Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Birthday Girl: One More Kiss
Speaking of Sumptuous, it's worth noting, every now and again, that still we have a giant or two amongst us - today's birthday girl being an excellent case in point: the great Mme. Licia Albanese is today a lively 101.
We catch her here in her suitably diva-esque Manhattan salon. When these old girls go, will we ever again have personalities that are so entirely of their own creation, so complete? Saluting her on her birthday a full five years ago - a mere slip of a thing at 96 - I remembered the experience of seeing her arrive to see a performance at the Met:
"...It was like watching a parade, the arrival of Dolly Levi. Always with one or two gentlemen in tow, her lacquered black hair a performance in itself, dressed in Diva Uniform - pearls, shawls, perhaps a fan - and speaking, as one (rather lovely) profile notes, entirely in exclamation points, she could whip the crowd into a little tide of joy, one she would then generously turn over to her successors on the stage. You knew, whether or not the singing really was first rate, that you were out at an Event."
With her greatest singing having taken place a good decade or three before I was an opera-goer (she made her debut, you know, in '34), I rely on recordings and the gushing memories of others to get an inkling of her Violetta, her Mimi, her Butterfly. I only wish that the YouTubes would yield up a record of her great late moment at the New York Philharmonic Follies in 1985 (and how is it possible that that's nearly 30 years ago?).
I hope that she's doing something lovely to mark the official start of her second century.