Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Pretentious and unflinching fan boy of the things I love- Opera, Music, Art, Tennis, Joni Mitchell, Literature.

All things lead to my blog.

The great soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf singing ‘Gluck das mir verblieb’ (‘Marietta’s Lied’) from Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt.

A melting vocal line. Divine expression within the phrasing, that bores into every note with such profundity. A true musician.

The very talented mezzo Jamie Barton singing Agalgisa’s aria ‘Sgombra e la sacra selva’ from Bellini’s opera Norma.

I’ve been a fan of Barton’s voice for some time now. Resembling the archetypal dramatic mezzos of the mid-20th century, with a huge, rich column of sound with excellently integrated registers and decent musicianship. Her voice is usually quite explosive and robust, but in this aria you can hear great refinement and control within the vocal line which is a pre-requisite for Bellini.

A very exciting prospect. I really want her to sing Princess Eboli next.

Billie Holiday

—Strange Fruit

75 years ago, on this date, Billie Holiday recorded a song that Time Magazine would call song of the century: Strange Fruit, a song written about a lynching in the South. 

Holiday first performed the song at Cafe Society in 1939. She said that singing it made her fearful of retaliation but, because its imagery reminded her of her father, she continued to sing the piece making it a regular part of her live performances. Because of the poignancy of the song, Josephson drew up some rules: Holiday would close with it; the waiters would stop all service in advance; the room would be in darkness except for a spotlight on Holiday’s face; and there would be no encore. During the musical introduction, Holiday would stand with her eyes closed, as if she were evoking a prayer.

(Source: satindolls, via guapomarx)

The wonderful dramatic coloratura soprano Julia Varady singing Fiordiligi’s resolute aria ‘Come scoglio’ from Mozart’s opera Cosi fan tutte.

A borderline assoulta voice, capable of exploring all 3 facets of the female voice from deep, broiling contralto chest tones and singing high, flexible dramatic soprano coloratura with equal fluency. A repertoire that ranged from the great Verdi assoluta roles such as Abigaile in Nabucco to Liu in Turandot, but Mozart really was the medium where her rare vocal qualities were accentuated to their fullest.

In this recording, she supports both extremes of the registers seamlessly and carries a heroic weight and defiance through the recitative with excellently placed chest tones which is essential for Fiordiligi. The coloratura is also beautifully sharp, and coloured with shades of lovely legato that compliments the fiery fortissimo.

The intensity and level of expression she manages throughout is essentially how Mozart SHOULD be sang. Passionate, vividly and with life. Always with life.

Our natures are a lot like oil, mix us with anything else, and we strive to swim on top.

Joan Rivers.

Soprano Anita Cerquetti singing the aria ‘O re dei cieli’ from Spontini’s opera Agnese di Hohenstauffen.

Often categorised as a dramatic soprano and whilst the top notes are voluminous and somewhat metallic, she possessed a very warm, rich texture throughout the middle and lower extremes of her range that resembles more of a lyrico-spinto sound like Leontyne Price or Zinka Milanov.

A career cut desperately short by health and vocal problems, but a superb instrument when fully attuned in it’s prime. Her sense of tempo is quite remarkable in this recording, carrying the tones with excellent rhythm, phrasing and momentum into compelling crescendos throughout a rather taxing tessitura. Fabulous.