Friday, April 1, 2011

Il primo sole del aprile

Although, like Mimi, I live on the top floor of a shabby building in an exciting city, I will have to wait some time for the first sun of April; New York is covered in a chilling mixture of rain and snow.  But in an antic mood appropriate to April Fool's day, and in despite of the gruesome grayness of the weather, I thought I would share with you, Gentle Readers, some moments of sheer silliness from the operatic byways of YouTube.

Even the most dedicated Wagnerians--even when singing about the End of the World--can have a giggle.  Georg Solti will put you back to work before too long, of course, but:

Few things are sillier than old-fashioned English translations of opera libretti.  This fortunate interviewer had Nicolai Gedda (who seems to have stricter ideas about what constitutes a "cad" than the interviewer, disconcertingly,) Joan Sutherland, Tito Gobbi, and Mildred Miller gathered around his piano.  So he decided, albeit with relatively pedantic intentions, to give them a "rather flowery" translation of the Rigoletto quartet.  Hilarity ensues.

For comparison, here's what happens when they're turned loose on the real thing.

Despite--or perhaps, in part, because of--the thawing of opera's perceived-as-rarefied atmosphere over the past decades, I find fewer such gems for more recent luminaries of the opera world, at least in video.  There are some choice anecdotes, such as the one related by Philip Gossett in Divas and Scholars about the time (at Ferrara in 1992)  Plácido Domingo surreptitiously took the place of the extra set to play the king in Viaggio a Reims, to the composure-endangering amusement of the cast and conductor.  And Sondra Radvanovsky does have some great tales to tell about the pranks of Dmitri Hvorostovsky. And there is this somewhat surreal episode, in which, shirt soaked with the blood of Werther's suicide, Jonas Kaufmann indulges in Gummi bear ventriloquism:  This is when I am reminded of the fact that he's a father of three.  And of how much I liked Gummi bears as a small child myself.  For now, though, I will root through my CD collection for the most sunshine-evocative music I can find, and leave you with two lists of opera jokes, some of which are terrible, but at many of which I chuckled.  Happy April, Gentle Readers!


  1. I wonder what opera(s) Carreras List is referring to with:

    You're in trouble if... You sing to anyone about your jewelry.

  2. I'm not sure I will hear Kaufmann's Werther anymore without hearing gummi bears talking in the wings.

  3. @DTO I was assuming, first of all, Marguerite in Faust. There's also Carmen's defiant "Cette bague autrefois, tu me l'avais donnée, tiens!" Not sure that Mélisande's playing with her ring by the well counts, but it might be a possibility. And doesn't Klytemnaestra talk about her rings and talismans in "Ich habe keine gute Naechte"? And if one counted in all the exchanged rings which are pledges of faith like Edgardo's and Lucia's, I'm sure that would raise the total.

    @stray Oh no!!! What have I done?!?

  4. Not to mention the Ring itself, which is all about trouble.

    @Lucy, not to worry, I'm sure there's a pharmaceutical for that.

  5. That Kaufmann video never fails to make me grin. It gives a new twist to the whole "don't play with your food" debate. Cannibalizing gummy bears backstage-you can only imagine what he does with his kids.

    And the Rigoletto video! That's a riot. I love that the singers were laughing so hard.

  6. Brave. I forgot the many rings! The first image I sought was a necklace and I couldn't think of any.


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