This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
This column is just for me. Oh, and for Norma, the Assistant Musicologist. For my sister as well and anyone else who loves great singing.
I don't know why the Three Tenors received all the kudos. Well, I do: it's because they're blokes. I could come up with The Three Sopranos, The Three More Sopranos, The Three Mezzo-Sopranos and more besides who were all at least the equal of the men and I'd like better.
To demonstrate what I'm talking about, here is a column of Divas. I'm also doing it with one hand tied behind my back (figuratively) because to demonstrate the wealth of talent out there, I will not include Cecilia Bartoli, Jessye Norman, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa or Maria Callas - all of whom would be an automatic inclusion in a column like this.
I'll start with ELINA GARANCA who is a mezzo, looks pretty good (well, she's not alone – so much for that nonsense about the fat lady singing) and shares my birthday.
You may think that's why she's included but the real reason is that she's a great singer. Everyone today is a great singer. That's the point of this column.
Elina sings from “Samson et Dalila” – you can probably figure out what that is – by Camille Saint-Saëns, Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix.
PATRICIA PETIBON sings Die Welt auf dem Mond.
This is from an opera by Joseph Haydn called “Il Mondo della Luna” or The World on the Moon, Hob. 28/7.
The words were written by Carlo Goldoni and he really put it about a bit as this was the fifth time they were used in an opera. Of course, this is the one that's remembered these days.
It was first performed during the wedding celebrations of Nikolaus Esterházy and Maria Wissenwolf. Nik was the son of Papa Jo's patron, also named Nikolaus Esterházy.
NICOLE CABELL was from Panorama City, California, and brought up in Ventura.
She wasn't at all interested in classical music when growing up but her mother urged her to join the school choir. She became a success much to her surprise: "People obviously can hear something, even if I can't,” she said.
Nicole then took singing lessons and later went to Julliard (briefly) and was grabbed by the Lyric Opera of Chicago where she was mentored by the great Marilyn Horne.
These days she spends a lot of time performing in London and Europe. Here is Ah! Je Veux Vivre from Gounod's “Romeo and Juliet.”
NATHALIE STUTZMANN is a French contralto. Her mother was a soprano.
Mum was her first music teacher and Nathalie later trained at the Conservatoire at Nantes and later in Paris. She initially specialized in French and German songs and later performed mostly baroque music but not exclusively.
Nathalie 's an all-round entertainer as she also plays piano and bassoon and performs in chamber groups as well as singing. Here is Agitata infido flatu from Vivaldi's “Juditha Triumphans, R 644.”
NÚRIA RIAL is from the Catalan area of Spain.
She initially studied the piano but switched to singing when she won a couple of prizes for doing that. Núria's training in singing was in Germany and she spends most of her performing time in that country but she also performs throughout Europe and elsewhere.
These days she specializes in music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. This is demonstrated by her performance of Georg Telemann's Komm o Schlaf, und lass mein Leid from his opera “Germanicus.”
DANIELLE DE NIESE was born right here in Melbourne (that's the Australian one for any newcomers to this website).
She won a bunch of talent prizes early on and her family moved to Los Angeles when Danielle was 11. She made her debut with the Los Angeles Opera when at just 15.
Although she can sing the full gamut of roles, Danielle is particularly good on baroque music as you will hear when she sings Da Tempest from Mr Handel's “Giulio Cesare in Egitto” (or Julius Caesar in Egypt).
I'm not really a fan of Rossini's; I don't quite get him. However, this tune isn't too bad so he's in the mix today. Of course, having OLGA PERETYATKO sing his music helps more than a little.
Olga was originally from St Petersburg (the Russian one) where she performed in a children's choir when she was a whippersnapper. She was later a member of the Hamburg State Opera for quite some time and, besides Rossini whose works she performs regularly, Olga's pretty good on Handel, Mozart and Richard Strauss.
She performs Non si dà follia maggiore from the opera “Il Turco in Italia.”
I probably should have included RENEE FLEMING in my list of famous exclusions but I didn't, so here she is.
This is one of the better known arias from one of Puccini's lesser known operas, “Gianni Schicchi.” This opera was composed, or at least released to the world, in 1918, and is based on an incident from Dante's Divine Comedy. The aria is O Mio Babbino Caro.
There must be something in the air or water here in Australia but my goodness, we keep producing wonderful sopranos. One of those is CHERYL BARKER.
I was originally going to play something she did as Mimi in “La Bohème” but I decided instead to use the aria Ebben? ne andrò lontana from “La Wally” by Alfredo Catalani.
Mozart had to be present on a column of arias and here he is. The singer is CHEN REISS.
Chen was born and bred in Herzliya, Israel where she first studied ballet. Fortunately for us, she switched to singing at 14.
She moved to New York when she was 20 and made her professional debut at La Scala. Talk about starting at the top. Pretty much all the great opera houses have been graced by her presence.
The Mozart piece today is the concert aria, Chi sà, chi sà, qual sia, K 582.