Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ralph Stanley – "O Death"

In honor of Halloween. I prefer this version, but it can't be embedded.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Joan Sutherland – "Spargi d'amaro pianto"

Coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland, one of the great bel canto singers, died last week. The New York Times has an excellent obituary. Her most famous role was probably Lucia in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, which has a famous, showcase mad scene. (As we've covered before, mad scenes were all the rage in 19th Century opera.). As the video's narrator explains, this is the final section of that scene. This 1972 performance has better audio than most of the other clips available. This Who's Afraid of Opera? version has low audio, but is more complete. Meanwhile, this 1988 version has slightly muddy audio, but does feature the lengthy ovation she received at the end, which was likely not only for that performance, but for her entire career - she was in her early 60s at the time and retired shortly thereafter. The Wikipedia entry linked above lists and/or links her extensive discography, and her pairings with Luciano Pavarotti are especially worthwhile. RIP.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

John Lennon

It would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday this past Saturday, 10/9/10. Here's two of my favorite Lennon songs, "Across the Universe" and "Watching the Wheels," although it would be easy to post a few dozen more. Fresh Air compiled some good Lennon-related interviews, and Weekend Edition Saturday had a great segment with David Sheff, who interviewed and hung out with Lennon over the course of three weeks shortly before Lennon was tragically murdered:

"When I arrived, it was a time when he just had so much to say," Sheff says. "He would talk and he would stand up; at one point, he was almost climbing on the refrigerator talking about something."

Lennon would have turned 70 on Oct. 9. Sheff says he can't imagine the singer at such an age. But Lennon, he adds, lived for the future. The singer told him that while he liked The Beatles' song "Yesterday," he was glad he had never written it.

" 'I don't believe in yesterday,' " Sheff says, quoting Lennon. "Life begins at 40, or so they promise. And I believe in what's going to come.' That's one of the last things he had said to me."

Thursday, October 7, 2010