An American Editor

October 11, 2010

A Musical Interlude: Beautiful & Interesting

Occasionally, a particular song haunts me — I mean that in a very positive way. A song that I can’t seem to let go of, one that I hear constantly in my mind because it is gracious and beautiful. There aren’t a lot of songs like that, just a few, but I thought I would share a few with you from the world of opera.

Opera, when well done, can transport a listener to another world. It doesn’t matter whether we can understand the words (usually I can’t); rather, it is how the music, the lyrics, and the singers all come together in a bit of perfection. Thus it is with the “Flower Duet (Viens, Mallika)” from Leo Delibes’ Lakmé. I consider this the most beautiful duet in all of music.

Sometimes it is fun that is the draw. Mozart’s The Magic Flute is a popular opera with children, as well as adults. I recall being in my local Barnes & Noble looking for an opera when I overheard a father with his very young daughter (she was 6 or 7) struggling to find a particular piece of music. The daughter had heard a song she remembered as “Papagena” and now wanted to buy it. I immediately knew it was The Magic Flute, and directed them to the correct opera. This is the song that had attracted the daughter’s ear:

Sometimes, of course, it is not the singing alone that captivates but the combination of the choral work and the music. One of the most famous combination choral and musical pieces from an opera is “Polovtsian Dances” from Borodin’s Prince Igor.

Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” was so popular that it was transformed into a popular song, “Stranger in Paradise,” sung over the years by many artists, including this version by Sarah Brightman.

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