Thursday, September 27, 2012

"All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain..."

Mozart's sister-in-law,  Josepha Hofer, was the first Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute. Apparently she was very successful in the demanding role, until she retired from it at age 43. I understand and can well believe it is a taxing role best suited to the stamina of youth. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians says: "According to contemporary reports, she commanded a very high tessitura but had a rough edge to her voice and lacked stage presence." So we know something about how she sounded, but if you can re-imagine her voice from that you have a better imagination than I do. For practical purposes her voice is gone, like tears in the rain.

The magnificent Diana Damrau made her debut as the Queen of the Night in 1998: she retired the role in 2007, although she still sings other parts. Queens of the Night have short careers, like the professional athletes they are. But thanks to exciting new Human time-binding technology, we can not only record sight and sound, but also distribute and enjoy it with increasing ease.

I can still remember a time, not so long ago, when if you wanted to see a film or video of an opera that had happened in the past, you had to wait until your local movie theater or television decided to run it, and then you had to watch it before it went away, and these opportunities could be decades apart.

"These are the days of miracle and wonder."

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