Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett

 

People who devour the details of celebrities’ personal lives should read the interview with Farrah Fawcett published in the Los Angeles Times on Monday. The interview – the only one the actress has given in more than two years – was conducted in August and was published in advance of a television program regarding Fawcett’s struggle for privacy, to be broadcast this weekend.

Fawcett was able to prove that an employee of UCLA Medical Center had illegally gained access to Fawcett’s medical records and had sold the information to the National Enquirer. That employee eventually resigned and has since died of cancer – the same disease for which Fawcett was being treated at UCLA.

The reporting of Fawcett’s illness has been revolting – and not only in the Enquirer. I have complained before about the nearly gleeful manner in which some television news anchors spit out the “headlines” on the latest developments in the woman’s illness – which appears to be terminal. 

The L.A. Times story included an explanation from Brandy Navarre – identified as vice president of a “paparazzi agency” – for the compulsion to hound a woman who may be dying.

“Particularly when it’s something sexy or scandalous,” Navarre told the paper, “or on the negative side, something kind of tragic and sad, for whatever reason, the public is interested in those types of stories.”

The public is interested, see? And that’s what made it profitable for a hospital employee to commit a federal crime and for a so-called newspaper to induce her with cash to do what the editors clearly knew was a crime. Navarre attributed the interest in the case to “the public’s love of this woman.”

If the public loves this woman, why doesn’t the public – and the media that serve the public – respect the privacy they would expect for themselves under such circumstances and leave Farrah Fawcett alone.

 

PAUL POTTS

PAUL POTTS

I saw Paul Potts singing on TV last week and heard an announcement that his new CD would be in stores on May 4. I went to Border’s and bought a Potts CD which turned out to be from 2007. I can’t complain about that; I took it off the shelf without examining it very closely. He has a pleasant enough voice that reaches into the upper end of the tenor range seemingly without strain. I think he lacks the firepower demanded by much of the tenor repertoire, but tenors – like cigars and coffee – are a matter of taste.

I, for one, never bought into all the excitement about Pavarotti. Clearly, I’m outnumbered. My taste is affected by the fact that I’m kind of a tenor maven, so I listen to many singers that most people have no reason to know about – obscure figures like Edmond Clement, Francesco Tamagno, Leon Escalais, and Father Sidney McEwan. I think the perennial discussion about “the greatest tenor” is a pointless exercise, because there are no objective criteria on which to base such a judgement. It’s more a question of “favorite” than of “greatest.”

 

Giovanni Martinelli

Giovanni Martinelli

For example, I prefer some tenors over some singers whom I know to be technically superior, precisely because I prefer them. Giovanni Martinelli is an example. He was nicknamed the “lion of the opera” because of the way he sometimes roared out his notes. He had his detractors on that account, but he has me as a fan for the same reason. When he was in his 70s he made a recording of “Wintersturme” from “Die Walkure” – but sung in Italian as “Cede il Verno” – and I think it’s the equal of a recording that Lauritz Melchior made at a much younger age.

My favorite tenor altogether is Count John McCormack, a legendary Irish singer whose career included roles with the world’s major opera companies as well concert tours, many recordings, and radio appearances. When McCormack first appeared on the operatic scene, he called himself Giovanni Foli (after his wife, Lily Foley) on the theory that he would fare better if audiences thought he was Italian.

 

JOHN McCORMACK

JOHN McCORMACK

It’s part of opera lore that McCormack once greeted Enrico Caruso as “the world’s greatest tenor” to which Caruso replied: “And when did you become a baritone?” I love to listen to McCormack singing Italian and French with that lilting brogue. But I especially like to hear his Irish songs, many of which are so melancholy. I also have a few recordings on which he speaks (one is a funny radio conversation with Bing Crosby), and I find it hard to listen to McCormack without smiling.