I've decided to devote Fridays to talking about people whose work I like, or who I think are otherwise interesting.
Victoria de Los Angeles (Born Victòria Gómez Cima in Barcelona 1923, died there in 2005) was a Spanish Mezzo-Soprano. She is known, among other things, for her famous recordings of operas by Puccini, Bizet and Rossini, and later in her life traditional Spanish songs.
She is Rosina in the 1962 recording of Rossini's "The Barber of Seville", which for me is a dream recording - all of the singers are perfect in their roles. Opera stories are like any other plot - all sex and violence. Well, this one doesn't have too much violence... Rosina is the heroine - kept isolated from the world by her guardian who hopes to marry her when she comes of age, but in love with a young Count. She is supposedly an innocent girl, but underneath she is strong-willed and determined to get what she wants:
Io sono docile,"I am docile, respectful ... But If I'm crossed in love I'll be like a viper, and 'll play a hundred tricks before I give in". Naturally by the end, she manages to defy her guardian and marry the Count.
Ma se mi toccano
dov'e il mio debole,
saro una vipera, saro.
e cento trappole
prima di cedere faro giocar.
Rosina has been sung be a lot of sopranos, but it was really meant for a mezzo, who can be more expressive and seductive, And Victoria de Los Angeles' voice is seriously seductive.
Her sexy mezzo is also perfect for Carmen. The opera was written by Bizet (a Frenchman), but is all about Spain, so perhaps that's why my two favourite Carmens are both Spanish - the other one being Conchita Supervia.
She continued to perform well into her 70s. Her voice was special in that it was both beautiful and full of character - something very rare.