Saturday, December 5, 2015

Exhorting the Masses to Pursue Greater Sophistication...

The Incomparable Anna Russell Explains Wagner's Ring Cycle
Part I
Part II
Part III
h/t - FreeThinke

4 comments:

FreeThinke said...

Always a great treat, Farmer! Thank you so much for cheering up a gray, rather dismal Sunday afternoon.

I saw La Russell perform this live only once –– at Carnegie Hall back in the Sixties. I had heard the original recording several times, of course, but had never actually seen my beloved Anna in person.

I was way up in the top balcony –– the only seat I could afford a the time –– so seeing her facial expressions was limited. She was great deal slimmer in those days, but that did not matter in the least.

This is the first time I've seen this wonderful close up video of the lady in action. Her facial expressions alone would be worth the price of admission. They greatly enhanced my enjoyment.

Having always found her completely delightful, I find myself surprised that nearly SIXTY years after my first encounter with the lady I like her even more today than I ever did before. Proof that great classics easily withstand the test of time, and usually improve with age.

Thanks again.

-FJ said...

I should thank you, again, for the introduction. She's an incredibally talented lady.

FreeThinke said...

We should also be aware:

Anna Russell, Deft Parodist of Operatic Culture, Dies at 94

The New York Times October 20, 2006

Anna Russell, the prima donna of operatic parody who claimed to have begun her career as “prima donna of the Ellis Island Opera Company,” who said she learned to play the French horn from an article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and who gave indelibly grating performances of a song she identified as Blotz’s “Schlumpf” to demonstrate what it is like to sing with “no voice but great art,” died on Wednesday in Bateman’s Bay, New South Wales, Australia. She was 94.

Her death was confirmed by her adopted daughter, Deirdre Prussak, in an interview with the Australian ABC radio network, quoted on its Web site.

Ms. Russell’s most enduring creations, now a half-century old, were associated with the most cultic portions of the art music repertory — the works of Wagner and those of Gilbert and Sullivan. Her routines are still regularly invoked even though they can only be sampled on decades-old recordings of her performances.

Merely by telling the plot of Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelungs” in a voice laced with Edwardian-era class and postwar-era sarcasm, Ms. Russell affectionately sullied opera’s most devotional experience.

“I’m not making this up, you know,” she said when her account of the plot seemed to become particularly outrageous. That became her tag line — and the title of her 1985 autobiography.

Similarly, her instructions about “How to Write Your Own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera” seemed to deflate the reputation for wit and effervescent fantasy the operettas had acquired. She provided “all the necessary ingredients” for do-it-yourselfers, offering a model prime example. She stirred together patter song and madrigal, paternal stubbornness and young love, class snobbery and babes switched at birth and led her star-crossed heroine, Pneumonia Vanderfeller, to happiness and ever-greater wealth.

It was, though, not as a pedagogue, musicologist, singer, analyst and critic that she made her mark, but as an entertainer. In her first major successful season, 1952-53, she performed in 37 cities in the Unites States and Canada before an estimated 100,000 listeners. Her recording “Anna Russell Sings?” became a best seller. ...

The complete obit may be found at the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/20/obituaries/20russell.html?_r=0

FreeThinke said...

Needless to say Anna Russell will remain vividly alive in the hearts of all who loved her as long as we can still think and remember.

She has been a constant source of laughter, merriment –– and frank inspiration –– for me, since I first made her acquaintance in the mid-nineteen-fifties.

A friend and i went to her at the Bucks County Playhouse c. 1962 in a musical production of Quality Street. The show, itself, was a bit of a dog, but Russell, who played a small featured part, stole the show, kept it alive and made sure we all left with big smiles of contentment on our faces.

She NEVER disappointed no matter WHAT she did.