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Lisa Appignanesi

Michael Berkeley’s guest is writer Lisa Appignanesi. With music by Monteverdi, Mozart and Bessie Smith.

Memory, desire, madness: these are the themes that fascinate Lisa Appignanesi and that she’s explored over the last forty years in novels, in memoirs, and in prize-winning books such as “Mad, Bad and Sad”, a history of women and mind doctors. Lisa Appignanesi is the Chair of the Royal Society of Literature and a former President of English PEN, an organisation which campaigns for free speech. She’s written about cabaret, about Proust and fin-de-siecle Paris, about Simone de Beauvoir, about Freud, and about her own troubled search for identity.

In Private Passions she tells Michael Berkeley about her childhood in Poland, where she was born Elżbieta Borensztejn, and about the way identities in her family were always shifting, “always there for the making”. She reflects on the power of the dead to haunt us, expressed by Monteverdi in his opera Orfeo, and admires the strength of singers Bessie Smith and Lotte Lenya, alongside music choices such as Mozart's ’The Marriage of Figaro’, Laurie Anderson, and Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke
A Loftus Production for BBC Radio 3

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Sun 27 Jan 2019 12:00

Music Played

  • Claudio Monteverdi

    Possente spirto (L'Orfeo)

    Ensemble: I Barrochisti. Conductor: Diego Fasolis. Singer: Philippe Jaroussky.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Voi che sapete (Le Nozze di Figaro)

    Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Claudio Abbado. Singer: Cecilia Bartoli.
  • Claude Debussy

    Premiere Rhapsodie

    Performer: James Campbell. Performer: Glenn Gould.
  • Kurt Weill

    Surabaya Johnny

    Singer: Lotte Lenya.
  • Jimmy Cox

    Nobody knows when you're down and out

    Singer: Bessie Smith.
  • Laurie Anderson

    O Superman

    Performer: Laurie Anderson.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Peter and the Wolf

    Ensemble: Nash Ensemble. Conductor: Libor Pešek. Narrator: Lenny Henry.


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