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about me

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  • Wally Kairuz
    hello dear members, i was asked to introduce myself and share some information about my tastes and the opera activities in my community. i was born in buenos
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2003
      hello dear members,

      i was asked to introduce myself and share some information about my tastes
      and the opera activities in my community.

      i was born in buenos aires, argentina, where i have always lived. i am 43.
      although i am neither a professional musician nor a music scholar, music has
      always been at the core of my life.

      opera was an everyday treat at home when i was growing up. my mother, an
      italian, had a great lyric soprano. we had sunday lunch at my maternal
      grandmother's home, and my mother, uncles and aunts would sing verdi and
      puccini for hours on end. nature had been very wise and had allocated a
      well-balanced assortment of sopranos, contraltos, mezzos, tenors, baritones
      and one great bass (my uncle eduardo) among my mother's seventeen siblings.
      so there were always enough people to do complete scenes on the spur of the
      moment. i guess that they were just a bunch of freaks, but hey, how many
      people have heard their mothers sing aïda while doing the dishes?

      when i was about ten and i was in bed with the flu one cold winter
      afternoon, i hear something that changed my life for ever. i was listening
      to the radio. i was bored and i kept fiddling with dial until i came upon a
      something that i couldn't quite describe. it was music but at the same time
      it seemed as if the women on the radio were talking and screaming at one
      another. i was mesmerized. i called my mother and asked her what that was.
      she listened for a while and in cold tones told me that that was "modern
      opera". i listened through the whole program and in the end the announcer
      said the magic words "elektra by richard strauss". i had just heard a
      broadcast of the newly released nilsson/solti elektra. there was no turning
      back. i pestered my mother to get me the set (we're talking LP days here).
      she said that THAT opera was not fit for children. my father was more into
      orchestral music and wouldn't be bothered. finally, my aunt zulema came to
      my rescue. as the only dramatic soprano in the family she was sick and tired
      of all the butterflies and violettas and lucias that her sisters did on our
      musical sundays. out of sheer spite, she went and bought me the elektra. it
      was our secret.

      so by now you must have guessed that i'm a strauss and wagner fan. i enjoy
      italian opera very much, but i seldom listen to the more classical works.
      since i have always loved the dramatic soprano register, my life has been
      full of brunnhildes, salomes, elektras and dyers' wives. and turandots. the
      ice princess has been a true obsession. for years i have collected countless
      versions of in questa reggia, from the early anne roselle and eva turner
      recordings to eva marton and maria slatinaru. my favorite turandot? ingrid
      bjoner.

      a brief, very incomplete list of my favorite singers (in no special order):
      bjoner
      nilsson
      marton
      christel goltz
      ruth hesse
      ute vinzig
      varnay
      callas
      rysanek
      elena souliotis
      margarete klose
      anja silja
      rudolph schock
      gina cigna
      rene kollo
      gwyneth jones
      gigli
      bruno prevedi
      cotrubas
      natalie dessay
      flagstad
      traubel
      and many, many more i can't think of right now.

      singers i hate:
      oh no! you won't catch me there...

      as to opera in buenos aires, well, it's always been here since the times of
      the spanish domination in the 18th century. the first documented complete
      performance took place in 1825, a few months before the first complete
      performance in new york. it was Il barbiere di Siviglia -- and so it was in
      new york! however the first opera house in buenos aires was built in the
      1700's.

      the first radio broadcast of a complete opera in history also took place in
      buenos aires: parsifal in 1920. i live four blocks away from the legendary
      teatro colon. everybody who is somebody has sung there. alas, in the last
      two years, the country's economic woes have taken their toll on the opera
      world here and we can afford very few international companies. the silver
      lining is that this situation has created a lot more employment
      opportunities to local talents. at present there are seven opera companies
      in the city performing in different venues, and two more companies in the
      greater buenos aires. that means about an opera a day. pretty good for a
      totally collapsed economy!

      there are three radio stations in the city that broadcast opera programs.
      two of them have sensational archives containing recordings from old radio
      broadcasts. it should be noted that several singers chose the colon to sing
      some roles for the first time: del monaco did his first ottelo here and
      crespin her first carmen.

      well, this introduction has become too long already. i'm not even sure that
      i'm not breaking any bandwidth rules here!

      i hope you all had a wonderful weekend, filled with music and joy.

      best,
      wally
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