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Opera is my Hobby August 29th, 2008

image of Opera is my Hobby August 29th, 2008Opera is My Hobby Friday 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

One of the longest running shows on American radio, Opera Is My Hobby debuted on Kansas Public Radio (then KANU) in September 1952, during the very first week the station was on the air! Every week, Dr. James Seaver selects recordings from his vast collection of LPs, CDs, 78s and even wax cylinder recordings for programs spotlighting legendary performers of the past, as well as up- and-coming singers. Recent shows have included tributes to tenor Jussi Bjoerling and soprano Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, highlights from the Victor Blue Label recordings from the early 20th-century, plus excerpts from Mozart's The Magic Flute and Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus.

The artist(s): 29 August: In Memoriam Leyla Gencer

Leyla Gencer, arguably the finest opera singer Turkey ever produced, died in Milan, Italy, on 9 May 2008. She was born at Istanbul in 1928 to a Polish Catholic mother and an affluent Turkish Muslim father, according to Wasserman in his excellent obituary in OPERA NEWS in August 2008.

She had a dramatic coloratura soprano voice, quite powerful but also capable of producing amazing pianissimo effects even on her highest notes, as she did in AIDA when we heard her in Rome at the Baths of Caracalla. She made her operatic debut in Mascagni's CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA as Santuzza in 1950 and then went to Italy, where she made her Italian debut as Cio-Cio San in Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1954. In 1956 she made her U.S. debut singing the title role in Zandonai's FRANCESCA DA RIMINI. After that she sang in Chicago, Dallas, New Orleans, and San Diego.

In 1957 Madame Gencer made her debut at La Scala, Milan, in the world premiere of Poulenc's DIALOGUE OF THE CARMELITES. She then went on at La Scala from 1957 to 1983, singing nineteen different roles. Although she sang at Covent Garden, the soprano was never invited to appear at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She did, however, sing at Carnegie Hall in a presentation of Donizetti's CATERINA CORNARO.

On this obituary program for Madame Gencer we will hear her interpret music from Donizetti's ROBERTO DEVEREUX and CATERINA CORNARO and Verdi's LA TRAVIATA, LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, ILTROVATORE, AIDA, and DON CARLO. She considered Donizetti and Verdi to be two of the greatest operatic composers of the nineteenth century.

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