Sunday 1 October 2023


Hearing this fabulously camp vocal interpretation of Saent-Saens' spooky orchestral number on BBC Radio 3 the other day just served to remind me just what a genius this lady really was:

[See here for another brilliant version.]

A decade ago, I featured a tribute to Madame Cathy Berberian (for it is she) over at my other blog Give 'en the old Razzle Dazzle, and here it is again for your delectation:

Apart from being an accomplished mezzo-soprano, singing everything from Monteverdi to operetta, Lieder and Music Hall numbers - in 36 languages - she also recorded a ground-breaking vocal and electronic experimental album called "Visage" [one wondered where Steve Strange got the idea for his band name] as early as 1961, had music written specifically for her by Stravinsky and John Cage (among other avant-garde artists), translated Woody Allen into Italian with Umberto Eco, did comedic routines to accompany her eclectic cabaret evenings of which Anna Russell would be proud, and owned a collection of French pornographic porcelain to boot!

We are proud possessors here at Dolores Delargo Towers of two albums by Madame Berberian, one a 1973 live concert from Edinburgh in which she tackles everything from Saint-Saens, Delibes and Purcell to such Victorian ditties as Father's a Drunkard and Mother is Dead and There Are Fairies At The Bottom Of Our Garden...

The other, even more superbly off-the wall and a definite favourite, is her classic 1967 album Revolution - 'An Operatic First', a collection of Beatles songs done in the Baroque operatic style, believe it or not.

And here, from that very collection, is the lady herself performing Ticket to Ride:

As Mark Swed, writing in the LA Times said, "She did it all. Check her out."

Read more about the splendid Cathy Berberian at the ever-wonderful Dangerous Minds website.


  1. Didn't she do a comedic breakdown of Wagners' Ring cycle? All four operas broken down into half an hour? She wore huge jewelry, I remember that.

    1. Close...

      If you check out the link in the post - here - you'll enjoy the talents of Miss Anna Russell, Madame Berberian's contemporary, who did that magnificent routine. Jx

  2. I'm a little late to the opera, but Anna Russell sprang to mind. And then of course, my brain took itself off on another Tom Lehrer messing about with "Darling Clementine."
    This has quite perked me up so I thank you.

    1. Love them both. Tom Lehrer's another one who's (surprisingly) still with us, aged 95! Jx

  3. Adorable and adored. This woman has given me joy over many years and still does.


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