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  1. #1

    Wilhelmenia Fernandez Smith/DIVA [1981] - Aria From Catalani's LA WALLY

    In 1990, Wilhelmenia Fernandez Smith--then known as Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez--appeared in the TV special MOTOWN 30: WHAT'S GOIN' ON.

    But previously, she had appeared in the pivotal role of the opera diva in the film DIVA [1981] in which she received--as did the film--world-wide acclaim.

    The 5-min. opening segment of the film--in which she sings an aria from Catalani's LA WALLY--drew particularly enormous attention--to her voice, her performance, her beauty.

    Here is that opening segment for your enjoyment:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hsmoo97CVA

    (Years later, a remake of DIVA would be rumored to be a project ear-marked for Diana Ross.)
    Last edited by Methuselah2; 02-06-2013 at 04:52 PM.

  2. #2
    I'm a bit surprised to see this posted in the clubhouse but hey, you have your reasons, I guess.... I never heard of this woman before but after checking the link I agree she has an
    amazing voice as suits the genre and so I see the term "diva" is properly used. I never saw
    Motown 30 and would expect talk of it to be in the Motown Forum which I think is overloaded with references to the afore-mentioned Miss Ross. BUT, since this is the clubhouse I will say this: I am probably one of the few people here, hell, anywhere, that
    thinks Diane was the right choice as lead on Supremes hits. I liked, have their recordings and
    disagree with those that say she had no soul. But I never thought of them as my favorite
    or the best girl group and though "diva" may apply with the meanings that are attached to it
    in these times, Diane couldn't sing like that on her best day...

  3. #3
    Thanks for your comments, Splanky. I'm glad you found Wilhelmenia's voice to be amazing. I do, too.

    I wasn't sure at first where to place my posting. But then I thought that its Motown connection was really just a marginal one, and so the Clubhouse started to seem like the best place to me. Plus, factoring in that the video is an opera piece also added to my location concern. And so, I chose the Clubhouse. It just seemed like the spot for it.

  4. #4
    Given both the contents and context of your original posting I looked at it from your perspective and you know what? You're absolutely right, the clubhouse is where this thread
    belongs. I guess anytime I see Miss Ross's name in a thread I automatically prepare to walk
    into a mine-field...

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by splanky View Post
    Given both the contents and context of your original posting I looked at it from your perspective and you know what? You're absolutely right, the clubhouse is where this thread
    belongs. I guess anytime I see Miss Ross's name in a thread I automatically prepare to walk
    into a mine-field...
    I know what you mean! Thanks very much for your post, Splanky. Much appreciated.

  6. #6
    Also from the film:

    SENTIMENTAL WALK
    Written by Vladimir Cosma--

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqbj9zEb8cI

    (3 mins.)

  7. #7
    For those who might be interested, Wilhelmenia also recorded a terrific CD in 1998 of wonderful Gershwin tunes:

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41H31D55NRL.jpg

  8. #8
    The term 'diva' is bandied about so freely these days, it seems to have lost the cachet it once had.

    The video clip in the original posting at the top of this thread is a beautiful reminder of what it entailed. If you haven't seen it, you might want to now.

    (Ya mean I just coulda cut to the chase and said 'Bump'? Jamais! Not moi!)

  9. #9
    A working link has returned!

    https://youtu.be/fJKpYnMMKKM

  10. #10
    Thank you for posting this, Methuselah. I'm a big opera fan, though, have rarely ever posted anything on it as didn't think there would be a big enough audience around to be interested. I think I did once and got zip looks and no responses! LOL! It was nice seeing this. I certainly remember this film and was impressed by
    Wilhelmenia. I have La Wally with Renata Tebaldi on CD. There seems to be precious little about Wilhelmenia out there. Wonder if
    she's still performing? Thanks again for posting this.

  11. #11
    Lakeside - So glad to hear you enjoyed the posting. I was crazy when I first heard and saw Wilhelmenia's performance in DIVA. But I was still skeptical when I finally decided to post the aria in the Clubhouse, not sure that anyone would be interested. And now, here it is, almost 2,700 hits later. Wilhelmenia is so beautiful in so many ways--there just had to be an SDF audience out there waiting to hear and see her. In 1998, she released a CD of George Gershwin material--it's just her and a piano--and it's terrific. I got a real charge from your mention of Renata Tebaldi. In 7th grade junior high school, my music teacher played her all the time. So, she was the first famous opera singer that I became acquainted with. But Wilhelmenia still remains my favorite to this day. I had read a couple of years back that she has retired from music and now resides in Kentucky. She's originally from Philadelphia.

  12. #12
    Count me in as a fellow SDF opera lover who loves and appreciates this post! I first saw Diva around 26 years ago in college and it blew me away. I had forgotten about this performance on Motown 30; I hadn't joined SDF until 2014, so I missed this post the first go-'round. (And incidentally my great-aunt and sister are/were named Wilhemenia!) Thanks! Keep 'em comin'!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Count me in as a fellow SDF opera lover who loves and appreciates this post! I first saw Diva around 26 years ago in college and it blew me away. I had forgotten about this performance on Motown 30; I hadn't joined SDF until 2014, so I missed this post the first go-'round. (And incidentally my great-aunt and sister are/were named Wilhemenia!) Thanks! Keep 'em comin'!
    Nice to hear there are a few of us opera fans on here. I might add
    I've been lucky enough to see several in person....Leontyne Price,
    Jesse Norman, Marilyn Horne, Fredericka Von Stada, Roberta Peters, Susan Graham and Joan Sutherland. Would have loved to have seen Wilhelmenia in person. Got to meet all in person after their concerts except Sutherland, in 'Norma', in Detroit. Leontyne was a hoot with personality that shown like the sun!
    I might add that Barbara Hendricks is one of my all time favorites.
    Barbara has lived in Europe for many years now. Unfortunately, I never got to see her perform live. Barbara is very much a humanitarian. Lots of admiration for this lady.
    http://www.barbarahendricks.com/index/biography
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S43CKjIGVg

    Last edited by lakeside; 08-15-2017 at 05:00 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Nice to hear there are a few of us opera fans on here. I might add
    I've been lucky enough to see several in person....Leontyne Price,
    Jesse Norman, Marilyn Horne, Fredericka Von Stada, Roberta Peters, Susan Graham and Joan Sutherland. Would have loved to have seen Wilhelmenia in person. Got to meet all in person after their concerts except Sutherland, in 'Norma', in Detroit. Leontyne was a hoot with personality that shown like the sun!
    I might add that Barbara Hendricks is one of my all time favorites.
    Barbara has lived in Europe for many years now. Unfortunately, I never got to see her perform live. Barbara is very much a humanitarian. Lots of admiration for this lady.
    http://www.barbarahendricks.com/index/biography
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S43CKjIGVg

    Zowie. I've only seen Kathleen Battle in person...as a fellow diner in a restaurant.😁

  15. #15

    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Zowie. I've only seen Kathleen Battle in person...as a fellow diner in a restaurant.😁
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-st...t-1394669.html

    Ah, Miss Battles. The Supremes didn't have all the drama!

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-st...t-1394669.html

    Ah, Miss Battles. The Supremes didn't have all the drama!
    Thanks for the link. Yes, the stories are legion. I was shocked to hear the casually racist nickname she was called behind her back at The Met...NOT.

    Oh, I just remembered...in my waiting-tables days, I had the pleasure to serve Frederica von Stade. She had a group of young students with her. She was so refreshingly down-to-earth, sweet and funny. Our club had a policy of asking for ID for all credit card payments; when I apologetically asked for hers, she feigned surprise and wryly said, "Honey, do you know how good it feels to be carded at my age?" A sheer delight.
    Last edited by sansradio; 08-16-2017 at 04:25 AM.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Thanks for the link. Yes, the stories are legion. I was shocked to hear the casually racist nickname she was called behind her back at The Met...NOT.

    Oh, I just remembered...in my waiting-tables days, I had the pleasure to serve Frederica von Stade. She had a group of young students with her. She was so refreshingly down-to-earth, sweet and funny. Our club had a policy of asking for ID for all credit card payments; when I apologetically asked for hers, she feigned surprise and wryly said, "Honey, do you know how good it feels to be carded at my age?" A sheer delight.
    Yes, Flicka is so nice and down to earth. I just happened to be on vacation in Charleston, SC and
    she was giving a concert. I met her after the concert
    and she was so down to earth and funny. She said it
    had been a hectic week as her kids had been sick, she
    had to take the dog to the Vet and had to get a new
    hot water heater. I thought...wow, opera singers do
    those things! LOL!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by lakeside View Post
    Yes, Flicka is so nice and down to earth. I just happened to be on vacation in Charleston, SC and
    she was giving a concert. I met her after the concert
    and she was so down to earth and funny. She said it
    had been a hectic week as her kids had been sick, she
    had to take the dog to the Vet and had to get a new
    hot water heater. I thought...wow, opera singers do
    those things! LOL!
    LOL! Yep, she's completely unaffected and regular...the anti-Battle, if you will!

  19. #19
    Working link is back to Wilhelmenia's performance of an aria from Catalani's LA WALLY from the movie DIVA (1981). Thank you to Mark O'Brien for the YouTube posting.

    https://youtu.be/fJKpYnMMKKM

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Methuselah2 View Post
    Working link is back to Wilhelmenia's performance of an aria from Catalani's LA WALLY from the movie DIVA (1981). Thank you to Mark O'Brien for the YouTube posting.

    https://youtu.be/fJKpYnMMKKM
    Many thanks! Havenít seen this in decades.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Many thanks! Haven’t seen this in decades.
    My pleasure, sansradio. It's such a great clip in so many ways. Wilhelmenia is so talented and beautiful.

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