Friday, February 22, 2008

The Quaker who loved opera

There are several inches of snow on the ground, and since frozen rain is supposed to follow, making the roads extra slippery, my place of employment has closed.

Glad for a day to unwind a bit, I was procrastinating doing chores and touring YouTube. I watched the video of Barack Obama's inspiring speech following his New Hampshire primary victory...then I started plugging in names of some of my favorite singers, including tenors and divas past and present. Turns out there's quite a bit of opera on YouTube. I actually found a clip of the 1958 RAI telecast of Puccini's Turandot, with Franco Corelli singing the part of Calaf. Corelli... Now there's a name from the past!

When I was a kid I used to read the reviews of the operas that came to Philadelphia and dream of going to them. There were two opera companies
back then, the Philadelphia Grand and the Philadelphia Lyric. They rarely strayed from the tried and true popular repertoire of Verdi and Puccini hits, with a bit of Donizetti thrown in, especially when Joan Sutherland came to town. I can even remember when the music critic of one of the papers complained because both companies were planning productions of La Bohème during the same season. ... Anyway, I found my favorite scene in all of opera on YouTube: the finale of the first act of Turandot. OK, the sound isn't great and the visual is worse ... but, I mean, IT'S FRANCO CORELLI!

(The embedding was removed from YouTube at the request of the contributors, distributors of vintage opera videos ... I'm tempted to send then $35 to have the entire video.)


  1. I used to live in north wales in bangor. there were limited options for cultural activities in this lovely university town compared to the big English cities. Yet despite this, or may be because of it, people made an effort to get to ANYTHING that came along and thus had their horizons broadened. Thus I ended up seeing my first opera there, Hansel & Gretal.


  2. Hey, there are some great tunes in Hansel and Gretel!

    My very first exposure to opera came in the form of some old 78 rpm records that had belonged to my grandfather. I discovered them one summer day when all my friends were away at the seashore and I was bored as all heck. There were a few records that had once constituted a complete recording of Cavalleria Rusticana. How I became an opera fan listening to those scratchy-sounding things is beyond me, but after that summer, I was hooked :-)


Comments are moderated. The decision of the blog author is final.