Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dame Janet Baker Sings "Che faro senza Euridice" from Orfeo

The great Janet Baker turns 79 today (August 21). Dame Janet is an outstanding exponent of Baroque and early Italian repertoires throughout her career, from the mid 1950's to the 80's. She is arguably the greatest female low voice singer from the UK since contralto Kathleen Ferrier. In 1956, Baker won the Second Prize in the Memorial Kathleen Ferrier Competition at Wigmore Hall, an event that launched her career. Baker was a great Orfeo, Sesto, Idamante, Octavian and Giulio Cesare, among other trouser roles. She was also celebrated for her Maria Stuarda, Didon, Alceste and Charlotte. But perhaps it was in oratorio and lieder that Baker was at her most memorable - who can forget her interpretation of Mahler, Schubert, and Elgar? She only appeared a very few times in Toronto, including a recital at Roy Thomson Hall in the mid 80's, very close to her retirement. Baker retired from opera at the young age of 49, and retired completely from the stage five years later. Her autobiography, Full Circle, is a satisfying read. To celebrate the birthday of this great singer, here is Dame Janet at her best, singing Orfeo's aria "Che faro," combining beauty of tone and depth of expression.

Joseph K. So

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