Commemorating Victoria de los Angeles (1 November 1923 – 15 January 2005)

Victoria de los Angeles - Elisabeth
Of all the amazing musical experiences of my life one truly stands out.  It was 1985, I was 15 and Victoria de los Angeles performed at the Perth Concert Hall.  The audience was made up of Spanish ex-pats, opera lovers over the age of 50 and me.

She sang for over two hours, just herself and her guitar, a program made up of Spanish popular songs from the past 400 years, a repertoire she sang for her entire life.  The audience went nuts and I have never I encountered the same reception for any singer ever since.

I guessed this was what it was truly like to see a Diva in the bigger places like Milan, London and New York and went appropriately with a single rose to give to de los Angeles should she decide to sign autographs.  She was overwhelmed that someone so young would make the effort, but to this shy teenager meeting a Goddess for the first time I had no words to say.  A most amazing moment that will stay with me forever.

The first complete opera I bought was the classic Beecham La Boheme on HMV.  I saved my pocket money for an entire school term in order to afford those discs, the start of a trend that saw me through my school years.

Of course, Victoria de los Angeles featured heavily in my collection of those days, Mimi, Butterfly, Carmen, Violetta, I owned them all and to me they are still benchmarks by which to listen to a performance.

As time has progressed and my musical tastes have broadened I have regained a new appreciation for her in her performances of the Wagnerian roles of Elsa from Lohengrin and Elisabeth from Tannhauser preserved on disc.  Her radiant, sunlit voice is perfect for both roles, not to mention her innate ability for pathos, perfect for both of these Wagnerian heroines.

My tribute today is this rare footage of her 'Dich Teure Halle', recorded for London TV on 31st of May, 1962.  You can still listen to both her Else and Elisabeth on disc, fortunate we are to have these valuable documents of this remarkable singers work.