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For Dame Janet, another milestone

The mezzo of our lives is 80 today. Seldom has a Dame been more deserving of the honour. Always the best prepared artist in any cast, Janet Baker was both role model and standard-bearer for two generations of concert and opera singers. Enjoy this sumptuous performance of the Alto Rhapsody. Unfortunately, my Lebrecht Interview with her is not presently available online.
janet baker

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  1. Let’s hope the interview doesn’t take too long in being loaded down for us all, Norman!

    • Terry van Vliet says:

      Happily I had the perspicacity to download your superb interview with Dame Janet when I could. It is now safely on a CD I have tucked in one of Dame Janet’s collections.

      Thanks, by the way, Norman, for so many gifts similar to this one you have given us.

      • stanley cohen says:

        You couldn’t upload it for the benefit of the rest of us, could you, Terry?

  2. Happy Birthday , dear Janet…….and many more ! with love , Jumbo .

  3. David Boxwell says:

    Best of all, she knew when to quit the business of show. Admirable in every way, and the first “trained” classical voice I loved–at first hearing (Bach’s cantata 82).

  4. Iain Scott says:

    I was about 11 when I heard Janet Baker sing . At very close quarters. She was Didon in the Scottish Opera production of The Trojans and I was a royal child. It was the production where the Trohan Horse broke the stage of the Kings Theatre. Our rehearsals overlapped with some of Dame Janet’s so I heard this utterly glorious voice a good many times.
    There is one incident worth telling. She was rehearsing the death scene and dropped her very luxurious fur coat to the ground. Alexander Gubson immediately stopped the orchestra with the words ” Janet that’s your good fur coat you can’t do that ” and called for a replacement.
    We were lucky to have her sing in Der Rosenkavalier and also Cosi Fan Tutte
    All thanks to Gibson with whom she clearly had a close bond.
    Happy Days

  5. Why arenĀ“t all your Lebrecht Interviews available online? They are so good. Sarah Montague could learn a thing or two with you.

  6. Rosemary Hardy says:

    She was the model to reach for and set your standards by for us . Such a magnificent and utterly dedicated artist. I sang in the choir behind her Dido in Aldeburgh. I couldn’t sing “With drooping wings”, I was trying to suppress my sobs. Happy birthday Dame Janet, and much grateful love!

  7. Baker + Brahms Two Songs with Viola [or + Britten "Phaedra"] = Immortality.

  8. Liz Haddon says:

    Dame Janet gave me a great interview too, which is published in my book, ‘Making Music in Britain: Interviews with those behind the notes’ (Ashgate, 2006). Sadly it’s not available online either. She was a wonderful, thoughtful and generous interviewee – Happy Birthday!

  9. Thomson Smillie says:

    I was one of the lucky few who worked for Scottish Opera in earliest days, volunteer then staff for 12. I send my deepest gratitude and fondest respects to the greatest artist of that golden age. She and Sir Alexander Gibson, who I also loved and I had a discussion in which one of us said it was impossible to hear Janet Baker without misting up. He said: ” Janet and David Ward”

    I was at dozens of rehearsals and performances and never tired of that divine oboe-like timbre. Her exquisite taste for comedy as much as tragedy : her “I’ve quite decided” when she chooses Guglielmo over Ferrando is a lively memory 48 years later

    I had the duty of paying her after a Cosi and she looked down and sad. I asked why after such a triumph. She replied : I always have the feeling that neither man really loves Dorabella.

    Millions of others did, however.

  10. Ben Smyth says:

    Norman’s interview is available – see below:

  11. Marguerite Foxon says:

    She is an inspiration still. All good wishes Dame Janet.

  12. I am catching up to many things I missed during vacation. One computer in the Hotel lobby w/many of us vying for its use. Dame Janet is a class act. Never forced her tone, always an intelligent artist and always a classy, gracious woman. I think it was a Manzoni Requiem w/BSO I first met her–too many years of have voice will sing & not always sure what I was singing/sang where when. She was very approachable, never put on airs, willing to give some advice to up &coming artists, and it didn’t matter if you were a fellow soloist or a chorus member. Happy Birthday, Dame Janet. And many more to you!

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