Friday, 24 January 2020

La voce perduta

"The first note he sang was taken with such delicacy, swelled by minute degrees to such an amazing volume, and afterwards diminished in the same manner to a mere point, that it was applauded for full five minutes. After this he set off with such brilliancy and rapidity of execution, that it was difficult for the violins of those days to keep pace with him." - music historian Charles Burney, as quoted in A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1900)

Three hundred and fifteen years ago today, the greatest castrato singer of the Baroque era was born - Farinelli. So successful and acclaimed was he that audiences flocked to see him, women fainted in the audience at the beauty of his notes, he performed for the noble houses of Italy and Germany and for The Holy Roman Emperor and the French King Louis XV, none other than Handel enticed him to London to perform his works, and he ended up a favourite (musical and political) at the Imperial Court of Spain - and along the way earned a huge fortune that enabled him to retire in luxury back to his native Italy.

Read more in my previous tribute to the man, including a clip from the 1994 film of his life, from which these stills are taken.

Farinelli (born Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi, 24th January 1705 – 16th September 1782).

Friday, 17 January 2020

Betty White Bread

It's Betty White Day again - the lady herself, one of our icons and eminent Patron Saints blows out 98 candles on her cake today!

She really IS the best...

Betty Marion White Ludden (née White; born 17th January 1922)

[PS "Diva season" is definitely upon us! Also born on this day were Eartha Kitt, Dalida, Moira Shearer and - erm - Shari Lewis. Yesterday it was Susan Sontag, Sade, Marilyn Horne and Miss Merman; tomorrow Jane Horrocks; and Sunday it's Tippi Hedren and Dolly Parton!]

Thursday, 16 January 2020

It's Momma Rose's birthday...

...all rise!

Ethel Merman (born Ethel Agnes Zimmermann, 16th January 1908 – 15th February 1984)

Friday, 10 January 2020

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Even a Fool Learns to Love?

It is that annual "Diva Day", when we celebrate the birthdays of two eternal icons and Patron Saints here at Dolores Delargo Towers [one, gladly, still with us us, one forever missed] - Dame Shirley Bassey and Mr David Bowie.

To that end, a mini-quiz, dear reader. What connects this song from the then Miss Bassey's repertoire...

...with this, from Mr Bowie's?

From The Guardian:
In the late 60s, a young songwriter called David Bowie was asked by his manager to write an English lyric for a French pop song, Comme d’habitude (As Usual), by Claude François. “I turned in the pitifully awful title 'Even a Fool Learns to Love', which he rejected out of hand, quite rightly, I feel,” Bowie remembered in 1999. “And it passed on to Paul Anka, who did his own English lyric. And he called it, simply and effectively, 'My Way'”...

...Later, Sinatra would claim My Way “really had nothing to do with my life whatsoever”. Anka, however, felt Sinatra’s experiences helped give the song its power. “Shit happens to everybody every day, whether you’re Frank Sinatra or Joe Blow,” says Anka. “Of course he had regrets – that’s why we sat around and drank every night. You could hear it come out in him, from Ava Gardner, to whoever … but that was the magic of Sinatra: when he sang about it, you believed it. His lucky streak is that he is able to sing about it, convey it and help people along who need it emotionally.”

... When the young Bowie heard Don Costa’s grand arrangement [for Sinatra] on the radio, he was crestfallen. “So in retaliation,” he said, “I wrote 'Life on Mars'.”

A note on the inner sleeve of Hunky Dory reads: “Inspired by Frankie.”
Inspired, indeed.