Monday, January 19, 2009

Rock Me, Amadeus!

MITHRIDATES
I went back to Dave's Records yesterday for the third time this month. OK, I may have a slight addiction. Fair enough. But yesterday I raided the Classical/Opera section and am now listening to an almost scratch-free seven-dollar double record of The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Tutto √® gioia, no? Well, no. You see, this Eastern Despot didn't read the fine print — or actually the big, bold print right on the cover. What I'm listening to right now is a bunch of fat sopranos, accompanied by the music and singing to the tune of Die Zauberfl√∂te — but IN ENGLISH!

With all due respect to the geniuses at The Metropolitan Opera Club, there are reasons we want to listen to this exquisite music in its original Deutsch. And it's not just snobbishness. Snobbishness is why I don't like the supertitles at the Met. I like being slightly less in the dark than the bridge-and-tunnel crowd (welcome again, Whitecollar Redneck).

And it's certainly not the inherent beauty of the German language. It's simply that we don't want the sheer stupidity of the plot and inanity of the dialogue made so plain and obvious. If it's in some foreign language we can only partially understand then we can pretend that the libretto is as sophisticated as we (think we) are. Instead we know that one of the great musical triumphs of all time is as mind-numbing as a Bollywood blockbuster and as pointless as Terrance and Phillip's Asses of Fire (and for the time, probably as tasteful).

Red said it best after Andy got sent to the hole for blaring Mozart over the Shawshank loudspeakers:
I have no idea to this day what them two Italian ladies were singin' about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singin' about something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it.

But it's over and done with sooner than I could finish this post. And so blaring over the speakers in my living room — much to the dismay perhaps of my rock 'n' roll neighbors — is the overture to Le Nozze di Figaro. And for those of you who might not be classical music fans, anything that opened up Trading Places can't be all bad, right?

Some of us do love classical music, though. Do you remember intermission at the Chicago Symphony on our second date, a mere 48 hours after we first met, and you said, "I am perfectly happy right now"?

But let's not get carried away with ourselves here. This is a rock 'n' roll country and this is a rock 'n' roll blog. And so I contend that it really doesn't get much better than this . . .

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