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Bianca Castafiore: Happy "Birthday" to the Milanese Nightingale!

#1 · Posted: 5 Jan 2018 17:41
The New Year brings another birthday, as we celebrate the first appearance of everyone's (apart from Captain Haddock and Snowy) favourite opera diva, on this day, the 5th of January, in 1939.

Readers of Le Petit Vingtième had had to wait two weeks to find out how Tintin avoided the ambush being laid for him by the Bordurian sympathizers who had been warned of his approach in a cart: due to the way the story flows (roughly pages 26-28 in the colour version), Tintin hadn't appeared the previous week (perhaps he had Christmas off?).

His reappearance was as much of a surprise to readers as it was to the partisans, being made in a car which swept past the startled group on the roadside, who were interrogating the stammering cart-driver.

This was to be the first time (but not the last) the plucky singer was to come to Tintin's aid and save his bacon in a tight corner. The downside was that he was the unsuspecting audience for a private rendition of her signature tune, "The Jewel Song" from Faust.

Now I want to say here and now that it is wrong to categorize Castafiore as a bad singer, although this is often the way she is thought of.

She is an international singing star, a woman with a world-wide following, and fans who are beguiled by her voice - but it's a powerful, rather than a poor voice. Tintin can be startled when she sings, but it is the Captain and Snowy who dislike her singing, rather than the world at large.

While she is a perfect example of the stereotypical opera diva, with her entourage, off-hand manner with Haddock, and the assumption that she is the centre of all that is going on, she is so much more. Genuinely brave and loyal, she is prepared to help fugitives and stand up for right, and makes good decisions under pressure when the chips are down.

So raise your glasses of "Spradj", and join me in a toast - "Happy birthday, Bianca Castafiore!"

So raise your glass of

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