Timeless performers: Then and Now (Quartet Feature)

quartet_dvdQuartet is a heart-warming lovestory about retired opera singers who are growing old gracefully and not giving up their passion, starring Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon and Pauline Collins, who are all in their own right fabulous, famous and over fifty.

To celebrate the release of Quartet on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on 6 May, we’ve compiled a list of performers whose careers have spanned decades and are currently int heir ‘third act’ of their careers. These icons have successfully outlasted many of their contemporaries, going from strength to strength proving that regardless of age you can keep on singing.

 Dame Gwyneth Jones DBE is a maestro Welsh soprano who has been in the business for over 50 years.  After making her professional debut in 1962 as a mezzo-soprano in Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice, she was engaged by the Zurich Opera House. She came to prominence in 1964 as Leonora in Verdi’s Il trovatore at the Royal Opera House. Her career then developed rapidly. She has appeared frequently at almost every major opera house in the world. Dame Gwyneth’s powerful voice and unusually robust vocal stamina are widely admired and is she still active at the age of 77. She has recently moved into directing and costume designing and gives master-classes for young singers. Dame Gwyneth currents stars in Quartet as Anne.

Sarah Walker CBE is a Mezzo– Soprano has had an eminent career singing on the world’s great operatic, recital, and concert stages. Walker’s operatic debut was in 1969, as Ottavia in Kent Opera’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea. Notable roles have included the title-roles in Gloriana and Maria Stuarda. In 1989, Walker was led under the baton of Leonard Bernstein in a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The performance was celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall on Christmas. Walker has accrued over 30 years of experience and shirley_basseypasses on in master-classes at various colleges and academies today

Shirley Bassey is a Welsh singer with a string of top ten hits from the 70’s such as As Long As He Needs Me and Reach for the Star/Climb Every Mountain, found international notoriety for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979).  Almost 30 years after the films release, she performed at the 2013 Academy Awards on February 24 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise. It was her first appearance at an Oscars ceremony as a performer.  She sang Goldfinger to a standing ovation.

Cher is a singer and actress who became prominent in the music industry in 1965 for her part in the duo Sonny & Cher, one of their biggest hits I Got You Babe topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became one of the biggest-selling and most beloved pop/rock hits of the mid-’60s. Once establishing herself as a successful solo artist, she moved into acting. She starred in films such as Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988. After 50 years Cher returned to film in the musical Burlesque (2010). One of the two songs she recorded for the film’s soundtrack, the Diane Warren-penned power ballad Youliza-minelli_cabaret Haven’t Seen the Last of Me, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

Liza Minnelli is daughter of actress Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli. She established herself early on as a nightclub singer and musical theatre actress, after a string of dramatic performances she rose to international stardom for her role in 1972 film version of the Broadway musical Cabaret, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.  After 40 years in the business, Liza Minnelli made a cameo appearance in the May 2010 release of Sex and the City 2 and recently headlined at Hampton Court Palace Festival.

Tina Turner is an American singer, dancer, and actress, who began her career in the late 1950’s as part of due Ike and Tina Turner, following a string of successful hits together such as A Fool in Love, and It’s Gonna Work Out Fine, Turner went solo and released international and renown hits including River Deep – Mountain High (1966) and Proud Mary (1971). Nearly 60s years after her career began, the Queen of Rock is still singing and releasing albums but her most recent appearance on the cover of the German issue of Vogue magazine in April 2013, at the age of 73 gave her the title of oldest person worldwide to appear on the cover of Vogue.

Aretha Franklin is often referred to as the Queen of Soul, due to her string of popular hits in the 70s such as, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Think, Chain of Fools and what later became her signature song, Respect. In her career, she has won a total of 20 career Grammy Awards, including two honorary Grammys, and she is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. After roughly half a decade singing it has recently been rumored Franklin is reportedly working on a new album with producers Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Danja at the helm of the project.

Lulu is a Scottish singer, actress, and television personality, who began her career in the late 1960s, with her top ten hit Shout!  She made her film debut in To Sir With Love which she also provided the theme tune of the same name, giving her a top ten hit in America. Lulu has always remained in the public eye during her 50 year career and she made the transition into TV through taking part in October and November 2011, Lulu took part in the BBC series, Strictly Come Dancing, partnering Brendan Cole, but was eliminated in the sixth week. On 1 January 2012, Lulu reappeared in Absolutely Fabulous as herself, after nearly 17 years as Edina’s disgruntled client.

trevor_peacockTrevor Peacock is famous for many things including acting and songwriting. His many television roles include Jim Trott in The Vicar of Dibley, Rouault in Madame Bovary, Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop and Old Bailey in Neverwhere. He has also appeared in diverse programmes such as EastEnders, Jonathan Creek and Between The Lines.

He had starring roles in several of the BBC Shakespeare series. Peacock is also a noted songwriter. He wrote the 1960s pop classic “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”, which was recorded by Herman’s Hermits amongst other chart hits.

The 81 year old treasure is still acting on stage and screen and can most recently be seen playing ‘George’ in Quartet.

Leontyne Price is an American soprano, born and raised in the Deep South. She rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera. Her career climaxed on September 16, 1966, when Price sang Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra by American composer Samuel Barber, commissioned to open the Met’s new house at Lincoln Center. Even when Price, retired from Opera she still continued for the next 12 years at concerts and recitals, and after 50 years of opera singing her was brought out of retirement in October 2001, at age 74, to sing in a memorial concert at Carnegie Hall for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

Quartet is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on 6 May.

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Paul Devine


The founder of The People's Movies, started the site 20th November 2008.The site has excelled past all expectations with many only giving the site months and it's still going strong. A lover of French Thrillers, Post Apocalyptic films, Asian cinema. 2009 started Cinehouse to start his 'cinema education' learning their is life outside mainstream cinema. Outside of film, love to travel with Sorrento, Guangzhou and Manchester all favourite destinations.Musically loves David Bowie, Fishbone, Radiohead.

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