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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Sunday 07 February 2010
Friday 18 December 2009
A budget boxed set of four divas' Christmas albums, Christmas With The Divas represents good value, but not much fun. The earliest, a Leontyne Price release from 1961, illustrates a shared problem: all good on the sober arias, but too starchy for joyous release. However, Price's "Ave Maria" is a thing of beauty. Joan Sutherland nimbly negotiates "The Twelve Days Of Christmas" from 1965, and Renata Tebaldi sticks to the classical canon from 1971. But Kiri Te Kanawa is the worst offender; it's all stiff shirts.
Sunday 13 December 2009
Friday 20 November 2009
If Angela Gheorghiu is the pre-eminent Puccini interpreter of her era, then Joyce DiDonato surely lays confident claim to the equivalent position regarding Rossini, a status cemented in unorthodox manner this year when, despite breaking her leg on the opening night, she completed the five-night run in The Barber Of Seville at Covent Garden.
Wednesday 21 October 2009
The Mail takes a dislike to all-women shortlists in its second leader this morning. Andy McSmith's explainer in our paper is an excellent, historically informed account of how we got to where we are on the vexed subject.
Sunday 18 October 2009
Mpho Skeef was born to a Zulu father and white mother at a time when apartheid forbade such liaisons. She has, therefore, rather more life experience than the average conveyor-belt diva.
Friday 25 September 2009
Friday 10 July 2009
Poor Joyce DiDonato, leading an all-star line-up in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Covent Garden, ended up with her leg in plaster on the show's opening night last Saturday. The American mezzo slipped and fell during the performance, fracturing her fibula. Despite the agony she pressed on, first with the gallant support of her tenor Juan Diego Flórez, later with a crutch. But on her blog she declared: "From here on out, I declare that no one (please!) ever ever wish me again to: 'BREAK A LEG'."
Friday 27 March 2009
We've all met someone like this: a selfish, demanding diva, a high-maintenance, self-obsessed person who comes into your life and causes all sorts of unnecessary drama. And now, in their first exhibition together, the artists Natasha Law and Daisy de Villeneuve have created a fictional character based on those unflattering qualities. No Love Lost, at Eleven Fine Art gallery in London (1 April to 2 May), explores the darker, more toxic side of friendship and the bitter edge of women's relationships.
Saturday 14 March 2009
It's back to the day job this afternoon for the week's gallant gladiators, with Uttoxeter the main arena and the Midlands Grand National the top prize. Run over nearly four and a quarter miles, this is a contest which requires as much stamina as a four-day Cheltenham Festival and produces a similar attrition rate. Over the past six runnngs 101 horses have taken part; just 42 have lasted to the finishing post.
Sunday 01 February 2009
During the Six-Day War, Egypt's prima diva Oum Kalsoum was listened to by troops on both sides of the line.
Tuesday 16 December 2008
When Joyce DiDonato sweeps on with tousled blonde mane and in a skimpy scarlet bodice, you know this Southern belle means business of a steamy sort. We saw her at Covent Garden as the scorned Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni: her sulphurous rage incinerated everything it touched. So when she gives a recital entitled Furore: Handel's Scenes of Madness, we know roughly what to expect.
Sunday 29 June 2008
First Night: Divas, Apollo Theatre, London <img src="http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00015/1star_15785a.jpg" alt="1 stars" height="10" width="56"/>
Thursday 26 June 2008
Friday 20 June 2008
Perhaps trying to re-establish herself as disco-diva icon, Donna Summer opens her first album of new material in 17 years with some fatuous, characterless dance cuts in which synth pads and bustling beats are busy while a vocoderised Donna offers tedious positive-thinking advice ("Stamp Your Feet") or, more embarrassingly, tells us "I got my iPod/ Shaking my body" ("Mr Music").
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