René Pape sings on horseback

René Pape as Sarastro and Tom Randle as Monostatos in Kenneth Branagh's "The Magic Flute". Click to visit image.
Rene Pape (left) in Branagh’s The Magic Flute. Source: Pinterest. Click to visit image.

René Pape.

Superb voice. Moving. Handsome. Charismatic. Everything you want in an opera singer. The great operatic Bass of our time. My time.

There’s even more to love. Pape sings on horseback! You know how I love horses. Pape has a darn good seat. How deluxe.

I only hear Pape when he performs Verdi and Mozart. How fun to come across this excerpt.

Horses are no strangers to Opera. They appear in quite a few. When I say appear, I mean live on stage.

My first time seeing horses on the operatic stage was at the Met in Aida and later on the outdoor stage at Verona in Carmen.

I doubt I’ll ever see Mr Pape live which makes me feel very, very sad. I wasn’t aware of him when I lived in New York. That was a very long time ago now. Perhaps he hadn’t even made it there yet. Sigh. Recordings will have to do.

Okay. That’s my August blogging done. Smile!

Thank you for stopping by. Cheers. Vivian.

About René Pape

German bass René Pape made his Royal Opera debut in February 1997, singing Pope Pius IV (Palestrina) and Heinrich I (Lohengrin) in parallel runs. He has since sung Count Massimiliano (I masnadieri), Méphistophélès (Faust) and Gurnemanz (Parsifal) for The Royal Opera.

Pape was born in Dresden in 1964 and sang with the Kreuzchor from 1974 to 1981. He went on to train at the Dresden Conservatory and in 1988 made his professional debut at the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden while still a student. He continues to sing regularly with the Berlin State Opera, and with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, where he has sung in more than 190 performances since his debut in 1995. His repertory includes all the major Wagner bass-baritone roles, Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Philip II (Don Carlo) and Boris Godunov.

Source: Royal Opera House Biography


Steve by Fizz

My laptop is just about dead but I am managing to keep it running long enough to grab a bunch of content off of it. Whew!

While making my way around, I found myself in a space where there were some rare old images I didn’t know, or remember, I had there. This is one of my favourites.

Steve by Fizz

I worked as a racing photographer in England for quite a few years. If you work around racing folks long enough you get a nickname. Mine was Fizz. For my effervescent personality, so they said. Smile.

I had a mad crush on Steve Cauthen. He was champion jockey both in the US and UK.

I took a quick snap of Cauthen following a race at Haydock, my home park in Liverpool. Look at the date. 1992! That’s my writing by the way.

Steve Cauthen. Haydock Park 1992. By Mrs Fizz Farrell!
Steve Cauthen. Haydock Park 1992. By Mrs Fizz Farrell!

Cauthen is explaining to the owner how his horse ran in the race. It was used by the Echo.

I was much, much younger when I made my earliest trip to Haydock. My dad took me at the age of 9 months.  I was enthralled he said and very well behaved.

Learn more about the great Steve Cauthen here »

Macaroon hat so sweet and tasty

I adore hats. Always have. Of all sorts too, but especially bright, cheery hats.

There are so many great milliners on Instagram from all over the world. Here’s a sample. How delicious is this!

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You can find me on Instagram at

Cheers everyone!

Baby Trump balloon will fly over London

Has it really been over a month since I was here? It’s usually many months so this is a slight improvement. I have been thinking about posting, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Until now.

It’s this funny balloon that has prompted a bit of activity. And why I so love the English.

The Independent newspaper image. Photographer not cited.
The Independent newspaper image. Photographer not cited.

The BBC writes this about the balloon:

Mr Trump is due to meet Theresa May at 10 Downing Street on 13 July.

Campaigners raised almost £18,000 for the helium-filled six-metre high figure, which they said reflects Mr Trump’s character as an “angry baby with a fragile ego and tiny hands”.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan gave permission for the balloon to fly.

Of course Trump supporters are “enraged”. But that’s hardly news is it?

Everyone seems to be enraged these days. Yet they wonder why their health is so bad. Relax will you? Smile. Better yet. Have a laugh.

Ta-ra for now!

Happy Old Maid’s Day

Nora Bertogg, Soprano, Swedish Opera, The Old Maid and the Thief, Photo by Dersu Huber, 2017.
Nora Bertogg, Soprano, Swedish Opera, The Old Maid and the Thief, Photo by Dersu Huber, 2017.

Old Maid’s Day is a joyous occasion for spinsters around the world to get together and rejoice in one-another’s claim to the merry, carefree lifestyle and the complete independence which come with singlehood. And it should be, because marriage, childbearing and child rearing are enough to gradually rid a woman of all the spare time, money and vitality she may have had in those early years when she was as averse to men’s advances as a fox is to a porcupine sting.

I love the summation above which appears on the Days of the Year website concerning Old Maid’s Day.

I am not quite an Old Maid. I did marry but was widowed very early on and still young. I was not able to have children so it was a miracle I ever married at all. Most men disappeared when they found out I was not a “breeder”. My husband however couldn’t have cared less. He loved me and was determined to marry me.

I took my husband’s death very, very hard and grieved quietly for many years. Losing my husband after such a short time seemed particularly unfair as I had a tragic childhood and thought at long last I was going to have a happy life. Despite it all, I was a jolly child. I evolved into a jolly adult but grief still overtakes me now and again as one might reasonably expect.

Then I woke up one day and for all intents and purposes, the grief, pain, regrets and angst of the past were over. I suddenly wanted to start living life fully again. And live it to the full I have. Sometimes it takes time to resolve certain fears to the degree we feel prepared enough to go out there and take risks again.

I have reinvented myself career wise numerous times, moved countries whenever I felt like it and have basically done whatever I dreamed up I wanted to do. Some call me lucky. I suppose I am.

It is art and music — especially Opera — that has given me the safe and beautiful environments I require where I can feel all sort of emotions which I might otherwise bury. For this I am eternally grateful. I adore the people who make it possible — but not in a starstruck way. They are like family to me. We share something quite intimate, meaningful and unique even if we are never to meet.

My life would certainly not be the same without the animals that have coursed their way through it. I am so grateful to the wonderful horses and cats I have given homes to over the decades. They have given me someone to love who loved me back and never hurt me, and  opportunities to “parent” that I would otherwise not have had. Sidenote: Today also happens to be “Hug Your Cat Day”, but I do that everyday.

They say old maids are cranky. Perhaps some are. However, my guess it has more to do with the old part than the maiden part.

As for me, I am not as cantankerous as my great hero Giuseppe Verdi but I am working on it. It’s definitely something to aspire to. And great fun!

Here is a quote regarding women Verdi wrote in an 1857 letter: “Horses are like women. They have to please the man who owns them”. Many, too many, men are vigorously nodding their heads in agreement right now. See what you escaped Old Maids!

Oh, by the way, I go by Mrs Farrell because that is what businessmen have called me over the years and it kind of stuck and become a part of my day-to-day identify — not because I am married. Sigh!

Love you.

The Old Maid and the Thief is a radio opera in one act by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. The work uses an English language libretto by the composer which tells a twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power. Menotti writes in the libretto “The devil couldn’t do what a woman can — make a thief out of an honest man.”  

Jeez Menotti! Tell us how you really feel.

Updated: Correction of 1857 Verdi quote.

Dream bass René Pape

Image from
Image from

I love deep melodic voices. Operatic voices. A beefy baritone sends me. A thunderous bass? I am gone.

René Pape is my dream bass. He sings. I dissolve into a puddle. Pape can sing anything, but his repertoire consists mainly of Verdi (my numero uno) with a huge helping of Wagner.

Pape by the way is pronounced Pah-peh. I had to learn that the hard way, per usual. No one can butcher the pronunciation of a name quite like I can and Opera offers me continuous opportunities.

I know a lot of people stay away from Opera because of things like that, all the different languages and seemingly unpronounceable names. They are all pronounceable. You just have to learn how. Like anything else in life.

So forget about that. You will learn as you go. Enjoy the journey. The snobs — I haven’t met that many actually — they had to begin just like anyone else. Who the hell cares anyway? It hasn’t held me back!

Let’s take a look at René Pape in action. Then most importantly of all — listen!


German operatic bass Rene Pape performs at a concert marking the 90th birth anniversary of famed soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, at the Bolshoi Theatre. Artyom Korotayev/TASS (Photo by Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images)

Pape as Filippo performs during the general rehearsal of the opera ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera in Vienna on June 12, 2012. The first performance of ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera was held on June 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL (Photo credit should read DIETER NAGL/AFP/GettyImages)

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Pape (as ‘King Marke’) performs during the final dress rehearsal prior to the premiere of the Metropolitan Opera/Mariusz Trelinski production of ‘Tristan und Isolde’ (by Richard Wagner) at Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House, New York, New York, September 22, 2016. The performance was a co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera, Festival Hall Baden-Baden, and China National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). (Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

Pape as Filippo performs during the general rehearsal of the opera ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera in Vienna on June 12, 2012. The first performance of ‘Don Carlo’ at the State Opera was held on June 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL (Photo credit should read DIETER NAGL/AFP/GettyImages)

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Pape as Mephistopheles with artists of the company in the Royal Ballet’s production of Charles-Francois Gounod’s ‘Faust’ directed by David McVicar and conducted by Evelino Pido at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. (Photo by robbie jack/Corbis via Getty Images)


René Pape, Don Carlo, Giuseppe Verdi

Spanish King Philip II (Pape) has fallen in love with his son Don Carlo’s intended bride Elizabeth, the product of a typical politically motivated match, and marries her himself estranging himself forever from his son who had also fallen deeply in love with her. Elizabeth, who fell deeply in love too, is desolate and never forgets her true love.

Fast forward to the last Act. The King is old and lonely, and as he ponders all he has done he realizes that the innocent bride he robbed his son of has never cared for him, has never loved him.

Ella giammai m’amò (she never loved me).

Sorrowfully he seeks the counsel of the Grand Inquisitor (Eric Halfvarson). Yes. You guessed it. The Grand Inquisitor’s response will be a deadly one.

Visit this link for the full cast of characters and synopsis at The Met website.

René Pape = Das beste!