« Legendary » tenor, « legendary » soprano, « legendary » actor…
The adjective « legendary » should not be misused.
It is a very precious word, like love, passion, truth, soul.
We should use such words scarcely, like misers.
The world of Opera has become part of the world of communication (but also the business part of it) and the world of communication is not embarrassed by swollen substantives and hyper compliments instead of appreciations that should be carefully weighed.
But who cares ? The important thing is to make money by super praising an artist like a dishwasher on sale.In that race after fame and money, every singer, man or woman, is labeled « legendary » and his or her last performance or disc bears adjectives like « stupendous », « extraordinary », « astonishing », « historical », … »legendary ».
Such hyperboles are not a good service rendered to artists who, most of the time, are worthy of respect and who give us good and honourable performances, with pleasant and even beautiful voices and sometimes good acting.But it takes more to be legendary and part of « history ».
Living legends are all but frequent, and to say the truth, those « happy » fews are never alive to enjoy the special status of legend. Like power, success, fame and glory in lifetime do not necessarily give birth to a legend, they fade away and disappear with time and with the incoming crowd of newcomers (remember the aria of the Duke of Mantova, in Rigoletto, and the elegant and magnificent rendition by Alfredo Kraus, E il sol dell’anima, la vita e amore/ Sua voce e il palpito del nostro core/ E fama e gloria, potenza e trono/ humane, fragili, che cose sono).
It takes more than « fame and glory, power and throne, for all these human things are fragile ».
So how do you explain that a young man who died at 38 after a rather short career (« A Brief Shining Moment« , as was said of the Presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy by William Manchester) has left millions full of sorrow about their loss, full of regrets for what might have been, and so grateful for the achievement and happiness given to the multitudes during those few but Golden Days ?
How do you explain the survival of Mario Lanza’s memory, of his personality, in the hearts of millions without any publicity in times of mass media, without any commemorations in times of communication, and all this, half a century after his passing and after the renewal of generations ?
How do you explain that nowadays a movie star or a show business star is forgotten after one or two failures, and longs for TV interviews or TV shows to keep afloat, and that a young tenor who died fifty years ago is still alive without publicity, and without being invited on TV sets or without interviews in magazines ?
Is that because Mario Lanza died young, like James Dean, Marylin Monroe, Maria Callas, Fritz Wunderlich, John Kennedy ? But you do not survive to time just because you died young. It takes more.
There must be another explanation than staying forever young in death.
I have my own and humble explanation.
As you know, scientists tell us the sun will die from its internal heat reaction.
So, maybe those meteoric human beings were doing exactly that, dying from their devouring passion for the others, burning their lives from their internal fire to speed their way in the starry space towards the Other Side of reality.Maybe they were here on earth not to take but to give, or to give much more than they took.
Those real stars were with us not to pursue fame and glory but to live with and within their own truth (listen to Mario Lanza say « ma verita » in « Te voglio bene » (« Dicitencello vuie »).
Maybe you enter legend when you just deserve the love and caring memories of people who were not on earth at the same time and, still, feel you’re one of them.
Maybe legend is just that: another word for the renewed gratitude by the generations to come for what was given to Humanity by some.
Yes, I do believe that Legend is the Gratitude of the Future and that Legends need to reside in the bosom of clear and pure souls.