Belated birthday nod to Puccini
Had some blog software issues Wednesday and couldn't post anything, including my intended little salute to one of my favorite composers, Puccini, who just happens to share my birthday -- depending on what source you accept for his entry-into-this-world date; several go with Dec. 22, but, naturally, I like the ones that choose Dec. 23 (a recent biography of the composer fudged it nicely by saying he was born on the night of Dec. 22-23, 1858).
Since there has been so much talk of "Tosca" lately, thanks to a certain production at the Met, I got to thinking about the ultimate diva aria, "Vissi d'arte," from Act 2 of that opera. And that made me think of a soprano who, in her prime, sang Puccini's music with unusual beauty and amazing technical control.
Montserrat Caballe did something very, very few sopranos ever could manage -- sing the end of the penultimate phrase, "Perche, perche, Signore" ("Why, why, Lord?") on a single, exquisite breath, connecting "Signore" with the following "Ah." Nearly everyone else has to gulp for air after "Signore" -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- but hearing Caballe keep the line going is something really magical and affecting.
So here's my belated salute to my birthday buddy, Puccini, courtesy of a soprano I've always loved: