Bumbry Here she is: Ms Grace Bumbry, judge of the 2005 Lexus SongQuest. I’m so excited. I’ve been waiting for months to find out who the judge would be. I had my fingers crossed for a soprano or a mezzo – and in Grace I get both. I’m also extra glad that it’s somebody I actually have an opinion of. I’m easily impressed by celebrity, so I’d probably have got excited about anyone whose name I recognised, regardless of whether I’d ever heard them sing. But Grace! I love Grace. Alright, so my experience of Grace is limited to her Lotte Lehmann-tribute Liederabend at the Chatelet, which was on TV. But she charmed me utterly, and I think she’s fabulous. And the Sunday after next, she’ll be on the radio as Amneris in the Met archive broadcast of Aida. It gets better too: part of the SongQuest judging deal is a series of masterclasses. I’m going to Auckland for the contest final, so I might catch the one up there, but in any case, there’s not a thing on earth will keep me away from her Dunedin one. Grace Bumbry in our very own hometown! I’m very, very happy.

And perhaps I can blame my Grace-induced happiness for my extravagance today. $150 at Real Groovy. Usually I look without buying five or six times before finally pulling out the wallet but today I threw caution to the wind and bought (almost) everything that caught my fancy. Actually my original pile totalled over $200 but I chose to resist the Best Of CDs of Mady Mesplé, Régine Crespin and Kirsten Flagstad for the time being. However, I did buy:

Orfeo Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, with Natalie Dessay, Patrizia Ciofi, Véronique Gens and ten thousand other singers. And it’s conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm, who fascinates me.

Jessye The Essential Jessye Norman. This consists of a ‘best of’ CD and a DVD entitled Jessye Norman Sings Carmen and thus, at $34.95, seems to me an exceedingly good deal.

Requiem Mozart’s Requiem, with soprano soloist Yvonne Kenny. And other soloists, and a choir, and an orchestra, and a conductor I suppose.

Beverly The Best of Beverly Sills. Another one who has been sitting on the to-do list for too long. Then last week I heard a soprano on the radio and thought "She’s gorgeous, who is she?" And she was Beverly, being played because she’d announced that day her retirement from the Met board.

Florez Finally, a surprise. Another boy. My ever second solo CD by a male singer. This time it’s Juan Diego Florez: Great Tenor Arias. I figure if I’m going to widen my horizons and introduce some degree of gender equality, I need to start with the easy stuff: nice voices, familiar repertoire, that sort of thing.

And as if just buying it wasn’t enough fun, now I get to listen to it. Buona notte!

Now listening to: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Requiem. ‘Benedictus’. (Oh Yvonne!)


2 thoughts on “Grace!

  1. Greetings from Chicago! I stumbled across your website a few weeks ago while conducting my periodic search for new Grace Bumbry information/news. I was happy to read that you discovered one of the greatest voices in the world! I adore Grace Bumbry! I love and am deeply moved by her voice. Moreover, I admire her accomplishments and am fascinated by her historical celebrity across the globe, especially during the 60s! I constantly check the web to see if she will be making an appearance in the US, but thus far it seems as though most of her engagements are abroad. I learned that she was going to be in Montreal for a Gala concert the day before the actual concert or else I would have made the trip just to get a glimpse of her majestic vocal powers. I am having a lot of success finding some of her old recordings, articles, and photos. Ebay, along with used CD stores have been a tremendous resource. I just ordered the newly re-mastered DG 3-cd box set of her early recordings, the video recording of her concert in 1983 with Shirley Verrett, and a BBC interview. The duet with Ms. Bumbry and Renato Bruson in the Met’s Centennial Gala is a show-stopper indeed! You must check it out! Enjoy the Aida re-broadcast. It aired in Chicago in January. The entire cast is truly delightful and the judgment scene is magical! The crowd roared with approval. Oh, if only I could have been there. I feel like I was born decades too late. Oh well . . ..
    I am also glad to know that you discovered Ms. Jessye Norman. She is a so revered in France and I am sure that you know that the cult film “Diva” was based on a true story of a man who stalked Ms. Norman when she lived in Paris. However, the underground crime element was added to enhance the film. Also, I will never forget reading about how traffic stopped along the Seine when she was singing in the 1991 concert to celebrate the re-opening of Notre Dame after the renovation. They put speakers outside of the cathedral and traffic stopped on both sides of the Seine river as people stood outside of their cars to hear Ms. Norman’s voice illuminate the sky.
    As for Beverly Sills, I didn’t know that she resigned from the Met’s Board. I’ll have to read about that and catch up on the news. I know that she was working hard to raise money to save the Met Broadcasts. Anyway, if you get a chance to listen to the DG recording of Ms. Sills as Queen Elizabeth in Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux”, please take a listen to “L’amor suo mi fe beata”, on cd 1, track 5. Her pianissimo tessitura is second to none!
    Well, I hope to read the full report of your future encounter with greatness at the Lexus Songquest/Masterclass. If you are allowed to take photos, please post them.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Lois (Chicago, IL)

  2. Hi there!
    My own admiration for Grace is growing and growing: she was absolutely magnificent in the Met Aida which was on the radio last weekend. And I love Jessye to pieces..
    Rest assured, I’ll be doing my very best as far as photos go; I think I might be more excited about the masterclasses than the competition itself!

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