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The Last Prima Donnas af Lanfranco Rasponi
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The Last Prima Donnas (original 1982; udgave 1982)

af Lanfranco Rasponi (Forfatter)

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321597,145 (4)1
Medlem:AudBri
Titel:The Last Prima Donnas
Forfattere:Lanfranco Rasponi (Forfatter)
Info:Alfred A Knopf (1982), Edition: 1st, 635 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
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Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Last Prima Donnas af Lanfranco Rasponi (1982)

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    The World of Opera af Robert Lawrence (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Stories like Germaine Lubin's (found in Rasponi's The Last Prima Donnas) may have been the very thing Robert Lawrence was satirizing with his Gemma Jelink narrative in The World of Opera.
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It is often said that the golden age of opera is always the one you just missed, but Lanfranco Rasponi and the fifty-odd divas he interviews would disagree: they see their era as the last shining moment before the fall of bel canto. In her interview, Gilda della Razza describes herself as the relic of a bygone age, while Renata Tebaldi laments the choices of younger singers such as Renata Scotto and Mirella Freni, pointing to Montserrat Caballe as the world's only remaining prima donna. Throughout, opera critic and manager Rasponi does an excellent job drawing out and organizing these interviews. Problems occur only when he attempts to speak for himself, as in the introduction, and the summaries of Maria Callas' and Lucrezia Bori's careers (though he knew the last two artists and was a close friend of Bori's, he seems not to have interviewed either). He bathes the second in golden sunlight while his examination of Callas comes across as rather spiteful; compare his descriptions of her with those of the generous Tebaldi, for example.

Though the subject of this book will probably only appeal to opera fans—and truly, the vocabulary is such that it would almost make it unreadable to the uninitiated—the stories that it tells are deeply human. Of particular interest to me were the ways in which World War II affected many of these singers' lives: Kirsten Flagstad, who had been singing in America at the time, was separated from her family, the wonderful Elisabeth Grummer lost her husband in an air raid, and most fascinating of all, French soprano Germaine Lubin actually met Hitler and was later accused of being his mistress. I don't have my copy with me, but I found the book filled with many such fascinating tidbits. I remember especially liking Elena Nicolai, who described herself as a Bulgarian wolf and won a battle of wits with Maria Callas upon their first meeting; the two later became good colleagues. I could not help but laugh at Ebe Stignani, the famous contralto, who during the interview insisted on referring to herself in the third person; "it seemed we were speaking of a mutual acquaintance," Rasponi writes. And I believe it was coloratura Margherita Carioso who, upon being complemented for her youthful appearance, asked, "Don't you know nightingales never grow old?"

In Rasponi's book, nightingales and Wagnerians alike are immortalized for the ages. ( )
2 stem ncgraham | Mar 24, 2009 |
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Prima donnas in my father's day were, as the words indicate, the first ladies among the women singers, because of their vocal gifts and the considerable sacrifices they made for their profession and the art they served. These qualities gave them an intangible glamour. Today they no longer exist, for they have become traveling robots, interested mainly in making money, their personality squashed by stage directors. Wally Toscanini
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