The Hit That Never Was

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Legge

QUESTION I have an LP described as 'a forthcoming stage musical' about the life of Goya. It features a duet of Till I Loved You by Jennifer Rush and Placido Domingo. Was the musical ever staged? GOYA: A Life In Song was issued by CBS in Britain in 1989, but had had a US release in 1988.

Domingo had been interested in appearing in a stage musical and, as a Spaniard, thought Francisco Goya (1746-1828) would be an ideal hero -and not just for his fame as a painter or because of his love affairs, including that with the Duchess of Alba, the subject of one of his best-known paintings, La Maja Nuda.

He had also fought in the Spanish wars and had been much affected by the devastation they caused; and he had been an adventurer, even becoming a bullfighter at one stage.

Goya was interested in the misuse ofpower by Spain's corrupt aristocracy, but was happy to take its money.

In his later years, he lived in exile in the South of France. He also had to cope with deafness and going blind - a heavy blow for a man still devoted to his art.

Domingo took his idea to Allan Carr, an influential Broadway producer, and together they persuaded composer Maury Yeston to accept the project.

Because of Domingo's other commitments, it was decided to make a concept album which could be sold to the public and serve as audition material for a possible stage show.

The album was produced by Phil Ramone and included several guest artists. Richie Havens recorded Dog In The Quicksand; Dionne Warwick, as the Duchess of Alba, had a solo song and also duetted with Domingo on Till I Loved You. Gloria Estefan had her own track and a duet with Domingo of Till I Loved You sung in Spanish.

The recording with Jennifer Rush does not appear on the original issue and was released separately as a single, Miss Rush being a major star at the time and more likely to have a commercial hit.

The song had already been recorded by Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson in 1988, reaching 16 in the UK single charts. Although an off-Broadway production of the musical was mooted, it never happened.

Peter Ferguson, London.

QUESTION Please settle a bet. I say the marathon was part of the ancient Olympic Games, my friend disagrees. THE marathon, the 26miles 385yards long-distance race at the end of the Olympics, is arguably the most iconic event of the Games.

The race takes its inspiration from a run by a courier in ancient Greece from the town of Marathon to Athwere ens to report the good news that the Persians had been defeated - after which he promptly fell dead out of exhaustion.

Subsequent marathons have carried similar high drama.

However the tale of Pheidippides has been doctored since 490BC. Historical evidence backs up the claim that it did take place, but Pheidippides' part in the story is almost certainly misplaced.

A figure called Philippides (his name was corrupted in later texts to Pheidippides) was sent from Marathon, where the Persians had landed, to Sparta, to enlist their aid. He covered that distance of about 150 miles each way in less than two days, a remarkable accomplishment by any standard.

But the people of Marathon decided not to wait for his return and resisted the Persian advance themselves.

Philippides was probably on the road at the time. Quite how he must have felt when he discovered that his exertions had been unnecessary we can only imagine.

Even if he had made it back to Marathon by the end of the battle, it is doubtful whether he would have been capable, never mind in the right frame of mind, to then run to Athens.

As Greek armies regularly used couriers on foot to carry information back home it was perfectly possible that someone did run in an excited state to Athens to tell the citizens their city was safe - but it wasn't Philippides.

And knowing what we do about the Athenians' ability to run even longer distances, it is unlikely the courier would have dropped dead on the spot, even if he was in a heightened state of excitement and had been running in the heat of the day. …