Vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore is possibly one of the most moving arias ever written. It is sung by Tosca (Maria Callas in the recording on You Tube - above) as she thinks of her fate in Act 2 of Puccini's magnificent opera. The libretto is also very personal to me. It recognises the value of love and faith, and the significant role that music and the arts have played in my own life.
In 1999, this aria was sung by Simone Sauphanor at the funeral of my dear and much-missed partner, Blair Wilson, in Westminster Cathedral, London. Blair was an opera singer from Philadelphia and much more. And on 29 March 2012 - the 13th anniversary of his death - a young baritone from India became the recipient of the Blair Wilson Award, to assist his studies at the Royal College of Music.
Oscar Castellino is a talented singer whom I am sure you will be hearing more of in the years to come. Indeed, you may well have heard him already: he was one of the RCM Chamber Choir who sang for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the end of the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant on 3 June 2012 - despite wind, cold and torrential rain! See videos and pictures from the day and read more here.
From Tosca - Giacomo Puccini:
della Madonna al manto,
e diedi il canto agli astri,
che ne ridean più belli.
I lived for art, I lived for love ...
I gave jewels
for the Madonna's mantle,
And songs for the stars,
That shone forth with greater radiance.