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