Thursday, November 1, 2012

Great Singer of the Week: Victoria de los Angeles

Photo by Allen Warren
The excellent Ken Benson reminded one and all that today would have been the birthday of the sainted Victoria de los Angeles.  I did a Great Singer post about her long ago, which I link here.  (Here is her Wikipedia bio.)   In preparing the post long ago I was struck by the following quote from her New York Sun obituary:

Again and again, de los Angeles's is the voice people celebrate as pure, healing, imbued with integrity, wisdom, even grace. An AIDS worker in the 1980s recalled many of his clients requesting he bring to the hospital CDs or tapes of the singer: hers was often the last voice they wanted to hear. ("I can't listen to Callas on my deathbed, for God's sake," one of them said.)

Now for the clips! This is my all-time favorite, and it makes me cry every time. 68-y.o. Sra. de los Angeles singings for the closing of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. (Start at approximately 0:50 to avoid inane commentary from talking heads.)

By contrast here is a considerably younger Sra. de los Angeles singing Filles de Cadix by Mr. Delibes (recording is uncredited in the YouTube link):

Because I'm in more of a song mood than an aria mood, here is Mr. Martini's Plaisir d'Amour (which many will know from the 1939 movie Love Affair, the Charles Boyer-Irene Dunn version of An Affair to Remember):


Dr.B said...

Downloaded Plaisir. Hers is the definitive Mimi.

villagediva said...

Thanks, Taminophile. Victoria de los Angeles was my first connection to opera when my Dad gave me the Highlights from Carmen when I was 12. She remains my measure of strength, grace and beauty of voice (and person). Fabulous to hear and see how she maintained all that until late in life. Just wish I had seen her on stage.

Anonymous said...

Victoria de los Angeles is the only Manon in my mind's ear. We are so fortunate that the height of her career was contemporaneous with the LP era and the recording of so many complete operas, as well as recitals. Her EMI Mimi and Butterfly (both recordings, although the earlier with Di Stefano is preferable overall) are treaures. Her Carmen, with Beecham at the helm, is marvelous, a very different, more feminine (and therefore more dangerous) interpretation of the role than the usual smoke and dusk. Her Marguerite in both the mono and the stereo Faust (with Gedda and Christoff, led by Cluytens) is a treasure, another role engraved on the mind's ear.
Among the many wonderful song recitals, her EMI recording with Georges Prêtre of Ravel's Shéhérazade is an abcolute must-hear. The original album also contained Ravel's Cing mélodies populaires grecques and Deux mélodies hébraiques, Debussy's Air de Lia from L'enfant prodigue, and two mélodies of Duparc: "Phydilé" and "L'invitation au voyage". The album was re-released in a recent EMI compilation "The Fabulous Victoria de los Angeles" and she is indeed. The refrain from "L'invitation" well describes her voice in the recording: ", calme, et volupté..."
I had the great privilege of hearing her live in recital in Baltimore in the early 1960's. Debussy, Fauré, Schubert, Brahms, and Falla - a memorable evening.
We are so fortunate she made so many wonderful recordings, even though she always preferred the intimacy of the recital stage.

Bocca L. Lupo