Friday, June 08, 2012

O Fortuna!

This is certainly random, but well worth including.   A video that matches the music of O Fortuna! from the cantata Carmina Burana with some daft animation and some even dafter (supposedly misinterpreted) words.

I'm sure I've told everyone in the world this story before, but I was listening on the radio to Carmina Burana back in the early seventies (I think it was around the time my wife and I were newly married and living in Tooting Bec, in London).  And during the big baritone solo, when he has a long high tessitura section (in other words, he sings at the top of his range for some time - had to throw the word in there just to show how knowledgeable I am) there was a sudden stop in the singing, and a good deal of banging and crashing.   It turned out that in the heat in the Albert Hall, the baritone had fainted, and fallen backwards into the first violins.  

I caught up with this on television a day or so later, and watched the scuttling and kerfuffling amongst the poor old string players as they tried to save themselves, their music, and their instruments from this unexpected debacle.  

But the further twist to the story was that in the audience was a young singer who'd in the week or two before this event had sung the baritone role up in the north of England (if my memory serves me rightly).  He rushed back stage, told the management he could sing the role, was put into a tuxedo, and sang.  I don't know what happened to him subsequently (or to the original baritone) but I'm sure it was a great boost for his career.   I'd love to know if anyone remembers this incident.  Of course, having now said that I looked up Google, and the details are there!  Fantastic.  

The original singer was Thomas Allen, whose career didn't suffer particularly from the incident.  The young singer was Patrick McCarthy, who went on to push his range up and became a tenor, and then gave up singing in favour of conducting.  The understudy for Allen was a doctor who was singing in the choir, and, since he was attending to the unfortunate singer, couldn't take over the role!  And I was correct about the year, 1974: the year I was married. 

On a different subject, the Spellchecker for Blogger must be having a day off: it didn't recognise tessitura, or kerfuffling (it can be forgiven for those, perhaps), or, most surprisingly, tuxedo!  

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