This is it. This is the reason one might throw off all hope of a sensible profession and give ones life to music, because in these sounds there is all that life is, love and life and death. Why do we love the opera? Because it enters into our souls and opens up a space we did not know existed.
This is an honest outburst over Montserrat Caballe's video biography. For some of us the peak experience has not been Verdi or Puccini or even Cecilia Bartoli--it has been bel canto. Great bel canto, which we are not getting much of these days, is the best.
And in all of the opera performances and films I have seen was there ever anything like the film here of "Casta diva" gloriously and calmly sung outdoors, in the dark with mysterious dim lighting and the white robes of the worshipers swirling in the wind?
There is a section showing Caballe singing a duet from Rossini's Semiramide with Marilyn Horne. I wonder if there is a film of this somewhere. (The answer is yes--from the bel canto society.) I saw them perform this opera together in San Francisco. I sat next to a woman who was madly in love with Caballe as I was with Horne at that time, and we “Oohed” and “Aahed” our way through the opera together, gasping in counterpoint. It was magnificent.
Then Herb Caen called her “monster fat” in the Chronicle, and she never returned. Now I really must get out of the house more.