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Classical 101

A Visit with Lotfi Mansouri and his Operatic Journey

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[AUDIO] I don't really know Lotfi Mansouri personally. We had a few joint appearances on the lamented Texaco-Opera Quiz back in the day, but I was a lowly student and he was running the San Francisco Opera. Born in Iran, Mansouri settled in California as a young man and began a career in opera as a stage director, impresario, producer, teacher and now author. His memoir Lotfi Mansouri, An Operatic Journey is new from Northeastern University Press. Lotfi spent years working with Dr. Herbert Graf in Zurich and Geneva and served as General Director of the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto before going to San Francisco. The book is a lively read about a life in opera, complete with the Shah and Carol Burnett. Lotfi and I caught up recently on the phone from his home in California. Remembering Sir Charles Mackerras, and early days with two great [caption id="attachment_13205" align="alignright" width="130" caption="Lotfi Mansouri and Carol Burnett"]00000178-6a23-ddab-a97a-6a3b59f30000[/caption] colleagues, Lotte Lehmann...and Carol Burnett! [audio:lotfi-mackerras-lehmann-burnett1.mp3] Here's the great Lotte Lehmann (1888-1976) She was a profound influence on Lotfi Mansouri and on generations of artists. [youtube WHyXlpeCmyw 490 344] It was hard to leave Iran as a very young man. It was harder to leave Iran when you are a successful professional who returned at the behest of the Shah, back in 1971 [audio:lotfi-shah.mp3] Lotfi Mansouri was a prime mover behind the development of opera Titles 00000178-6a23-ddab-a97a-6a3b59f50000(surtitles, subtitles, cap titles, what  ever you want to call them).  He talks about this development and the controversy around really making opera accessible, plus his years in Toronto and San Francisco [audio:lotfi-3-sf-canda-titles.mp3] Then for fun, I asked Lotfi to "free associate" with some famous names: Sutherland, Pavarotti, von Stade.... [caption id="attachment_13209" align="alignright" width="137" caption="Lotfi Mansouri with Dame Joan Sutherland 'The Merry Widow'"]00000178-6a23-ddab-a97a-6a3b59f60000[/caption] [audio:lofti-4-people1.mp3] Don't miss Lotfi Mansouri, An Operatic Journey, new from Northeastern University Press. Lotfi takes numbers and names names but makes clear his love for opera and its people. Thanks for the chat,Lotfi. It was great to catch up! --Christopher Purdy