Well, it’s my fault. While making next Sunday’s documentary on Barbara, I emailed Nana to see if she – as a dominant performer in Paris in Barbara’s time – had any memories she wished to share.
She replied within ten minutes, asking when we could meet. A cafe near the George V Hotel would do.
(photo:(c) Lebrecht Music & Arts)
Barbara, Nana told me, was not just a close friend. She was a mentor who showed young Nana the ropes. As she would do with Roberto Alagna, she exemplified how to sing in every space, from tiny bar, to ampitheatre.
Barbara and Nana were both classically trained, both intensely serious about pitch accuracy. Both, too, had grown up under Nazi occupation. You will have to wait until Sunday to learn what it was that Barbara did to enable Nana to overcome anti-German prejudice and capture her biggest audience. Here’s the link to Sunday’s programme.
I’m sure there will be some who complain that Radio 3 should not be wasting good sonata space on features like this. See what you think.