Diana Damrau’s new album, Grand Opera, shows off the genre at its most grandiose and opulent, with eleven arias and duets by Meyerbeer. On the cover, which comes out in May, she wears suitably grandiose and opulent furs.
No, no, calm down… this is not the chinchilla of Caballé back in the ’70s, but haute couture fake fur. Fifty years ago they all were photographed in furs: Maria Callas, Victoria de los Angeles, Renata Scotto, Beverly Sills, Leontyne Price, Marian Anderson. One of these once told me that if you sing in Vienna, you ‘need’ a fur, as it’s so cold. Well times and techniques have changed, and no one ‘needs’ a fur coat any more.
Damrau is wearing a creation by Pelush, makers of luxury faux fur. The founder, Anna Tagliabue, was born and raised in Milan and worked for Fendi and Prada before opening her “ecologically sensitive and cruelty-free” company. The blurb reads, “…a wonderful alternative for the modern woman”.
Pelush’s stunning faux fur made me feel like Cinderella at the ball,
She became fascinated by the composer’s music as a student in Würzburg, when she was invited to perform his cantata Gli amori di Teolinda.
I immersed myself in Meyerbeer’s world, and was excited by his multifaceted writing for the voice, by his orchestral colours, his theatrical instincts, the powerful and varied way in which he expresses emotion, his splendid melodies and, last but not least, his ability to capture precisely the right ‘national style’. If you compare his Italian, German and French works, it is like listening to three different composers.
The album contains arias from Le Prophete, Robert le Diable, L’Africaine and Les Huguenots, but also lesser known works with Le Pardon de Ploermel (better known as Dinorah), Emma di Resburgo (recorded by Vivica Genaux in 2010) and L’Étoile du Nord (which was presented at the Wexford Festival in 1996).
Grand Opera – Meyerbeer arias – will be released in May, 2017.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.