LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 15.5

Help for OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives

OPERA-L Archives


Next Message | Previous Message
Next in Topic | Previous in Topic
Next by Same Author | Previous by Same Author
Chronologically | Most Recent First
Proportional Font | Monospaced Font


Join or Leave OPERA-L
Reply | Post New Message
Search Archives

Subject: Re: Varnay the Magnificent: The Debut Season
From: Operatics <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Operatics <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 12 Jan 2018 14:53:15 -0800

text/plain (117 lines)

Hi Paul,

Her autobiography details that extraordinary debut - and the how and why 
she was ready for it - as well as the rest of her fascinating life.   
Wish I had heard her live.


On 1/12/2018 1:45 PM, G. Paul Padillo wrote:
> For my money, no singer’s career had a more spectacular beginning than
> the debut season of Astrid Varnay. There was talk of it in another thread,
> but she deserves her own!
> Varnay was at her Friday afternoon lesson at the Met with Maestro
> Leinsdorf who, for some reason was putting her through the paces of
> Sieglinde instead of what they were working on (I believe Senta). When he
> seemed satisfied, he marched her down to the costume department where
> she learned she would not be making her Met debut as Elsa in January, but
> rather as Sieglinde, “tomorrow,” going on for Madame Lehmann. The next
> day her mother cooked her a steak and the young soprano hopped the
> subway (the subway) to go make her Met debut with some of the world’s
> greatest Wagnerians.
> When she approached the house, she discovered her girlfriends, fellow
> standees, disconsolate at seeing the name “Astrid Varnay” plastered over
> Lehmann’s name. “Who is this singer we’ve never heard of?” Of course,
> Varnay did splendidly (as seen in reviews shortly thereafter) and also of
> course, her girlfriends recognized her and clamored backstage to her
> dressing room, shocked and delighted, one to the point of being rendered
> mute, as she just stood there pointing at her friend, silently mouthing the
> word, “You?” (They all knew Varnay by her first name, “Violet”). The
> celebration was short lived as a Met staffer told them to break it up, the
> dressing room was needed for Bidú Sayao, who’d be singing Susanna to
> Ezio Pinza’s Figaro in an hour or two.
> Varnay couldn’t believe her good luck and couldn’t wait to see the review in
> the late edition the next day. Of course, the news was dominated by a
> more major story: Pearl Harbor.
> The following Saturday, Varnay would appear in Walkure yet again, this
> time as Brunnhilde filling in for Trauble. She eventually sang the scheduled
> Elsa, than Elisabeth in Tannhauser.
> A few nights after one of her performances Varnay sang in what has to go
> down as one of the stranger, more fascinating galas put on by the
> company; a tribute to the Red Cross.
> The gala opened with a staging of Bach’s dramatic cantata (and the closest
> he ever came to writing an opera) “Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde: Der
> Streit zwischen Phoebus und Pan” (better known as “The Contest Between
> Phoebus and Pan”). The cantata was broken up with 7 ballets from Bach’s
> French Suites, orchestrated by Eugene Goossens and conducted by Thomas Beecham.
> Beecham.
> Following intermission was the Overture and Act III of “Nozze di Figaro,
> featuring Pinza, Albanese, Rethberg and Novotna. On its heels came the
> Beethoven “Leonore No 3”, followed by Act 3 scene 2 of Lohengrin, with
> Melchior and Varnay. The final operatic offering was Act IV of Carmen,
> before the orchestra launched into Victor Herbert’s “American Fantasy.”
> I’ll let the NY Times review finish it from there:
> "The rising of the curtain for the final number revealed on a raised platform
> a group of Red Cross nurses, soldiers, sailors and marines. Behind them,
> still higher, were the principals and singers of the Metropolitan Company,
> and still farther fack on the raised platform were chorus and ballet. Mr.
> Pelletier then led the orchestra in Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" as
> two Red Cross nurses, each carrying a Red Cross and an American flag,
> entered, flanked by a squad of soldiers, sailors and marines.
> The entire assemblage then sang a stanza of "America, the Beautiful,"
> followed by "The Star-Spangled Banner." As the audience filed out, Mr.
> Pelletier again led the orchestra in the Sousa march."
> Now THAT’s a gala . . . and a half!
> Varnay’s debut season also included the female lead in the world premiere
> of Menotti’s “The Island God.” She spoke highly of the work which she
> thought had music that fit her beautifully, if not the greatest score known
> to man. Reviews were mostly mixed to polite, save for the cast’s high
> marks, yet Menotti, in a fit of rage, destroyed all copies of the opera, which
> Varnay found to be an unfortunate act.
> At the age of 23, Ms. Varnay went from zero operatic experience, to
> singing four of the leading Wagnerian roles in the repertoire, an impressive
> gala with some of the days’ most important singers and a world premiere.
> Nice work if you can get it!
> p.
> **********************************************
> OPERA-L on Facebook:
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to [log in to unmask]
> containing only the words:  SIGNOFF OPERA-L
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> To stay subscribed but TURN OFF mail, send a message to
> [log in to unmask] containing only the words:  SET OPERA-L NOMAIL
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Modify your settings:
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------

OPERA-L on Facebook:
To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to [log in to unmask]
containing only the words:  SIGNOFF OPERA-L
To stay subscribed but TURN OFF mail, send a message to
[log in to unmask] containing only the words:  SET OPERA-L NOMAIL
Modify your settings:

Back to: Top of Message | Previous Page | Main OPERA-L Page



CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager