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Marion Lignana Rosenberg quitte 'cette vallée de larmes qu'est la vie'

The sad news arrived Monday of the sudden death of music critic and writer Marion Lignana Rosenberg. This was a terrible shock chez Ionarts, because Marion was one of my favorite writers on music and many other topics. Her blog, Vilaine Fille, was one of the best daily reads in the heyday of blogging, long since past: you can get a rough idea of her work in that format here, but without the visual beauty that was one of her hallmarks. Marion would certainly not approve of me linking to that site without letting you know that the site has gone without her always careful tending to it for some years now.

It always bothered me that someone who was so manifestly talented as a writer, so urbane in her literary and musical interests, so astute and unflinching as a critic had not been snatched up by some high-profile publication. A few years ago, I said precisely that in print, a quote that Marion pulled on the front page of her Web site -- somewhat to my embarrassment, as if my opinion on such matters has any import where it counts! She wrote for many different outfits over the years, all brilliantly, on new operas, recent operas, old operas, the supposed death of opera, and much more. Marion's Franco- and Italophilia were notorious (a shared inclination), and she wrote a regular column in Italian, as well as having a side career as a translator of both French and Italian. Her mania for words was fueled by a love of literature in many languages.

For all of her erudition, at its roots what drove her opera criticism was a love of voices, pure and simple. The singers (of any tradition) she loved -- Mirella Freni, Cecilia Bartoli, Christian Gerhaher (whom she had taken recently to calling, jokingly, her "husband"), Paolo Conte, Rufus Wainwright, and above all, Maria Callas -- she loved with a devotion that bordered on a fan's obsession. (In her blog musings she used to call herself "a proud member of the insanity-based community.") When something did not please her, like Anna Netrebko's bel canto singing, she could be savage. In her love of voices, she never disdained the popular, taking her online moniker, Vilaine Fille, from the song by Serge Gainsbourg (her professed "patron saint"). When things were not going well, however, she often wrote of being lifted up by the singing of Rufus Wainwright. This is not a passion I shared with her, but when the news came about Marion's sudden passing, there was only one musical response, embedded below, and that was Wainwright singing one of Marion's favorite songs.

Rest in peace, dear Marion -- all of your mauvais garçons will miss you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link--I have not been an R.W. fan either and asked her to turn him off several times. This performance helps me understand her admiration.