An American Editor

October 26, 2012

A Musical Interlude: Romancing the Wind

Filed under: A Musical Interlude — Rich Adin @ 4:00 am
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Sometimes beauty is right in front of us yet we don’t notice. Sometimes the ordinary can be extraordinary. Such is the case with this video of kite flying. Had we been walking by the park at the time, we probably would not have noticed. Kite maestro Ray Bethell flys three kites in a “wind ballet” set to what I consider to be the greatest operatic duet of all time: Delibes’ “The Flower Duet” from his opera Lakme. Bethell’s synchronized control of the three kites is magnificient. Watch carefully to see some outstanding kite flying.

“The Flower Duet” is sung as Lakme and her servant Mallika gather flowers. The version used in Romancing the Wind is very good; Joan Sutherland is a grande dame of opera. But given my choice, I prefer the duet as rendered by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca, of which the following is a recording of a live performance:

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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