Tuesday, December 2, 2008

callas-di stefano

driving home last saturday i listened to a 1955 recording of lucia di lammermoor by donizetti. it was conducted by von karajan and starred mariad callas and giuseppe di stefano in the roles of lucia and edgardo. it got me thinking about the role that chance pays in your life. (i'm reading soem pop-physics at the moment about shrodinger's kittens) i never imagined that opera would ever play a part in my life, neither cooking. however many years ago, as a student, i was lucky enough to go to poland whilst it was still a communist country (if only in name). whilst there we were taken to see la traviata at the polis state opera. my most vivid memory is of how clear the voices were, even though we were sat what seemed to be miles away. it was good but i got away. i slipped further from the hook a few years later when i had the mis-fortune to see salome by strauss in vancouver (i was still a student). i've never returned to this opera, not sure i ever will. then a couple of years later and still a student, i was living in bristol. in return for some babysitting i was taken to the opera (wno la boheme) and i found that i was still dangling. it was callas and di stefano who finally landed me. totally skint and unable to go out on a saturday i took to staying in and listening to the world opera series on classic fm. the first opera, lucia di lammermoor. this was opera as it should be, exciting, visceral. the singing appears to be for the consumer rather than for art's sake. there should reall be no contradiction but if one believes the critics, there is. we, the consumers, have crass taste, preferring the high cs and es over the finer points of the score. one tenor who suffered for this was franco corelli, a massive tenor who gave the crowds what they wanted and upset the critics. anyway back to 1955. after listening once, i listened again and again. i would say that most of my opera collection is live from this era. a ballo in maschera (callas and di stefano again) is also a must listen.if it wasn't for small events i would have different memories, maybe in another universe another me is writing about those memories now. i wonder if he is cooking. anyway where i'm going with this is that the reason that we are doing what we are is for the consumer. please let us knowwhat you think, i don't want to start getting it wrong now.

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