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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lasting Legacy

The world has lost two great figures from the world of music, today, both with very strong operatic links.

First there was Sir Charles Mackerras. He was a brilliant conductor with a great reputation (totally deserved) in so many aspects of that art. His renderings of Janacek were legendary. I was lucky enough to see him conduct performances of The Makropolos Case by English National Opera. I also saw his fabulous performances of Handel's Julius Caesar (of which I once posted an aria sung by Valerie Masterson) and was at his recording by the same artist of Verdi's La Traviata at Abbey Road, no less.

Mackerras was born in 1925 in the US, but grew up in Australia. He travelled all over the world to conduct, but was based in the UK. He was due to conduct at the Proms this summer at London's Royal Albert Hall, and I was thinking about attending the event for the first time in many years. Alas.

Now we've lost Anthony Rolfe Johnson, a tenor with a wonderful voice and amazing technique.

Tony began life as a farmer, and didn't really discover his voice till he was in his late 20s. He was a very small man with a face that was ugly enough to be almost attractive. I first saw him perform the title role in Monteverdi's Orfeo. I remember him going through the pages and pages of ornamentation in the score with a couple of us "regulars" after a performance one evening. It takes a pretty impressive person to do that with a couple of relative strangers after such an exhausting performance.

The only time I didn't enjoy a show of his was when he was miscast as Des Greux in Massenet's Manon opposite an equally miscast - and very tall - American singer in the title role. To my knowledge, he had the wisdom never to sing that role again.

Tony was only 69.


JoJo said...

I hadn't heard of these men before today, but it saddens me that musical icons who we admire are beginning to pass away as we all get older. :(

sixtwosue said...

Is it just me, or did Anthony Rolfe Johnson look like he could be Huey Lewis' older brother? Better singer, though, I'm guessing.

val said...

Er...who's Huey Lewis?

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