strange_complex: (Alessandro Moreschi)
Well, I didn't expect to be woken by the soaring, silvery tones of Alessandro Moreschi this morning. But I was, thanks to a feature on the 'Handel and the Castrati' exhibition which opens tomorrow at Handel's house in London. My normal alarm time of 7:45 woke me perfectly in time to hear Nicholas Clapton, the curator of the exhibition, being interviewed about it by Rebecca Jones. And when she asked him how we can know what the castrati sounded like, I silently cheered, knowing full well what had to come next.

Clapton does need a clip round the ear for saying very emphatically, "We are fortunate to have one recording of one castrato..." in response to this. As the man who, literally, wrote the book on Moreschi*, he knows a lot better than this, and obviously meant "We are fortunate to have one [set of] recording[s]..." But why couldn't he have said that? I weep for the thousands of people who now freshly believe, as I did for so long, that this means exactly and precisely one song.

Still, the recording they chose to illustrate the point was well-selected: the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria: and some of the best, most heart-rendingly beautiful snippets from it, too. To be sure, it was the old OPAL remastering of it, not the infinitely superior Truesound one*. But, nonetheless, definitely Moreschi at his stomach-punching best.

The feature can still be heard, of course, via Listen Again: select the relevant bit, which is actually listed at 7:40, or else go to it directly (you'll need RealOne Player).

As if that wasn't enough to make me sit up in bed, it was followed five minutes later with the news that a a new contraceptive pill is being put through clinical trials which it's hoped will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer and thrombosis associated with current pills, and completely stop periods! It could have all sorts of other nasty side-effects, of course, but that's what clinical trials are there to find out. If it makes it to being released on the market, I'm there!

And then, when I got up and checked my post, I discovered that my sample of 'Pure Purple' perfume had arrived! Hooray! They didn't send the girl from the ad, but they did send a nice postcard of her, so I can't complain.

All in all, then, this has to count already as a pretty good day!

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* Both book and recording have been on my mental 'To Blog' list for months. I have a lot to say about both, and I will get round to it. But my own book comes first!
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I've never exactly been bowled over by Sarah Montague as a Today presenter. Placed in a really firey interview situation, she stumbles, can't think on her feet, and often pursues pre-determined lines of questioning blindly, without responding to what's actually going on in front of her. (I'm not saying I could do any better at her job, by the way. I'm just saying there are other people who could).

Anyway, my level of impressedness slipped another peg today, during her interview with Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at Durham and author of Inventing the Barbarian, and a man called Simon Armitage who has just written a dramatic adaptation of The Odyssey for broadcast during the Olympics. She began by asking Simon Armitage, 'Was it difficult adapting the play for modern audiences?'

Slap on wrist. Back to school!

Later on, she said The Odyssey was 'considered to be the second story ever', I suppose on the basis that she thinks it's the 'sequel' to The Iliad.

It's also transpired over the last couple of days, in relation to a story about a Swiss Alphorn, that Bob Holness, no less, used to be a regular 'freelance' presenter of Today for quite some years. The mind boggles!

EDIT: The clip can now be heard here.
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Lord Tebbit this morning on the Today programme, on the subject of gay marriage (a topic which he had crow-barred into a discussion actually meant to be on obesity):

"We've got a huge problem with AIDS, and the government is doing all it can to promote buggery"

I don't quite know what happened after he said this, because I was too busy gawping and saying 'Oh my god, I can't believe he just said that!' (the effect of my incredulity being enhanced by the fact that he had obviously come on the programme determined to slip this 'gem' in, whether it was relevant to the discussion or not). So if anyone knows how John Humphries handled it, or how Boris Johnson (the other interviewee) responded, I would love to know!

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