I just love Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. I really do. I've just now watched her Self Portrait DVD, wherein she talks about her life and career for an hour while we watch clips of her singing, being interviewed, giving masterclasses. She's fabulous. Not just vocally: she's also gorgeous and very funny. Highlights: Elisabeth doing her Donna Elvira makeup while being interviewed ("don't you think this looks really rather awful? But of course it can't be helped"); Elisabeth singing Brahms' "Vergebliches Ständchen" with Gerald Moore; Elisabeth as the Countess doing a gorgeous 'Porgi, amor'. I could go on. She's great. And, let's be honest: she's not exactly a humble woman. But like Mr Darcy, she has just as much pride as she's entitled to, really. When she talks about hearing her own records unexpectedly and realising that, despite having thought they were unsatisfactory when making them, "some them are really very beautiful!" I can't help but agree with the interviewer who says "Of course!". "No, not of course," replies La Schwarzkopf. "But they are."
A little while back I was waxing lyrical about Gwyneth Jones' Marschallin. But as I've just realised, she's not nothing on Elisabeth. There's a clip of her on stage and she's unbelievable: vocally and in terms of characterisation- perfect. And she really does look stunning in 18th century costume and wig: like she's stepped straight out of a painting from Versailles. No doubt if I ever get to see Lucia Popp as the Marschallin I'll switch allegiances again (and I'd still probably rather hear Lucia) but for Elisabeth has won me over. This DVD even has her as Carmen, which I didn't expect- and singing the Habanera in German which I expected even less.
There are some gorgeous lieder performances too. And clips from a couple of masterclasses. In fact you can get them in their entirety on DVD from House of Opera, and one day I intend to. Helpful as I'm sure they were, I can only imagine how frighteningly daunting it must have been to sing for her.
Anyway, as all this makes obvious, I'm at the moment rather smitten by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. I don't think she's a woman you'd want to disobey, but she's fabulous: a prima donna in the best and most deserving sense of the word. And every now and then she looks like Marlene Dietrich, or at least I think so. Perhaps I'm alone in this opinion, or maybe it's just because she's German and blonde, but there are certain shots of her which just have a certain Marlene-ness to them. Who knows. In any case this DVD is highly recommended, if for no other reason than all the wonderful archival footage in it which possibly isn't available anywhere else. This DVD has me even more excited about Elisabeth than her Operetta Arias CD did, so I want to spread the word. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: A Self Portrait. Essential viewing.
But I suppose CD du jour had better be the excellent Susan Graham's CD La Belle Epoque: Songs of Reynaldo Hahn. I've lost count of how many times Patrick has commented on one of my posts and told me to get this CD, and finally, slightly by accident, I found it at the library. It's fabulous. Absolutely gorgeous. I haven't listened to it enough times yet to do it full justice, but rest assured, I will. And I'll have to find my copy of her CD Il tenero momento, which I'm sure is hiding somewhere. I'd slightly forgotten just how good she is. And especially singing these songs, she's wonderful. As are the songs. All totally unknown to me previously of course, except the last one, 'Si mes vers avaient des ailes', which the liner notes told me is the most famous of his songs. "Yes," I thought "I've definitely heard that one somewhere. But it was in English. Where was it?". And after puzzling over this all weekend, I finally realised today: it's Track 2 on Side B of The Lass With the Delicate Air- Miss Julie Andrews' very first solo LP. Fancy that.
(By the way, you might notice there's now a site search box down below the list of archives on the left hand side of this page. I don't know if it's of use to anybody, but if you do want to search something on this site, this search will work much much better than the one in the Blogger navigation bar at the top of the page. Just so's you know.)