A Tale of Two Floozies

June 27, 2016 at 10:30 am

In truth, it’s way more than two floozies.

Cosi Fan Tutte is a comic opera by Mozart, whose plot is fairly conventional as far as late 18th century operas go. A couple of men, being complete pricks, decide to make a wager on the fidelity of their fiancées, and agree to try for a switcheroo. The women, naturally, being wholly brainless and without any morals (please note my heavy tone of sarcasm here), quickly fall in love with the other man and are unfaithful to their husbands-to-be. In the end, the truth of the wager is revealed to the ladies. For some bizarre reason, the women are completely fine with the fact that their fiancés played with their emotions like toys, and that they were traded like a piece of property. Nobody questions the motives of the men, of course, and the newly-formed, swinging couples have a double-wedding. The moral of the story? “All women are like that” – cosi fan tutte.

All of a sudden, an opera about necrophilia doesn’t seem so morally bankrupt. The good news is, you can still enjoy the music of Mozart, and blissfully ignore the stories that late 18th century aristocrats liked to reinforce.

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Want to be immortal? Don’t seek the Philosopher’s stone; instead, write a great book!

June 26, 2016 at 11:00 am

Nineteen years ago today, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone was published – and talk about a fast path to fame. In barely ten years, the series went from small potatoes to worldwide obsession; J. K. Rowling went from nobody (it was her first book!) to a household name. And, as with every hit new book, a movie adaptation is inevitable.

When the first film was made in 2001, the book series was only half-way through. The filmmakers had enough foresight to know that this series would only get bigger and bigger; so they didn’t cut corners when it came to music – no less than the legendary John Williams would score the movie! While perhaps not his move amazing composition, it still carries his tell-tale marks: a memorable, melodic main theme (heard at the beginning of this video); repetitive song forms; contrasting orchestration to help define sections; an assortment of harmonic and orchestration “tricks” that you can hear in any of his blockbuster films (for example, at 0:39, the impression of “flying” given by buzzing strings can also be found in E.T., or at 1:36, it is remarkable similar to the X-Wing “fanfare” music in Star Wars).

Hats off to Harry Potter and to John Williams!

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, pars secunda

June 25, 2016 at 10:00 am

Midsummer is celebrated various ways by various cultures on various dates throughout the week after the Summer Solstice. This is good news for my blog, because, not surprisingly, this mystical, magical, and religiously important time of year has a lot of significant music written about it.

Before Cheech & Chong, the best acid trip entertainment was undoubtedly Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gods, goddesses, fairies, and magic potions, there is even a character named Bottom who gets turned into an ass; now that’s top-quality play-writing! Felix Mendelssohn, like many other composers, wrote incidental music for this play. Here is the overture from the suite.

Hear the rollicking scherzo from earlier this week!

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