Monday, May 4, 2015

and more

After seeing Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke, I've taken to finding bits of it on YouTube, not an urge I had after previous encounters with it. Here's the overture, professionally played. (The first theme is the chamberlains' march that I mentioned earlier.) True, I now have the advantage of having heard the whole opera well-performed, but isn't this charming and tuneful? Sullivan doesn't sound tired out or phoning it in to me.

Having taken my visiting LA friend to Moe's Books in Berkeley, a return visit he'd long craved, I came out forsooth with a few books myself, one of which is a detailed account of Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union speech, with which he essentially launched his presidential campaign in 1860. (It's a great speech, full of fisking of Stephen A. Douglas and snarky rebukes of Southern misapprehensions of Lincoln's political positions, proving these phenomena wasn't invented by the Internet.) Being as detailed as it is, one thing the book lists is competing cultural events also going on in New York the day that Lincoln spoke. Some of them were musical, so I reported this to B. You could go hear Jenny Lind give a recital, or you could attend a performance of a then-popular opera called Martha (it's by an otherwise-forgotten composer named Flotow), starring a 16-year-old soprano sensation ... and B. burst out with the name before I could ask her to guess it. Before you click on the link, can you?

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