Over Easter, I visited my parents and in a fit of nostalgia, I dug out my opera scrapbooks from the late 80s and early 90s. In a time before the internet and scanners, the only way to build a “White Shirt Monday” archive of handsome mezzos bearing roses, swords and the occasional fainting soprano was via the musicology section of the municipal library, section “photo books”, and from there to the photocopying store, 20cts per grainy copy.
One of my first Octavians that way was – next to Gwyneth Jones, of all possibilities – Risë Stevens, the MET mezzo of the 1940s and 1950s (and heading towards the age of 98 at the moment!). Of course, my teenage self didn’t know these things back then. I only knew that Stevens looked like she had just stepped out of a 1940s movie PLUS she sang Octavian, which was quite enough to make me happy.
Since my grainy copy is of no quality to be reproduced, I searched and stumbled across Handelmania’s post with the above photo which I am citing here. Handelman also has a podcast up with excerpts from a 1949 “Rosenkavalier” with Erna Berger and Eleanor Steber – my favorite Easter egg of 2011!
The 1949 production was also telecast, which marks the first Christmas wish on this year’s list! Now that the MET has put the legendary 1982 version with Troyanos and Te Kanawa out on DVD (and while I own the DVD, twice (thanks, K.!), I still have fond memories of the worn VHS tape that I watched in NYC in 2005), how about some Steber/Stevens?