Saturday, April 07, 2007

Home of the Brave

I'm no more a connoisseur of kitsch than the next guy, but something about the cover of the Leontyne Price Sings Kitsch cd beaming up at me out of the bin at Academy said, "buy me," and that something was the $1.99 price tag. See the other CD I was buying was a 1937 Met Tales of Hoffman with Tibbett and Rene Maison and some gal named Bovy, and the smart folks at Academy know people like me will fork over for old Met stuff, even of operas we don't particularly like. And it's important to buy a cheap CD after that to average things out. (..and now you know why I have no money.)

Thing is, I'm wondering if parts of the kitsch album might turn out to be wonderful. It's not impossible. She sings O Shenandoah, and if you'll bear with me for a minute while I seemingly digress, the whole reason Madame Price's recording of Barber's Knoxville is so much more loveable than Steber's, even though the piece was written for Steber, is that LP is able to sound guileless and sweet where Eleanor maintains the diction and vocal bearing of a school teacher throughout. Now, don't be hatin'. I love Steber lots and lots. But I think in sweet simple songs, Leontyne may be just the woman for the job.

I started reading the liner notes at dinner. They're kitschy, too. Sweet, in a way, though, kind of patriotic-naive.
The Star-Spangled Banner was sung at the inauguration of Mississippi's Governor William Winter, who in his acceptance speech said, "We are proud to welcome home Miss Leontyne Price." The Chamber was filled to overflowing with past governors,senators, and citizens of all races and religions who stood enraptured as this magnificent woman sang our national anthem, which resounded in the Capitol building and out into the streets.

And then racism ended, yay!!!

Ok, I'm going to put it on and see if it's awful or cute. Tracks to be sampled: America the Beautiful, Shenandoah, and (not kidding) Blowin' in the Wind. Oh and what the hell, When Johnny Comes Marching Home.

***

It's awful.

Well, I suppose I can always hold out hope that "Right as Rain" where, I believe, she sings "Sunrise, Sunset" pops up in the bargain bin one day. That just could not be anything but wonderful.

10 comments:

Chalkenteros said...

Those three asterisks drove me to the peak of anticipation.

Mark said...

and then to be cast down so utterly low!

Maury D'annato said...

What can I say? I wield disappointment like a fearsome weapon.

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

Look no further than that gala (for Sills, maybe?) where Miss Price whooped her way through 'What I Did for Love'--- truly a camp classic.
Is Fleming any worse at pop styling?

And who can forget that classic PSA for the United Negro College Fund. Resplendent in her turban, Miss Price is as effective a speaker as a singer-- and then she switches to the lip-synching "We want to give our best, please understand. We're not asking for a hand-out, Just a haaaaaaa---AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND"
Magnificent.
But I would still rather listen to her 'Zweite Brautnacht'.

Will said...

I very affectionately remember Lee Price's wail at the end of the line in Antony & Cleopatra: "Lord Antony will come no MoooOOOOore!"

I also remember in awe many late career performances of "d'Oreste, d' Aiace" from Idomeneo as the evening's warm-up piece (!) to an orchestra concert appearance. She'd tear into that like a Fury and ace it every single time. A very great lady.

armerjaquino said...

The recording of Christmas songs with Dutoit is pretty hideous too. I reckon you could use it to frighten misbehaving children.

Who would people say is the best at crosserovering though? Von Otter and Upshaw spring to mind.

pjwv said...

Your post inspired me to dig the album out. As soon as I heard the arrangement of the first song I thought, uh oh. . . same with the singing. . . and this is from someone who became an opera fan because of her voice. Nathan Gunn's Shenandoah is better. I also pulled the Right as Rain CD from the shelf, but maybe I'll just go back to the "Prima Donna" set.

By the way, I'm still laughing over your description of Mimi weeks ago -- "Gee, she never got to finish her dissertation" -- classic!

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

For some reason, I thought of a CD Christine Brewer did before she got famous, called 'St. Louis Woman'.
Nothing operatic, as I recall, but much more successful in terms of 'wow, an opera singer who can sing something something besides opera.' The standout track was 'Mira' from the show Carnival. Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, it was light, beautiful and done in a convincingly appropriate style.

But I could have been under the influence of hearing Ms. Brewer do the Wesendonck Leider live.

Lane Savant said...

"And then racism ended" my god, what a tearingly ironic sentance.
Racism wont end until LP can do justice to "Louie Louie

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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