Mogens Alexander’s 3rd birthday in Windsor
The above picture gives me a lot of hope and pleasure, it shows my grandson Frederick, Kian and Alex sitting on a beach in Brazil discussing something possibly very important in 2006. The attention is on Frederick, the oldest, born in London, with Kian listening in, Kian is born in Brazil and Alex is obviously very attentive. Alex was born in Berlin and went to school in Barcelona. So three Grandson two of my sons were born in different countries and truly the world’s citizens from birth speaking 6-7 languages between them.
A Big Congratulation to my dear beautiful granddaughter Allana Yasmin, she graduated with a Magna cum Laude!!! an academic degree earned with great distinction, the Latin phrase means “with great praise.”
We are all so proud of you, the highest degree for our family. On behalf of the family – I salute you and know your will accomplice great things in this life. I wish you all the best for the future – You are a Great Girl!!! A Big Hug and Kiss from Granddad
This is my beloved Mother, Grethe Marianne; in June 1941, she gave birth to me, her only child. Therefore, this month is my celebration of my Dear Mother, who I loved very much. Sadly she had a difficult life, with lots of illness; nevertheless, she was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She left this life far too soon to enjoy all her great-grandchildren.
We should all celebrate our mothers on our birthdays; they brought us into this life with deep devotion and pain. So lift your glasses and toast for your Mothers on your birthdays. I like what Helen Steiner Rice said about mother’s love:
“A mother’s love is something that no one can explain — It is made of deep devotion and sacrifice and pain. It is endless and unselfish and enduring, come what may, For nothing can destroy it or take that love away. It is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, And it never fails or falters even though the heart is breaking.”
Opera and great voices
My life started early with opera, 16-17 years old; although it was not really the taste of most people I was surrounded by, I was more or less “forced” to listening, driving for hours, with my business partner Edgard Midling Jensen. During the 18 months in 1957-1958, visiting shipowners in Norway and Sweden in his large American car, he sang out many arias, which I got to know, despite my possible initial reluctance, as he sang in Italian, and I was, due to my age, more listening to Radio Luxemburg’s rock-n-roll hits.
Nevertheless, Edgar implanted in me a desire to hear some of these arias on stage in a full opera, which I later had the pleasure to see in full operations performed around Europe and New York. Mostly we associate great female and male singers and their arias when we think of opera, as we rarely listen to singing in our own language. Despite my wife Elizabeth also being interested, at least in the arias, it is interesting, we never forced or cultivated an interest in opera in our sons, something we failed to do.
During the years we operated the Art for Mayfair and run the various galleries in Mayfair, Romana would, from time to time, manage one of the galleries for a period. Most days, Romana would be playing out Maria Callas or Joan Sutherland, singing their various arias. Romana loved both singers; interestingly, my wife Elizabeth also loved these two great ladies, together with her favourite opera singer Kathleen Ferrier, the English contralto singer.
I found Maria Callas was divine and, for me, one of the greatest opera singers of all time, an instantly recognisable voice. Sadly her life was difficult, and she died young at 53. If anyone died of a broken heart it was her, as she truly loved Aristotle Onassis.
I was fortunate to see Maria Callas on two occasions, once when I went to La Scala with a banker’s daughter from Genoa in 1959, as a very young man, to see Puccini’s La Boheme. Unfortunately, the banker’s daughter came with a chaperone to Milano, travelling hours on the train with me. In La Scala, in our (expensive) box was placed between the beautiful young woman and me. Moreover, I had not even noticed that Maria Callas sang; I did recall Edgard-Midling telling me about Maria Callas in 1956-57. So I should have made special notice, as I later found out that this was her last week of performance at La Scala – ever.
The second time I saw her perform was in Copenhagen in June 1963, when I went to a concert with my wife where she sang on the 9th of June, Mogens one year birthday, with the Danish King Frederick present with one or all three daughters princesses (I only recall Benedikte).
Georges Prētre was the conductor, and Maria Callas performed to all expectations and critics. It was not just her, but her technique, her voice control and her interpretation. She was magic, and the audience loved her singing.
My wife and I had come all the way from Stockholm for this performance and to collect my parents, who went back to Djursholm with us for Mogens Christening in Danderyd Church. I recall it had been challenging for me to get tickets to this concert, but well worth it. The three pictures on the left of Elizabeth were taken in June 1963 with the polka dot blouse she wore at the event.
Later I recall another great opera singer with the same magical and commanding presence Jessye Norman. I never forget when she walked onto the stage at Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Sir George Solti as conductor for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, one month after the death of my dear mother. Just so special moment for me. I have written about Jessye Norman in other places, see The Arts – Opera. I was privileged to be introduced privately to her one year later at the Carlyle in New York, where she gave our mutual friend and me a private performance late one night, singing negro spirituals and gospels in the hotel’s famous Bemelmans Bar. They open after closing the bar, as there was a piano, just for us! I had never heard her singing such gospels; little did I know that she was singing gospel songs in the local Baptist Church at the age of four.
Jessye Norman was often portraying noble characters convincingly, both by appearance and by a unique voice that was both flexible and powerful. Her voice range was wide, from contralto registers to dramatic soprano.
As to Maria Callas, recently, a new remarkable remastering of recordings by the iconic Maria Callas has been done with her singing 90 of the Most Beautiful Opera Arias. I play this a least a few times a week.
Views from Villa les Anges
The Morning of the Day Amey came into our lives
Today the 19th of April 2023 it is 12 years since our Lady Rose was born. During all her eleven years she has been the best dog anyone could wish for. Always a loyal companion and friend. We hope she will be here with us for many more years to come and enjoy her time in this life.
Living with nature, with the dolphins off the Brazilian coast, my two girls Lady Rose and Maya, or seeing Ocra whales coming up to the boat. Orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. In 2018 I was swimming with these whales in the Philippines, touching them, swimming along and diving with my son and grandchildren. All – a very beautiful experience.