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!
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.
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!
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).
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".
Fidelio and Napoleon
Beethoven's politically charged "Fidelio" is an opera for today, with messages of resistance, defiance, #MeToo and prison 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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
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!