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Danielle de Niese, international soprano – a personal reflection 

“Danielle’s wonderful voice was a gift from God,” : Johnny Young (The Observer)

– By Marie Pietersz: Melbourne

Marie Pietersz

Melbourne has been agog with excitement at the return of Melbourne-born, internationally recognised Danielle de Niese (Danni to friends) for her Australian debut to star in the lead role of The Merry Widow.  Huge street posters, some gracing Federation Square, Glen Waverley (near her  former Melbourne home) and Keysborough, and banners lining St Kilda Road near the Arts Centre, Melbourne, are testimony to the welcome home Opera Australia  had for this diva who left Melbourne as a little girl and returned home as an adult and international star, described by some as the opera world’s answer to Beyonce.

Poster advertising The Merry Widow

Danielle didn’t disappoint and delivered the results Opera Australia and her Australian fans wanted and expected. She slipped into her part with a talented Australian cast with ease and received encore after encore for her own inflection to the lead role. Her bubbly and effervescent personality connected well with the character’s, making her morph into The Merry Widow a smooth transition. A witty show of dance and song, full of extravagant art deco mise en scene and costumes, The Merry Widow transports the audience to the Parisian scene and the famous Maxim’s of Paris, regarded as one of the most famous restaurants in the world, to a period of elegant couture and clandestine amours.

Scene from The Merry Widow

Danielle grew up in Melbourne and our families spent a lot of time together. Over these early years, I watched this little girl with the big voice and big ambitions grow up and supported her parents’ aspirations and big dreams for their daughter as they recognised there was something special about the talent she possessed. The catalyst for change came when Danielle, at the age of nine, won the Young Talent Time Talent Discovery competition in 1988 singing a Whitney Houston medley. 

 In 1990, realising the time had come when raw ambitions needed redirection, Danielle’s parents decided to leave Melbourne for California with Danielle and brother, Andrew,  to seek the voice training and musical recognition they believed their young daughter deserved, and their decision paid off.  Before long, there was no stopping Danielle’s rising star. Their decision to dare to dream in the City of Angels struck gold. 

 The family lived in Hollywood for many years, and although called the ‘boulevard of broken dreams’ by some, Danielle found her feet on the ladder of fame, negotiating each step carefully onward and upward on the way to success. One of her very early achievements was winning an Emmy for TV Presenting at the young age of sixteen before she went on to perform in many starring roles.

 In 2005 Danni was chosen to sing Cleopatra in a production in Glyndebourne in Sussex, England, where she met the owner and heir to the Glyndebourne Opera, Gus Christie. In 2009 Danielle married her Englishman and now lives in London, mistress of the famous Glyndebourne Manor House, venue of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, with husband Gus and their son, Bacchus (Bax), 2.

 Danielle is the daughter of Christoper and Beverly (nee Anderson) de Niese, known in Sri Lankan and Melbourne communities, who now reside in New York.   Danielle hails from musical stock on both sides of the family.

 Mother Beverly travelled from New York to support Danielle on her special Melbourne debut tour in November. On this occasion father Chris and husband Gus were unable to attend, but son Bax was there to accompany his famous mother. 

 Encore Encore Encore

“Family means everything to me, said Danielle, when asked about her close family ties. Danielle found time after performances to mingle with her Australian cousins, relatives and friends who thronged to see her.  Witnessing her ability to switch off from public figure to private person when interacting with family and fans, public opinion was clear that here was a girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground, so refreshingly unspoiled and lovable. 

 I asked Danielle what it was that touched her the most about her visit to Melbourne and she said, “It’s the welcome home I received and the realisation that I had come a full circle – I started singing at six, left Melbourne, was nurtured along the way and now I have returned home to the open arms of the country that gave me so much. “

 Johnny Young and staff of the Bartuccio Dance School were reportedly among Danielle’s former Australian mentors and teachers who came to watch their former pupil, now as the star of the show. And so did we, up close and personal, not wanting to miss seeing the little girl we used to know who has changed the way the world sees opera singers – sultry, sexy and physically toned – perform.

If you missed the Melbourne season dates 15 to 25 November, Danielle performs at the Opera House, Sydney, from 31 December 2017 to 3 February 2018. For details and how to book, go to opera.org.au.

Welcome home Danielle, and do return again, soon! The reviews have been great!

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“RATS POULTRY” by Desmond Kelly ‘the Star of eLanka’

 Latest “BREAKING NEWS” This writer would like to BREAK the NECKS (not news) of the “POULTRY-RATS” which is a much more suitable arse-about name than “STAR”, if they are “found guilty” by the R.S.P.C.A. of boiling their chickens “live”, as they have been suspected of doing. This is not something “new” to me. Animal-cruelty is something that I have always been passionate in eradicating, & this latest news about the mob in Keysborough has me totally flabbergasted with the absolutely inhuman behaviour of anyone capable of torturing these poor defenceless chooks

     Yes, chicken flesh, together with the flesh of many other animals, birds & fish are essential for human consumption, but State Governments, Federal Governments and any other bloody Governments, should make it their responsibility to ensure that the flesh of these dumb creatures are obtained without any prior torture to those who are about to die anyway & perhaps feed even the children of the “pariahs” who are, as in the case of these chickens, boiling them while still ALIVE. Would the “bastards” who are heartless, pick up one of their own children and drop them into a cauldron of boiling oil or water, to hear them scream with the agony of it all ? I suppose they would, only to be murdered by their partners later on. Chickens are helpless, you S.O.Bs (I cannot imagine that Women would carry out this barbaric procedure), so, no matter what a money-hungry “boss” or foreman might tell you to do, DON’T DO IT.

Report them to the Authorities that handle it (privately) and try to do the right thing by the “food” you will probably eat, when you get home. If you don’t, I hope this same food will choke you to death. 

     At the same time of the news regarding the “RATS”, we hear that “Elephant tusks” are about to be welcomed into America again. My personal message to Mr.Trump is this.

Elephants, no matter how big they are, also die of natural causes, in the jungles of Africa etc., Tusks of Asian Elephants, like their ears, are much smaller, and, as such, are not as much “commercial” value as the tusks of their African brothers. IF the tusks of the animals who are already dead, are brought to America to be sold off, carved into ornaments etc., thats fine, but Mr.President, please make sure that this already endangered animal, these beautiful “tuskers” are “looked-after” & protected by many more “Rangers”, if need be, not slaughtered & killed so that their tusks can then be cut off & sent to your Country.

Sometimes, this animal too, suffers unnecessarily. Poaching S.O.Bs use special “elephant-guns” to kill these great creatures, but not everyone of these killers is a “marksman”. Sometimes Elephants are wounded and will struggle on for miles brfore collapsing to the ground. Now & again, I hope & pray that one of these BRAVE poachers will espy, when too late, a mighty elephant trunk knocking his bloody shotgun out of his grasp, then feel the same trunk encircle his useless poaching body, lift him skyward & DASH him unceremoniously to the ground, after which the endangered one will do a “tap-dance” on the “Prostrate-Poacher”, bellowing him into hell. 

     As I have written many times before, I much prefer some animals to most people. They (the animals) cannot talk & communicate with their human counterparts. God gave us the power of speech & yet, animals, birds & fish cannot talk, especially to people who are hurting them,that they DO feel pain. Treat ALL animals well. Do what you can to make sure that their habitat is intact & does not end up as wooden toothpicks. I am very lucky indeed, to have four children & about half a dozen very good friends who feel exactly as I do. We are all animal-lovers who know that you have only to look into their beautiful eyes to see the “Love & Loyalty” in them, if they are being loved & treated well, themselves. A dog will give it’s life for a kind owner & I do have a beautiful video clip that shows this Labrador sitting outside a florist shop until the salesgirl comes out, sees him there, sitting now in a “begging” mode, She offers him some tidbit which he refuses, then she offers him some roses of different colours, which he also refuses by turning his head away.

Finally, she holds out a white rose, which the dog accepts without hesitation, walks straight to a cemetary with hundreds of tombstones around, stops at one particular grave of his owner(a young woman) , places the rose almost tenderly, right there, looks up at her, then lies down at the tombstone & “whimpers” another sad “goodbye” to her. This is a DOG, and strangely enough, the white rose was the ONLY FLOWER at the tombstone. 

     Many Lankan/Aussies out there would be completely unaware that the first “space-animal” was also a dog.!

This time, it was a “bitch”(a term more suited to human-kind), She was “Laika” from Russia, long before Putin’s time

The Russians looked after this animal, fed it & trained it to familiarity with their first space-craft, then actually sent her out into space without any hope of coming back to Earth.

Yes, they certainly had food & water go with her into the wild blue yonder, but this food & water certainly would not last forever. Obviously, the Russians did not “LAIKA” enough and so , poor Laika, or what remains of her, is still out there somewhere. Anyway, I suppose she’s better off up there, rather than “landing” down in Bali, to be killed and served to the tourists, as chicken, which certainly brings me back to the “RATS POULTRY FARM IN KEYSBOROUGH. 

                                                                         Desmond Kelly ‘Star of eLanka’

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Charring, Burning your meat, poultry or fish as in Barbecuing or frying-grilling

Good Advice by Dr Harold

When you char, burn, grill or barbecue

any form of red meat (steaks), hot dogs, white meat as in chicken, or deep frying at high temperatures in your griller, or cooking at high temperatures for a long time (high heat cooking), results in a poisonous chemical called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These amines can damage an individual’s genes, raising the risk and incidence of stomach and colo-rectal cancers.

It is advisable to pre-cook these foods in the microwave or oven for about 5 minutes, and then grill. Use very little cooking oil in grilling. Less grilling time means less chance to exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, as mentioned before.

The grills need to be scrubbed and cleaned after each use to prevent harmful chemicals from building up and transferring to your food.

Marinading meat with vinegar, lemon juice and herbs like mint, rosemary or sage for a few hours, seem to reduce HCA formation as much as 96%

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What Vegies and fruits are suitable for those having diabetes?

Written by Dr harold Gunatillake- FRCS, FICS, FIACS, AM (Sing), MBBS

Any fruit or vegetable will be the choice for most people whose insulin secretion is normal. What this means is that the blood sugar tends to remain within the normal range as measured by insulin when carbs are consumed. People having diabetes do not secrete sufficient insulin or may be due to reduced insulin sensitivity the blood sugar cannot be regulated and informed decisions are required to eat the right carbs, in different types of foods and drinks that make up a healthy diet.

In such situations you should know to select the right carbs to maintain a normal sugar level in your blood. In other words you may need to know carbs having a low glycaemic index (GI) and some knowledge about glycaemic load (GL) may be helpful.

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RATS POULTRY

by Desmond Kelly

Latest “BREAKING NEWS” This writer would like to BREAK the NECKS (not news) of the “POULTRY-RATS” which is a much more suitable arse-about name than “STAR”, if they are “found guilty” by the R.S.P.C.A. of boiling their chickens “live”, as they have been suspected of doing. This is not something “new” to me. Animal-cruelty is something that I have always been passionate in eradicating, & this latest news about the mob in Keysborough has me totally flabbergasted with the absolutely inhuman behaviour of anyone capable of torturing these poor defenceless chooks

Yes, chicken flesh, together with the flesh of many other animals, birds & fish are essential for human consumption, but State Governments, Federal Governments and any other bloody Governments, should make it their responsibility to ensure that the flesh of these dumb creatures are obtained without any prior torture to those who are about to die anyway & perhaps feed even the children of the “pariahs” who are, as in the case of these chickens, boiling them while still ALIVE. Would the “bastards” who are heartless, pick up one of their own children and drop them into a cauldron of boiling oil or water, to hear them scream with the agony of it all ? I suppose they would, only to be murdered by their partners later on. Chickens are helpless, you S.O.Bs (I cannot imagine that Women would carry out this barbaric procedure), so, no matter what a money-hungry “boss” or foreman might tell you to do, DON’T DO IT.

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“The Devil in me”

by Desmond Kelly

The song is self-explanatory. It really doesn’t matter where young guys like us were born, not one, that I know, could have claimed to be a Saint. I was, in fact, one of the worse ones. Not so bad, until I joined the Royal Ceylon Navy, then,I made up for it, big-time. Hope my eLanka readers enjoy the lyrics.

“THE DEVIL IN ME”

I’m out all day, at play, by the swimming pool
I’m drinking “happy beers”,for a sad & lonely fool
The sun’s sinking low, as the neon lights the Street
Kinda waking up, the devil in me.

He’s always with me, & that’s right under my skin
Lord, the things he makes me do, brother, it’s a sin
When my whole life is coming apart at the seams (it)
Seems never enough, for the devil in me.

The devil in me, he’s a real sly cat
I never have to look for trouble
Always shows me where it’s at
No, he won’t leave me alone, to any set degree
Won’t let me be, this devil in me

THEN

I’ll drink all night till the barman tells me “No”
He looks at my devil & then tells it where to go
But this voice in my ear says it just wants to see
“Just one more drink” says the devil in me

Will miss roll-call tomorrow, i can already tell
I’ll be “hung” way over, it’s gonna hurt like hell
There’ll be no relief cos he just won’t let me be
That bloody old devil, the devil in me.

The devil in me, is a “special kind
To find him, folks, I simply look behind
And “speak of the devil”, his offers are all free
I could’nt get enough of “THE DEVIL IN ME”

Desmond Kelly
Star of eLanka.

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“70TH ROYAL WEDDING ANNIVERSARY” WOW!! – By Desmond Kelly ‘the Star of eLanka’

(image source: ABC News)
Image Source: Hello Magazine

A “Platinum” Princess & Prince, Elizabeth & Phillip, married on the 20th November, 1947, exactly 70 years ago, live presently in Buckingham Palace, London, England, as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the 2nd & her Consort, His Royal Highness Prince Phillip. They have just celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary, termed the “Platinum” one, on rather a low key, in comparison to their other significant ones, but still released 4 official photographs of this great occasion.

     Both the Queen & her husband are nonagenerian, but still “look the part” (She was one of the prettiest princesses in the World, while.He looked every bit, the handsome prince, especially in his Naval Officer’s uniform). They met, and fell in love,  but theirs was a very special (separate) love story. They have 4 children
1.Prince Charles (Heir to the throne)
2.Princess.Anne (Princess Royal)
3. Prince Andrew (Duke ok York)
4.Prince Edward (Duke of Wessex)

     There will doubtless be plenty of “T.V” viewing on this happy occasion but on behalf of eLanka & all of us who had the pleasure of seeing this royal couple when they “visited”(Ceylon was one of Princess Elizabeth’s favourite destinations (under the Crown), & as a matter fact the biggest jewel in her Crown is a huge, beautiful, blue sapphire, still,jewels aside, let us Lankans & Lankan/Aussies wish this famous Couple only the very best congratulations for a very long marriage & may they go on to future anniversaries.
God bless you, Queen Elizabeth ll & Prince Phillip.

                                                                     Desmond Kelly
                                                                     Star of eLanka.

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