Friday, July 22, 2011
Everybody knows there is nothing more boring than listening to the plot of somebody else's dream. Still, having a blog of one's own provides a wide-open highway to be as boring as one likes. Last night I dreamed that I was attending some kind of cultural soiree and found myself sitting at a large crowded table next to the great (and long-dead) contralto, Marian Anderson (looking much as she is pictured above, but without a hat). Making pleasant conversation, she asked me what operas I was listening to at present. My mind went blank for a minute and I could not think of the name of one single opera. Then I blurted out, "Ariadne auf Naxos!"
"But that is one of my favorite operas!" exclaimed Marian Anderson, and she started to describe for me many different productions from the past and and the various wonderful singers who approached the several juicy roles in this opera in their quite different but all-wonderful ways.
"It is an opera with everything," Marian Anderson said to me, sitting amid the after-dinner clutter at this imaginary cultural soiree. "Magic and comedy, theater and romance, myth and the everyday, sorrow and elation."
"My favorite Ariadne – really, the only Ariadne for me – is Jessye Norman," I confessed. "She was at the height of her great career in the mid-Eighties when she performed and recorded and filmed it."
Marian Anderson agreed that it would have been nice for Strauss to have lived long enough to hear Jessye Norman singing his music.