“From Russia with Love”

From Russia with Love

David Paatrick Stearns-Philadelphia Inquirerer

David Patrick Stearns- Philadelphia Inquirerer
My first operatic epiphany:
Time: the mid-1970s.
Place: Indianapolis.
Event: Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich in recital.
The two had just had their fraught emigration from the Soviet Union and were snapping up  engagements to establish themselves with the American public. This recital was part of a larger residency with Rostropovich and the Indianapolis Symphony, but the times and the public being what they were, the hall was maybe one-tenth full for the recital.
I knew Vishnevskaya from those musty, stinky Soviet opera recordings with those generic red covers. For some reason, the public library had lots. I was a police reporter in Muncie Indiana, was maybe the only one in town who checked out those discs, and wasn’t going to miss Vishnevskaya. Obviously, both were emotionally raw, and it all came out in her voice, in a recital of Russian songs. It was then that I realized that there’s nothing artificial about vocal art, that opera is something that has more real life than, well, real life. I never saw Callas or Tebaldi, but I believe Vishnevskaya, at her peak, was their equal. It was also the kind of operatic experience that was a high water mark, but somehow not the sort to which others suffered in comparison. I knew it was a unique moment in all of our lives, and that future moments didn’t necessary have to be that way. If they were, we’d all be in wheel chairs within a few months.
All the best,

~ by aprilemillo on June 25, 2007.