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December 13, 2012

A Christmas remembrance of elegant soprano Lisa della Casa

The opera world lost another extraordinary artist this week with the death Monday of the radiant, Swiss soprano Lisa della Casa at the age of 93.

She was most celebrated for her superb interpretations of Mozart and Strauss, and if you have never heard her portrayal of the Countess in "The Marriage of Figaro" or the Marschallin in "Der Rosenkavlier," not to mention the title role of "Arabella," you must promise me you will correct that soon. And don't forget her poignant account of Strauss' Four Last Songs -- still in a class by itself.

Lisa dalla Casa sang a lot more in her career, leaving an elegant mark on everything, including the Christmas music she performed on this 1960s TV show (many thanks to "coloraturafan" for uploading it to YouTube).

It's a beautiful example of her disarming artistry, and a fitting way to remember her at this time of year. Even folks usually resistant to Christmas music are likely to find themselves entranced:

Posted by Tim Smith at 6:52 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

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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 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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