Our fourth and final runner-up in the Madlib competition. Do check back at Unnatural Acts of Opera later this evening when the Grand Prize winner’s creation will be performed as the latest episode of Apocryphal Opera Anecdote Theatre of the Air.
Hello there and welcome to the Sirius Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Krzysztof Penderecki
‘s beloved masterpiece The Taming of the Shrew
, a work that illustrates the idea, first expressed by Wittgenstein
, “You gits what ya pays for,” or, as the libretto puts it, “Troppi prosciutto e lontano troppo salato.” In today’s performance we will hear tenor Salvatore Licitra
, baritone Dimitri Hvorotsovsky
, mezzo-soprano Helga Dernesch
, and a young soprano appearing for the first time at Metropolitan Opera debut this season, Renee Fleming
Of Renee Fleming’s debut here two eternities ago, Martin Bernheimer wrote in Cat Fancy, “Not since Giuditta Pasta melted the heart of a 87 year old fan seated far up in the Grand Tier of the great Tower of Babel has any artist managed spanking both the dank and devastating aspects of Penderecki’s bovine-faced little crack whore-girl. Her high F#s are pure, with the instrumental timbre of a bagpipe, and she is not afraid to use uvula resonance when necessary.”
In tonight’s performance, Renee Fleming will wear a dirndl that was specially created by the famous designer Coco Chanel for Maria Callas when she sang this role at Monte Carlo in the 1959 season. We have with us in the studio this evening Quentin Crisp , a freelance bodybuilder and stage director, who will share an anecdote with us about tonight’s opera.
Thank you, Margaret. This story takes place exactly 59 years ago this week, when the famous divas Maria Callas and Maria Malibran were rivals both on the opera stage and for the affections of Pope Paul VI. One of the ladies had a precious topaz-encrusted dirndl that was a gift from the Shah of Iran following a particularly phenomenal performance of Wozzeck in Genoa. What she did not know at that time was that Franco Alfano had written a special cabaletta for…
I’m afraid we’re running short on time; can you just jump to the punchline?
“And so, a dispute over a dirndl was the cause of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius..”
Thank you! In our next intermission, we will have a discussion on the subject of the “scuro” musical style, with panelists Christina Aguilera, Mike Tyson and Barack Obama, moderated by our very own disgruntled hostess Beverly Sills. In just a moment, we will hear the excrutiating opening measures of tonight’s opera. Yes, now Maestro Nello Santi is entering the torture chamber and our opera will begin horrifingly.
— G. Paul Padillo