Thursday, October 05, 2006

"ah my beauty past compare"

At work, I listen to the classical music channel of Sweden's national radio on the web. At home it's WBJC on analog radio (through my PC sound card). WBJC is having one of their (blessedly rare) begging weekends so I put in a CD this Saturday morning: the CD which came with the book Renata Tebaldi: The Voice of an Angel,
by Carlamaria Casanova. It's excellent.

So what? Well its first cut is the Jewel Song from Gounod's Faust. I don't find a freely available copy of this performance on the internet, but you can find one by Gabriela Benackova on YouTube.

And.... and The Jewel Song immediately brings to mind Hergé's TinTin character Bianca Castafiore whom TinTin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock treat as a major pain in the ass. The jewel of La Scala, the Milanese Nightingale, her signature tune is the Jewel Song, whose first few words -- lofted at every remote opportunity -- drive TinTin and the others mad.

Says the infofax site:
The only major recurring female character in the Adventures of Tintin, the opera diva first appeared in the album King Ottokar's Sceptre. Her name is Italian for "chaste flower". Although apparently one of the leading opera singers of her generation, the only thing that Castafiore is ever heard to sing are a few lines of the Jewel Song, l'air des bijoux, from Faust, always at ear-splitting volume: "Ah my beauty past compare, these jewels bright I wear!". Unsurprisingly, opera was one of Hergé's pet hates. She is said to have been modeled on the real-life opera singer Maria Callas. She has a crush on Haddock, for whom she has a strong mothering instinct. She always pronounces his name incorrectly ("Capitaine Karbock"), and whenever she showers him with tokens of affection the results are disastrous. She later gets involved in rumours surrounding an affair with Haddock — much to the Captain's chagrin.

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