I got texts from BOTH my brothers last night about the passing of Jessye Norman (Patrick wins the prize, he was first). She was one of the major opera stars from when I first really got crazy for opera, in the mid-80s. I first saw her in a Met telecast of Richard Strauss's *Ariadne auf Naxos.* Here she is singing one of her big arias. Her plunge to the low A-flat at 0:25, it's so delicious! And the way her voice opens up to the high B-flats at the end, amazing:
Wagner was a specialty of hers - - here she is singing her big moment in *Die Walküre.* I love how her eyebrows go up at 0:17, to help her ascent to the second A-flat. And then the third one happens so easily, because she knows she's done such a good job with the two that came before it.
I'm going to quote from the end of her New York Times obituary, this story is so cute:
In her memoir, Ms. Norman recalled one of her own earliest stabs at singing opera in front of an audience. She was in junior high school when, at a teacher’s urging, she performed the aria “My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice” from Saint-Saëns’s “Samson and Delilah.” She had been singing it in English at church functions and supermarket openings, but for the school performance her teacher had her learn it in its original French.
“I do think that if you can stand up and sing in French in front of an assembly full of middle-schoolers,” Ms. Norman wrote, “then you can do just about anything.”