“Just to listen to that voice….”


“Just listen to that Voice!”

John Wendell

I was very close to my grandmother.  In l959 she bought a house in Chautauqua which was only 30 miles from my family home in northwestern Pennsylvania.  I began spending my summers with her, I thought it was heaven on earth.  Every Friday we went to the opera at Norton Hall which was my introduction to opera.  Soon after that I was sent away to prep school outside Philadelphia.  Whenever I had time off from school I met her in at the old Gotham Hotel in Manhattan.  These were the waning days of the old Met.  We saw Leontyne Price in Ernani, Leonie Rysanek and Carlo Bergonzi in Forza, dined at Sherry’s in the opera house.  When the opera set up shop in its new digs at Lincoln Center she took me to see Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli in Turandot.
Being Prussian she particularly liked Wagner.  I’ll never forget once we were listening to a recording of Die Walkure, she did a running commentary the whole time the opera was playing describing the stage action and story of the opera.  Her favorite singer was Kirsten Flagstad.  How many times did I hear the story of how she heard Flagstad’s legendary broadcast debut as Sieglinde!  My grandfather wanted her to leave their country house mid-afternoon but she refused to leave until the broadcast was over.  Also the story of her return after the war and the standing ovation she received.  Years later when I was staying with her at her house in Arizona she would play for hours on end the famous 1952 Furtwangler recording.  Just listen to that glorious voice, she would say.

~ by aprilemillo on June 25, 2007.

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