Thursday, 4 July 2013

You say you want a revolution

"Born on 4th July" - Gina Lollobrigida, Gloria Stuart, Neil Simon, Garibaldi, Eva Marie Saint, Angela Baddeley, David 'Kid' Jensen, Gertrude Lawrence, Neil Morrissey, Bill Withers, and...

... Madame Cathy Berberian!

I really can't believe I have never featured this magnificent lady here before, especially since 2013 marks thirty years since her untimely death.

Apart from being an accomplished mezzo-soprano, singing everything from Monteverdi to operetta, Lieder and Music Hall numbers - in 36 languages - she also recorded a ground-breaking vocal and electronic experimental album called "Visage" [one wondered where Steve Strange got the idea for his band name] as early as 1961, had music written specifically for her by Stravinsky and John Cage (among other avant-garde artists), translated Woody Allen into Italian with Umberto Eco, did comedic routines to accompany her eclectic cabaret evenings of which Anna Russell would be proud, and owned a collection of French pornographic porcelain to boot!

We are proud possessors here at Dolores Delargo Towers of two albums by Madame Berberian, one a 1973 live concert from Edinburgh in which she tackles everything from Saint-Saens, Delibes and Purcell to such Victorian ditties as Father's a Drunkard and Mother is Dead and There Are Fairies At The Bottom Of Our Garden...

The other, even more superbly off-the wall and a definite favourite, is her classic 1967 album Revolution - 'An Operatic First', a collection of Beatles songs done in the Baroque operatic style, believe it or not.

And here, from that very collection, is the lady herself performing Ticket to Ride:

As Mark Swed, writing just last month in the LA Times said, "She did it all. Check her out."

Catherine Anahid Berberian (4th July 1925 – 6th March 1983)


  1. Replies
    1. I expect to see you in a flowery maxi-dress praticing this one... Jx

  2. my oh my, she really did it.

    (eppie & popo friedman's birthday is today too)

    1. Didn't she just?


      (PS We had "Marjorie Proops" and "Dear Deirdre" over here. Neither the twins nor the pseudonymous "Dear Abby" crossed continents easily.)


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