To follow my Mozart opera dream:
Of all the wonderful music in The marriage of Figaro, I think we in the orchestra all lavished particular loving care on the Act 3 sextet Riconosci in questo amplesso, in which Figaro recognizes his parents.
The focus on the rather naff dramatic business tends to distract from the riches of the exquisite music—there’s so much delight in caressing the orchestral accompaniment. Here’s our 1993 recording:
A minor bonus for me personally is the role of the stammering notary Don Curzio (sadly, I wasn’t employed as a voice coach). His imp-p-pediment is harder to suggest in metered song than in recitative—this clip includes the recitative as performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris:
But Kleiber’s 1955 recording manages to include it in the sextet itself (@2.45):
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The figure of the stammering lawyer or notary goes back to Tartaglia in commedia dell’arte and Il Tartaglione, foil to Polecenella in Neapolitan puppetry. Don Curzio’s stammer was created by the Irish tenor Michael Kelly; indeed, Mozart feared that it detracted from his music, but Kelly convinced him to keep it since it was an audience-pleaser—Typical!
Besides all the musical portrayals of disfluency that I mentioned in this post (including Rossini’s “stupefaction ensemble”), we can add Vašek in Smetana’s The bartered bride:
An earnest yet drôle article considers it a sympathetic portrayal; but
some nameless “laryngologists” [!] were quoted maintaining that it is quite impossible to stutter in Vašek’s way. No systematic phoniatric analysis of his fluency disorder has been published. The present study is assessing and enumerating Vašek’s tonic, clonic and tonoclonic speech blockades. It also delivers musical examples of his effective stuttered phrases and compares them to scientific descriptions and objective registrations of physical (external) and psychical (internal) symptoms of stuttering in phoniatric textbooks. It confirms the complete agreement of Smetana’s artistic expression of speech disfluency with the real stuttering.
And the role of Dr Blind in Die Fledermaus led me to this blistering review (“Mark Saltzman as Dr Blind was made to labor under the delusion that stammering jokes are funny”—no turn is left unstoned). But Barbara Hannigan’s portrayal of Gepopo still takes the b-b-biscuit.
I’m still entertained by this poster that I saw on an Irish train in the 1990s. I imagine a response from the archetypal miscreant, confused by the options, might go:
Let me see now, that’s a teaser.* Can I have both?
* As in the Japanese particle Saa, helpfully explained in the wacky Teach yourself Japanese.
Among myriad aperçus of the great Flann O’Brien, note his “smoking substances of non-nationals“. There’s a whole host of drôlerie under the Irish tag, such as this—as well as the great Ciaran Carson.
I’ve already sung the praises of Steve Coogan’s alter ego Alan Partridge in this post. Here are a couple more gems.
In a meeting with the BBC head of programming, Alan pitches several fatuous ideas (“Monkey Tennis”?). Or “Swallow”, a detective series set in Norwich:
Think about it—no one had heard of Oxford before Inspector Morse.
And tucking into breakfast with RTE executives he insouciantly breaks right through the barriers of taste (cf. Jesus jokes):
Alan (suavely): So, how many people were killed in the Irish famine?
Aidan: Erm. Two million, and another two million had to leave the country.
Alan: Right… If it was just the potatoes that were affected, at the end of the day, you will pay the price if you’re a fussy eater. If they could afford to emigrate, then they could afford to eat in a modest restaurant.
Allow me to draw your attention to several diverting posts bearing on the misguided nature of competitions in music and dance:
But then, I do concur, contests are a more creative aspect of traditional performance—such as Chinese ritual groups (and shawm bands) “facing platforms”, or “cutting” in jazz…
At last I’ve added a tag in the sidebar for fiddles, embracing all kinds of bowed lutes (or even, um, friction chordophones) around the world, including folk fiddles, ghijak and satar, sarangi and kamancha, violins in WAM, and so on.
It’s a typically extensive list, and I’m sorry I can’t subhead tags, yet. If I could, the entries might include
and so on.
A stimulating comparative post is
with the amazing Transylvanian fiddling there pursued further in Musical cultures of East Europe.
Do also explore the tags for Irish and the brilliant Ciaran Carson—some highiights include
One quirk of the blog format I use here is that I can only give categories and tags to posts, not pages. So I’d add other pages like
and so on.
For another instrument tag, see trumpet—giving links to many world traditions of wind and brass playing.
With tributes to Sean Hughes pouring in, I really shouldn’t try and encapsulate such a brilliant narrative comedian through pithy one-liners, but:
What the fuck do gardeners do when they retire?
I failed my driving test for stalling. The instructor said: “Just get into the fucking car.”
Also fine is his 1993 poem for his ideal funeral.
While we’re on football, in the notorious and grandly-named Saipan incident in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup, Roy Keane’s spat with the Republic of Ireland team manager Mick McCarthy evokes the principled hauteur of an illustrious Ming-dynasty court official going into voluntary exile rather than serving under the new Manchu regime.
The confrontation between player and manager allegedly culminated in this fine rant from Keane:
“Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a fucking wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are manager of my country and you’re not even Irish, you English cunt. You can stick the World Cup up your bollocks.”
Reporting the story, the Guardian came out with the magnificent headline
KEANE DISPLAYS TENUOUS GRASP OF ANATOMY