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Raymond Gubbay

Raymond Gubbay

Broadcast

First broadcast: Sun 03 Dec 2006

Musician, Impresario

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the music impresario Raymond Gubbay. For 40 years he has brought popular classics and opera to the masses. His name has become synonymous with glittering evenings based on classical favourites with concerts often topped off with lasers, fireworks and light displays. He's worked with everyone from Pavarotti to Ray Charles and, while snooty critics dismiss it as 'middle-brow music for Middle England', it attracts audiences in their droves; two million people have now attended his 'Classical Spectacular' evenings.

It's a long way from his early days, when he toured the country with a small troupe of singers and a pianist. Then, venues would pay him 84 guineas to put on a Viennese evening or a Gilbert and Sullivan night and he had to pay the musicians and cover the cost of transport and hotels before he earned a penny. He says he gives people what they want, "tunes they can hum" and more often than not, he gets it right. But in 2004, for once, he misjudged his audience: he wanted to open a third opera house in London offering cheaper seats to a wider audience, but even before the curtain rose for the first time he knew they weren't selling enough tickets to stay open. He says it's been the biggest disappointment of his career, but he doesn't rule out another attempt to bring opera to the West End.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Choices

Giacomo Puccini

1.

Giacomo Puccini

Tu, che di gel sei cinta (from Turandot)

Soloist: Montserrat Caballe

Others who chose this artist

Ludwig van Beethoven

2.

Castaway's favourite

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major 'Emperor' - 3rd movement

Soloist: Benno Moiseiwitsch Orchestra: The London Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Eorge Szell

Others who chose this artist

Giacomo Puccini

3.

Giacomo Puccini

Act 1 Duet (from Madama Butterfly)

Soloist: Victoria de Los Angeles & Jussi Björling

Others who chose this artist

Giuseppe Verdi

4.

Giuseppe Verdi

Sempre libera (from La traviata)

Soloist: Maria Callas, Alfredo Kraus

Others who chose this artist

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

5.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Nutcracker ballet - Act 2 Final Waltz

Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Semyon Bychkov

Others who chose this artist

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

7.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Dove sono (from The Marriage of Figaro)

Soloist: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

Others who chose this artist

Max Bruch

8.

Max Bruch

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor

Soloist: Yehudi Menuhin

Others who chose this artist

Book

Unabridged Collins/Robert/ English /French dictionary by

Others who chose this author

Luxury item

An espresso coffee machine with coffee

Others who chose a similar luxury

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