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Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera
86 minutes | Jul 18, 2021
Beelzebub and Galileo
Season 3 kicks off with a visit from poet and professor Daniel Nester, librettist for "The Summer King" by Daniel Sonenberg and author of "God Save My Queen". We talk about slam poetry, karaoke and New York City's Bowery Poetry Club, and then attempt a deep dive into the operatic context of the classic rock song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, and why it may have been inspired by the verismo opera "Cavalleria Rusticana" by Pietro Mascagni.
36 minutes | Dec 31, 2020
Nabucco and Ishmaele
A discussion of Giuseppe Verdi's breakthrough opera "Nabucco" and its Biblical origin story of Nebuchadnezzar and the neo-Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. We also talk about Boney M, the Melodians "By the Rivers of Babylon", the Broadway musical "Godspell", Herman Melville's "Moby Dick", and why some of us hate Verdi's "Aida" and "Rigoletto". Season 2 closer of "Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera".
73 minutes | Oct 23, 2020
Mimi and Rodolfo
Vicki Zunitch joins Marc Eliot Stein for a fresh in-depth examination of Puccini's great opera "La Boheme". We talk about the existential choices the characters make, the original comic stories by Henri Murger, the lifestyle of starving artists in 19th Century Paris and today, morning music at the Gate of Hell, affordable healthcare, and what the movie "Moonstruck" starring Cher and Nicolas Cage has to do with it all.
56 minutes | Jun 30, 2020
Don Quichotte and Dulcinee
Jules Massenet is best known for "Manon" and "Werther", and his "Don Quichotte" hasn't played at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City for nearly a hundred years. Why not, and was it actually killed in 1926 by a single bad review? Marc Eliot Stein rediscovers this forgotten classic and finds a beautiful surprise. We also talk about "Man of La Mancha", "Sturm und Drung", Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Wagner's "Der Fliegende Hollander", Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" and the final two shows that played at the Met before it shut down due to the pandemic of 2020.
48 minutes | Apr 30, 2020
Figaro and Cherubino
We continue our look at the two great Figaro operas with a deep dive into Mozart's dark sexual comedy "Le Nozze di Figaro". We talk about Soren Kierkegaard, "Either/Or", trouser roles, gender ambiguity, castratos, Peter Pan, Harpo Marx, Prince's "Purple Rain", Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, Rossini, Strauss, "Der Rosenkavalier", "La Mere Coupable", "Porkys", and Marc Eliot Stein's theory that a Stephen Foster folk song and Leadbelly blues song are inspired by Mozart's operatic masterpiece.
61 minutes | Mar 29, 2020
A Mermaid and a Baguette
We zoom into today’s literary scene with composer and librettist Rachel J. Peters, who turns short stories from authors like Sheila Heti and Arthur Phillips into contemporary operas. Her work spans from absurdist postmodernism back to the American tradition of Carl Sandburg, and her influences include Nina Simone, Stephen Sondheim and Meredith Monk. A fascinating look at opera as a living form! Featuring “Wild Beast of the Bungalow” music by Rachel J. Peters, libretto by Royce Vavrek inspired by “Mermaid in a Jar” by Sheila Heti, sung by Erica Thelen and Colin Anderson at Oberlin Conservatory and “Companionship” by Rachel J. Peters inspired by the Arthur Phillips short story, sung by Maren Weinberger and Kate Tombaugh at Fort Worth Frontiers Festival.
42 minutes | Feb 29, 2020
Figaro and Rosina
Figaro and Rosina are beloved characters in two masterpieces by two different composers: "Le Nozze di Figaro" by Mozart and "Il Barbieri di Siviglia" by Rossini. This episode is about Rossini's comic opera, and we also talk about commedia dell'arte, Pierre-Augustin Caron Pierre de Beaumarchais, Freddie Mercury, Groucho Marx, Bugs Bunny, Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza, Harley Quinn, the Joker, beautiful melodies and crescendoes and whether or not comic opera is funny (it's not).
45 minutes | Jan 8, 2020
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
What happens when two lifelong Shakespeareans attend Verdi's "Macbeth" at the Met? Marc Eliot Stein examines Giuseppe Verdi's earliest Shakespeare opera with Meg Wise-Lawrence, who teaches English at Hunter College and City College in New York City. We talk about witches, prophecies, banquets, mad scenes, Ian McKellen, Italian nationalism, the Scottish people, Verdi's "Nabucco", Verdi's "Otello" and Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades".
41 minutes | Jun 23, 2019
Fidelio and Napoleon
Beethoven's politically charged "Fidelio" is an opera for today, with messages of resistance, defiance, #MeToo and prisoner awareness. It premiered during the Napoleonic Wars that brought revolutionary tumult all over Europe, and Ludwig van Beethoven was deeply involved in progressive revolutionary politics. We talk about the French Revolution, Tolstoy's "War and Peace", David Lang's "Prisoner of the State", Schroeder's toy piano and much more. The final episode of Season 1 of "Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera"!
31 minutes | May 17, 2019
Wotan and Brunnhilde
Marc Eliot Stein and Bud Parr, two software developers and literary bloggers from New York City, sat through all 18.5 hours of Richard Wagner's "Ring des Nibuleng" cycle at the Metropolitan Opera this year, and lived to tell the tale. Actually, we were both very impressed. In our latest exploration of opera's often misunderstood literary side, we focus on the dramatic and mythical aspects of Wagner's masterpiece, and also talk about feral children, Fellini movies, #MeToo (Wagner has problems here), Johnny Cash, anti-semitism, the wonderful soprano Christine Goerke who kills it as Brunnhilde, red Mustangs and much more.
66 minutes | Mar 29, 2019
Orpheus and Eurydice
Opera was born during the Renaissance as an attempt to recreate the experience of an ancient Greek play as it would have been performed in the Theater of Dionysus in Athens. In this episode, Marc Eliot Stein and Lisa Geraghty talk about the greatest of several operas about one particular Greek myth: "Orfeo ed Euridice" by Christoph Willibald Gluck, which tells the story of the musician Orpheus's descent into the Underworld to retrieve his beloved wife Eurydice back from the dead. We also talk about Charlie Daniels Band, Arcade Fire, "Black Orpheus", Rainer Maria Rilke and Jacques Offenbach's wild satire "Orphee aux Enfers", a French comic opera that twisted Gluck's masterpiece into something entirely different. A refreshing descent into the joys of early classical opera!
54 minutes | Feb 7, 2019
Fiordiligi and Nicola
After a lifetime of not understanding opera, I attempted to transform myself into an aficionado by pledging to listening to the same 100 arias repeatedly for months, hoping that musical "osmosis" would eventually take effect and that I would start enjoying myself. The experiment succeeded beyond my wildest expectations, including a peak opera experience with Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" at the Met. The story of my opera journey is contrasted with a very different one: an interview with Nicola Mills, the talented soprano and impresario of "Opera for the People", who joins us for the first of several appearances on this podcast. Also discussed: "La Traviata" by Verdi, "Barbieri di Siviglia" by Rossini, "Die Zauberflote" by Mozart.
38 minutes | Jan 3, 2019
Otello and Desdemona
An exciting new podcast by Marc Eliot Stein of Literary Kicks. Why is opera relevant in 2019? This sometimes-lost art form hides a fascinating, vibrant world. In our first episode, we discuss whether Verdi's Otello is better than Shakespeare's Othello, whether Othello had PTSD, and what it means that Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro is an Italian opera by a German Austrian and a Venetian Jew based on a French play that takes place in Spain. Welcome to the first episode of Lost Music: Exploring Literary Opera!
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