Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls

With update, in which I actually include the texts
and music for the meeting of the two Bad Barts

Carole Round in the 1999 SavoyNet Performing Group Ruddigore
DAME HANNAH [quoting the burning witch]:
"Each lord of Ruddigore,
despite his best endeavour,
shall do one crime, or more,
once every day forever.
This doom he can't defy,
however he may try.
For should he stay
his hand, that day
in torture he shall die!"

[We heard the story in full in this week's preview, "The Witch's Curse."]

Gillian Knight (ms), Dame Hannah; Orchestra or the Royal Opera House, Covent Gardn, Isidore Godfrey, cond. Decca, recorded July 1962

Monica Sinclair (c), Dame Hannah; Pro Arte Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond. EMI, recorded Dec. 11-14, 1962

Ruddigore, Act I: All the village girls express their horror of SIR DESPARD MURGATROYD, Bad Baronet of Ruddigore. As he approaches them they fly from him, terror-stricken, leaving him alone on the stage.

SIR DESPARD MURGATROYD: Poor children, how they loathe me -- me whose hands are certainly steeped in infamy, but whose heart is as the heart of a little child! But what is a poor baronet to do, when a whole picture gallery of ancestors step down from their frames and threaten him with an excruciating death if he hesitate to commit his daily crime? But ha! ha! I am even with them! [Mysteriously] I get my crime over the first thing in the morning, and then, ha! ha! for the rest of the day I do good -- I do good -- I do good! [Melodramatically] Two days since, I stole a child and built an orphan asylum. Yesterday I robbed a bank and endowed a bishopric. Today I carry off Rose Maybud and atone with a cathedral! This is what it is to be the sport and toy of a Picture Gallery! But I will be bitterly revenged upon them! I will give them all to the Nation, and nobody shall ever look upon their faces again!

by Ken

Before we continue with Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, we're going to observe our frequent custom of starting at the beginning, with the Overture. For our purposes, as I hope you'll hear, it's especially important here. (Note that this is the "later" overture, in which Sullivan had no hand. But something had to be done when for the 1920-21 revival of the show -- after the deaths of both Gilbert and Sullivan -- the tune that had served as the big "developoment" tune of the original Overture, Robin's "When a man has been a wicked baronet" from the Act II finale, was cut. I happen to think that the replacement Overture, generally credited to Geoffrey Toye, a longtime assistant of Sullivan's, is quite dandy.)

GILBERT and SULLIVAN: Ruddigore: Overture (1920)

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Isidore Godfrey, cond. Decca, recorded July 1962

Pro Arte Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond. EMI, recorded Nov. 3, 1960

[Sorry, I was so pressed for time that I completely screwed this up this morning. The texts and the audio files were all ready to go, and I didn't get around to inserting them!]

This is officially, or at least this post began life as, a continuation of last week's idea of a tribute to the great G-and-S bass Donald Adams. Well, things happen. Much of the text was written on paper napkins in the shadow of the Harkness Tower at Yale, with a carillon ringing that included "Send in the clowns." (I was hoping for "Send in the clowns," but that wasn't bad.) We actually will get to Adams. But first . . . .

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics preview: The Witch's Curse

Dame Hannah (Maya Stroshane) tells the impressionable young village bridesmaids the story of the Witch's Curse in Brown University Gilbert and Sullivan's 2010 Ruddigore.

by Ken

We first pondered "The Witch's Curse," though at the time I wasn't able to enable you to hear it, in a June 2007 post called "'Laws? I don't obey no stinkin' laws!' Are Chimpy the Prez and his partner in crime 'Big Dick' Cheney blood brothers of the Bad Baronets of Ruddigore?," in response to a Washington Post report, "'Signing Statements' Study Finds Administration Has Ignored Laws." Right-wing scum pols ignoring the law -- what a surprise! This has a special resonance now when degraded and demented right-wing life forms like Darrell "The Unembarrassable" Issa have made a daily habit of persecuting the Obama administration for sins that were in fact spécialités de maison of the Bush regime, when they went routinely unremarked upon, even defended, by degraded and demented right-wing life forms like Darrell "The Unembarrassable" Issa.

Though I wasn't able to enable you to hear it back in 2007, we did eventually hear one of our versions of Dame Hannah's song in June 2010. We actually have entirely other-than-political reasons -- leftover business from last week, to be exact -- for returning this week to the ghost of Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, the first and baddest of the whole long line of Bad Baronets of Ruddigore. But I think it's never out of place to recall the curse that lay so heavily upon the bad barts, as explained by the doughty Dame Hannah early in Act I of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore.

GILBERT and SULLIVAN: Ruddigore, or The Witch's Curse: Act I, Song, Dame Hannah and chorus, "Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, his leisure and his riches"
DAME HANNAH: Sir Rupert Murgatroyd,
his leisure and his riches,
he ruthlessly employed
in persecuting witches.
With fear he'd make them quake—
he'd duck them in his lake—
he'd break their bones
with sticks and stones,
and burn them at the stake!
CHORUS OF BRIDESMAIDS: This sport he much enjoyed,
did Rupert Murgatroyd—
no sense of shame
or pity came
to Rupert Murgatroyd!

DAME HANNAH: Once, on the village green,
a palsied hag he roasted,
and what took place, I ween,
shook his composure boasted.
For as the torture grim
aeized on each withered limb,
the writhing dame
'mid fire and flame
yelled forth this curse on him:
     "Each lord of Ruddigore,
     despite his best endeavour,
     shall do one crime, or more,
     once, every day, forever!
     This doom he can't defy,
     however he may try,
     for should he stay
     his hand, that day
     in torture he shall die!"

The prophecy came true:
each heir who held the title
had, every day, to do
some crime of import vital;
until, with guilt o'erplied,
"I'll sin no more!" he cried,
and on the day
he said that say,
in agony he died!
CHORUS OF BRIDESMAIDS: And thus, with sinning cloyed,
has died each Murgatroyd,
and so shall fall,
both one and all,
each coming Murgatroyd!

Monica Sinclair (c), Dame Hannah; Glyndebourne Festival Chorus, Pro Arte Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond. EMI, recorded Dec. 11-14, 1962

Gillian Knight (ms), Dame Hannah; D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Isidore Godfrey, cond. Decca, recorded July 1962

Ella Halman (c), Dame Hannah; D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus, New Promenade Orchestra, Isidore Godfrey, cond. Decca, recorded July 21, 1950

Bertha Lewis (c); D'Oyty Carte Opera Chorus, orchestra, Harry Norris (or maybe George Byng?), cond. EMI, recorded June 30, 1924

I don't suppose we can any longer call the more-than-50-year-old EMI and Decca recordings "modern," though they sound better to me than an awful lot of recordings that are unquestionably "modern" chronologically. Stil, we have to distinguish them somehow from the two "historical" recordings I've included. Ella Halman, who recorded most of the G-and-S contralto roles in the late '40s and early '50s, has ardent Savoyard admirers, which has always mystified me. The greatness of Bertha Lewis, however, seems to me to glow through the 1924 acoustical sound.


We'll meet the ghostly Bad Baronets of Ruddigore, including their spokesghost, Sir Roderic Murgatroyd.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Elaine Stritch (1925-2014)

We'll hear Elaine singing "The Ladies Who Lunch" when Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company was new, but I thought it would be nice to hear and see again this September 1998 performance, which we first looked at in December 2010. (It's from the Carnegie Hall cavalcade-of-stars concert My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies.)

by Ken

I know it seems like an odd thing to say, but in remembering Elaine Stritch on DownWithTyranny earlier today (when I promised some musical remembrances in a later post -- this one), I wrote with singular lack of grace:
It was quite a career, Elaine Stritch's. . . . Still, one thing you can say about the career is that, given the epic scale of her abilities, it's a shame more producers, directors, and writers didn't find (well, create) more vehicles that took full advantage of what this "force of nature" could do.
By way of example, though, let's take Company (1970). The creator of the music, Stephen Sondheim (doing both words and music himself for the first time, remember), and the book, George Furth, have made it clear that the role of the super-cynical Joanne was written with Elaine in mind, and she was brilliant, as everyone knows.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM: Company (1970)

"The Little Things You Do Together

"The Ladies Who Lunch"

Elaine Stritch (Joanne) and (in "The Little Things You Do Together") company; Original Broadway Cast recording, Harold Hastings, musical director. Columbia-CBS-Sony, recorded May 3, 1970

Still, except for the central role of Bobby, around him all the other relationships revolve, Company is a genuine ensemble show, and while Elaine's performance was probably the one most attendees had in their heads as they left the theater, it was hardly a large role.

That said, Joanne was a great role for Elaine, and in the end even the most compelling performer has to work with the material he/she has to work with. Elaine had been at the center of things in 1961 in Sail Away, the last "book" musical for which Noël Coward wrote both music and lyrics. Everyone who saw the show loved her and remembered her performance, but the show itself wasn't exactly memorable. A lot of the score is still worth listening to, though. Here's Elaine as Mimi Paragon, the hard-boiled, divorced cruise hostess.

NOËL COWARD: Sail Away (1961)

As I wrote when we first heard these excerpts in December 2010: Sorry about the LP surface noise [from my very own copy, bought when the thing was released 52-plus years ago -- Ed.] early on in the "Why Do the Wrong People Travel?" track. I came close to paying the 99 cents to download this great song, but the noise cleared up, and as I like to say, 99 cents saved here and there adds up to 99 cents saved here and there.]

"Come to Me" (opening number, the Stewards and Mimi)

"You're a Long, Long Way from America" (Act I finale, Mimi and company)

"Why Do the Wrong People Travel (When the Right People Stay Back Home)?"

Elaine Stritch (Mimi Paragon) and company, Original Broadway Cast recording, Peter Matz, arr. and musical director. Capitol-EMI, recorded October 1961


At 8:01 Elaine talks about Sail Away, Noël Coward, and her mother. At 10:27 her attention is turned to Company.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Rataplan!

How many "Rataplan"s can you count in these 33 seconds?

rataplan  n.  A tattoo, as of a drum, the hoofs of a galloping horse, or machine-gun fire. [French, of imitative origin.]
-- The American Heritage Dictionary

by Ken

So this is what I suddenly found going through my head this week. And once it was lodged in there, it was mighty hard to get out. Then it occurred to me that we've never listened to this wonderfully goofy moment from the little one-act farce Cox and Box, with a libretto by F. C. Burnand, here in Sunday Classics. (Regular readers will know that my admiration for Sullivan as musical dramatist in his partnership with W. S. Gilbert is something like reverence. However, Cox and Box is the only music he wrote without Gilbert which I return to with real pleasure.) I figured that while the lights are still on here at Sunday Classics, however dimly, we ought to rectify this omission.

In a moment we'll hear a little more music to place the above in context. Then I thought, since the delicious Bouncer of these excerpts is the beloved (by me, anyway) Donald Adams, we should do some sort of Donald Adams retrospective, but that project quickly got out of hand, so maybe we'll do it some other time. For the record, though, as I recall we've already heard him in his most famous role, the Mikado (and he's still the best I've ever heard, without even a close second), and also as Colonel Calverley in Patience, as Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre in The Sorcerer, and even in a snippet from a role that as far as I know he never sang, the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance. (The Pirate King was another of his most famous roles, and we have heard him in a snippet from that, the incandescent Paradox Trio.)

I love the idea of a Donald Adams retrospective, but for now, in order to make this a proper post, even a proper "ghost" post, after we've dealt with the rataplanning Sergeant Bouncer, we'll hear quite a different "Rataplan."


This is an old Sunday Classics habit, and in this case it's pays quick dividends, as I think you'll hear pretty quickly. You'll also note very different approaches to our material from our first two conductors, our old G-and-S friends Isidore Godfrey and Sir Malcolm Sargent. For the heck of it, I've thrown in the perfectly solid Overture from the generally lackluster later D'Oyly Carte recording of Cox and Box, also of basically the "Savoy edition," which chops the show down to a half-hour -- a loss that's almost pure gain.

Cox and Box: Overture

New Symphony Orchestra of London, Isidore Godfrey, cond. Decca, recorded 1961

Pro Arte Orchestra, Sir Malcolm Sargent, cond. EMI, recorded 1961

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royston Nash, cond. Decca, recorded February 1978


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: It's a barely fathomable distance dramatically from the end of Act I to the end of Act II of Verdi's "Otello"

Aa Act II ends, Otello (Jon Vickers, right) swears vengeance and Jago (Cornell MacNeil) swears his support (all with subtitles), one of the most thrilling and most appalling moments you'll encounter on a stage -- with James Levine conducting, at the Met in September 1978.

by Ken

We've been dealing with the sisterly or at least cousinly kinship between Verdi's Luisa Miller and Desdemona, and in case it wasn't in obvious in last night's preview, this week we're back to Desdemona.

In the preview we heard the very end of the conclusion of Act II of Verdi's Otello, the moor's oath of vengeance, abetted by his "trusted' Jago, on his "unfaithful" wife -- violent, insanely overflowing with testosterone, but also undeniably thrilling. It's at once one of the most thrilling and most appalling moments you'll encounter on a stage.

Then we heard the next bit of music in the opera, the brief orchestral prelude to Act III, built on an insidious, slithery tune that was first heard Act II, and so we then backed up to listen to the theme to which the diabolical Jago, as part of his plan to use Otello's personal insecurity to destroy him, "warns" him against jealousy.

VERDI: Otello: Act II, Jago, "Temete, signor, la gelosia!" ("Beware, my lord of jealousy")
Beware, my lord, of jealousy!
'Tis a dark hydra, malignant, blind.
It poisons itself with its own venom.
Its breast is rent by a vivid wound.

(1) Leonard Warren, baritone; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, George Szell, cond. Live performance, Nov. 16, 1946
(2) Tito Gobbi, baritone; NHK Symphony Orchestra (Tokyo), Alberto Erede, cond. Telecast performance, recorded Feb. 4, 1959
(3) Sherrill Milnes, baritone; National Philharmonic Orchestra, James Levine, cond. RCA-BMG, recorded August 1978
(4) Leo Nucci, baritone; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded live in concert, April 1991
(5) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli, cond. EMI, recorded Aug, Oct., and Nov, 1968

Otello is filled with astonishments (it's practically nothing but astonishments). One real astonishment is how Verdi and librettist Arrigo Boito get us, in the space of an act of maybe 35 minutes, from the Act I curtain to the Act II curtain. I thought this week we might peek into the innards of Act II a little. That's not going to happen, at least not this week, But I think this little riff on jealousy, in which Jago significantly amplifies Otello's jealousy by warning him against jealousy, is a splendid sample of how those ardent Shakespeareans Verdi and Boito used their operatic toolkit to accomplish this astonishment.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics preview: " 'Tis a dark hydra, malignant, blind"

by Ken

We tried something a few weeks back, listening just to a tiny bit of music, which turned out to be the brief orchestral prelude to Act IV of Verdi's Otello, with the (hopefully) suggestive question of what mood or moods it suggested ("How would you describe the atmosphere? Austere? Melancholy? Solitary? Foreboding?").

I have no idea whether that served any purpose, except maybe to me, but is that any reason not to try it again? Tonight we have two brief orchestral excerpts, and we start with a very brief one, which I don't think one has to be a wizard to intuit is the end -- of something. Just in case there's any doubt, three of our performances, being live, come with their own applause. And oh yes, in a moment we're going to hear what it ends.


For my money, while (2) has a wonderfully snarling sense of finality, it's (5) that walks away with this -- and the conductor has a score marking ("pesante") to back up his bold choice.


Okay, there could be, you know, an intermission in between. (Do you think I would try to trick you?)



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: One's a peasant and one's a governor's wife, but both are adored by the locals

Desdemona receives an outpouring of love from the adoring Cypriots in Act II of Cape Town's 2013 Otello.

by Ken

Last week we listened to the opening scene of Verdi's Luisa Miller, as I tried to make my case about the kinship between Luisa and her Verdian cousin Desdemona in Otello, heroines who (to quote myself yet again) --
who are genuinely and all but universally loved because of their basic uncompromised decency and humanity, living exemplary practitioners of the Golden Rule. Naturally they are crushed -- easy pickings in a world that talks a good game about the Golden Rule but truly doesn't believe in it.

One problem in making the connection is that the music in which the relationship between our heroines and the people who love them so tends to be performed as generic, saccharine mush, and so we're not often prompted to consider the effect it would have on us if Luisa's villagers or Desdemona's adoring Cypriots really meant it. It seems to me pretty clear in the music that they do.


VERDI: Otello: Act II, Chorus of Cypriots, "Dove guardi splendono raggi"
In Act II, JAGO is just introducing the first dose of poison into the mind of OTELLO regarding the (wholly non-existent) relationship between DESDEMONA and CASSIO when DESDEMONA reappears in the garden. She is surrounded by inhabitants of the island -- women, boys, and Cypriot and Albanian sailors -- who offer her flowers and other gifts." We come in near the end of this brief lovefest between the Cypriiots and Cypress's First Lady, with OTELLO and JAGO observing.

CYPRIOTS: Wherever you look rays shine,
hearts are enflamed.
Wherever you pass, descend showers
of flowers -- here among lilies and roses,
like before a chaste altar, fathers,
children, wives come singing.
DESDEMONA [deeply touched, very sweetly]:
The heavens shine, the breeze dances,
flowers perfume the air.
Joy, love, hope
sing in my heart.
OTELLO: That song overcomes me.
If she be false, then heaven mocks itself!
JAGO [to himself]:
Beauty and love united in sweet harmony!
I shall shatter your sweet accord.
CYPRIOTS: Live happily! Live happily!
Here love reigns.
OTELLO: That song overcomes me.
[When the singing ends, DESDEMONA kisses some of the children, and some of the women kiss the hem of her gown. She bestows a purse on the sailors.]

Gwyneth Jones (s), Desdemona; James McCracken (t), Otello; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (b), Jago; Ambrosian Opera Chorus, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli, cond. EMI, recorded Aug., Oct., and Nov. 1968

Leonie Rysanek (s), Desdemona; Jon Vickers (t), Otello; Tito Gobbi (b), Jago; Rome Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Tullio Serafin, cond. RCA-BMG, recorded July-Aug. 1960

Kiri Te Kanawa (s), Desdemona; Luciano Pavarotti (t), Otello; Leo Nucci (b), Jago; Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded live in concert, April 1991


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Everybody loves Luisa

NBC Symphony Orchestra, Arturo Toscanini, cond. RCA-BMG, broadcast performance from Studio 8-H, July 25, 1943

Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan, cond. DG, recorded 1976

RCA Italiana Orchestra, Fausto Cleva, cond. RCA-BMG, recorded June 1964

Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Riccardo Muti, cond. Sony, recorded Sept. 5-7, 1993

by Ken

The rousing and stirring Overture to Luisa Miller is a piece I adore, and I'm surprised to see that, as far as I can tell, we've never listened to it. I thought we would at least have heard the performance from Tullio Serafin's EMI Italian Opera Overtures disc, but I see now that it's not included on that disc, which could explain it! I've had my copy off the shelf so long that I don't know where it is anyway.)

The Toscanini performance has a scorching intensity I've never heard anyone else even try to get. The Karajan performance (with, of all orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic -- from a strange set of complete Verdi overtures and preludes I've never had much fondness for) takes the piece in a fairly different direction, and since the Schiller-based Luisa is set in the early-17th-century Tyrol (and even the southern Tirol didn't become Italian until after World War I, and itself isn't all that Italian), perhaps it's not such a demerit that the performance doesn't sound especially Italian.

The piece itself is in a very simple sonata form -- exposition, development, recapitulation, and whirlwind coda -- with the wrinkle that the secondary theme of the exposition, sounded by the solo clarinet, is simply the principal theme switched from the minor to the major -- a hallowed old trick we spotlighted in the December 2011 post "It's the old minor-to-major switcheroo -- courtesy of Mahler, Schubert, and Donizetti."

I could continue plying you with performances of the Luisa Overture, but I think I'll offer just one more: a fine all-purpose job from RCA's 1964 Luisa, the first stereo recording (my goodness, now 50 years old, but holding up very nicely), conducted by that age-old opera-house veteran Fausto Cleva. Well, okay, I threw in one more -- from a Sony Verdi overtures-and-preludes series by Riccardo Muti, to hear the concert version of La Scala's orchstra.


I began that post with the haunting orchestral prelude to Act IV of Verdi's Otello, asking, "How would you describe the atmosphere? Autere? Melancholy? Solitary? Foreboding?" Here it is again.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: How would you describe the atmosphere? Austere? Melancholy? Solitary? Foreboding?

Rome Opera Orchestra, Tullio Serafin, cond. RCA-BMG, recorded July-Aug. 1960

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded live, April 1991

by Ken

This week again I found myself in the grip of music, specifically the music we hear above, and even though we've in fact actually heard this music, it was in the context of remembering a fondly remembered singer, and so we didn't really deal properly with the music or the scene, which suggested a post, if I were up to it and there seemed any point.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Nocturne!

MENDELSSOHN: Notturno from A Midsummer Night's Dream (incidental music), Op. 61

Concertgebouw Orchestra (Amsterdam), George Szell, cond. Decca, recorded Dec. 2-4, 1957

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, cond. Broadcast performance, May 23, 1969

by Ken

A much-loved little piece latched onto my brain this weeko. It was the "Nocturne" from Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream incidental music, and it really still hasn't let go. That's the sort of thing that might once have triggered a post, especially since we don't seem to have spent as much time as I remembered with the incidental music. The only traces I can find are from a November 2008 Mendelssohn post, where we heard the Szell-Concertgebouw recording of the commonly played four-movment grouping of the Overture, Scherzo, Notturno, and Wedding March. and a more expanded suite that I drew from a Klemperer-Bavarian Radio Symphony broadcast performance of a generous selection from the incidental music.

I've re-extracted just the "Notturno" from those performances, as heard above.


I thought we might as well listen again to the full selections from the MSND music we heard back in 2008.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste Dept. -- Two operatic heroines, part 1

In Act II of Verdi's La Forza del destino, Leonora (Jennifer Maines) meets the kindly Padre Guardiano (Marek M. Gasztecki), at Innsbruck's Landestheater, September 2013.

by Ken
Another ghost-of-a-post idea, and one that may require some eventual fleshing-out. It was born of conjoined images from two different operas that suddenly started playing together in my head. And the "ghost" theme is actually appropriate, since it happens that both of the operatic heroines of our post title is that both have been seeing, er, fantastmi, as our Heroine No. 1, Verdi's Donna Leonora di Vargas from La Forza del destino, puts it.


We've actually heard this before, at some length. in the May 2011 post "Verdi's Forza demonstrates from start to finish what only opera can do." Donna Leonora, held responsible for the death of her father, the Marquis of Calatrava, the night she attempted to elope with her beloved Don Alvaro, has fled her home in Seville, eventually winding up at the mountain monastery of Hornachuelos, where she throws herself at the mercy of its superior, the kindly Padre Guardiano. When he finds out who she is, he recoils at first, then shows her the first human kindness she has received since her father's death, and what we hear from her in this release of pent-up tension rather terrifies me.

VERDI: La Forza del destino, Act II, Scene 2: Leonora, "Più tranquillo l'alma sento" ("I feel my soul more tranquil")
LEONORA: I feel my soul more tranquil
since I tread this ground.
The fearful phantasms
I no longer feel making war against me.
No longer does my father's shade
rise bleeding before me,
nor do I hear him, terrible,
cursing his daughter.

Maria Caniglia (s), Donna Leonora di Vargas; EIAR Turin Symphony Orchestra, Gino Marinuzzi, cond. Fonit Cetra, broadcast performance, 1941

Renata Tebaldi (s), Donna Leonora di Vargas; Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Rome), Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond. Decca, recorded summer 1955

Leontyne Price (s), Donna Leonora di Vargas; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond. Live performance, March 9, 1968

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Why the heck are Mary Martin and John Raitt singing "There's No Business Like Show Business"?

A cheery thought from Roz Chast in the May 12 New Yorker

IRVING BERLIN: Annie, Get Your Gun: Overture and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (plus "They Say It's Wonderful")

Mary Martin (Annie Oakley), John Raitt (Frank Butler), 1957 NBC TV Cast ensemble. Capitol-EMI

There lived a king, as I've been told,
In the wonder-working days of old,
When hearts were twice as good as gold,
And twenty times as mellow.
Good temper triumphed in his face,
And in his heart he found a place
For all the erring human race
And every wretched fellow.
-- the Grand Inquisitor, in Act II of The Gondoliers

by Ken

In the end it was all the Gilmore Girls' fault. Maybe not "all," but for sure some, especially in that "end." Yesterday I had this idea for a Sunday Classics post. On the bus heading upstate when there wasn't going to be any time to write. I was already on the bus for my daylong Wolfe Walkers trip up the Hudson with Justin Ferate, to several fascinating Hudson River destinations he'd cunningly stitched together, I found myself hearing Leporell's great catalogue aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, which we'd listened to just last Novermber.

You recall: