Friday, February 19, 2010

One Beautiful Soprano

To a kid growing up in 1950's Hawaii, TV was a rare treat. Allowed to watch during the short window between homework and bedtime, I generally liked my parents' and grandparents' viewing choices.

However, when an opera came on I left the room. I didn't bother to look at the screen--the sound of a powerful soprano was enough to chase me away. Was it the content of the music or the hyper-sensitivity of a child's hearing? They sang in another language and covered their ample frames with strange costumes, but the bottom line was that I didn't care for the sound. In harsh contrast to popular songstresses such as Doris Day and Judy Garland opera-style music was boring and even grating.

That is, until I heard Kathryn Grayson, who sang beautiful melodies, spoke English, and as a bonus didn't look like she was heavier than the male lead. Ms. Grayson, who died [obituary and photo from the Washington Post] on Wednesday, didn't actually perform in operas until after she quit Hollywood in 1956. But she was the only operatic singer in movies that I enjoyed listening to, and for those pleasant memories I am grateful. R.I.P.

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