This word, ‘diva’ has gained usage in popular culture as applied to female singers. Well, yes. Female singers are divas, but there was a time when one was called a diva, it was a compliment, indicating a level not easily achieved. Opera singers were called divas because of what they had accomplished, carrying the weight of drama and heartache to unreachable heights.
When I consider recent sopranos of the past and make my personal list of who is a Diva (with a capital D), a few names come to mind: Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, and Jessye Norman. Fortunately, the Library of Congress will have a special event tonight; a ‘Conversation with Jessye Norman’ will take place in Coolidge Auditorium, Jefferson building.
Ms. Norman has had a career filled with performances in roles such as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro to Wagner leads Isolde in Tristan und Isolde and Elisabeth in Tannhäuser. Toss in a few Salome productions, Sieglindes from Der Ring des Nibelungen and a Stravinsky Oedipus Rex, and you understand why she has earned her title as Diva. She has also garnered praise for her recordings and as a recitalist. Another exciting event was when she sang the “Marseillaise” on Bastille Day in 1989, celebrating 200 years of liberty in France. She was draped in the tri-color as she stately descended the stairs. (Marchons, citizens!)
Role Call number Title
Aida BRM 24013 Operatic Anthology
Alceste BRM 24013 Operatic Anthology
Antonia BRM 24013 Operatic Anthology
Carmen BRM 25583 Habañera
Countess Almaviva BRM 03887 Porgi Amor
Dido BRM 36436 Dido and Aeneas (full score)
BRM 23613 When I am Laid
Elisabeth BRM 24751 Tannhäuser (Libretto and principal arias)
Jocasta BRM 27938 Oedipus rex (volume 2)
Leonore BRM 35891 Arias for Sopranos
In addition to braille music scores, there are some audio titles from the talking book collection.
Aida, as told by Leontyne Price. DB 33189. Leontyne Price retells the story of Aida.
Maria Callas, the Woman Behind the Legend, DB 15841.
Montserrat Caballé: Casta Diva. DB 41235.
Toi toi toi! (Luck to our future divas!)