Monday, September 04, 2006
I think we're all getting a little tired of these.
You'll have read elsewhere by now that Astrid Varnay has died at age 88. A singer I was just discovering, oddly, but a name the people who taught me opera always invoked with great respect. Someone else with solid cred calls her memoirs "one of the few modern singer's bios worth reading." I do think I'll read them. Varnay was the sort of go-for-broke singer whose vocalism is an athletic act; on most lists, one of the great Wagneriennes of the last century though the last of her performances I listened to (with the Wellsungs) was an Elektra. The role was on its way out of her voice but through towering self-assurance and a primal sense for all the triumph and tragedy of Sophocles and Hoffmansthal, she pulled it off. Now can we please take a long break from this funeral procession of vocal eminences?