Happy Birthday Marilyn Horne
Way back in the early 80's I was having physiotherapy for a badly torn hamstring. This involved going every day for about 2 months to a local guy who was a retired sports physiotherapist but who still practiced occasionally.
While waiting for my appointment, I was often in the company of his wife, Pam. She was terribly English, fabulously read and once she heard I was studying music at school was determined to introduce me to the delights of opera. I can honestly say her work paid off and she is pretty much responsible for creating the operatically obsessed Blair I am today.
Anyway, she had this double album of Decca 'Great Operatic Duets' which I borrowed for weeks on end. One of the duets was Sutherland and Horne singing Serbami Ognor from Rossini's Semiramide and needless to say I was instantly attracted to the gorgeously gigantic sound from both divas.
Marilyn Horne was possessed of one of the richest, most beautiful mezzo voices of all time. Her big personality and equivalent sized voiced made her a perfect fit for the mezzo roles of Rossini, a repertoire in which she excelled. She quickly became one of the great bel canto singers of the Twentieth Century and contributed much in it's popularity revival.
She is legendary for her sense of humour and for her devotion to coaching young singers. I'd like to share this brief little treasure I found that is a perfect example of the former - singing C is for Cookie in Sesame Street. Happy birthday Marilyn Horne and thanks for enriching my musical life with your velvet voice.
You can read a more in depth view of her biography here.