Author Archives: Neil Kurtzman

California Bans Breathing After 2035

The California state legislature just passed The Respiration Control Act banning breathing effective 2035. Introduced by San Francisco representative Twinkle Raspberry the state’s first trans-species legislator – they identifies as a hedgehog – the act will ban breathing effective 2035. Rep Raspberry explained that the gas exhaled by humans and other mammals is 4% to…


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Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Returns to the Met

Yesterday evening the Met revived Graham Vick’s production of Shostakovich’s 20th century masterpiece Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. A few remarks about the production. The Met has mounted this staging in 1994, 2000, 2014, and now in this year. To its discredit the Met has yet to include the opera in its HD series. I suspect…


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Celestina Boninsegna

Celestina Boninsegna (1877-1947) was an Italian soprano best known for her facility with Verdi’s great soprano parts. Born in Reggio Emilia she was something of a vocal prodigy. Her first appearance on stage was as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale; she was 15. Following the completion of her vocal studies at the Conservatorio Gioachino Rossini in…


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Met Opera Opens Season with Cherubini’s Medea

This evening the Met opened its 2022-23 season with its first ever presentation of Luigi Cherubini’s opera Medea. Well, it’s mostly by Cherubini. He wrote Médée an opéra comique for the Théâtre Feydeau in Paris. After its premiere in 1797, it was largely neglected. It was subsequently translated into German and the dialogue replaced with…


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Wisdom

Wisdom in an individual is hard to define. One almost has to resort to the Potter Stewart approach: I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. Here’s a dictionary definition: “The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” Neither Stewart or…


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Victoria de los Ángeles

Victoria de los Ángeles (1923-2005) was a Catalan soprano who had a voice of haunting beauty. Though most of her roles were the mainstays of the Italian soprano repertory, she had a rich middle and lower register that allowed her to sing mezzo roles such as Rosina in Rossini Barber and the title role of…


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Recording of the Month – Benvenuto Cellini

Hector Berlioz (1803-66) was a composer of such unique gifts that he deserves a place among the great composers all to himself. So original were his ideas and talents that even after more than a century and a half after his death, we still struggle to keep up with him. He invented the modern symphony…


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Dickens on Elections

In chapter 13 of The Pickwick Papers Dickens describes an election for the House of Commons in the borough of Eatanswill. There are two parties – the Buffs and the Blues. The two candidates, Slumkey (Blue) and Fizkin (Buff), have only one concern – getting elected. They and their supporters will resort to any chicanery…


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Mencken on Intelligence – A Century On

HL Mencken (1880-1956), often called the Sage of Baltimore, though Curmudgeon would have worked as well had he not been mostly right about the debased condition of his countryman as well those residing in the rest of the world. A century ago when he was in his prime there was no lack of deranged thinking…


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More on Mario Lanza

Mario Lanza has been dead for more than 60 years, yet with the passage of each one he seems to get even better. This is an excuse to post a few more of his recordings. What’s clear is the both the beauty of his voice and its ability to still resonate and move the listener….


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