Category Archives: Opera

Finale 28 – Das Rheingold

Wagner wrote the librettos for the four Ring operas in reverse order. The music, however, was composed in the correct sequence. Das Rheingold lays the foundation for the long slog ahead. As it’s all in one act, allowing no chance for a bathroom break, it lasts only 2 hours and 20 minutes, give or take…


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Henri Legay

Henri Legay (1920-92) was a French tenor whose career was mostly based in Paris. For a while he supported himself singing while accompanying himself with a guitar at Parisian cabarets. He composed some of the songs he sang. He also played for Edith Piaf and Ives Montand. in 1947 he received a first prize from…


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Giuseppe Borgatti

Giuseppe Borgatti (1871-1950) was Italy’s first heldentenor. He was born and raised in rural northern Italy. Apparently he grew up illiterate. His voice was discovered during his compulsory military service. A wealthy patron sponsored both his musical and reading lessons. He made his operatic debut at age 21 as Gounod’s Faust. He became famous when…


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Leaping Lovers

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Well, the protagonists of some operas while not up to Superman’s level make some impressive leaps or jumps. No leap of faith here, has to be a real jump to make it into this article. Only in a comic opera does a jumper survive. Mozart’s The…


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Mattia Battistini

Mattia Battistini (1856-1928) was born to an upper middle class Roman family. He dropped out of university studies (what he was studying is uncertain) to take singing lessons with Venceslao Persichini at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in 1877. By the end of the following year he had made such progress that he debuted as…


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The Greatest Musical Composition Ever – 1

Obviously there’s a contradiction in my title. There can’t be more than one greatest musical composition ever written. My purpose is to list music so good that while you’re listening to it, it seems to be without peer – at least until you happen on the next greatest work. My plan for this series is…


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Mario Lanza – 100th Birthday

For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’. John Greenleaf Whittier January 31, 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the birth Alfredo Arnold Cocozza known to posterity as Mario Lanza; Lanza was his mother’s maiden name. A native of Philadelphia, he was the son of Italian immigrants…


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The Ghost in the Machine – A Cautionary Tale

This article is almost a quarter of a century old. I wrote it for a print magazine and then published it here more than a decade ago. It’s buried in the site’s archives. I thought I’d give it fresh exposure and accordingly am resurrecting it. There’s a companion piece that I may also renew. It…


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Finale 27 – The Marriage of Figaro Act 2

The famous finale to Mozart’s comic opera begins when the door to the closet in a room Count Almaviva’s estate is opened. Both the Count and Countess think Cherubino, the Count’s page, is in the closet. The Count is about to break down the door and then decides to use his sword on the page…


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Richard Crooks

Richard Crooks (1900-72) was an American tenor. Born in New Jersey he started his singing career as an oratorio specialist. He studied with baritone Leon Rothier and vocal coach Frank La Forge. In 1927 he went to Germany where he made his operatic debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca. In 1930 he made his American operatic…


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