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tv   Take Me to the Opera  BBC News  August 1, 2021 12:30am-1:01am BST

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this is bbc news. the headlines: fighting is raging around three major cities in afghanistan as the taliban try to seize them from government forces. militants have made rapid gains since it was announced almost all foreign troops would leave by september. thousands of people have been fleeing their homes to escape the violence. the un food agency says several trucks carrying emergency aid to tigray in northern ethiopia have reached the regional capital mekelle. they were part of a convoy that got stuck for several weeks. around 5 million people in the region rely on emergency assistance, with 400,000 living in famine conditions. on day eight of the tokyo 0lympics, it was a clean sweep forjamaica in the women's 100 metres final, with elaine thompson—herah taking the title. it's her second successive olympic gold in the event.
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nhs england and the body that regulates healthcare products are issuing new guidance on pulse oxygen meters — also known as 0ximeters — after it was found that the devices can overestimate oxygen levels in people with darker skin. with more here's our health correspondent, amara sophia elahi. this women caught coronavirus in december last year and eventually ended up in hospital with seriously low oxygen levels. so, basically, you flip the lid, put yourfinger in... she had been monitoring her levels at home with the pulse oximeter, but the meter consistently told her she was in safe levels. even as she increasingly struggled to breathe. when i went into hospital, the first thing they said was you really did leave it too late. had you left it any longer, iwould have been straight into icu. there is growing evidence that such monitors can overestimate oxygen levels in people with darker skin tones by 2%. that has led to nhs england
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and the body that regulates the use of medical devices, the mhra, issuing new advice. they say you should not use the devices at home without speaking to a medical professional, and to monitor oxygen levels over time. low oxygen levels are a primary indicator of serious covid infection, and those treating patients in hospital say they have expressed concerns about the use of the technology on minority ethnic individuals. it is something that i would pick up on at least once a day, with maybe two or three patients on a daily basis. it is quite possible that someone's oxygen levels were measured and they seemed normal, when actually they were truly low. because they seemed normal, they might have been sent home and denied the steroids and oxygen which would normally have been given to patients. and it is possible that therefore may have led to them becoming more unwell, and potentially leaving dying. —— becoming more unwell,
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and potentially even dying. oxygen is one of the most common treatments given in medical emergencies, and doctors stress accurate readings are vital when assessing patients. nhs england say they are keeping the situation under review and have commissioned further research into the issue. amara sophia elahi, bbc news. now on bbc news, zeinab badawi talks to two of today's biggest 0pera names — italian mezzo soprano cecilia bartoli and tenorjuan diego florez. i've been an opera fan for decades and i want to share my passion with you so i'm on a mission to tell you about some of the names in opera who are making it fit for the future. superstar cecilia bartoli is the italian mezzo soprano who originally wanted to be a flamenco dancer. and peruvian born tenor juan diego florez is an icon but he wanted to become a pop star. big names today — but are they prepared for
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the opera world of tomorrow? we had to start more with using technology and using streaming, for instance. it's a beautiful art and if more and more young people come to the theatre and enjoy that, it's a magical world. let me take you to the opera. juan diego florez and cecilia bartoli are two of the most popular and respected stars in opera today. but they are also helping to forge a more secure future for opera, one that embraces tradition whilst also driving innovation.
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italian mezzo soprano cecilia bartoli is unique in opera. she has received numerous accolades for her performances and has millions of admirers — like me. but she is also a music scholar and manager of one of the world's biggest opera festivals. cecilia's got that mystery quality that only very few singers have of complete charisma. when you see her on stage you look at her and it's very hard to look at anyone else because she's got that ability to inspire and thrill just by being on stage, before she even opens her mouth. for nearly 30 years, cecilia has been singing at the salzburg whitsun festival in austria where she is artistic director. as live performances begin
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again, i talk to her in salzburg via video link in london and ask her what it's like to be back before an audience. i mean, it's fantastic. it really is such a joy because last year we had to cancel the festival and now it is great. we really need that because it was such a difficult time, yes, a tragic time, i have to say. so, happy to be back, yes. now, when you were a young girl you wanted to become a flamenco dancer. a little bit! yes! but it was your mother, who was herself a soprano, who recognised that you had real vocal talent, and she became your voice teacher. what was it like to be taught by your own mother? to study with my mother was hard. my mother, she's definitely my mentor, my teacher, and she was also a guide
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of what to do and what not to do. i think this is also important. she was quite... i will not say severe. this is what my mother teach me, a solid technique. cecilia is that the product of an operatic union. her soprano mother, silvana bazzoni, and her tenor father, pietro bartoli, met while performing together in 1957. cecilia's mother attends most of her performances and she is most definitely still a mamma's girl. cecilia bartoli's mother was absolutely critical in the creation of her as an artist. as an opera singer, you can't be a part time opera singer. you have to be absolutely committed from quite a young age. you have to be able to move and sing at the same time, all those things really take a lot of pushing. and i think you need somebody behind you and cecilia bartoli has her mother.
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what makes cecilia so special is her ability to dig up and bring back to life old treasures from the baroque period of the 17th and 18th centuries by composers like handel and vivaldi. this is why she is known as the queen of baroque. i am a curious person, in life, in general, and of course i have done many, let's say, operas which are considered popular. then i was also curious to find out who inspired rossini, who inspired mozart, and of course in order to do that you have to go back and this was fascinating to do this research in baroque music with handel, vivaldi.
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she is really, really pushing the boundaries of what we think of as opera and she has done that single—handedly and made it really entertaining. cecilia bartoli looks at a score and she thinks, "this is amazing music," and then she performs it, and often it is very florid, incredibly technically demanding, and half the time it has not been sung because it isjust too difficult to sing. she can do it. applause.
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most notably in her pioneering ways, cecilia has popularised the music of the famous 18th century italian castrato farinelli, like this piece by riccardo broschi. the castration process involved the removal of a boy's testicles to maintain the purity of his prepubescent voice. the voice of farinelli apparently was incredible. he had incredible range, he had such a flexible voice, but at the same time he was able to sing very gently, very softly, he had this long breath, you know, and for me it was fascinating, it was a challenge for women also to sing, perform music which was written for men. the photo on the cover of this bestselling album depicting cecilia as a male was dedicated by her to farinelli.
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if you think in italy, more than 1000 boys were castrated at the beginning of the 18th century. so all this started because the vatican forbade at the time women to perform on stage and i think somehow this started this weird and terrible and barbaric, let's say, tradition. in her trailblazing ways in 2017, she forged a new path with the vatican, becoming the first woman to sing solo with the papal choir at the sistine chapel. this was an amazing experience because to sing in the sistine chapel, i mean already the acoustics are magnificent but then being there, you are so inspired. it was really a unique moment in my life, in my career, and i hope i will have a chance to go back. i really hope.
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so many of these achievements make cecilia a bit of a feminist icon. she is one of the most important female artistic directors in opera. she took up her post at the salzburg whitsun festival in 2012 and, in another first, she will join 0pera monte carlo as artistic director in 2023. the world of opera is dominated by conductors and artistic directors who are male so cecilia bartoli is a real pioneer in this field. in many situations men are still, yeah, important positions, but for women i think it is a time we can show them we can do very good things, yes, as good as men. i don't know if i am a pioneer. i hope i was able to transmit my passion and curiosity. because she has lived being a performer and i think that does give managers a particular perspective, if they have been singers on stage then they can really empathise with the predicaments of being a performer
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and i think that lends them a very special perspective when they are then running an institution or festival as cecilia is. as a manager, cecilia sees how technology rushed in to save the day during the lockdowns, making operatic performances available online for millions to enjoy. we had to start more with using technology and using streaming, for instance, which in one way was good during the pandemic time, but i think the magic of a live performance, being in the audience, sharing this with other people, it is impossible to transmit this in streaming. i still believe in the live performance, this energy, you have this ping—pong between you and the audience, this is something magic. 0pera fans agree that nothing can replace the exhilaration of the live performance, and outdoor venues such as italy's arena in verona, are becoming more popular
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and widespread as a result of lockdowns. i think it's going to be a completely new thing for opera to be performed half indoors, half outdoors. a lot of venues are adapting and changing so there are outdoor venues where you sit in a huge arena, but there are lots of venues now experimenting with outdoor spaces like circus tents, and built theatres which have you sitting half inside and half out, like a sporting arena. because of restrictions it has made people much more inventive about what an opera house can be. it doesn't have to be a traditional enclosed theatre. how far will this broaden the appeal of opera and perhaps even bring it to the masses? is it a shot in the arm? one of the things about opera is it traditionally happens in opera houses which are like temples of art. a lot of people find crossing the threshold of an opera house quite difficult because it does seem rather daunting. to have it in these amazing different spaces which perhaps are much more approachable, things outdoors are generally more convivial.
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traditional venues such as vienna's opera house are indeed spectacular. and a regular star performer there is somebody whose career i have followed for many years. the popular peruvian born tenorjuan diego florez. during lockdown he had to adapt to new ways of singing opera in empty theatre halls, in concerts streamed and broadcast. like this one of faust by gounod.
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could streaming become a permanent way of bringing opera to wider audiences? well, singing to the masses is injuan diego florez�*s blood. his first ambition was to become a pop star. his father was a traditional folk singer in peru and his mother ran a live music bar in the capital, lima, where he would often perform. i was young, i was a minor, but in the end i was playing the whole night and making everybody dance until very late, i was singing peruvian music, my own songs, singing elvis presley, the beatles, salsa, everybody was dancing, so for me it was a good school. we are speaking via video link. juan diego is at home
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in vienna and i'm in london. halfway through, he gives me a rendition of marechiare, a popular 19th—century italian song. he sings. serenaded byjuan diego florez, i think i mightjust be getting carried away. juan diego is a real example of how somebody can fall in love with opera unexpectedly. he became smitten when he joined the conservatory in the peruvian capital, lima. i got in and i discovered classical music there. and i loved it. i loved what my voice could do,
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and then i was asking everybody, do you think i am good? do you think i could be a tenor? i like this kind of singing but i don't know if i'm good enough. people said, yeah, if you study. so that was it. after studying for three years at the lima conservatory, juan diego left peru for the first time to train in the united states with the full backing of his family. my mother was always so supportive. she is a strong woman so she was, yeah, you have to go, do whatever it takes. so we sold the family carfor $1000 so i had the money to go to america to have aeroplane fare. juan diego blossomed in america and quickly gained prominence. he was picked to replace a singer at short notice at the rossini 0pera festival in italy in 1996 atjust 22.
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one year later he visited italy's top opera house, la scala, in milan, and vowed he would return as a soloist. i was still a student in philadelphia and i visited la scala as a tourist and i was there enjoying the view of this magnificent theatre and i said to the guards, "i will sing here in ten years." and i was singing there in less than ten months. so success was rapid forjuan diego and he went on to perform many times at la scala, including as count almaviva in rossini's barber of seville. he is born to be on the stage. he has that amazing stage magic so when he walks on stage you just are gripped by him. in 1997, juan diego began a long and successful relationship with the royal opera house in london.
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where i too have a connection, as a member of the board. and i have been lucky to see him perform here. he is especially popular for his performance in la fille du regiment by donizetti. his lyric tenor voice, coupled with an impeccable technique, means he is master of the high note. now, la fille du regiment has a notoriously difficult aria to perform because it has nine high cs. yes, nine.
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when he is singing these top cs they ping across the room and almost fill your head with this vibration. they used to be called the money notes. you have to sing those and if you didn't the whole performance was ruined. it was on the stage here at the royal opera house that juan diego florez made one of his early appearances in a performance of la fille du regiment and he says he was so overcome with nerves that he had to get in touch with one very famous italian tenor. before coming on stage, i called pavarotti, literally on the wing, i called pavarotti and said i needed some reassurance. maestro, you did this famous aria in the �*70s here, ijust wanted to hear your voice so i get some assurance and confidence.
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he said, you will be fine, you will be great, go for it. i said, thank you, maestro. just as the late, great italian tenor luciano pavarotti was his hero, juan diego commands great respect with the younger generation. he comes to the stage at the royal opera house to give master classes to aspiring opera stars. this high note is here. it is not here. it's not here either. it's in the middle. when you give a masterclass and you hear different singers, you already know when you have listened to them, who might become a superstar or opera singer and you already know who will not. bravo.
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juan diego florez believes in the power of music to transform young lives. in his native peru he has set up a foundation, sinfonia por el peru. we have different schools in different regions, the coast, in the andes, in the jungle, and every school is in very disadvantaged areas of peru and our beneficiaries are always kids that are in danger of falling into traps like drugs, crime, prostitution, child labour, etc. we have done great studies that demonstrate how sinfonia is changing their lives. peru and latin america remain close tojuan diego's heart. he even dressed in traditional inca costume during a performance at the bbc
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proms in london. juan diego uses his eye—catching showmanship as a way of drawing attention to his work and attracting new audiences to opera. i think it is very important that more and more people come to the opera. i was singing pop music, i had close contact with classical music, opera, and i liked it immediately, and i didn't have a background. i think it is a beautiful art and if more and more young people come to the theatre and enjoy that, it is a magical world where many art forms come together to create something so strong. he started his relationship with us in 1997 and you would barely believe it, he still seems so incredibly youthful on stage. he has fantastic charisma on stage and his delectable
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voice to go with it. that is why he is a perennial favourite with audiences here. he also believes that opera should have a much wider global appeal. he is from latin america. do you think it is important that opera is taken out of its kind of european niche? i think it is important that opera becomes something that appeals to everyone because it does have a reputation of being quite elitist and aloof but when it is done well it can be the most exciting of art forms when you have the combination of singers, orchestral musicians, chorus, stage technicians, all of these highly trained artists, musicians, practitioners — it deserves to be enjoyed by absolutely everyone. bothjuan diego florez and cecilia bartoli are superstars who are pioneers
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helping to shape the future of opera. next time we see how a younger generation of singers are responding to greater technology and diversity in the heart of opera. hello, between the showers on saturday we reached 23 celsius in suffolk. we had nine hours of sunshine in parts of cornwall. that is often the case when we have sunny spells and showers. the north york moors saw about 17 millimetres of rain from the showers during saturday, as well. they have not altogether died out through the night because we have got the complication of a weather front. what it is, it is cooler in the north, temperatures
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into single figures in rural parts of scotland and northern ireland. that is because we are behind this cold weather front. as i say, this is complicating our sunny spells and scattered showers scenario because we have actually got rather more cloud to start across parts of northern england, showers following on that brisk wind into the north and east of scotland, but fewer showers further west across scotland. very few showers for northern ireland, generally speaking, and further west. but they will break out both on our weather front and further south. it looks like the most potent showers during the day on sunday are likely across southern and eastern parts of the uk. slow moving with hail and thunder and lightning once again, torrential downpours, so we need to keep an eye on those. and temperatures generally will be a degree or so down on those of saturday because of that northerly breeze, although a fairly light breeze in southern areas, as i say. and those showers will rumble on through this evening and for a start tonight, but then they do fade away, we lose that weather front away from the southern and eastern areas, and it will be a fresher night for all, i think. we will notice that difference by the time we get to monday morning.
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some brightness and sunshine and relatively quiet start to the week. 0ur weather front is not too far away in the south, that is going to provide the focal point again for a few showers, and perhaps developing over the cambrian mountains and up into snowdonia in wales. one or two not far away from northern ireland. and western scotland should be fine and dry, but still cool in the north and east with that gentle northerly drift, which gets cut off by our slight ridge of high pressure for a time late monday into tuesday. but then we are looking at the atlantic influence coming in from mid week on, which is going to be difficult to pinpoint the detail at this stage, so do not take this as read, but it does look more unsettled again as we go through the midweek and beyond. that is, as you can see, illustrated here on our weather charts with more showers along the spells of rain appearing. and even some showers to start the week, as i say, in southern areas and across wales in particular. so, yes, fewer showers, a little bit quieter start of the week, but still quite cool, and it stays cool — more wind and rain later.
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you're watching bbc news. i'm rich preston. our latest headlines: gunfire. fierce fighting in afghanistan — three cities are battling the taliban. the taliban with the peace talks stalled, everyone is worried the violence will get worse in the coming weeks. —— with the taliban emboldened and the peace talks stalled. as day nine of the tokyo 0lympics gets underway, today's the day we discover the heir to usain bolt�*s crown. i mariko imariko 0i i mariko 0i live in tokyo where we will be talking about this intense heat and the covid state of emergency. the first in a convoy of humanitarian aid trucks reaches the capital of ethiopia's war—torn tigray region. and as the uk's latest satellite goes into orbit,
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can it maintain its world—beating leadership in the sector?

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