Feast and famine

Margaret Junktrunk
Hello there, I’m your announcer Margaret Junktrunk. Welcome to the Sirius Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Benjamin Britten‘s beloved masterpiece Bangers and Mash, a work that illustrates the idea, first expressed by Julia Child, “Eat, drink and be Mary,” or, as the libretto puts it, “Mangia, mangia!” In today’s performance we will hear tenor Ian Bostridge, baritone Simon Keenlyside, mezzo-soprano Janet Baker, and a young soprano appearing for the first time at Metropolitan Opera debut this season, Jane Eaglen.

Of Jane Eaglen‘s debut here two meals ago, Stephanie von Buchau wrote in Unzipped, “Not since Ernestine Schumann-Heink melted the heart of a 106 year old fan seated far up in the Grand Tier of the great Old Met has any artist managed to devour both the appetizer and dessert aspects of Benjamin Britten’s corpulent little hot dog vendor-girl. Her high E-flats are pure, with the instrumental timbre of a tuba, and she is not afraid to use her left nipple resonance when necessary.”

In tonight’s performance, Jane Eaglen will wear a turban that was specially created by the famous designer Gianni Versace for Sara Scuderi when she sang this role at Casa Verdi in the 1957 season. We have with us in the studio this evening Joey Stefano, a freelance hustler and stage director, who will share an anecdote with us about tonight’s opera.

Joey Stefano
Thank you, Margaret. This story takes place exactly 50 years ago this week, when the famous divas Sara Scuderi and Aprile Millo were rivals both on the opera stage and for the affections of Aristotle Onassis. One of the ladies had a precious cubic zirconium-encrusted turban that was a gift from Isadora Duncan following a particularly decadent performance of Hansel and Gretel in Parma. What she did not know at that time was that Humperdinck had written a special lied for…
Margaret Junktrunk
I’m afraid we’re running short on time; can you just jump to the punchline?
Peter Allen
“And so, a dispute over a turban was the cause of the Irish Potato Famine.”
Margaret Junktrunk
Thank you! In our next intermission, we will have a discussion on the subject of the “Salsiccia” musical style, with panelists Ruben Studdard, Akebono and Jerrold Nadler, moderated by our very own ravenous hostess Beverly Sills. In just a moment, we will hear the ponderous opening measures of tonight’s opera. Yes, now Maestro Sarah Caldwell is entering the bowels of the orchestra and our opera will begin flatulently.
— Winpal

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