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Divas, plus a Divo
A little more self-indulgence. I was looking at my last hub, and thinking how much I enjoyed creating it, and noting with something close to gratitude some really nice comments.Please note: I use the word “nice” in its proper sense. The comments were what was required; precise and to the point; just right for their requirements. They hit the spot.
A true Diva - Grace Bumbry
But I messed up already
Then having looked at the title of the hub, I realised that I, as usual, in my somewhat haphazard manner, had not planned ahead nearly enough… or at all. The title of the first hub was less than useful: Divas - one of a few, perhaps, would be a great title to work on if the series of hubs were to deal with Divas, but the music I was so keen to share (and still am) is not only from Sopranos and Mezzo Sopranos, but from Tenors; or more precisely, one Tenor a bel canto (literally beautiful singing) Tenor whose upper register notes are astounding, clear and precise.
I panicked. I'm good at panicking. But Nellie Anna rode in on a metaphorical charger and saved the day.
She saved the day, thus:
"I went on a bit of a chase to see if there is a comparable term for "Diva". It's not something common, it seems, but Wikipedia did provide this:
"The male divo does exist in Italian and it is usually reserved for the most prominent leading tenors, like Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli or Roberto Alagna."
"It's a thought, and with your flair, you could probably pull off naming the hub, "Divas and a Divo" or some such. If you plan to expand on the group, "tenor" might limit that.
"But "Divas, plus a tenor" for the one hub isn't too horribly lame, if you think it needs to be changed. It's probably already been accepted as it is. But the clarification does improve it factually. The thought crossed my mind when reading it that it went beyond one diva - but I figured that was merely an introductive term into the array of singers which came forth, sort of poetic license or something, It wasn't a big gap to my mind. The material was so deligtful, who cared about the title? haha".
Thank you, Nellieanna, where would I be without you?
Juan Diego Flórez
Juan Diego Flórez
Juan Diego Flórez is a Peruvian operatic Tenor, particularly known for his roles in bel canto operas.
So why did I wobble?Or how did I wobble?
Well, I’ll tell you, but I will try to be brief, because I would prefer you to be listening to the music rather than to be listening to me yapping. I’m fairly good at yapping, but this time I’ll try to spare you.
Years ago when I first came to London, a friend of mine played me a record, a 12” vinyl record (Remember them? No? Well I do!) of a singer of whom I had never heard. By the time I had heard the song that my friend played me first, I was captivated. The singer’s name was Grace Bumbry. Can you remember her voice from hearing it in my hub: ‘I burn to pour a thousand drops of nectar in your ear’? One of those first arias that she sang was ‘Mon coeur s'ouvre á ta voix’ and also she sang, on that particular record: ‘Che faro senza Euridice’ – ‘Where will I go without Eurydice’.
Orpheus and Eurydice
If you know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, you will recall that Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus, dies and is taken to the Underworld by the god Hades. Orpheus is distraught and says that his life is pointless without his beloved (“Where will I go without Eurydice”). He follows her to Hades, and because he’s a great musician, he wins over all sorts of people and dogs and ferrymen and things, and gets her back but there are complications…
Sorry! I was yapping again. Read it yourself. That’s what Google search is for. And because I'm so wonderful, I've found it for you. Just to make it easier for you.
So I fell in love with Grace Bumbry’s voice, and then became really “hooked” on opera. I also fell in love with that particular aria, and discovered that Orpheus is, nowadays, a part to be sung by a Countertenor, or a Mezzo Soprano. The Counter Tenor sings in a higher register, and nowadays the part may be played by a woman, usually a Mezzo Soprano. Originally the part would most probably been played by a Castrato.
Remember the Castrato? You do? You must have been paying attention in my last hub. Thank you.
But as you will know, an aria from an opera can have many singers, and each may put her or his interpretation on it. I eventually found another singer; this time a man, and he sings the aria, but this time, not in Italian: (‘Che faro senza Euridice’), but in French (‘J'ai Perdu Mon Eurydice’). It was written by a German, Christoph Willibald Gluck, so it had to be in French or Italian, didn't it? Does that help? It should do but…
Regardless of my rambling, this is where the amazing voice of Juan Diego Flórez comes in.
Of course, once caught, I was as obsessional as usual, and started to look into his works (if you can look into a voice)… but you know what I mean.
Granada by Augustin Lara
This must be one of the most moving and exciting pieces of music. This young man puts his heart and soul into singing, and there is a fervour which is charming and exciting, even to those if us who do not speak Spanish.
Below: Juan Diego Florez sings the famous Tenor aria from Donizetti's 'La Fille du Regiment' - ‘Pour mon ame’
What about those high notes?
However, if you are of feeble intent, then I suggest you at least listen from 5 minutes 58 seconds. And then, if I am not to be disappointed, you will go back and listen to the whole passage.
And the guy isn’t a Castrato – his wife has just had their first child. As they say, “The proof is in the pudding”.
And here, as Juan Diego says, himself:
"A little-known aria". Maybe this will be a nice new song for us to hear for the very first time.
Now was this too much like a “Music Appreciation Class” with some boring Old Fart pontificating away at the front of the lecture theatre? I hope not, because there are few things worse.
Have you enjoyed listening to these bits and pieces that I have found and like so much that I wanted to share them with you? I hope you have.
We've reached the end. No clapping and cheering please... unless you really mean it.
But here I want you to really listen, and I can guarantee that there will be very few of you who will not enjoy this, if any.
Opera singers are not, as far as I know, boring and self righteously smug people who think their talents are only for the Great and the Good, but are warm human beings with a lot of humour and a lot to offer.
You have already met Jessye Norman when she sang ‘Mon coeur s'ouvre á ta voix’, but here you will hear her with the very talented Kathleen Battle, singing a song that makes me want to stand up and cheer. It is so moving and emotional, that I defy anyone, Christian or Otherwise; Religious or Atheist to not be moved by it.
Enjoy! (I did)
And finally, with gratitude...
I would like to thank Nellie Anna for all her help in searching for videos and music for this hub. Your suggestions and support were invaluable, Nellie, my dear friend. Your constant encouragement and positive criticism is what makes me give of my best at all times, Bless you.