Cher Public

Only the good die young

Happy 82nd birthday mezzo-soprano Fiorenza Cossotto

Born on this day in 1707 playwright and novelist Henry Fielding.

Born on this day in 1890 composer Juan Vert.

Born on this day in 1912 contralto Kathleen Ferrier.

Happy 93rd birthday bass-baritone Franz Mazura.

  • Gualtier Maldè

    Whereas evil bitches live to the ripe old age of 82? Anyway many happy returns for bad old Flo -- you gave good mezzo girl! Whether playing witches, bitches or boys you rocked!

    • Porgy Amor

      Totally agree. She was another important voice for me, but I would just be retelling the same story I told about Price a few months ago. A videotape of that Karajan Verdi Requiem film, with that incredible lineup of soloists, made me want to hear operas, and I wanted to begin with operas with these people. I later came to appreciate that her consistency over a period of decades was something remarkable, especially with how much she seemed to give vocally. Then when I read the story from Domingo of her singing her entire part in full voice as many as four times on the day of a performance, I thought it was beyond remarkable…superhuman.

      I’ve heard all the stories of her temperament and difficult behavior, but maybe she had her good personal qualities too. There’s something touching about her devotion to Vinco during his long illness, even though their marriage had ended many years before. She was traveling from Crescentino to Verona (where he was hospitalized) on the regular, and that’s not exactly a trip to the corner.

      • Liz.S

        Thank you, I completely agree with both of you. I admire her devoted, consummate performances -- she always has a very special place in my heart. I really don’t care about some episodes off stage -- many of them I find exaggerated/ distorted and not that substantial anyways. I always have a feeling she shouldn’t be that nasty as some people like to portray (I read somewhere Caballé was saying Cossotto’s like a sister to her. As for Vinco she essentially paved the way for him professionally, no? I didn’t know she took care of him years after he went for younger woman…)

        Her Lady Macbeth, Eboli, Bouillon… my faves are many, but her Santuzza is for me unsurpassable to this day. She’s a treasure to be passed on to the next generations.

        • WindyCityOperaman

          A chorister friend of mine related how she “demonstrated” to the slave chorus how to walk in the triumphal scene. Asked if Amneris is an evil character, she countered, “No, she is in love.” She stated that Zeffirelli’s accusation of oversinging Callas in those difficult Paris Normas was total bulls***, it never happened. Never the most subtle of performers, I heard her in La Favorita that was little more than a stand, pose and sing, but she sounded great.

          • Liz.S

            Thank you -- those are lovely anecdotes!
            My basic philosophy is in alignment with Ciccia’s but Cossotto’s case is too extreme. Zeffirelli or fanatic Callas fans escalated that trend? I’ve no means to get to know first hand, but I’m not a fan generally of the rhetoric to praise or justify somebody’s perf by putting another down for not so convincing reasons.
            Good thing is that we have many recordings -- officially released, taped on TV, et cetera -- boys and girls in later generations can be their own judges.

    • Cicciabella

      It’s immaterial what opera singers are like privately, unless they commit fouls crimes and are truly evil: their artistic legacy is what’s important. A few weeks ago there was a Building a Library on BBC’s Record Review. The work under examination was Aida. Incredibly, the reviewer criticized both Cossotto and Simionato as Amneris because they used chest voice and too much power. He implied that their approach has more than a touch of vulgarity. He then went on to conclude that his second choice in the catalogue is Pappano’s Aida, a recording in which the orchestra upstages most of the soloists, and in which Semenchuk as Amneris uses plenty of chest voice and presses on the accelerator as hard as Cossotto. (Incidentally, he never even discussed Semenchuk’s performance.) I hope this is not the start of a new aesthetic which dismisses passionate, powerful and idiomatic performers such as Cossotto as old-fashioned and vulgar in favour of some subtle Northern European aesthetic that pleases sophisticated scholars and bores everyone else.

      Happy Birthday, Madame Cossotto! You are one of a kind.

      • Daniel Swick

        Fuckin’ Brits.