Maria Callas: Born December 2, 1923

colorCallasMaria made her first professional appearance in von Suppe’s Boccacio in 1939 and sang the leading part in Tosca in 1942. After a series of disappointments and resenting envy by her colleagues, she returned to the American land of her birth. She lived there for two years (1945-1947), met the bass Nicola Rossi – Lemeni and through him came to know the tenor Giovanni Zenatello, artistic director of the Arena of Verona. Maria Kalogeropoulos left for Italy, met the industrialist Giovanni Batista Meneghini, married him, became Maria Callas and experienced her artistic life’s curtain raiser without suspecting that she was about to emerge as the lyric theatre’s most brilliant personality. Her first appearance in Italy as La Gioconda was directed by Tulio Serafin. Her acquaintance with him would lead her to new forms of expression.   http://www.hri.org/MFA/thesis/autumn97/callas.html

Callas’ ability to sing such a wide range of roles was one of the things that led to her meteoric rise. But criticcallasPiano Conrad Osborne says it also contained the seeds of her vocal decline. Callas’ voice was already starting to fail her by the time she was in her 40s — quite young for an opera singer. A number of factors, including a rapid loss of weight, may explain why. But Osborne, who also teaches voice, says Callas lacked the proper technique to sustain her ambitious repertoire.But for Callas fans like James Jorden, the diva more than made up for her vocal flaws with her talent for bringing the music to life. Her imperfections set her apart, and her ability to find the emotional meaning in a role was unsurpassed.  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123612228

callasPosingBy the time of her retirement, she had performed more than 40 different roles and had recorded more than 20 complete operas. Callas’s personality and philosophy of performance are powerfully depicted in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class (first performed and published 1995), based on her classes at Juilliard.   http://www.britannica.com/biography/Maria-Callas

Henry Purcell: Born September 10, 1659

Purcell wrote only one full opera, a short work supposedly designed for a girls’ school. The tragic story of Dido and Aeneas, with a libretto by Nahum Tate, has a perfection of its own. Dido’s final lament, before she kills herself, follows the model for such compositions established by Monteverdi eighty years before. Other stage works by Purcell are in the hybrid form now known as semi-opera, combining spoken drama and a musical element that in the concert-hall may be performed apart from its wider dramatic context.
Biography~ http://www.fabermusic.com/composers/henry-purcell/biography

BBC artist page for Henry Purcell~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/ddea5540-2c7d-4266-8507-b367c2635d35

Roberta Dodd Crawford: Born August 5, 1897

CrawfordIn the 1920s and 1930s, Bonham mezzo-soprano Roberta Dodd Crawford (1897-1954) shot across the concert world like a rare comet, blazing with talent and demonstrating the power of black performers to seriously engage American and European critics and audiences. In the end, through bad luck and poor circumstance, she flamed out, dying broke and forgotten by the world she had made richer by her incandescent presence.

She came from humble circumstances, spent long years training her remarkable voice, toured extensively in the U.S. and France, socialized and worked with fellow ex-patriots in Paris during the 1920s and early 1930s, married an American World War I hero and, later, an African prince; and suffered physically and mentally while under Nazi detention during World War II.
http://ntxe-news.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=51&num=81273

Texas State Historical Association~ https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcr69

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Maurice Sendak: Born June 10, 1928

Dubbed by one critic “the Picasso of children’s literature” and once addressed by former President Bill Clinton as “the King of Dreams,” Maurice Sendak illustrated nearly a hundred picture books throughout a career that spanned more than 60 years. Some of his best known books include Chicken Soup with Rice (1962), Where the Wild Things Are (1963), and In the Night Kitchen (1970). Born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Jewish immigrant parents from northern Poland, Sendak grew up idolizing the storytelling abilities of his father, Philip, and his big brother, Jack. As a child he illustrated his first stories on shirt cardboard provided by his tailor-father. Aside from a few night classes in art after graduating high school, Sendak was a largely self-taught artist.
http://www.rosenbach.org/maurice-sendak-biography-and-timeline

More on Maurice Sendak~
https://www.biography.com/people/maurice-sendak-9478893

Classical Music Fueled Maurice Sendak’s Creative Muse~
http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/207545-classical-music-fueled-maurice-sendak-muse/

Richard Wagner~ Born May 22, 1813

Early in his career, Wagner learned both the elements and the practical, political realities of his craft by writing a handful of operas which were unenthusiastically, even angrily, received. Beginning with Rienzi (1838-40) and The Flying Dutchman (1841), however, he enjoyed a string of successes that propelled him to immortality and changed the face of music. His monumental Ring cycle of four operas — Das Rheingold (1853-54), Die Walküre (1854-56), Siegfried (1856-71) and Götterdämmerung (1869-74) — remains the most ambitious and influential contribution by any composer to the opera literature.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/richard-wagner-mn0000958980/biography

The Brilliant, Troubled Legacy of Richard Wagner

A great music lover, Renoir was one of the first admirers of Wagner in France. At the beginning of 1882, when the painter was travelling in the south of Italy, he had the opportunity to visit Palermo where Wagner was staying. After two fruitless attempts, Renoir was finally introduced to the “maestro” who, the day before, had put the final notes to Parsifal.
The course of this meeting is well known thanks to a letter from Renoir to one of his friends, dated 15 January 1882:
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/commentaire/commentaire_id/richard-wagner-11042.html?no_cache=1

Artist Birthday Quiz for 5/7~

What court painter and tapestry designer later focused most of his activities on designing tapestries and stained glass, including windows for the Brussels Cathedral?

What abstract painter was also a singer who auditioned for the New York City Opera and became a success as a dramatic soprano?

Answers here~ https://schristywolfe.com/2015/05/07/may-7/

“Breathtakingly Detailed Large-Format Photographs of Opera Houses Around the World”

operahouse

Photographer David Leventi captures opera houses all over the world in breathtaking detail in his series Opera. Leventi uses large-format photography to ensure the detail of rich texture and light in his work.
http://laughingsquid.com/breathtakingly-detailed-large-format-photographs-of-opera-houses-around-the-world/

http://www.davidleventi.com/portfolio/opera/1/thumbs

“Turandot” premieres in Milan on April 25, 1926:

Poster

 

Turandot premiered at La Scala in Milan on 25 April 1926, almost a year and a half after Puccini’s death. Puccini’s friend Arturo Toscanini, who had worked on the score with the composer during the last months of Puccini’s life, conducted the premiere. As is widely recorded, when the opera reached the last note written by Puccini, Toscanini ended the performance. What he said at the time has been variously reported, from the poetic “Here death triumphed over art” to the poigniant “For me, the work ends here.” An eyewitness quoted in a recent biography puts it somewhere between the two: “Here ends the opera, because at this point the maestro was dead.”
http://www.theopera101.com/operas/turandot/

 

Lily Pons: Born on April 12, 1898

Few opera stars have led such an impressive career. For over a quarter of a century, her coloratura voice captured the stages of Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Mexico, and the United States. Like Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti, she acted in second-rate films about opera stars, which were surprisingly well-attended. As a child, I recall her appearances on variety shows and heard her on the radio at least once a month. Today, there is a Lilypons, Maryland (and its main street, Lily Pons Rd.). Even a contemporary rock group has named itself after her. She was the Three Tenors of her day.

Her sweet soprano voice had an extremely high tessitura. It was said she could hold a high D for about a minute. The Metropolitan Opera revived roles especially for her, like Delibes’ Lakmé, Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’or.
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/s/sny60655a.php

In addition to her fabulous voice, Pons had another distinction — having a Maryland post office named for her. In 1932, the tiny Frederick County post office of Lilypons opened for business. “It was a dot on a map, because nobody has ever been quite sure what to call it. Lilypons, Md., was never a city, town or even a hamlet,” said The Evening Sun in 1986. “It is now what it has always been: one frame building surrounded by a small cluster of ponds nestled into a bdaycakepeaceful crook of the Monocacy River eight miles south of Frederick. Its only inhabitants have been rare goldfish and beautiful blooming waterlilies.” In 1963, during a period of cost cutting, the Postal Service discontinued the Lilypons postmark and combined its functions with the nearby Buckeystown post office. A plaque commemorating the tiny post office was mounted on the building in 1986.
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1997-10-05/features/1997278029_1_lily-pons-lilypons-frederick-county

April 9, 1939: Marian Anderson’s Easter Sunday Lincoln Memorial concert


Marian Anderson, contralto, was denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color. Instead, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes permitted her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939.

The message of Marian Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial concert~
http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2014/04/the-message-of-marian-andersons-lincoln-memorial-concert/
Remembering Marian Anderson~ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/remember-jan-june97-anderson_02-26/
Marian Anderson: A Life in Song~ http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rbm/anderson/