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Subject: Re: The Most Important Soprano Since Callas and Sutherland?
From: Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 3 Aug 2016 19:32:16 +0000
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Hello all--
I have always loved Joan Sutherland and consider her one of the supreme sopranos of the twentieth century.  By the 1970s when I had a little more disposable income, I would make a daily trek to the local record store each time I learned that a new recording of hers was coming out until I had it in my hot little hand.  During the first half of the summer of 1975, after basic housing expenses and the like, I had $100 to live on (lots of PB&J sandwiches) while working on my master's thesis, and still managed to find the $30 or so it cost for the Puritani recording with Pavarotti when it came out; the master's thesis had to wait for a couple of days after that.  Four of the best nights of my life were the four nights that I spent seeing her four performances of Anna Bolena in Houston back in 1986, something I anticipated from the day I found out in 1983 that these performances were going to happen.  Those were the first time I had seen her in person, although fortunately not the last.
Nonetheless, I question whether she was anywhere close to being as well known outside of the realm of opera as was Callas.  I even remember seeing many years ago a book from probably the 1960s (admittedly closer to the beginning of her career, although she was quite well known worldwide even then) where the author referred to her as Ann Sutherland.  I don't remember anything about the overall topic of the book, let alone the title, although it was probably something to do with music or opera.  I do remember that from the context the author was talking about Joan Sutherland and not, say, Ann Sothern, although I suspect that that the actress' name is where the confusion in names came from.
I don't see the need to make comparisons between Callas and Sutherland on the one hand, and Netrebko on the other.  That said, I saw one of Netrebko's performances of Trovatore at the Met and absolutely could not believe I was sitting there during her "D'amor sull'ali rosee" and hearing what was probably the single most gorgeous piece of singing I had ever heard in my life.  Up until that time, my preferred recording of that aria was far and away the one by Leontyne Price recorded at the Met farewell in 1966 which I know because of pirates and unfortunately not from seeing it in person.  I think Mme. Netrebko's was even more beautiful.
As a side note, my DVD copy of the 2015 French film Marguerite, based "loosely" on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, arrived today.  I managed to sneak a peek at it during my lunch hour, and the connection between it and the life of the real Mme. Jenkins doesn't seem all that "loose."  Anyway, it should help keep me relatively sedated over the next nine days while I await the U.S. arrival of the Meryl Streep film.  A friend of mine in Austin received a last-minute invitation to a preview screening of the film three or four weeks ago; he said that it was quite good.  I still hate him that he has already seen it.
Mike Leone
[log in to unmask] il Leone!

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