We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
This morning on the way to Sunday School, my boys complained at my classical music radio station, "There's no words." Our Maggie's Farm pinup Marianne wrote me later about a childhood experience:
I wonder whether you’ve ever heard Rosa Ponselle. She is the first opera singer I ever heard and the one who made me fall in love with singing. Caruso discovered her on “the Borscht Circuit” where she was singing duets with her sister. They called themselves “Those Italian Girls” and they simply bowled Caruso over. He arranged an audition for her with the manager of The Metropolitan Opera, and he was bowled over by the beauty of her voice and her skill in singing and immediately offered her a contract. Talk about a fairy tale! In the early 1930s, I was just a little squid, and had to take a nap every afternoon. I had smuggled my Mom’s radio into my room and one Saturday afternoon, I found the Metropolitan Opera broadcast, which absolutely astounded me. That’s when I fell in love with opera.
I went to YouTube, listening to many of Rosa Ponselle's recordings, and went to WikiPedia to learn more about her. To sum it up, Maria Callas called Ponselle, "The greatest singer of us all." The New York Times critic called her voice "vocal gold."
Here's Rosa Ponselle in one of her greatest, demonstrating her unique range:
And, as Sunday comes to a close, here's Rosa Ponselle with one of her fitting non-operatic entries:
Every day that I know Marianne is a perfect day. Including one like this when she helps me get vengeance on my boys.
Wow. The bit from La Giocanda was amazing, even through the dismal recording quality.* The second clip shows you what high technical ability and a lovely tone can do to make uninspired material sound good.
Never even heard of her, even. But opera hasn't been my thing, I've only recent begun to listen to much of it.
*Seems like female vocalists of her day come through on recordings better than males, especially from baritone voices down. Maybe the higher frequencies registered on the contemporary recording media better than the low stuff.
Bruce ... Seldom if ever has anyone called me perfect at anything, dear man. I hope everyone likes Rosa, who was personally a very shy and modest person. Singers all know that not only do they have to keep the instrument in line, they can never count absolutely from one day to the next how their voices are going to behave. But i guess athletes of all kinds have the same problem. Sometimes you're "on"... sometimes you're not. Ponselle was one of nature's miracles. Her voice was naturally perfectly 'placed' as you can tell from her long high notes. She always gives me some tears along with smiles.
Opera is not something that I truly enjoy as a musical genre. I appreciate the skills that a singer must develop for good breath control, muscle control and training the vocal chords, but I just don't get the whole...I guess gestalt of opera if you will. I do enjoy certain operas though.
Perhaps opera is an acquired taste. I've only come to enjoy it in the last two or three years and now I can't imagine being without it. The Met's current productions of the Ring operas have been amazing and I keep finding new gems such as the Joyce Didonato "Comte Ory" and Natalie Dessay's "Lucia." Stunning music and incredible artists. So now I have Diana Damrau's "Magic Flute" and Elina Garanca's "Carmen" on DVD and it's more than likely that I'll be buying more opera DVDs than those for any popular movies.