Saturday, May 8, 2010

RIP Giulietta

Giulietta Simionato died this past week, having almost attained the age of 100 (one week short, apparently). This centenarian was the first mezzo I heard singing recorded opera when I was a kid (Mario Lanza was the first tenor), with Mario del Monaco in Cavelleria Rusticana, a work my grandmother thought would be appropriate for a 13 year old to hear. Personally, I was more partial to Pagliacci, and only appreciated the Mascagni years later, but I recall reading about Giulietta S. and listening to that last note of Cavalleria, that high C -- on a C major chord! which is supposed to represent the horrorstruck townsfolk hearing that one of their own has been ammazzato'ed just behind the wall, over there, lying in the dust.

Later on, I heard her in Norma, with Maria Callas, her BFF, singing "Mira o Norma," that was a performance so good, you could hear in this live recording the crowd, as a living, seething organism, building to a full cheer, then going into true yelling and screaming, at the top of their lungs tearing up the seats and stopping the performance. Even after the conductor began it up again, there were residual yelps. Now that's opera.

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