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From: "Wolman, Kenneth" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Wolman, Kenneth
Date:Tue, 29 May 2001 12:55:24 -0400

text/plain (30 lines)

> Since I was not able to post this on 5/26, and no one else
> has remembered
> this great artist, I want to remember the birthday of one of Canada's
> greatest and most beloved singers, the great Lyric Soprano,
> Teresa Stratas,
> born May 26, 1939....  Despite her diminuitive stature she was a riveting
> dramatic presence on stage and could tear your heart out, whether it was as
> Mimi, Butterfly, Tatiana or Violetta.  Sadly, I am too young to have seen her
> live and when I tried, she had cancelled due to her frail health.  How lucky
> we were to have her unique artistry grace our stages and our lives.  It would
> be wonderful to hear from people who were privileged to see this great artist
> live at her peak in opera, concert or recital.

Well, I'm back from the dead, and how fitting that the first thing I see is a Stratas posting.  I wish I had more to say about her...there was a long period when I was simply away from opera and missed a lot of Stratas incarnations.  I've told these yarns before so the old-timers can take naps.  I saw her back in the early Sixties at the barn on 1411 Broadway when she a kid soprano who'd won the Auditions, grabbing people's attention and being promoted early.  Too early?  Who knows?  She had ambition.  You don't survive growing up in an abusive family of drunks, playing in a basement with rats as she did unless you've got fire in your guts.  I saw one of her early Mimis, a fully-formed melding of singer and character that was paired, sadly, with the self-absorbed and over-the-hill Ferruccio Tagliavini, a tenor who at that stage of his career one survived rather than sang with.  She was all of 23 at the time.  Later...I think it was 1963 by now, I saw her as Nedda opposite Vi!
ckers.  Nedda was a signature part for her, I gather, and I saw her on tapes after that--opposite Domingo in the late '70s, and then opposite Pavarotti in 1995.  Each one was brilliant, sexy, a character dangerous to herself first and to everyone who came near her.  In that original Pagliacci, she and Vickers worked a chemistry that was frightening--two of the most intense singers you'd ever want to see working each other up to a frenzy in Act II that seemed to verge on going out of control but never quite did.

I know someone who told me he saw Stratas as the three heroines in the Trittico at one of the last Met go-rounds, and that nobody who saw her as Suor Angelica could ever forget entire theaterful of people weeping and cheering in unison, you KNOW it's a tear-jerker, but nobody gives a damn because Stratas gave herself to that role the same way she gave herself to everything she sang.

I cannot imagine The Ghosts of Versailles without her as Marie Antoinette.

Sixty-two's not OLD, by the way.  It's a shame that Stratas' voice may think otherwise.  But God...if it's true that another of my favorite maniacs, Neil Shicoff, is learning Ghermann in The Queen of Spades, I would dearly love to see Stratas coaxed out of retirement just to do the Countess....  Someone wake me up, okay?


Kenneth Wolman
Merrill Lynch/DCSS
570 Washington Street
New York, N.Y. 10014
(212) 647-2496

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