Opry Links # 119:
Sunnegårdh as Salome
Saturdee Opry Links Overture!
An a cappella (unaccompanied vocal) rendition of the overture to "The Magic
Flute," by Mozart.
Donald Mcintyre as Wotan
Okay, kiddies, see, the king of the gods, Wotan (VO-tahn), has screwed
everything up, as usual. First there were the broken treaties and backstabbing
with the Rhine Maidens, and the giants, and Alberich, the king of the Nibelungs.
And he's lost the magic ring, of course. But that's yesterday's papers. Now he's
really in the soup. Get this: he had a couple of kids by a she-wolf (I think),
Siegmund and Sieglinde. But they have apparently never met one another until one
day, Siegmund stumbles into Sieglinde's home in the forest. They fall in love,
natch, not knowing they are siblings. (Vice is nice, but incest is best.) Well,
Sieglinde's hubby shows up and tells Siegmund he can have the hospitality of the
house, but in the morning, it's time to die. Interesting etiquette! Wotan
confers with his favorite daughter, the Valkyrie, Brunhilde (sired with Erda,
the earth goddess), instructing her to protect Siegmund if Hunding (the hubby)
tries to kill him. The noble, free-spirited Brunhilde enthusiastically agrees.
But. . .Wotan is married to an old battleax, Fricka, and she doesn't like this
shit one bit. She rails at Wotan, henpecking and upbraiding his folly. It's
perverse, she says! It's against the sanctity of marriage (seeing as she is the
goddess of marriage, this means something to her.) Siegmund, in short, must die.
Wotan, like most husbands in the face of ragging by a virago, caves, and tells
Brunhilde to butt out. But Brunhilde knows her daddy's true heart! She doesn't
butt out, she butts in, telling Sieglinde that she will indeed protect Siegmund.
So. . .as Hunding goes to run Siegmund through in the morning, Brunhilde
appears---but then, so does Wotan, pushing her aside, and letting Hunding do the
evil deed. The shocked Brunhilde grabs Sieglinde, and spirits her away. I know
you're still with me! Here's where it gets salient to the video clip. Wotan,
egged on by Brunhilde's evil stepmommie, Fricka, revokes her goddess card, and
tells her he will abandon her on a high rock, where any mortal might have his
way with her! In other words, you don't fuck with the king of the gods, even if
you are his favorite daughter. Horrified, Brunhilde pleads with Daddy to please
only allow the only "greatest of heroes" to find her, and Wotan gradually
relents. In the end, he sings a heart-rending farewell to his daughter, puts her
into a magic sleep, and summons the god, Loge, ordering him to surround her with
a magic fire that only the "greatest of heroes" can dare to enter. (And who does
that greatest of heroes turn out to be? Well, that comes later, in another
opera, but it's the son of---bingo---Siegmund and Sieglinde, Siegfried!)
Have a ball now. With English subtitles, here is "Wotan's Farewell," from "Die
Walkure," by Richard Wagner. Donald McIntyre is Wotan, and Hildegarde Behrens is
Hey, if this isn't a good time to wallow in German romanticism, I don't know
Or if you prefer:
Well, here is a happier ending to an opera, sort of. Never mind that the poor
slave girl, Liu, has taken her own life in a kind of self-sacrifice for her
beloved Calaf. Just put that little incident aside. Calaf loves the "ice queen"
of China, Turandot, see, and after playing a round of "Truth or Dare" with her,
wins the right to not be executed. In the end, the ice queen melts and agrees
to---instead of killing him---to marry him. Bit of a difference, there, though
perhaps not metaphorically. (It's a fairy tale, folks.) The music will sweep you
off your feet. Assuming you are standing up. From Puccini's last opera, "Turandot,"
with this passage spectacularly completed posthumously by the composer, Franco
Alfano, this is the grand finale. Sure to lift the spirit.
Translation: Go here, scroll allllll the way to the bottom, then back up
slightly to "scene two."
Seeing as I'm on a finale kick---well, it is the end of the world, or at least
the country, after all---here is the effervescent ending of act 1 of Mozart's
"The Magic Flute." Complete with English subtitles, to help you understand the
English singing. Yes, it's in English! It ends with a rousing tribute to
Sarastro. Who is Sarastro? Well: the Queen of the Night persuades Prince Tamino
to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from captivity under the high priest Sarastro;
instead, he learns the high ideals of Sarastro's community and seeks to join it.
And they all sing:
"When love joins with integrity
And virtue triumphs over vice
Then mankind truly will be free
And Earth become a paradise!"
And here is the little known, discarded second verse:
"When Trump is drawn and quartered
And all his creeps thrown out
Then the country might recover
from this fiendish lout."
Mozart operas are so dense with musical ideas, you can slice out any chunk,
anywhere, and have a feast.
Here's another finale, but not for its own sake. There is method to my madness.
At the end of act one of "Il Pagliacci," the character, Canio---part of a
traveling troupe of entertainers---has discovered that his beloved Nedda is
having an affair. (This ends badly in act two.) Crushed, heartbroken, Canio must
take the stage---as a clown---and entertain the minions. And so he sings the
immortal aria, "Vesti la Giubba" ("put on the costume") in his dressing room.
BUT. . .first we are going to hear this sung by a man who loved opera, but
pursued pop singing instead: the great Jackie Wilson. What? Yes, Jackie Wilson
sang "Vesti La Giubba," in the form of a hit record entitled, "My Empty Arms."
You can hear how operatic his voice was.
Here it is:
And here is how it normally sounds, and looks, with the great Mario del Monaco.
Jackie Wilson's affection for opera also came through in another song, "The
Night," which was based on the aria, "Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix" ("My heart
opens to your voice"), from "Samson and Delilah," by Camille Saint-Saens. "He
loved opera," said playwright Jackie Taylor, who wrote "The Jackie Wilson
Story." "But," she added, "it was hard enough just being a black singer, let
alone being a black opera singer." "The Night" reached No. 4 on the Billboard
Hot 100 in 1960.
Here is that song:
And here is the original, gorgeous aria. Melody was directly lifted. The soprano
is Elīna Garanča, in a concert performance.
Setting: the valley of Soreck, ancient Palestine
Synopsis: In an attempt to close the trap which she has set for Samson, Dalila
tells Samson seductively that she will surrender herself entirely to him if he
wants her. She begs him to respond to her caresses, hoping that he will finally
forget about the Israelite rebellion he is leading against the Philistines. If
Samson concentrates completely on her, the High Priest of Dagon may be able to
Well, while we're dealing with operatic pieces turned into pop songs, there is
always Elvis. You must have known this, right? "It's Now or Never" is, of
course, lifted from the most beloved Neopolitan song, "O Sole Mio." And yes,
like Jackie Wilson, Elvis liked opera, and especially admired Mario Lanza.
(Listen to Elvis's later recordings, notably "My Way," and you hear him trying
to be a little operatic.) So here is "It's Now or Never," followed by "O Sole
Mio" ("This sun! My own sun!"). Have a ball.
And here is Mario Lanza:
In today's helluvit editon of Saturdee Opry Links, here, for the helluvit, is
the Opera Imaginaire animation for "La Donne e Mobile." Warning: naked ladies!
You know "La Donne e Moblie," of course---it's the ultimate Italian tenor
cliched aria. But cliches exist for a reason, which is also a cliche. "Women are
Fickle!" (Metoo folk, please address complaints to corner of Pork & Beans.) Here
is wonderful Nicolai Gedda, quite a story in himself.
About the aria, translation:
At SOL, we'll do anything to attract viewers, including resorting to sex. Seeing
as the last entry featured animated naked ladies, here is the real thing. .
.There is a lot of nudity in opera these days. There are all manner of
pseudo-intellectual excuses for it, but of course, the basic reason is
titillation. The one opera where it is entirely justifiable, however, must be
Richard Strauss's "Salome," where it has become customary to resort to the full
Monty in the "Dance of the Seven Veils." Here are two such examples. You'll have
to sign in to Youtube to see these, in order to prevent corrupting innocents
with displays of titties and other segments of the female anatomy. The opera,
"Salome," in its day was wildly condemned for perversion, notably the scene
where Salome kisses the decapitated head of John the Baptist. Of course, Trump
and Kushner do this in the White House every night, around a fire, so what's the
THE ENDLESS, GRISLY FASCINATION WITH "SALOME"
IS SALOME THE MOST SHOCKING OPERA EVER?
AND. . .
Contemporary nudie opera insanity. Yes, I’m sure this is just what the composers
had in mind!
NOT TO MISS. . .
RENSE’S REVIEW OF A NUDIE OPERA!
Okay, haven't really had any hardcore mainlining of Italian angst today, so here
is, at least to my ear, a transcendent, gripping composition. Not too many
arias, I dare say, pack so much lyricism and variety of expression as "Ella mi
fu rapita... Parmi veder le lagrime," from Verdi's "Rigoletto." It's beautiful,
it's moving, it's anguished, it's hopeful, it's despairing. And it is often. .
.a waltz! Here is the Mario Lanza, whose recording packs more punch than any
rendition I can bring to mind. In this scene, the womanizing Duke laments that
Gilda has been taken away from him. Yes, it seems that the old boy has actually
fallen in love. He shows outrage, vows revenge, then rhapsodizes about her,
singing "I can almost see her tears. . ."
Setting: A room in the Duke's palace
Synopsis: Discovering that someone has abducted Gilda after he seduced her, the
Duke sings of his unhappiness that someone has taken his "beloved" away.
As I was saying, seeing as it's the end of the world, or at least the country,
here is the consummate end of the world scene in opera, from Wagner's
"Gotterdammerung" ("Twilight of the Gods.") Yes, it's that pesky moralist,
Brunhilde, up to her own iconoclastic tricks again. (See today's first post.)
Having been rescued by the "greatest of heroes" who "knows no fear" (Siegfried),
she is swept up in ecstatic human love, having been stripped of her goddess card
by her pop, the god-king, Wotan. She and Siggy are just one big blob of bliss, I
tell you---until, that is, Siggy goes a-wandering, and is tricked by a seemingly
innocent Rhine-side family, The Gibichungs. Seems one of the clan, a
half-brother named Hagen, was sired by the late Nibelung king, Alberich, and is
hell-bent on carrying out his father's revenge, in order to recapture the ring
and RULE THE WORLD! Got it? Anyhow, Hagen gives Siggy a potion to make him fall
in love with his sister, and forget Brunhilde. Gad! As you can understand,
Brunhilde is utterly crushed when Siggy rejects her. To make a long story
longer, Hagen manipulates the proceedings further, to the point where he murders
Siggy, and then all the beans are spilled by Gibby's sister about the love
potion. Brunhilde is so pissed, and so pissed at the gods, and her bungling
father, that she simply ends the entire goddamn world. How's that for
resolution? This is not a literal staging---I keep waiting for a good one to
show up on Youtube, but it never happens---but it is effective in its way.
Gwyneth Jones is super good. With English subtitles, here is the "Immolation"
from "Gotterdammerung." Turn out the lights, turn it up. The music at the end is
Or, if you prefer:
SATURDEE OPRY LINKS ENCORE!
No, "Be My Love" is not an aria, and is not opera. Or is it? It was written for
an operatic voice, specifically Mario Lanza, by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodzky.
And everything about the song is operatic, right to the astonishing final Lanza
note. Schmaltzy? Do horses lay eggs? What? Anyhow, it was a huge hit and is now
a standard in pop/opera concerts---but that's not the point. Expecting Lanza,
are you? Nope. You're going to get, yet again, the great Jackie Wilson, who
loved opera and admired Lanza (as was illustrated earlier.) Yes, here is Jackie
Wilson's version of "Be My Love," in which you can clearly hear him aspiring to
What, you also want the original? Sure---but not quite. This is a live
performance with a different arrangement done for the Hedda Hopper Radio Show 29
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