Tuesday, February 21, 2012


There was one other interesting moment in 1974, her second year in Sydney. She sang Antonia's mother in the Tales of Hoffmann that showcased Joan Sutherland's return. It was like 'who's that behind the portrait?'.

Another index of just what heights had been reached in two short years was that she gave an all Wagner recital in the Concert Hall as a farewell before heading back to London. And what's more nearly filled the place, with audience. She already had the voice to fill it, and there's not too many who can do that.

So the 'special relationship' with Australia had been established. She would return often and was due back this year to sing Turandot in Melbourne. I think I also read somewhere that she was thinking of moving back. Cooeee

The roles were the big ones - Abigaille, Lady Macbeth, Amelia (Masked Ball), Ariadne, Medee, Norma, Brunnhilde (concert with Edo de Waart and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the four years leading up to the Sydney Olympics), others, and she sang in the Olympic Arts Opening Gala Mahler 8 (which I remembered just a week ago).

Uppermost in my memories are the Lady Macbeth - a phenomenal aura about the whole performance - electrifying is no exaggeration - in a splendid 'old fashioned' production. She would start a note with her back to the audience and slowly turn and crank it up to full throttle. Cillario conducted. He knew his Verdi. It was back to the box office again to take my parents.

She sang the hell out of Abigaille dealing with some of the most difficult vocalism written as well as a (to put it mildy) challenging production from the then still young and made-to-outrage Barry Kosky. Good humour was another trademark.

Her Brunnhilde's were the best I've heard I think. (The SSO did one more concert just of Act 3 Walküre some time later.) They were womanly wise and they were sung with love. Her Walküre with Alessandra Marc remains unrivaled in this head.

As far as I know, Desdemona was not in her repertoire. But I've saved this till last; it speaks for itself. Un bacio, ancora un bacio. She kissed many lives.


Susan Scheid said...

A beautiful tribute. Your musical selections are lovingly chosen, and the last a magnificent jewel in an already glittering crown.

Herringbone said...

A tribute from an admirer and a friend. It's really nice. I related to you earlier about her down to earth appeal, the Cooeee clip pretty much nails it. The crowd was really into it.
Agility is what struck me about the Verdi clip. Maybe the "difficult vocalism" you allude to. But yes, she was all over it. And there was that sense of good attitude.

"She kissed many lives" is a wonderful phrase. It conjures up many thoughts for me personally and emphasizes to me the respect you felt for this artist.