Seeing a bat this morning in broad daylight reminded me of having to work in the pit on a production of Die Fledermaus (Johann Strauss II). It was awful. This is one operetta that I really don’t like. The plot is stupid, the show is way too long and most of the music, save the famous waltz, often used in Warner Brothers cartoons, and the overture, which is a nice stand-alone piece, is irritating. In my 7th grade music class the teacher (Mr. Jones at Hell Junior High) told us that in the original Viennese productions, the female lead took off her costume ball outfit and pranced around buck naked for the finale! I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it would sure would add some excitement to an otherwise wasted evening. I recall that the orchestra parts were just bad photocopies of the original 140-year-old hand written parts. The trumpet parts were written for trumpet in “F”, as was the custom in those days. And transposing the parts on modern Bb or C trumpet is no big deal. But somewhere along the line some half wit had scribbled the transposed notes onto the parts, and then somebody else had made corrections or even the fingering of some notes!, making them the icing on the big horse pie.
My recommendations for operetta; Sullivan- Patience, Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado, Mozart- The Magic Flute, if only for the Queen of the Night’s magnificent aria, Lehar-The Land of Smiles and The Merry Widow, Sondheim- A little Night Music, finally Romberg- The Desert Song, a lot like Zorro with Arab rebels, the Riff, scaring everyone. Some of the dialogue and songs are barf-bag lame. The French Military March is the best number.
As for grand opera, you need look no farther than Puccini- Madama Butterfly and Turandot. Mascagni- Cavalleria Rusticana is wonderful too. Verdi- Aida is a big bore except for the second act finale- the grandest moment in opera. The greatest of all the American Operas, Gershwin- Porgy and Bess, has a big problem which is going to land it in the cannibals pot.
Operettas to avoid include, besides Die Fledermaus; Strauss II-The Gypsy Baron, and worst of all – Romberg- The Student Prince. I saw Starlight’s production a while back, and I recall not minding the jets flying over every minute or so. One good song, “Drink,Drink Drink” pretty much saves the show from oblivion.
Of course, this is just my opinion.
Next time I’ll slander orchestral music from the Romantic and Post-romantic eras.
This tame aviary bird showed up on the 12th. Note the broad eye ring and color.
I don’t know if the purple wash on the tail feathers is real or just an artifact of over-exposure. 1/8000th of a second exposure was not fast enough to stop the action entirely. The entire bird, mostly, is in the same plane as the camera’s sensor.
This is one of the two owlets that were hatched and raised at the swamp this summer.