Opry Links # 120:
Krazy Kar Edition
Okay, kids, it's another Krazy Kar edition of Saturdee Opry Links, featuring:
"La Boheme" on the moon, Mario Lanza, the devil himself, a conducting squirrel,
singing desserts, and last, but not least, Florence Foster Jenkins and her
untrained larynx. Have a ball.
I wish I didn't have to write this caption, but this is "La Boheme" set
on the moon, in a Paris Opera desecration. Really.
Saturdee Opry Links Overture:
“Rienzi,” by Wagner. (My great-great-great-great-great grandfather.)
Welcome to the Krazy Kar edition of Saturdee Opry Links, in which I have no
theme or unifying idea---just posting anything that occurs, as the Krazy Kar
swerves. Think you've got problems? They're nothing compared to Wotan's. The
king of the gods has really, to use the vernacular, fucked up. He heard about
this magic gold, see, from which a ring can be made---a ring with power to rule
the world. So this mangy little dwarf, Alberich, steals the magic gold from the
beatific Rhine maidens---he has to renounce love in order to do so!---snatching
it right out of the river. The dwarf, part of the race of Nibelungen, enslaves
all his ilk as temporary master of the world. Well, Wotan and the impish god of
mischief and fire, Loge, trick Alberich out of the gold. Why? In order to pay
off the giants, Fasolt and Fafnir, of course. Why do they need to be paid off?
They have just finished building a home in the clouds for the gods called
Valhalla, and they are holding as ransom the goddess, Freia. You've heard of
Freia, right? She grows the golden apples that keep all the gods young, and
they're staring to feel a mite poorly without her. So. . .Wotan stacks up enough
gold to cover up Freia, the arranged payment. then Fafnir demands the ring from
Wotan, who refuses until he realizes there is no other way to free Freia (whose
name means "free one.") But, being dumb giants (following this?), and subject to
the same greed as Wall Street, the brothers get into a tiff over the gold.
Fafnir clubs his brother to death and steals everything, releasing Freia. Wotan
is left to scratch his head, having lied and cheated and broken contracts to get
where he is: nowhere. In the end, the gods decide, hell with it, let's just go
to Valhalla. Donner, the god of thunder, breaks up the clouds, and they all
cross a rainbow bridge into the sky. Have a ball. The music is SENSATIONAL.
(Turn on the English subtitles by clicking on the "CC" icon on screen.)
Here is the war anthem from Bellini's "Norma," as performed by. . .woodland
creatures. Really! This is "Squilla il bronzo del dio... Guerra, guerra." This
is basically a call for revolution, something badly needed in this country
today. The film’s director explains why he chose this chorus for the animals to
“We spent two weeks listening to opera songs and ended up with this track from
the famous Bellini opera Norma called ‘Guerra Guerra,’ which is a war anthem.
The track had the epic, explosive vibe we wanted, and a female singer, which was
necessary for the bird character. So, if you’re wondering what these animals are
singing, they’re basically preparing the revolution!”
Here is the gypsy chorus from Verdi's "La Traviata," performed entirely by
"We are gypsies,
Come from a distant land;
We can read the future
In anybody's hand.
We're in touch with the stars;
Nothing is hidden from us,
All the happenings of the future
We can reveal to you."
And here is how it can look when performed by humans.
Soprano Florence Foster Jenkins has a place in opera history, which was her
goal. She achieved this by being the absolute worst opera singer on record. (I'm
off-record.) True. "People may say I can't sing, but they can't say I didn't
sing," was her summary comment, toward the end of her life. A wealthy New York
socialite and philanthropist, Ms. Jenkins adored opera, and desperately wished
to sing it---to the point where she began taking voice lessons, never mind how
desperately hopeless it was. (Her teachers apparently were happy to take the
scratch, and feed her delusion.) Ms. Jenkins proceeded to immerse herself in New
York society, and as the "chairman of music" for many of these clubs, produced
lavish tableaux vivants—(small-scale productions)---casting herself as the star,
of course. Strangely, she played piano well---but just could not control her
singing pitch. The great soprano Marilyn Horne speculated: "I would say that she
maybe didn't know [how badly she sang]. We can't hear ourselves as others hear
us." Nerve damage due to syphilis (contracted from her first husband) and its
treatment might have physically compromised her hearing as well. Be that as it
may, Ms. Jenkins---whose actual first name was Narcissa, appropriately
enough---sang and sang and sang, recital after horrible review after recital.
(Yes, Meryl Streep played her in a recent movie. Streep will soon reportedly
portray Idi Amin, Genghis Khan, and Major Moe, the famed midget entertainer of
the 19th century.) Here is FloFo is in all her gory, I mean glory, with the
"laughing song" from "Die Fledermaus," by Johann Strauss Jr.
And how it should sound:
Setting: A party in Prince Orlofsky's house, Vienna, Austria, 1870.
Synopsis: Adele has run into her mistress's husband, Gabriel von Eisenstein. He
believes that he recognizes her but she convinces him that a chambermaid would
never be found at a party such as this one.
AND HERE IS MS. JENKINS ON FILM!
More about Ms. Jenkins:
Van Horn as
Our Krazy Kar edition of SOL continues with an aria straight from hell. Old
Scratch lays it out:
"Such is the world.
Upon its huge
And rounded back
Dwells an unclean
And mad race,
Devours itself. . ."
Setting: The heights of Brocken Mountain, medieval times
Synopsis: During a series of Satanic rituals on the mountaintop, a group of
witches give Mefistofele a glass globe. He sees the world in it and declares his
hatred for it.
The bass-baritone is Christian Van Horn.
Translation (scroll down):
Here is the lovely animated sequence from "Opera Imaginaire" done for "Un bel di
vedremo" from "Madama Butterfly," by Puccini. The soprano is the legendary
Brazilian soprano, Bidú Sayão. "One Fine Day," indeed.
Setting: Butterfly's house
Synopsis: Three years have passed since Butterfly's American husband left her.
Her servant Suzuki, tries to convince her that he isn't coming back, but
Butterfly is convinced that he will. She sings of the day that he will return.
She dreams of him sailing into the harbor and climbing up the hill to meet her.
Opera is just loaded with the most idiotic desecrations these days. The
pseudo-intellectuals, the poseurs, the lightweights, the politically correct
have ruined opera after opera, around the world. Why? How? Their productions are
passed off as "daring" and "breaking with hoary tradition" and other such
garbage. New productions are always a fine idea, of course, but there are, uh,
what was that term. . .oh yeah, INTELLIGENT. . .ways to do them. This is not one
of them. This is a horror contrived by one of the most horrible of contemporary
opera producer/directors: Barrie Kosky. The lightest of all lightweights,
phoniest of the phoney. Gee, why am I so condemning? You'll see why here. Take a
look, if you dare, from this recent Royal Opera production of "Carmen." (No, I
don't know why she is in a gorilla outfit, either.) Poor Anna Goryachova sings.
Setting: A square in Seville
Synopsis: After appearing out of the cigarette factory, Carmen seductively sings
about love and its unpredictable actions.
How it usually looks (with superb Anna Caterina Antonacci and her trained
If you thought Carmen in a fucking gorilla suit was ridiculous, try this on: "La
Boheme" set on the moon. I kid you not. On. The. Moon. You think I'm
exaggerating about new opera productions being utterly full of shit? You wrong,
baby. Here we see Mimi, who is dying of TB, strolling around on the moon. (Talk
about "O Soave Fanciulla!") You know, Mimi, it's mighty cold there (at least
half of your body), so you might want to bundle up, eh? This is an infamous
Paris Opera production from a couple years ago. Yes, critics took it seriously,
and wrote bullshit explanations of it. Poor soprano Sonya Yoncheva is superb in
her execution of the heart-tending aria, "Donde lieta usci," set outside the
gates of Paris. In this case, way outside.
Setting: The barrière d'Enfer, on the outskirts of Paris
Synopsis: Rodolfo and Mimi have had a fight, with Rodolfo saying that Mimi has
been flirting with other men. However, the real reason he wants to separate from
Mimi is because she is very sick and he cannot bear to watch her die. He reveals
this to Marcello, but Mimi overhears him and, after Marcello leaves, she comes
to him and asks him to return all of her possessions to her former room.
Here is the same soprano with the same aria, but ON EARTH.
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla!
Today's Krazy Kar edition is lacking in goose bumps (except for the Wagner
earlier), so to make up for that, here is the man Toscanini called the greatest
voice he had ever heard. I speak, of course, of Freddie Cocozza. This is in
memory of his great friend (and mine), the late Terry Robinson. Here is the
lush, fabulous Neopolitan classic, "Torna a Sorriento" ("Return to Sorrento"),
and may Freddie, AKA Mario Lanza, be heard all the way to Napoli.
"Look at the sea, how beautiful it is,
it inspires so many emotions,
like you do with the people you look at,
who you make to dream while they are still awake. . ."
My article about Terry Robinson:
We haven't had any tears today on the Krazy Kar edition of SOL. Perhaps this
will suffice. Yes, the Three Tenors got together in 2017, despite the fact that
the great Pavarotti had passed away. With wishes for the recovery of Placido
Domingo, now hospitalized with the devil virus in Acapulco, here is "My Way."
Let us hope that Maestro Domingo has not taken his final bow.
And when they were all together:
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