Episode 67. Goodbye, 2020 (and Good Riddance!)

Episode 67. Goodbye 2020 (and Good Riddance!)



Is there anyone out there who will not be relieved to bid farewell to 2020, this annus horribilis? I know I’ll be delighted to kick its ass out the door. How to make any sense of this year of pandemic, panic, political shenanigans, poverty, racial injustice, climate disaster and general global upheaval? I have no answers, except to return to music. The episode begins with a mini-tribute to Broadway great Rebecca Luker, who lost her hard-fought against ALS on December 23rd. Then I return to the year 1935, since, as I discovered as I was preparing my mom’s birthday episode a couple weeks ago, so many interesting musicians were born in that year. Some of those artists are still with us, others died some time ago, while still others were among the many casualties of 2020. I take a journey through the composers (Arvo Pärt, Aulis Sallinen, Nicholas Maw, Peter Schat, Josep Soler, Giya Kancheli, and Peter Schickele [aka P.D.Q. Bach]) and singers (Helga Pilarczyk, Sherrill Milnes, Dominic Cossa, Arlene Saunders, Albert Remedios, and Teresa Berganza) born in that year, and conclude with those beloved artists Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti (both of whom were also born in 1935) in an extended excerpt from a live 1975 performance of La bohème, that exemplifies near-perfection, operatically speaking. Let’s “tak a cup o’ kindness yet” at the passing of this challenging year as we also look forward to a new year better in every imaginable way than its predecessor!

Links to related Countermelody episodes:

Episode 64: Jorma Hynninen in Opera (Features the baritone in several operas by Aulis Sallinen): www.countermelodypodcast.com/episode-64-jorma-hynninen-in-opera

Two episodes in memory of Mirella Freni:

Episode 25: Freni on the Fringe (Freni sings unexpected repertoire): www.countermelodypodcast.com/episode-25-freni-on-the-fringe-mirella-in-memoriam-ii

Episode 24: Freni in Duet (Freni with various distinguished partners): www.countermelodypodcast.com/episode-24-freni-in-duet

And three episodes devoted to great artists that we have lost recently:

Episode 59: In Memoriam Rosanna Carteri: www.countermelodypodcast.com/episode-59-rosanna-carteri

Bonus Episode 5: In Memoriam Christiane Eda-Pierre (available to my Patreon subscribers at any level of support): www.patreon.com/posts/42459803

Episode 15: Hail and Farewell (a tribute to all the great musicians who died in 2019): www.countermelodypodcast.com/episode-15-hail-and-farewell


Licinio Refice, Emidio Mucci: Ombra di nube. Claudia Muzio; Orchestra conducted by Licinio Refice [1935]

Rebecca Luker and John Babcock in The Secret Garden

Lucy Simon, Marsha Norman: How Could I Ever Know? (The Secret Garden). Rebecca Luker; Orchestra conducted by Michael Kosarin [1991]

Rebecca Luker (17 April 1961 – 23 December 2020)

Jerome Kern, Anne Caldwell: Once in a Blue Moon (Stepping Stones). Rebecca Luker; Joseph Thalken [2013]

Rebecca Luker in Fun Home (2016), her final Broadway appearance

Jeanine Tesori, Lisa Kron: Days and Days (Fun Home). Rebecca Luker; Chris Fenwick [2016]

After you, who, indeed?

Cole Porter: After You, Who? (Gay Divorce). Rebecca Luker; Orchestra conducted by Patrick Brady [1996]

Helga Pilarczyk (12 March 1925 – 15 September 2011)

Arnold Schoenberg, Marie Pappenheim: Liebster, Liebster, der Morgen kommt (Erwartung, Op. 17). Helga Pilarczyk; Robert Craft, The Washington Opera Society Orchestra [1962]

Josep Soler i Sardà (born 25 March 1935)

Josep Soler, Rainer Maria Rilke: Geburt Mariä (Das Marienleben, 1979-2006 version, No. 1). Elena Gragera; Josep Soler, Jaime Rodríguez Roa, Josep Colomé, Josep Maria Ferrando, Marika Kobayashi [2008]

Elena Gragera
Dominic Cossa (born 13 May 1935)

Roger Sessions, Walt Whitman: Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird (When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d). Dominic Cossa, Esther Hinds; Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus [1977]

Seiji Ozawa (born 1 September 1935)
Alberto Remedios  (27 February 1935 – 11 June 2016)

Michael Tippett: I don’t know who they really are [Mark’s Aria] (The Midsummer Marriage). Alberto Remedios (Mark), Elizabeth Vaughan (Jenifer); Colin Davis, Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [1971]

Nicholas Maw (5 November 1935 – 19 May 2009)

Nicholas Maw, Anonymous [ca. 1300]: Vous estes ma morte et ma vye (Scenes and Arias) Jane Manning, Anne Howells, Norma Procter; Norman Del Mar, BBC Symphony Orchestra [1969]

Norma Procter
Aulis Sallinen (born 9 April 1935)

Aulis Sallinen, Paavo Haavikko: Kehtolaulu kuolleelle ratsumiehille [Cradle Song for a Dead Horseman] (Neljä laulua unesta [Four Dream Songs], No. 2). Soile Isokoski; Esa-Pekka Salonen, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Soile Isokoski
Peter Schat (5 June 1935 – 3 February 2003)

Peter Schat, Harry Mulisch: Vertrek (Kind en kraai [Child and Crow], Op. 26, No. 3). Ellen Schuring, Håkon Austbø [1992]

Ellen Schuring
Arvo Pärt (born 11 September 1935)

Arvo Pärt, Clemens Brentano: Es sang vor langen Jahren. Bernhard Landauer; Romana Rauscher, Rupert Birsak Peter Ewald  [live Salzburg 6 June 2014]

Bernhard Landauer
Giya Kancheli (10 August 1935 – 2 October 2019)

Giya Kancheli, William Shakespeare: And Farewell Goes Out Sighing… [excerpt]. Derek Lee Ragin, Gidon Kremer; Kurt Masur, New York Philharmonic [live New York November 1999]

Derek Lee Ragin
Peter Schickele (born 17 July 1935)

PDQ Bach [aka Peter Schickele]: Dying, and yet in death alive (Iphigenia in Brooklyn, S. 53162). John Ferrante; Leonid Hambro, Seymour Platt, Peter Schickele, Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jorge Mester [live 1965]

Arlene Saunders (5 October 1930 – 17 April 2020)

Richard Strauss, Joseph Gregor [after Hugo von Hoffmansthal]: Wie umgibst du mich mit Frieden (Die Liebe der Danae). Arlene Saunders (Danae); Charles Mackerras, BBC Symphony Orchestra [live 20 April 1980]

Sherill Milnes (born 10 January 1935)

Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Nikolaus Lenau: Auf geheimen Waldespfade. Sherrill Milnes; Jon Spong [1976]

Charles Tomlinson Griffes (17 September 1884 – 8 April 1920),
one of our Gay brethren

Joaquín Rodrigo, Victoria Kamhi de Rodrigo: Coplillas de Belén (Tres villancicos, No. 2). Teresa Berganza; Felix Lavilla [live Aix-en-Provence, 26 July 1961]

Mirella Freni (27 February 1935 – 9 February 2020) and Teresa Berganza (born 16 March 1935)

Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica: Scuoti quella fronda di ciliegio (Madama Butterfly). Mirella Freni (Butterfly), Teresa Berganza (Suzuki); Giuseppe Sinopoli, Philharmonia Orchestra [1988]

Luciano Pavarotti (12 October 1935 – 6 September 2007) and John Wustman (born 25 December 1925)

Paolo Tosti, Carmelo Errico: Ideale. Luciano Pavarotti; John Wustman [NDR (Germany) live studio recital, 1978]

Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni as Rodolfo and Mimì, La Scala 1969

Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica: Che gelida manina… Sì, mi chiamano Mimì… O soave fanciulla (La bohème). Luciano Pavarotti (Rodolfo), Mirella Freni (Mimì), Rolando Panerai (Marcello); Herbert von Karajan, Wiener Philharmoniker [live Salzburg 22 March 1975]

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