<< -- 3 -- Jennifer I Paull CATHY BERBERIAN - A MUSICAL COLUMBUS
Berio admitted in Music is the Air I Breathe (a Dutch TV documentary), that to replace her as soloist in his (eleven) Folksongs at La Scala for her memorial concert meant that he needed to amass a mosaic of mezzos. Cathy was a vocal chameleon. Each song needed a different voice and only she could change timbre, personality, colour and style at the blinking of a false eyelash.
I recently watched film of an unaccompanied Peter Ustinov parodying a Bach Cantata aria with what was undoubtedly an oboe d'amore obligato -- judging by the veiled, not simply nasal quality that other Great Chameleon was pulling out of his vocal chords in an hilarious, seamless pastiche. The audience was rolling about with laughter as he improvised a flowing, tissage of both parts: brilliant as well as brilliantly funny. That's exactly how her audiences relished Cathy's recital masterpieces; A la recherche de la musique perdue (From the Sublime to the Ridiculous), or Secondhand Songs and so many more of her unique, extraordinary, programmed menus.
In fact, were I to compare Cathy to another artist, it would be to Peter Ustinov: both wrote, were polyglots, actors, gourmets, brilliantly intelligent, overflowed with boundless imagination and creativity and orbited above the confines of one artistic discipline.
A man's got to do what a man's got to do. A woman must do what he can't.
quotha -- Rhonda Hansome, actor, producer, director (date of birth not available).
Cathy Berberian. Photo courtesy of Ervant Berberian
You certainly did, Cathy. For everything you gave to Music, we shall be eternally in your debt. Thank you and BRAVISSIMA!