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Another America

MARCH 2014

I want to bring back into the world of men some little bit of wisdom.  There is a little wisdom in the world; Heraclitus, Spinoza, and a saying here and there. I want to add to it, even if only ever so little.

Bertrand Russell

Manifest:

This website is the manifest of a group of writers dedicated to the celebration of the written word–both classic and contemporary. It is open to any writer who wishes to submit his work (see Submissions, left panel). Rights to the submissions  remain solely those of the submitting authors. Select submissions are presented freely as posts and  may be withdrawn at the request of the submitting author or by determination of our editorial board.  Another America is also open to photographs, videos, music and even such paintings as our readers shall be moved to share. We have been a web presence since early in the new century.  We continue to  chart a highly inclusive course.  All are invited and many will find (as many have found) respite and a home.

The Editors

 

 

Caruso in the 21st Century-The Past Recaptured‏

caruso

People come to opera in many different ways. One common way is to become enthralled by a particular contemporary singer or voice type, which in many cases leads to a larger appreciation of the art form itself. Part of this process often involves not only extensive reading, but also conversations with older aficionados, then to an exploration of great recordings of the past. This exploration is most enlightening and results in appreciations and understanding which are  very enriching experiences.

 Going through this process has happily led many of us to seek out recordings of the greatest Italian tenor of the 20th century, Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), the man Caruso authority Francis Robinson called “the greatest singer of his time, perhaps of all time”. Continue reading

Malaysia Flight 370

 What schools never teach. – March 25, 2014. Yesterday the Malaysian government finally announced that Flight 370 had crashed in the southern part of the Indian Ocean killing all 239 people on board. Of course this is horrible news, especially for those who actually knew someone on the plane. However, 99.999% of the people who followed the saga on TV knew nobody on the plane. During the fourteen days of uncertainty about the 239 passengers, more than 1,000,0000 other people died in the world. Their deaths received absolutely no press coverage. – Some of the reactions I saw to the announcement of the crash were striking. Watching people lament the death of a loved one is always a horrible thing to see. But it was not those people who struck me the most; it was the people who wanted to know “THE TRUTH”, the whole truth. News people and some family members kept claiming that the lack of truth about what happened on Flight 370 was scandalous…What exactly happened in the cockpit? What went on in the minds of the pilots? What exact flight path did the plane take? What were the exact backgrounds of everyone on the plane? Who and what actually are to blame for the catastrophe? And on and on…But perhaps the real scandal has nothing to do with these unanswered questions. Perhaps the real scandal is the people think they can KNOW the reasons and causes of…EVERYTHING. This is where we are in the world today. People think they have the right to know everything and they are sure that – with the correct information – they can KNOWEVERYTHING. – What ludicrous folly! What stupidity! What unthinking cretinism! What imbecility! What naivety! What myth! What absurd nonsense!… Continue reading

Harwood is Smokin’

Harwood Smoking 2

Ron Harwood

Persecution

 Harwood’s work often takes place in the years during and around the Second World War. As an immigrant to Britain from South Africa in 1951, whose Jewish family in Europe suffered anti-semitism, it’s unsurprising that he’s sensitive to evidence of persecution and the vilification of minorities.

His plays, screenplays and books usually have a moral dimension – from Roman Polanski’s film about the Holocaust The Pianist, for which Harwood won his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, his screenplay of Oliver Twist, also directed by Polanski, to his adaptation of South African novel Cry the Beloved Country.

 His two new plays due to open in the West End this year – Collaboration directed by Peter Hall and An English Tragedy directed by Michael Blakemore – deal with conflicting loyalties involving country, family and beliefs. And he’s a former President of both English and International PEN, the literary and human rights organisation.

 Nightmare

 Harwood’s career takes him around the world and he has strong opinions about smoking bans – or lack of. “I went for the press junket in New York for the film Oliver Twist [in September 2005]. New York is the worst. I could smoke in my hotel suite but nowhere else. But it was lovely weather that day, thank god. But in the winter it’s a nightmare! I was there for a play of mine two or three years ago and it was vicious weather. And we had to stand outside and smoke because I can’t get through rehearsals without a cigarette. So it’s pretty terrible in New York. Continue reading

Jesus Christs

Jesus, Joseph and Mary O’Hoolihan — the Figueroa Press has reissued A. J. Langguth’s Jesus Christs!

 It has barrel-aged for thirty years and luxuriates the palette as a smoky peat of vapor rising from the crystal of its song. Had the Iceman a sacristy’s Chablis he’d raise a brimming cup to the author’s reverie. This is a novel to savor — saviors to savor! The Word made flesh and the flesh made words. Continue reading

Mini Reviews

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Mini Photos 1 Cav

   
 
 
Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana (1970; Bernstein, Corelli, Bumbry) / Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci (1964; Santi, Corelli, Amara)
 
3 used & new from $36.99
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernstein and Corelli Make This A Must, April 8, 2014
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This was of course a unique situation, with Bernstein conducting Cav of all things. Those who complained that he was out of his element here had better check the score. By dusting off many traditional cobwebs, he brought this to life as if it were a new work he was trying to promote. Domingo had previously been scheduled for this production, but the labor problems which so delayed the ’69, ’70 season produced various temporary defections, including the young Spaniard’s. Corelli took over, and did he take over! At that time, young Domingo could never have approached Corelli in this one, particularly in this form and cooperating fully with Bernstein. There’s no doubt who’s in charge, but Corelli much more than makes up for his relatively sloppy performance on his commercial set of Cav, where his scooping seriously mars the “Addio”. This time, he delivers the best Turiddu I have ever heard. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org
Mini Photo 2 Ernani 
   
 
 
Verdi: Ernani
 
2 used & new from $98.99
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Ernani, April 8, 2014
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This review is from: Verdi: Ernani (Audio CD)
What a performance! For Corelli alone, this would be priceless (no pun intended). Price and Siepi tip the balance further, though it is a shame that MacNeil wasn’t in the cast that day. I love Bergonzi, but when he was in this form, Corelli was the man for this opera. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org
Mini Photo 3 Met Verdi

 

   
Verdi at the MET: Legendary Performances from The Metropolitan Opera
 
Verdi at the MET: Legendary Performances from The Metropolitan Opera
 
15 used & new from $102.79
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Required For Any Serious Lover of Verdi or Just Great Singing, April 8, 2014
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This is a must have collection. No one has ever touched the likes of Ponselle, Tibbett, Martinelli as Otello, etc., just to name the most obvious of the earlier singers represented here. Price’s incomparable Aida,Bjorling’s only recorded Ballo, Tucker, Bergonzi, Warren….. It would take a book to describe the many wonders of this set. Get it while it lasts. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org
Mini Photo 4 Trov

 

   
Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore
 
Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore
Price: $17.43
 
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, Corelli’s Best Live Trovatore, April 8, 2014
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I already had Bjorling famous Covent Garden Trovatore from the late ’30′s,the 1961 Met performance and the famous Karajan from Salzburg, but it’s true that Corelli surpasses himself here. The only exception for me would be “Ah, si, ben mio”, even better at the La Scala opening during the 5 year period when Corelli always opened the La Scala season. Otherwise, this one beats them all. The lion indeed roars magnificently here and the Berliners can obviously match Italian audiences in frenzied appreciation. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org
Mini Photo 5 Chenier

 

   
Giordano: Andrea Chenier
 
Giordano: Andrea Chenier
Offered by 86books
Price: $35.00
 
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Live Chenier I Have Heard in Better Sound Than Other Versions, April 8, 2014
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This famous performance needs no more praise than it has deservedly received. As is so often the case, I wasn’t too pleased with Opera D’Oro’s version of the same performance. As hoped, this one is in much better sound. Wonderful in every way. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org
Mini Photo 6 Carlo

 

   
Verdi: Don Carlo
 
Verdi: Don Carlo
Offered by SourceMedia
Price: $41.96
 
21 used & new from $3.46
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid Opera D’Oro version of 1970 Vienna Don Carlo, April 8, 2014
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This review is from: Verdi: Don Carlo (Audio CD)
There is a 100% audio dropout at a key point near the end of the final duet for Elisabetta and Carlo.This is a deal killer; otherwise, I would recommend this, though it seems we can count on Opera D’Doro to have the worst sound if there are alternatives.
Mini Photo 7 Carlo 2

 

   
Verdi: Don Carlo (Metropolitan Opera)
 
Verdi: Don Carlo (Metropolitan Opera)
Price: $18.98
 
36 used & new from $12.13
3.0 out of 5 stars Corelli Fans Beware: Cuts Are Excessive in Tenor Role, October 29, 2013
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From the cast list, it seems clear that Corelli’s Carlo is the draw here. The best parts of his performances of this opera were always the two scenes with Elisabetta. Here, the music in these is so brutally cut that there is a disappointment around every corner. Some of Corelli’s best sections are just not there, making it necessary to seek another performance to supply them. The listening becomes too frustrating to be enjoyable. Why choose these wonderful scenes to do such insensitive cutting? The Met should have issued a warning, considering how few people would buy this set for any reason other than the tenor. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org
Mini Photo 8 Samson

 

   
Saint-Saens - Samson et Dalila / Jon Vickers, Shirley Verrett, John Tomlinson, Maldwyn Davies, Matthew Best, Colin Davis, Covent Garden Opera
 
Saint-Saens – Samson et Dalila / Jon Vickers, Shirley Verrett, John Tomlinson, Maldwyn Davies, Matthew Best, Colin Davis, Covent Garden Opera
DVD ~ Jon Vickers
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $22.06
 
28 used & new from $16.24
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Carefully; Reviews of 2 Perfromances Mixed At Random, September 18, 2013
Potential buyers should take a careful look at these reviews. For some reason, they are an indiscriminate mixture of reviews of two different performances. If you order expecting the great Vickers and get Domingo, you’ll have little reason to be glad about it. Sure, Domingo was/is a fine artist, but not in all repertory. Many of his roles were much better suited to either Vickers or Corelli, and in the case of Samson, Vickers was the man.
Mini Photo 9 Turn 1

 

   
Turandot
 
Turandot
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $9.19
 
49 used & new from $3.49
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, Great, But Not the Best, September 13, 2013
This review is from: Turandot (Audio CD)
I’ve read all the reviews here and have owned this ’64 La Scala performance for years. Some of the reviewers seem surprised by the “inferior” sound quality. Clearly, they don’t have much experience listening to off the air live performances of the ’60′s and earlier. No one goes to these priceless performances for sound quality, but for the special joys that live performance before an audience can offer, particularly with such artists as Corelli or conductor Hans Knappertsbusch, high among prominent examples of performers who just couldn’t usually deliver their best under studio conditions. These were theatre creatures, their true stature revealed only there. Also, the cuts objected to by some reviewers were standard practice everywhere then; for sound quality or absolute completeness, such live performances can’t be expected to match studio recordings.That said, I still greatly prefer the ’66 Met performance with the same star duo, with Freni and Mehta (see my review of that one) and the ’61 Stokowski will be preferred by some. Many knowledgeable listeners considered this ’64 version the best up to that time, but 2 years down the road, Nilsson and Corelli, particularly the tenor, surpassed themselves again. As for Sutherland and Pavarotti, despite some fine singing, they were far out of their respective elements when compared with the real thing for this opera, the Valkyrie and the Supertenor.Generally, I yield to no one in my admiration for Bjorling, but Turandot was hardly the best opera to showcase the wonders of Bjorling’s art, despite his beautiful singing in Calaf’s 2 arias (but check out his 1944 recording of “Nessun dorma” for something really amazing). Turandot was never in his repertory and shouldn’t have been.My recommendation: get the studio recording of your choice and also the 3 Nilsson/Corelli live performances mentioned above and choose for yourself. I’m betting that the Met ’66 version will be your favorite too. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org
Mini Photo 10 Turn 2

 

   
Puccini: Turandot [New York -- December 3, 1966; Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli, Mirella Freni, Bonaldo Giaiotti; Zubin Mehta]
 
Puccini: Turandot [New York -- December 3, 1966; Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli, Mirella Freni, Bonaldo Giaiotti; Zubin Mehta]
Offered by Little Harry’s Music
Price: $39.99
 
5 used & new from $27.49
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Ever Met Turandot Broadcast, September 11, 2013
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This 1966 Met Turandot surpasses the more famous 1961 Stokowski broadcast, also with Nilsson and Corelli. As is well-known, the singers and chorus in 1961 had a great deal of trouble following Stokowski’s batonless and vague cues. Both the legendary Turandot and Calaf, still unrivalled, offer surer and clearly better performances under Mehta, particularly Corelli, who here gives easily the best of his various available performances of his signature role, his constant artistic progress in the part in the 5 years since the ’61 effort clearly evident here, while the voice, of course, is still in pristine form. Freni is ideal, barring some excessive “crying” after her Act One aria. This is THE Turandot to own. Why, oh why, did the Met choose the 1961 performance over this one for their own official release? Obviously because of Stokowski’s great fame. Incidentally, this 1966 broadcast was the first ever Saturday matinee broadcast from the “new” Met at Lincoln Center, the 1st this writer, then age 19, ever heard, and on rehearing it often beginning 45 years later, I was better able to evaluate its excellence. Once heard, this will inevitably be the Turandot of choice, despite the audio superiority of Nilsson’s 2 studio recordings, the 1st with Bjorling, the 2nd with Corelli. Buy it and find out what you’ve been missing when any other team has subsequently performed it. Incidentally, if you are dubious about the variable Mehta, don’t be. Mehta excels here too, keeping his enormous forces under firm control while allowing the singers room to breathe and phrase. He keeps the whole performance under firm control without strait-jacketing his formidable leading duo. The Operatic Ear, anotheramerica.org

Mini Photos  Parsifal
 
   
Parsifal
 
Parsifal
Price: $13.18
 
20 used & new from $6.24
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Parsifal ever at Bargain Rate, June 21, 2013
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This review is from: Parsifal (Audio CD)
This 1951 Wieland Wagner/Hans Knappertsbusch Parsifal, which reopened the postwar Bayreuth Festival, is the greatest Parsifal ever recorded and here costs under $20.00! None of the singers has ever been surpassed on other recordings and Knappertsbusch shows why he reigned supreme as the greatest of all conductors of Wagner’s final masterpiece. The 1951 mono sound is fine, though most will want a second recording in modern sound (I’d recommend the Solti) as an occasional alternative. But this is the performance you will always come back to, as no other recording can ever completely satisfy after hearing this one. Since Knappertsbusch could never adapt to studio recording conditions, one must hear his work in a live performance to understand and appreciate this musical giant’s extraordinary gifts. No libretto is supplied, but most listeners will already have one anyway. RUN now to your computer and snap up this bargain. Then welcome to Wagner’s world, for this is your passport.

 

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