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History Short Number 2

12th April 2020 @ 6:06am – by Geraint Davies
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Audlem and District History Society History Shorts (2)

I thought I'd share a moment of high passion with you that I re-lived recently. In the late 1930's, my aunt had a wooden cabinet wind-up gramophone with a big horn and two little doors on the front that could be opened and closed to increase and decrease the volume. From her collection of 78rpm records I discovered one, as a little boy of 8 or so, that so captivated me that I played it hundreds of times, over and over, fascinated by the way the four voices went off on their own tangent, singing tunes that were completely independent of each other and yet made this fantastic one sound overall. It was the Quartet from Rigoletto and I had no idea what it was about nor probably at that time did I know what opera was. But I was hooked on it forever more


It's only just a bit more than three weeks ago that I contacted Jenny Collis-Smith, musical director of Audlem Voices, with the suggestion that the four professional soloists might consider this as a rounding off for their part in our Easter concert. What changes in life in three weeks, eh? However after doing this, I sat down in front of the laptop and YouTubed – what a verb  - many different versions of this quartet, from Gigli in 1927 to more recent versions, and a good hour or so was spent re-living my passion from 80 years ago.

Set design for act "IV" (III as normally counted) of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto. (For the production of the Théâtre National de l'Opéra at the Palais Garnier, Paris that opened 27885) By Philippe Chaperon (1823-1906) and restored by Adam Cuerden.
This image comes from Gallica Digital Library and is available under the digital ID btv1b70012249, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46407021
So, in these days of everyone passing on suggestions to each other of how to keep sane in isolation, I can recommend nothing better than to compare various performances of the Quartet from Rigoletto on YouTube. Happy listening.
Geraint Davies

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