Next month starts a spat of operas by Rossini starting with Il barbiere di Siviglia at La Scala with two of the biggest names in opera Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez . That will be followed in August by our annual sojourn to Pesaro for food, fun, sun, wine and ... Rossini. This year, as well as my favorite Italian mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona in Sigismondo, a real rarity we'll get two rising new stars Kate Aldrich and Lawrence Brownlee in La Cenerentola, Rossini's take on the Cinderella story.
Both DiDonato and Aldrich are a continuation of the rich tradition of American mezzos who knew their way around a cadenza which began with Marilynn Horne and continued on with my own particular darling Frederica von Stade. For a while there I was a Von Stade groupie running off to Houston to see her and Horne in La Donna del Largo, over to England for her Ritorno di Ulisse at Glyndebourne and Cendrillon right home in Ottawa.
Sadly I missed her Cenerentola at the Paris Opera - I had a choice between her and Teresa Berganza and went for Berganaza. I met Flicka, as she was known to her friends and fans, on several occasions and on one she asked me to come to the filming of La Cenerentola in Munich. Sadly though in those days it would have been easy to do with my airline staff tickets I couldn't get off work for the filming dates. But here she is showing us why her Cinderella - both Rossini's and Massenet's - were loved.
Cenerentola forgives her step-sisters and step-father (the great Paolo Montarsolo mugging outrageously) and celebrates her new found happiness as the bride of the Prince.
She has announced her retirement and is currently doing a series of concerts around the USA to say farewell which will end in 2011. Ever the gracious lady she is bowing out while still in great vocal shape.
I can only wish her all happiness in her retirement as she gave me so much happiness in her 40 year career. Auguri Flicka and mille grazie!
09 giugno - Sant'Efrem il Siro