Author Archives: Neil Kurtzman

COVID-19 Attack Rates Amid Different Strategies

Much of the world has virtually shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But a few countries have taken a different course. Presented below are the “attack rates” for countries that different approaches to this disease. I’ve defined “attack rate” as the percent of the population that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 up to…


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Corona Uncertainty

The country has slowed to the pace of a toddler’s crawl because of the coronavirus epidemic. We have decided to follow the advice of the federal government’s top medical experts. This decision has imposed an economic burden on the country that may cause more damage than the virus itself. Our handling of a very complex…


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Understanding the Implication of a Positive Test For COVID-19

The public and the press have little understanding of what a positive test for any disease means. Iceland has decided to test its entire population for COVID-19, which as can be seen from the data below is an act of well meaning folly. I’ll make this explanation as simple as I can. Any medical test…


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Two Pertinent Quotations

Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule” – Friedrich Nietzsche America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between – Oscar Wilde Nietzsche ended up mad and Wilde went to jail.


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Scarpia Sings Again

Baritones are rarely heroes in opera. But they usually have at least one redeeming characteristic. Rigoletto loves his daughter, Macbeth accepts his fate with manly resignation, etc. Iago in Verdi’s Otello is 100% villain. There’s nothing remotely good about him. He’s the devil’s spawn.  Puccini isn’t as generous to baritones as was Verdi. But he…


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Chamber Music By Opera Composers

Most opera composers are specialists. There are only four greats who are equally noted for both operatic and instrumental music – Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, and Strauss. Chamber music is defined as: “Instrumental music played by a small ensemble, with one player to a part, the most important form being the string quartet which developed in…


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Recondita Armonia

Tosca has two great tenor arias. Everyone knows the third act’s ‘E lucevan le stelle’. ‘Recondita armonia’, the subject of this article, appears in the first act only minutes after the show has started. It requires a different approach from its more famous brother. It needs a full voiced sound without the filatura and pianissimo…


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The Question Nobody is Asking: How Many US Deaths From Flu This Season?

While we are obsessing about Covid-19, no one I know of is asking the obvious related question. How many Americans have died from the flu this season? The information is readily available on the CDC’s website. According to the Center (as of February 29): Nationally, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses are now the most commonly reported influenza…


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Nilsson in Italian Opera

Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005) was one of opera’s miracles. If you heard her during her prime, which roughly coincided with the first decade or so of her 22 years at the Met, you heard a unique voice. At its fullest, it was a Jovian thunderbolt. No technical challenge was too much for her. Vocally, she could…


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Another Reason to Return to Smoke Signals

The world has gone madder than a pit viper caught in a wheat thresher.  The cause? The coronavirus epidemic. The disease is still in the early stage of definition. Our understanding of its severity and dissemination is evolving. What’s not evolving is a responsible response to this new pathogen. Instead of ready, aim, fire we…


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