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  • Desert Island Discs: Balletic and Operatic Highlights

Desert Island Discs: Balletic and Operatic Highlights

Find out which ballet dancer loves Jimi Hendrix's 'Voodoo Chile' and which opera singer listens to Cyndi Lauper.

By Lottie Butler (Assistant Content Producer)

28 October 2012 at 9.31am

Hear prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn recount how she used to concentrate so hard she had to be reminded from the wings to smile; listen to what Plácido Domingo’s favourite musical track was in 1980; and find out what luxury item Royal Ballet Founder Dame Ninette de Valois would have taken to a desert island.

BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, which was first broadcast in 1942 from a bomb-damaged Maida Vale studio, has released over 200 programme fragments from their archive.

The programme, which is now a broadcasting institution, offers a snapshot of the interviewee’s life by talking to them about what music they would listen to were they to be stranded on a desert island. The castaway is also offered, alongside the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, a book and luxury item of their choice.

The archive, which includes some 2,800 editions, features full-length interviews with an array of opera and ballet figures from the past 70 years.

Ballet stars featured include the likes of Kenneth MacMillan, Frederick Ashton, Monica Mason, Darcey Bussell and Carlos Acosta. Those featured from the opera world range from Angela Gheorghiu and John Tomlinson to John Copley and David McVicar. The newly-released fragments include clips from a 1952 interview with the highly regarded Wagnerian Soprano Kirsten Flagstad and Dame Joan Sutherland. Noah Stewart (who performed last season in Judith Weir's Miss Fortune) was the most recent operatic guest.

Browse the archive to find out which choreographer chose Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows as his book, which dancer picked Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Chile as one of his favourite tracks and which opera star chose to take a bicycle as his luxury

The restored fragments have been converted to digital files from reels of tape, many of which are on loan to the BBC from the British Library. Other recordings have been sent in by listeners who recorded particular programmes. Find out more about the project.

By Lottie Butler (Assistant Content Producer)

28 October 2012 at 9.31am

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged archive, BBC Radio 4, broadcast, Desert Islands Discs, history, programme, radio

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