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The Gift of Idleness
In June 2010 the Swiss tenor Hugues Cuénod celebrated his 108th birthday. This is the story of a remarkable man who has lived an amazing life

Hugues Cuénod had the longest singing career in history, and at the age of 85 he was the oldest person ever to make a debut at the Met. During his long career, Cuénod knew all the greats in the worlds of music and art, including Noel Coward, Nadia Boulanger and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. The story of Cuénod's life is presented by Janet Kenny, who performed with him during a season at Glyndebourne. The programme also includes clips from an interview that Cuénod gave to Hawaii Public Radio when he was 99 years old.

The Gift of Idleness uses a lot of information that Cuénod gave in a series of conversations with François Hudry between 1986 and 1996, which Hudry both broadcast on Swiss radio and published in a book. The book was translated into English by Albert Fuller. It's called Hugues Cuenod - with an Agile Voice and can be bought here from Amazon.

Janet Kenny had a too brief career as a professional concert and opera singer in the 1960s. She sang roles in festivals including Glyndebourne and Belfast and performed in the Wigmore Hall, the Albert Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and various roles for a season with the Basilica Opera. This company was supported by The Arts Council of Great Britain, and its president was Sir John Barbirolli. Janet Kenny now writes poetry in Australia and recollects opera from an affectionate distance.

The programme is offered in either CD quality, if you have a fast internet connection, or Radio quality if you have a slow connection.

    The Gift of Idleness     CD quality     Radio quality
  31/08/10. Duration: 60 minutes

Note: The Gift of Idleness is also offered as a 75 minute programme, with full music clips, and as a condensed 30 minute programme.

Files are in mp3 format and will stream on your media player. Click on the link to listen to the programme. The file might not start playing immediately, and could take a number of seconds to start downloading. If the link doesn't work on your browser, right click on it and from the menu select 'Open in new window'.

The Gift of Idleness contains the following music:

Cuénod: Jour et nuit from a 1971 performance of Offenbach's Les Contes d’ Hoffmann.
Forlane from Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin played by Arthur Rubinstein.
Cuénod: Sensation, song by Dinu Lipatti. Recorded 1951.
Ignacy Paderewski playing a Polonaise in A flat by Chopin.
Félia Litvinne's 1905 recording of Voi lo sapete from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.
Toccata from Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin played by Vlado Perlemuter.
Mary Garden's 1911 recording of O liberté ma mie from Massenet's Le Jongleur de Notre Dame.
Elizabeth Schumann singing Richard Strauss’s Wiegenlied in 1927.
Clara Haskil and Artur Grumiaux from their recording of Mozart's violin and piano sonata K526 in A major.
Noel Coward's song, Green Carnation from the 1990 film, Jeeves and Wooster.
Cuénod: a 1935 recording of Lord What a Mornin'.
Cuénod: Chiome d'oro by Monteverdi, recorded in 1937 with Paul Derenne (tenor) and Nadia Boulanger (piano).
Cuénod: a 1951 recording of Capital de la douleur, by Dinu Lipatti.
Francis Poulenc playing his piano Waltz in C major.
Maria Stader singing Ach ich fühl’s from Die Zauberflöte by Mozart.
The opening chorus from Bach’s Passion according to Saint Matthew.
Cuénod in the world premiere of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress.
Cuénod: Go to Bed Sweet Muse by Robert Jones.
Cuénod: In quegl’ anni from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Recorded in 1955.
Cuénod : aria by Cavalli Ah! tristo scellerato.
Cuénod: Arithmetic from Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges.
Sonata sopra Sancta Maria from Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine.
Cuénod: Nigra sum from Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine.
Beatus vir by Monteverdi.

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