The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould had a storybook entrance into the concert world. A famous concert in Washington D.C. of highly unusual repertoire (for the time) drew rave reviews, and shortly thereafter an exclusive recording contract with Columbia, one of this country’s biggest labels. Gould’s first release should have left classical listeners cold; he chose to an abstract sleeping pill written by J.S. Bach for a student’s insomniac patron. But surprising everyone, the album became a best seller which has not gone out of print in 55 years.
Whenever I’m asked to name my favorite Disney movie, I usually hesitate for a moment before answering “Fantasia.” Not because my love for the film is any less than, say, Dumbo or Bambi, but because “Fantasia” is so strikingly different than any Disney film before or since, except for—you guessed it—"Fantasia 2000.”
Maria Callas defined what it meant to be a diva. And Callas remains one of the towering figures of opera. But, exciting as Callas was as a performer, her voice began to decline while she was still relatively young. Experts and fans alike continue to question what exactly happened to a voice that was both exhilarating and controversial.
The year was 1952, and Callas was performing what would become one of her legendary roles -- Bellini's Norma -- at London's Covent Garden.
In 1957, Barbara Smith Conrad was studying music at the University of Texas in Austin. She was cast as Dido in a student production of Henry Purcell’s opera "Dido and Aeneas."
Two weeks before the curtain, Conrad learned that she would not be singing the role of Dido, because a state congressman had objected to an African-American woman being cast opposite a white leading man in a romantic role.