Prima Donna Girls

©Renee 2013

Art from wiki links below

Hello kitty character portrait.png

Special girls, powerpuff types. You all know them, they are all on the covers of magazines, travel the world, and seem to have such a good time.

Originally used in opera or Commedia dell’arte companies, “prima donna” is Italian for “first lady.” The term was used to designate the leading female singer in the opera company, the person to whom the prime roles would be given. The prima donna was normally, but not necessarily, a soprano. The corresponding term for the male lead (almost always a tenor) is “primo uomo.”

Famous opera prima donnas have often caused opera enthusiasts to divide into opposing “clubs” supporting one singer over another. The rivalry between the fans of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, for example, was one of the most famous, despite the friendship of the two singers.

The designation prima donna assoluta (absolute first lady) is occasionally applied to a prima donna of outstanding excellence. This is applied by popular consensus, to those whose achievements place them in a category above all others. Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Birgit Nilsson and Montserrat Caballe are considered such among their peers.


Now, on to my favorite prima donna:

In 1962, Shintaro Tsuji, founder of Sanrio, began selling rubber sandals with flowers painted on them. Tsuji noted the profits gained by adding a cute design to the sandals and hired cartoonists to design cute characters for his merchandise. The company produced a line of character merchandise around gift-giving occasions Hello Kitty was designed by Yuko Shimizu and was added to the lineup of early Sanrio characters in 1974. The character’s first appearance on an item was a vinyl coin purse in Japan where she was pictured sitting between a bottle of milk and a goldfish bowl. She first appeared in the United States in 1976.

Sanrio decided to make Hello Kitty British because at the time when she was created, foreign countries, in particular Britain, were trendy in Japan. In addition, Sanrio already had a number of characters set in the US and they wanted Hello Kitty to be different. Shimizu got the name Kitty from Lewis Carroll‘s Through the Looking-Glass, where in a scene early in the book Alice plays with a cat she calls Kitty.

Barbie’s inspiration:

The next prima donna is my childhood favorite:

Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration.

Barbie is the figurehead of a brand of Mattel dolls and accessories, including other family members and collectible dolls. Barbie has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for over fifty years, and has been the subject of numerous controversies and lawsuits, often involving parody of the doll and her lifestyle.

Mattel, Inc. (pron.: /məˈtɛl/) a toy manufacturing company. In 2008, it ranked 413 on the Fortune 500. The products and brands it produces include Fisher Price, Barbie dolls, Monster High dolls, Hot Wheels and Matchbox toys, Masters of the Universe, American Girl dolls, board games, WWE Toys and, in the early 1980s, video game systems. The company’s name is derived from Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler, who founded the company in 1945. Handler’s wife, Ruth Handler, later became president, and she is credited with establishing the Barbie product line for the company in 1959. After the release of the Barbie doll, Mattel revolutionized the toy industry with its talking dolls and toys. Major successes in the 1960s with the talking Chatty Cathy doll in 1960 and See ‘N Say toys in 1965 moved Mattel to its position as the number one toymaker in America. Mattel closed its last factory in the United States of America, originally part of the Fisher-Price division, in 2002, outsourcing production to China, the beginning of a chain of events that led to a scandal involving lead contamination.

Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Tsarni) for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects,” Fulller, a former CIA officer in Turkey and vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, told Al-Monitor by email Saturday. “They also lived in our house in [Maryland] for a year or so and they were divorced in 1999, I believe.”

“I, of course, retired from CIA in 1987 and had moved on to working as a senior political scientist for RAND,” Fuller continued.

Fuller said his former son in law was interesting but homesick, and moved back to Central Asia after the divorce.

“Like all Chechens, Ruslan was very concerned about his native land, but I saw no particular involvement in politics, [although] he did try to contact other Chechens around,” Fuller continued. “He also felt homesick and eventually went back to Central Asia after the divorce. His English was shaky. (We always spoke Russian together).”

Read more:

An uncle of the Boston bombers was previously married to a CIA officer’s daughter for three years, it emerged today.

Ruslan Tsarni, who publicly denounced his two terrorist nephews’ actions and called them ‘Losers’, even lived with his father-in-law agent Graham Fuller in his Maryland home for a year.

Mr Fuller was forced to explain the relationship today as news of the family link emerged online.

Son-in-law: Former CIA agent Graham Fuller, left, explained his relationship to the two Boston terror suspects’ uncle today. Ruslan Tsarni, right, was married for three years to his daughter, Samantha

He told Al-Monitor that his daughter, Samantha, was married to Ruslan, whose surname was then Tsarnaev, for three to four years in the 1990s.

The couple divorced in 1999 more than ten years after he left the agency in 1987.

‘Samantha was married to Ruslan Tsarnaev (Tsarni) for 3-4 years, and they lived in Bishkek for one year where Samantha was working for Price Waterhouse on privatization projects,’ Mr Fuller said.

‘They also lived in our house in [Maryland] for a year or so and they were divorced in 1999, I believe

Read more:

Stanley M. Moskowitz (c. 1937 – June 29, 2006) was a top official of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Moskowitz was born in the Bronx and graduated from Alfred University. While attending graduate school at Duke University, he left to join the CIA in 1962, where he worked for over four decades.

In the 1980s, he was a national intelligence officer for Russia and Eastern Europe and became congressional liaison, serving under two CIA directors.

From 1995-1999, he was the station chief in Israel, where he tried with some success to mediate between the Israelis and Palestinians. His term ended soon after the Benjamin Netanyahu government became dissatisfied with his role and an Israeli paper outed his identity as CIA station chief.

He was briefly the CIA’s senior representative to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He received two Presidential Distinguished Officer Awards, the Director’s Medal, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the Intelligence Community Medal of Merit.

After retiring in 2005, he continued as a consultant and CIA’s representative to the Interagency Working Group on Nazi War Crimes. The team worked to declassify information from the agency’s files and as of June 2006 had released 27,000 pages from 174 files, much of it new material.

Former CIA directors Michael V. Hayden and George Tenet issued statements praising him as “truly exceptional” and “indispensable.”

Ruth Marianna Handler (November 4, 1916 – April 27, 2002) was an American businesswoman, born to Jewish-Polish immigrants Jacob and Ida Moskowicz, the president of the toy manufacturer Mattel Inc., and is remembered primarily for her role in marketing the Barbie doll.

Her husband, Elliot Handler and his business partner, Harold “Matt” Matson, formed a small company to manufacture picture frames, calling it “Mattel” by combining part of their names (“Matt” and “Elliot”). Later, they began using scraps from the manufacturing process to make dollhouse furniture. The furniture was more profitable than the picture frames and it was decided to concentrate on toy manufacturing. The company’s first big-seller was the “Uke-a-doodle”, a toy ukulele.

Ruth Handler had noted that her daughter Barbara, who was becoming a pre-teen, played with paper dolls by pretending they were adults. Handler noted the limitations of the paper dolls, including the how the paper clothing failed to attach well. She wanted to produce a 3-dimensional plastic “paper doll” with an adult body and a wardrobe of fabric clothing, but her husband and Mr. Matson thought parents would not buy their children a doll with a voluptuous figure. While the Handler family was vacationing in Europe, Ruth Handler saw the German Bild Lilli doll (which was not a children’s toy, but rather an adult gag gift) in a Swiss shop and brought it home. The Lilli doll was a representation of the same concept Ruth had been trying to sell to other Mattel executives.

Ruth Handler.jpg

Born Ruth Marianna Handler
November 4, 1916 (1916-11-04)
Denver, Colorado, USA
Died April 27, 2002 (2002-04-28) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of death Complications of surgery for colon cancer
Occupation President of Mattel, Inc.
Employer Mattel, Inc.
Successor Robert A. Eckert
Spouse(s) Elliot Handler (m. 1938–2002)
Children Barbara Handler, Kenneth Handler

Whitehouseportraitjackie curvecorrected.jpg

And our last prima donna:

Also see:

Born Caroline Lee Bouvier
(1933-03-03) March 3, 1933 (age 80)
Southampton, New York, United States
Occupation actress, socialite, author
Spouse(s) Michael Canfield (annulled; 1953-1959)
Stanisław Albrecht Radziwiłł (divorced; 1959-1974)Herbert Ross (divorced; 1988-2001)
Children Anthony, Anna Christina
Parents John Vernou Bouvier III, Janet Norton Lee

 Marathon, JFK Library fire etc.. not related ?…really ?

We will continue in comments.

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8 Responses to Prima Donna Girls

  1. Renee says:
    Leontyne Price was born in Laurel, Mississippi. Her father James worked in a lumber mill and her mother Katie was a midwife who sang in the church choir. They had waited 13 years for a child, and Leontyne became the focus of intense pride and love. Given a toy piano at the age of three, she began piano lessons with a local teacher. When she was in kindergarten, her parents traded in the family phonograph as the down payment on an upright piano. At 14, she was taken on a school trip to hear Marian Anderson sing in Jackson, an experience she later said was inspirational.

    Price in 1951In her teen years, Leontyne accompanied the “second choir” at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, sang and played for the chorus at the black high school, and earned extra money by singing for funerals and civic functions. Meanwhile, she often visited the home of Alexander and Elizabeth Chisholm, an affluent white family for whom Leontyne’s aunt worked as a laundress. Mrs. Chisholm encouraged the girl’s early piano playing, and later noticed her extraordinary singing voice.

    Aiming for a teaching career, Price enrolled in the music education program at the all-black Wilberforce College in Wilberforce, Ohio. (This institution’s public and private arms split in her junior year and she graduated from the publicly funded half, which became Central State University.) Her success in the glee club led to solo assignments, and she was encouraged to complete her studies in voice. She sang in the choir with another soon-to-be-famous singer, Betty Allen. With the help of the Chisholms and the famous bass Paul Robeson, who put on a benefit concert for her, she enrolled on a scholarship at the Juilliard School in New York City, where she studied with Florence Page Kimball, who would remain her principal teacher and advisor throughout the 1960s.

    Her first opera performance was as Mistress Ford in a 1952 student production of Verdi’s Falstaff. Shortly thereafter, Virgil Thomson hired her for the revival of his all-black opera, Four Saints in Three Acts. After a two-week Broadway run, Saints went to Paris. Meanwhile, she had been cast as Bess in the Blevins Davis/Robert Breen revival of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and returned for the opening of the national tour at the Dallas State Fair, on June 9, 1952. The tour visited Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., and then went on a tour of Europe, sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

    Price from Porgy and Bess 1953On the eve of the European tour, Price married the noted bass-baritone William Warfield, who was singing Porgy in the Davis-Breen production, in a ceremony at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, with many in the cast in attendance. In his memoir, My Music and My Life, Warfield describes how their careers forced them apart. They were legally separated in 1967, and divorced in 1973. They had no children.[7]

    At first, Price planned on a recital career, modeling herself after Anderson, tenor Roland Hayes, Warfield, and other great black concert singers. On occasional leaves from Porgy, she sang new songs and song cycles by American composers, including Lou Harrison, John La Montaine, and Samuel Barber.

    However, her Bess proved she had the instincts and the voice for the operatic stage, and the Met itself recognized this by inviting her to sing “Summertime” at a “Met Jamboree” fund-raiser on April 6, 1953 at the Ritz Theater on Broadway. Price was therefore the first African American to sing with the Met, if not at the Met. That distinction went to Marian Anderson, who, on January 7, 1955, sang Ulrica in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera.

    [edit] EmergenceIn November 1954, Price made her recital debut at New York’s Town Hall with a program that featured the New York premiere of Samuel Barber’s cycle “Hermit Songs”, with the composer at the piano. (They had performed the world premiere of the cycle the previous fall at the Library of Congress.) Then, opera opened its door to her through TV. In February 1955, she sang Puccini’s “Tosca” for NBC-TV Opera, under music director Peter Herman Adler, and became the first African American to appear in a leading role in televised opera. Several NBC affiliates (not all Southern) canceled the broadcast in protest.

    That March, Andre Mertens, Price’s agent at Columbia Artists, arranged an audition for her at Carnegie Hall with the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, then touring with the Berlin Philharmonic. Karajan declared her “an artist of the future” and invited her to sing Salome under his baton at La Scala. (On the advice of Miss Kimball and Mertens, she declined.) In 1955-56, 1956–57 and 1957–58, Price made recital tours across the U.S. in the Community Concerts series, and toured India (1956) and Australia (1957), sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

    She took her first steps onto the grand operatic stage in San Francisco on September 20, 1957, singing Madame Lidoine in the U.S. premiere of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites. A few weeks later, Price sang her first Aida, stepping in for Italian soprano Antonietta Stella. The following May, she made her European debut at the Vienna Staatsoper on May 24, 1958, as Aida, under Karajan. There followed debuts at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (replacing Anita Cerquetti), and at the Arena di Verona, both in Aida. She returned to Vienna the following year to sing Aida and her first onstage Pamina in The Magic Flute, and in the summer of 1959, made her debut at the Salzburg Festival in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, under Karajan.

    Over the next decade, Karajan conducted Price in many of her greatest performances, in the opera house (Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s Il trovatore and Puccini’s Tosca), in the concert hall (Bach’s Mass in B minor, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Bruckner’s Te Deum, and the Requiems of Verdi and Mozart), as well as in the recording studio (complete recordings of Tosca and Carmen, and a bestselling holiday music album A Christmas Offering—all of which are available on CD).

    On May 21, 1960, she made her first appearance at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, again as Aida. She was the first African American to sing a leading role in Italy’s greatest opera house. (In 1958, Mattiwilda Dobbs had sung Elvira, the secondary lead soprano role in Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri.)

    [edit] Metropolitan OperaThe Metropolitan Opera invited Price to sing a pair of performances as Aida in 1958, but she turned down the offer on the advice of friends, including Peter Herman Adler, director of NBC Opera. In his autobiography, William Warfield writes that Adler said, “Leontyne is to be a great artist. When she makes her debut at the Met, she must do it as a lady, not a slave.”

    In the summer of 1959, Met General Manager Rudolf Bing heard an Il Trovatore at Verona in which Price sang with tenor Franco Corelli. There followed an invitation to the Met to perform multiple leading roles. On January 27, 1961 she and Corelli made an historic double-debut in Il trovatore. The final ovation lasted at least 35 minutes, one of the longest in Met history. (Price said her friends had timed it at 42 minutes, and she used that number in her later publicity.)

  2. Renee says:
    Virgil Thomson (November 25, 1896 – September 30, 1989) was an American composer and critic. He was instrumental in the development of the “American Sound” in classical music. He has been described as a modernist,[1][2][3][4][5] a neoclassicist,[6] a composer of “an Olympian blend of humanity and detachment” [7] whose, “expressive voice was always carefully muted,” until his late opera Lord Byron which, in contrast to all his previous work, exhibited an emotional content that rises to, “moments of real passion”,[8] and a neoromantic.

    Virgil Thomson was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He displayed an extraordinary intelligence at an early age. As a child, he befriended Alice Smith, great-granddaughter of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith. After World War I, he entered Harvard University thanks to a loan from Dr. Fred M. Smith, the president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and father of Alice Smith. His tours of Europe with the Harvard Glee Club helped nurture his desire to return there. At Harvard, Thomson focused his studies on the piano work of Erik Satie. He studied in Paris on fellowship for a year, and after graduating, lived in Paris from 1925–1940. In Paris he forged relationships with such prominent cultural figures as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, E. E. Cummings, Aaron Copland, Ezra Pound, Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso, Orson Welles, Jean Cocteau, and Gertrude Stein. He eventually studied with Nadia Boulanger and became a fixture of “Paris in the twenties.” His most important friend from this period was Gertrude Stein, who was an artistic collaborator and mentor to him. Following the publication of his book The State of Music he established himself in New York City as a peer of Aaron Copland and was also a music critic for the New York Herald-Tribune from 1940 through 1954.[10] His writings on music, and his reviews of performances in particular, are noted for their wit and their independent judgments. His definition of music was famously “that which musicians do,”[11] and his views on music are radical in their insistence on reducing the rarefied aesthetics of music to market activity. He even went so far as to claim that the style a piece was written in could be most effectively understood as a consequence of its income source.[12]

    In the 1930s, he worked as a theater and film composer. His most famous works for theater are two operas with libretti by Gertrude Stein, Four Saints in Three Acts, especially famous for its use of an all-black cast, and The Mother of Us All, as well as incidental music for Orson Welles’ Depression-era production of Macbeth, set in the Caribbean, known as Voodoo Macbeth. He collaborated closely with “Chick” Austin of Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum in these early productions. The government of France made him a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1947.

    His first film commission was The Plow That Broke the Plains, sponsored by the United States Resettlement Administration, which also sponsored the film The River with music by Thomson. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1949 with his film score for Louisiana Story.

    In addition, Thomson was famous for his revival of the rare technique of composing “musical portraits” of living subjects, often spending hours in a room with them before rushing off to finish the piece on his own. Many subjects reported feeling that the pieces did capture something unique about their identities even though nearly all of the portraits were absent of any clearly representational content.[13]

    Later in life, Thomson became a sort of mentor and father figure to a new generation of American tonal composers such as Ned Rorem, Paul Bowles and Leonard Bernstein, a circle united as much by their shared homosexuality as by their similar compositional sensibilities.[14] Women composers were not part of that circle, and some have suggested that, as a critic, he pointedly ignored their works, or adopted a patronizing tone.[15]

    Thomson’s score for The River was used in the 1983 ABC made-for-television movie The Day After.

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