Monthly Archives: March 2022

Schumann Piano Quartet – Andante Cantabile

The third movement of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E flat has one of the greatest melodies found in music of any variety. It’s comparable to the best of Bellini or Verdi. His opus 47 was written in 1842. It closely followed his Piano Quintet (opus 44) in the same key. Both works influenced Brahms…


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Don Carlos in HD

No Verdi opera has as many versions as Don Carlos. There are at least eight. Alas, the composer never designated any of them as definitive. The Met has done both four and five act Italian versions, but never until this season the five act French original. Well, not really the original. The Met’s current go…


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The Last King of America – Book Review

Biographer Andrew Roberts recently published The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III. The book is a detailed biography of the monarch who lost America. It’s so detailed that it likely contains more than some readers will care know about the King. Roberts had complete and unprecedented access to the royal archives…


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The Gordon Riots – 1780

Andrew Roberts in his biography of George III, (The Last King of America) which I’ll get to in a subsequent post, describes the Gordon Riots of 1780 as the worst catastrophe to befall London during the interval between the Great Fire in 1666 and the Blitz which began in 1940. Those who saw the disorder…


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Madness is a Feature, Not a Bug

“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” The sentence opens Rafael Sabatini’s novel Scaramouche. It’s also engraved on his tombstone. And it’s also true. Humans as the price for their exalted state of consciousness have been condemned by providence to eternal madness. The two are unalterably…


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Finale 33 – La Favorite Act 3

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) was the most prolific of all the major composers of opera. He wrote about 70 operas, a lot of chamber music, and religious works All the frenzied activity before he went mad from syphylis in his 40s and then died at 50. La Favorite was written in 1840 to a French text…


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Ariadne Auf Naxos in HD

German opera after Mozart became increasingly self conscious. Strauss’s Ariadne Auf Naxos is an example of this solipsistic trait. It was originally intended to be a half hour divertissement to follow Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s adaption of Molière’s Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. Strauss also wrote incidental music for the play. The 30 minute opera grew to 90…


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The Ring Operas And Anti-Semitism

That Wagner was anti-Semitic is indisputable. The extent to which his prejudice entered his operas is much less certain. Eric Nelson, the Robert M. Beren Professor of Government at Harvard, recently published Wagner and the Anti-Semitism of ‘the Ring’ in Commentary. Professor Nelson approaches this subject from an unusual position. He knows the Ring operas…


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Ben Heppner

This article was originally published here on May 29, 2019. It was damaged beyond repair such that I had to reconstruct it anew. Ben Heppner (b 1956) is a now retired Canadian tenor. At his peak, the 1990s, he was as fine a tenor as can be imagined. His career at the Met lasted from…


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Matteo Manuguerra

Matteo Manuguerra (1924-1998) was born in Tunis to Italian parents. His family moved to Buenos Aires where he received his initial vocal training. Rare among great singers was his extremely late start. He didn’t begin studying voice until he was 35. He first was a tenor, but after moving to France in 1961 he retuned…


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