buy Jamon Iberico and Morcilla, the amount was more than 100 pesetas, so whatever my ticket was it was probably less than a blood sausage.
          As NPW said: She had charisma. In the last concert I saw her, Atlanta, she started horribly, absolutely horribly. After the first song when people attempted to politely applaud, she IMPERIOUSLY raised and swept her arms stating: I am the age of a “grandmother” so don’t applaud till the “voice” decides to warm up- it takes longer these days- she would add an extra song at the end to make up…
          The second song was shaky but better, so she raised her palm lest anyone applaud. The third song had a shaky first line and then she was on! and she even regaled the audience with several pianissimi (at this age, they were not as cohesive with rest of her voice as they used to be- they were more like an effect that she could do, but you could detect the jump into the pianissimo.) In any case, the singing was incredible in that third song and when she finished, everyone held back since we had been told we were not to applaud. So, like a true Diva, she took two steps forward and looked up and opened her arms waiting for the applause and adoration to begin. Which we gave in spades. the rest of the night was incredible.
          Only other soprano to approach her charisma was Leontyne Price who killed the audience both Atlanta and Ft Lauderdale well in her 60’s.. I have seen many who were, well……just, just, a voice and no more.
          I am going to go buy some Jamon Serrano, artichokes and I am going to make me a plate and cue her Tosca for good times sake!
          Ah! and a Martini!!

    • grimoaldo2

      Yes, that Vespri is really a magnificent performance and not just from Montsy.
      I was lucky enough to hear and see her live in three staged performances of opera and two concerts, I never had her on an “off” night, she was glorious beyond words every time I witnessed her.
      Many happy returns, beloved diva!

      • Camille

        It really shocked me as I have heard two other casts in this opera from over the years, and not to mention the. Roadcast from the early 2000’s, and even the best efforts of the others did not compare nor bring this so vividly to *life* as did this performance. It really gave me a great deal of perspective and a completely different view of Verdi’s work. Thus, I further mourn the fact it is so seldom represented and if it is, likely not done so well or tricked out as it was in the recent London manifestation. For it is just a brilliant piece of a work although a great portion is for brilliant effect alone, most likely a requirement for “La Grande Boutique”. Especially for Gedda, who brought alive the kind of ungrateful part of Arrigo/Henri to life as no one else I’ve yet heard. It was so good that it was a shame to have cut the ballet but I suppose it not only saves time but substantial costs as well.

        Oh well, I’ll never see it done right!

        Grimoaldo--I am on my way to once more hear the Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams speak at St. Thomas. He has been in residence here all week and I find him to be a very impressive personage and a very fine speaker, very fine. He doesn’t spout the usual platitudes they all do. Anyway, most interesting and instructional and I hope you listen in sometimes. The new organist, Daniel Hyde, is a terrific player and a specialist in J.S. Bach. Best to you et pax vobiscum.

    • Any anyway, even when she was cheating like hell, she could get away with it: charisma.

  • Camille

    Tanti Auguri alla Maestra del Belcanto,
    L’illustre ed egregia Mariella Devia!!

    I hope she can drill some of her secrets into the heads of her students and long may she fly on! What a singer.