Friday, July 19, 2019

Donald Newlove, Blindfolded before the Firing Squad

"Writers without peanut butter are fucked." That's a line from this book that I just wanted to note.

Newlove has become a bit more well-known these days--noting, of course, that the phrase "relatively speaking" has never applied more--thanks to the Tough Poets republication of Sweet Adversity and, just this week, the first-ever publication of The Wolf Who Swallowed the Sun (which I look forward to reading soon). Still, at least some people were/are familiar with his other published works: principally, the novels The Painter Gabriel (1970), Eternal Life (1979), and Currane Trueheart (1986); the memoir Those Drinking Days (1989); and three books about writing, First Paragraphs (1993), Painted Paragraphs (1993), and Invented Voices (1994). Not bad, for an author more or less laboring in obscurity!  And that right there is the most comprehensive listing of his output you'll find on the internet.
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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Ferenc Erkel, Hunyadi László (1844)

Here we have Erkel's second opera. He's best known for Bánk bán, which...well, I was not in a great frame of mind when I saw it, so I think I probably underrated it a bit. I think it's probably very good if not great. Well, that's that, but this is this.
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Friday, July 12, 2019

Antonio Salieri, Falstaff (1799)

For a long time I'd kinda wanted to see a Salieri opera, but that feeling became more urgent after I read this New Yorker article. I suppose most people are aware by this point that his alleged rivalry with Mozart is overstated to say the least, mainly fueled by paranoia from the Mozart side. I've never seen Amadeus. Maybe it's super-good, and maybe I should see it (though all told, I'm definitely more likely to see Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, if I get the chance), but it just feels unfair that this guy should be so relentlessly smeared. Jeez.
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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Sergei Rachmaninoff, The Miserly Knight (1905)

Pretty intense stuff. Somehow, a title like that just makes me think: comedy. 'Cause misers are funny, usually. Maybe it's just extreme amounts of Scrooge McDuck exposure making me think that, but hell, even though his story is ultimately a morality tale, even pre-redemption Ebenezer Scrooge is a broadly comic figure. So...yes. Of course, this sort of avarice is really a fictional conceit, or at least not a modern one. You look at our current vile, porcine billionaires, and sure, they do their damnedest to make sure they never have to pay any taxes or anything like that, but they're not miserly in the sense of agonizing over spending money on food or anything like that. It's a different sort of mindset, I think.
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Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Franco Alfano, Cyrano de Bergerac (1936)

Alfano is mainly known for having completed Turandot after Puccini's death, but he also wrote some operas of his own. one of them.
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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Svetislav Bsara, The Cyclist Conspiracy (1987)

Here's a Serbian novel published by Open Letter Books, also responsible for The Museum of Eterna's Novel and The Island of Point Nemo. I really like this press in theory--let's introduce some foreign novels of note to the English-speaking world--and yet the first of those was a mild disappointment to me and the latter just fucking awful. Is the third time the charm?
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Gioacchino Rossini, Le comte Ory (1828)

This is Rossini's penultimate opera, followed only by Guillaume Tell with its famous overture. This 2011 production was its Met debut, however. "One of the reasons it took so long to get here is that you need to assemble three bel canto virtuosos," Renée Fleming claims in the introduction. Two things: first, you don't need to make excuses, I'm not mad at you over this; but second: if you're going to make excuses, try to make less lame ones. I don't for a moment believe that there was a single period in the Met's history in which they couldn't have mustered the necessary cast had they wanted to. Sheesh.
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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Vincenzo Bellini, Norma (1831)

Here's some more bel canto for you! For me, for you, for everyone! This one is about druids in Gaul. I was a little confused because I always associate druids with Britain, but I suppose it just depends on whether your major cultural touchstone is Spinal Tap or Asterix.
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What's the late Jack Chick up to?

As you may remember if you're a long-time reader, I used to be sort of obsessed with Chick tracts, but it's been a long time. I guess that sort of irony stopped appealing to me, more or less. And yet, I'm still subscribed to the site, so I get notifications about new tracts, so I figured, okay, fine, let's see what they're up to lately. The site's been redesigned since I was last there, but you'll be glad to know that they still have most if not all of the old classics available. So let's take a look at "Tell Me About It!"
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