An exciting new podcast by Marc Eliot Stein of Literary Kicks. Why is opera relevant today? 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!
Manrico and Azucena
Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” is one of the most popular operas of all time, and also one of the hardest to follow. What is going on with this crazy plot? There’s a lot under the surface, and it's all spelled out in this explainer by Marc Eliot Stein, who shows how a thrilling but nakedly horrible storyline became an entertainment fit for 19th century operagoers. This fascinating episode ends with a look at the Marx Brothers “A Night at the Opera”, which joyously tears Verdi’s masterpiece to shreds.
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.
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".
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.
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", Goethe, Wagner, Mozart and the Met shutdown during the pandemic of 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", "Le 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.
Listened to 1 and 2. Great on so many levels. Thank you.
Opera - Who knew?
I very much enjoyed the first episode of this podcast. Marc clearly knows his subject & presents it in an engaging way. Who knew Opera was so interesting? Looking forward to more!