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May 25, 2011

Remembering the legendary Rosa Ponselle on the 30th anniversary of her death

Rosa Ponselle died 30 years ago, May 25, 1981, at the age of 84 in her Baltimore home, Villa Pace.

The beauty and power of the soprano's voice remain unsurpassed. To say that does not diminish the greatness of other wonderful singers of the past 100 years, but merely confirms that they would surely also acknowledge -- Ponselle had it all.

To mark the anniversary of her death, I've posted a couple examples of her artistry, including a recording of ...

my all-time favorite aria, recorded at Villa Pace in 1954, long after her official retirement; and a (sadly abridged) performance of the "Habanera" captured on film:

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:09 AM | | Comments (1)
        

Comments

I HEARD ROSA SING IN PERSON ALMOST 60 YEARS AGO. IT WAS AT A RECEPTION FOR MASSIMO FRECCIA, THE NEW CONDUCTOR OF THE BALTIMORE SYMPHONY AT THE HOME OF MR & MRS HENRY ROSENBERBG. MAESTRO FRECCIA ASKED ROSA TO SING FOR HIM AND SHE SAID"NO." HE SAID "PLEASE" AND SHE SAT AT THE PIANO AND SANG A SICILIAN FOLK SONG. WHAT A VOICE. HUGE AND SO BEAUTIFUL. I WILL NEVER FORGET IT!

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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