July 10, 2008

It’s a theme fit for Kafka: a person gets lost in the maze of YouTube, never to return. For music-lovers the daily-expanding selection of videos online is astounding — and gratifying. The very young are exploiting the medium with an abandon that acts out a democracy beyond the dreams of Jefferson. I recently met an exorbitantly gifted 18-year-old pianist who has publicly documented much of his repertory on YouTube, beginning with a performance when he was only 3 years old.

Last evening I enjoyed one of those online feasts in front of the screen and want to point to a couple of particularly valuable videos. The first is a talk given by Gérard Mortier recently in Denver. I won’t characterize it or prejudice other potential viewers, except to make one observation: the man’s love, yea passion, for opera is manifest and to me, at least, inspiring. Here is the video link, courtesy of Opera America.

From illuminating talk about opera to an incandescent example of the singer’s art at its highest level. Here is the great Magda Olivero singing an aria from one of her celebrated rôles. She was 83 years old at the time of this performance:

In 1996 I had the great privilege of meeting Magda Olivero, backstage at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, after a brilliant recital by Marilyn Horne. A colleague wrote to me today, saying that she had also been at that recital and was thrilled to meet Olivero. She naturally esteemed this a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A few days later, she was in Milan and

Imagine my surprise when I took a bus tour to Cremona and, as I got onto the bus, there was Magda!

Magda Olivero may well give us all hope through her demonstrations that it is possible still to keep doing fine things at an advanced age. Perhaps one reason Olivero has aged so gracefully and sung so well for so long is that she has been a true diva onstage but was not above taking ordinary bus tours.

One Response to “Videohead”

  1. […] 21, 2008 We’ve lost a great singer of the vintage of Magda Olivero. Though their métiers have been cultivated in very different atmospheres and circumstances, the […]

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