Female emancipation has taken many forms, but few as gaudy and violent as the breakthrough largely pioneered by Mae Young, better known as "the Great Mae Young," superstar of the first generation of professional women wrestlers in the US, who conclusively gave the lie to generalisations about the gentler sex. In sport records are made to be broken, but Young's feat of appearing professionally in eight different decades may never be surpassed.
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Thursday 07 April 1994
Never mind three tenors, over at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London, we're talking six sopranos. And not just any sopranos. We're talking New York's finest, bejewelled luminaries of divadom, we're talking frocks and hair-dos (or even hair-don'ts) with a life of their own, we're talking serious lip-gloss. The wonder is that so distinguished a gathering of opera queens can still be assembled under one roof. And that's just the audience.
Friday 04 March 1994
MOSCOW - It was just like old times. Shouts of brava and bouquets of flowers rewarded Galina Vishnevskaya for her performance in Moscow last week. Journalists queued to interview her in the dressing room afterwards. But the diva had not been singing. She retired from opera 12 years ago. Instead she had been playing a ribald comic role in the theatre where, at the age of 66, she is trying to make a second career as an actress.
DANCE / Domestic science: Judith Mackrell reviews Divas at the Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadler's Wells
Saturday 18 December 1993
A stageful of women dancers dressed in white is a not uncommon vision in ballet. Swan maidens, ghostly bayaderes, vengeful wilis - they all embody a (male) choreographer's fantasy of perfect beauty and perfect form.
MUSIC / The making of a UK soul diva: Dina Carroll is British, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming a double-platinum soul sensation. Interview by Sabine Durrant
Wednesday 10 November 1993
These days, when Dina Carroll arrives back in London, after promoting her album in Japan, say, or the USA, there's a limo to meet her at the airport. She's still getting over it.
BOOK REVIEW / Gowns, gasps and goddesses to die for: Adam Mars-Jones on a unique work about divas by a self-confessed opera queen - 'The Queen's Throat' - Wayne Koestenbaum: GMP, 16.95 pounds
Saturday 15 May 1993
'MY FANTASY: circumstances change, I become a diva and I must acquire a gown . . .' There is hardly a sentence in The Queen's Throat that could come from any other book on opera. That is its glory, and also its flaunted failing.
Sunday 09 May 1993
Victoria de los Angeles, the soprano whose concert kit includes pounds 250,000- worth of jewellery - or did, until it was filched during a rehearsal. The case prompts parallels with Herge's adventure The Castafiore Emerald (far left), in which the diva Bianca Castafiore loses a large emerald. The culprit turns out
Saturday 19 December 1992
She welcomed us after the Haydn: 'Anyone need a cough- sweet?' Dawn Upshaw can say just about anything to an audience and not sound cute. Because she's real - she's no diva, no 'artiste' in any traditional sense of the words: just plain Dawn Upshaw - unaffected, direct, original. You leave her recitals knowing that you've never heard those songs sung in quite the same way before. Ceremonious, reverent, she is not: this is living lieder. There's still no one who connects with text and music as she does: each new item is a tiny theatrical happening. She took Schumann's Liederkreis, rediscovered and effectively dramatised it: in a less truthful, less motivated performer her vibrant, colouristic effects would have seemed contrived. The voice is sounding more lived-in now; it's lost some of that early chasteness, opened up in its potential for colour. I hear more depth and penetration now in a fuller range of chest-tones: in quirky and heart-breaking Charles Ives songs she was Broadway belter, cabaret and folk-singer rolled into one (she really must record this remarkable songbook). In Mussorgsky's 'Nursery' songs, she was a child again, vocally and physically; and she was funny and touching because she wasn't 'coy' - we all know how embarrassing these songs can sound in less skilled hands. But then, for all her sophistication and musicianship and success, the essential Dawn Upshaw quality is still ingenuousness. May it always be so.
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