Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Opera, both grand and comic: a laugh a minute!

A proper, goiterless Ring Cycle valkyrie
Illustrating the perils of character-recognition software, this quote comes from the Gramophone website: "Farrell is in fine voice, both here and in the Goiterddmmerung excerpt." All I can say is, "Damn those goiters!"
Say, did you know we have no fewer than three versions of Die WalkΓΌre? An embarrassment of riches, sure not to last long!
"Hold still while I cut your head off!"
Another intriguing opera typo I've come across: The Barbar of Seville (is he akin to a barbarian? see drawing at left). It is said that Rossini wrote Il Barbiere di Siviglia in 13 days, unshaven and in his dressing gown. "How ironic," a friend remarked, "that you wrote The Barber without shaving."
"But if I had shaved, I should have gone out." he replied. "And if I had gone out, I would not have come back in time to finish The Barber in 13 days!"  
Rossini's titular barber also appears in another Beaumarchais-derived libretto, that of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. Filmed in Hamburg, Paris, Vienna, and Florence, the various productions we're carrying on DVD all attest to the cherished place this hugely enjoyable masterpiece has in the hearts of music lovers everywhere.
Cherubino hides behind Susanna's chair as the Count arrives (Scene from Act 1 of Mozart's opera Le nozze di Figaro; Anonymous 19th-century watercolor)
I'm in the midst of watching a DVD of one of my favorite Baroque operas, Handel's Giulio Cesare. The insert notes by one Juan Carlos Olivares (which among other things explain the oddball but attractive melange of costumes used in the production) are one of the most impressive examples of total blather I've ever experienced! The singers are great, though, and of course the music is sublime, so beautifully evoking the separate passions of each character. Plus there's a countertenor, a crocodile and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. What more could one want? The Met will be be broadcasting the opera live in HD in the spring, but here's your chance to preview it and to own it for half the price. One of the director's more intriguing conceits is that the action takes place on the Rosetta Stone. Literally.
I will leave you with the perspective of an opera lover extraordinaire, in this bit from "The Rabbit of Seville."


  1. I'll admit to being a lowbrow here, but the typos and Bugs Bunny gave me an idea, how about someone create "The Babar Of Seville", about a homicidal elephant ?

  2. Oh Hack, we are on the same page! Maybe we should get Sondheim on it.