{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/nls-music-notes.php' }

A Salute to Divas

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.

Leontyne Price as Cleopatra in Samuel Barber’s “Antony and Cleopatra”

Photograph shows soprano Maria Callas embracing Sir David Webster (left) backstage at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, after her performance in “Tosca.” On the right is tenor Renato Cioni.

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!)

For all the aspiring divas we serve at the NLS Music Section, here are some selections you can borrow or download from BARD to help you on your journey to the title of Diva (with a capital ‘D’.)

 

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!)

For more information or to contact the Music Section, send us an email ([email protected]), or call us at 1-800-424-8567, then press option 2 for the Music Section.

From Anderson to Zaninelli: Audio Lessons for Classical Singing

Learn to sing classical art songs and arias with audio lessons available from the NLS Music Section!

Carnegie Hall of the South: Nashville’s Musical Legacy, Part 2

This is the second half of a two-part post on Nashville’s musical history and related books in the NLS Music Collection. Read the first part here: Athens of the South: Nashville’s Musical Legacy, Part 1. Nashville’s most famous music venue, the Ryman Auditorium, was completed in 1892 and was originally a church called the Union […]

Going with “Ahmal” Once Again

“Oh, no—opera!” I thought as the recording of Amahl and the Night Visitors started. I was perhaps a fourth grader at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children in Pittsburgh then, hearing this one-act opera for the first time. Although I could not always understand the words, I had to admit that the mother’s operatic […]

Vacation Listening, and Much More

On May 13, I was baking cookies and listening to the Met Broadcast of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. One of the announcers explained that this production would take place not in the 18th century, but in 1911, the year it was composed (also the year that Mahler died, I thought to myself). And that’s when it […]

For Braille Readers—A Real Treasure Trove

This afternoon, I looked at the Metropolitan Opera schedule, which appears in the October-December issue of our quarterly magazine The Musical Mainstream. It lists all of the operas to be performed, along with NLS materials, librettos, lectures, etc., pertaining to the operas. Nowhere did I find any mention of a reference book that I read […]

Music History: 101

Recently, we mentioned the Music Section’s acquisition of the sixth edition, Norton Anthology of Western Music, Vol. 3, Twentieth Century. This time of year also marks the beginning of the college spring semester, and we have seen a rise in the average amount of our music history related inquiries. Music history has been on the “brain” of […]

Some Splendid Saint-Saëns Selections

Today we celebrate the 179th birthday of Camille Saint-Saëns, a famous French composer, most well-known for his works The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, and a number of other pieces. Saint-Saëns began his musical studies at the incredible age of three, while he was living with his mother and aunt in […]

Opera Fans Know What’s Happening, but the Devil is in the Details or…Libretti for Everybody!

Some of the Music Section’s most ardent patrons are operagoers.  This comes as no surprise to other opera aficionados, but blind/low vision operagoers are usually not able to pick up a program in braille or large print and read a synopsis when they arrive at the theater; that is, until they (or the opera companies) […]