Saturday, February 14, 2009

If music be the food of love...

In honor of Valentine's Day may I present a bouquet of music by Richard Strauss. Look at that beautiful poster up above that I found on the Internet. It is celebrating Richard Strauss Week in Munich in 1910.

Here is a song I love and only got to know about five years ago. This is "Cacilie" and here it is sung by Jessye Norman. Dear Jessye, she looks so beautiful. Look at that hair. And what I love is her expression, her body language. Talk about throwing yourself into this blissful song!

What a sentiment there in that poem at the end. "If you only knew it, you would LIVE WITH ME!" Who could argue with that?

Here is Miss Norman from the same recital singing "Zuignung," or "Dedication." This song and I have been friends since my teen-hood. It has the same kind of euphoric finish as "Cacilie."

Naturally these songs would be even better with piano but we take what we can get. One thing I like about these videos is there are English subtitles.

Here is the last scene of "Der Rosenkavalier" which I know I have mentioned before but what the heck, it is Valentine's Day, give me a pass. Click on "info" and you can find out what is going on. It is evil how they cut off the ending! You want to see the little servant boy run in and grab the dropped handkerchief. Fie on them. Fie!

Still, what a performance. Briggite Faessbinder, what an actress. If it weren't for her voice you could swear she was a young man. She is quite the gender-bender! She did a wild "Winterreise" once, too. That is a song cycle written to be sung for a man and only recently women have begun to sing it a little bit more.

In the last scene of "Rosenkavalier" it has to be a challenge for the singers, I always think, to act romantic without giggling. Once in my college days I lived with two gals who were gay. They came in once while I was watching, you guessed it, "Rosenkavalier," and they got hooked and soon they're watching it too. And at the end, they couldn't believe it. "Lesbian opera!" one of them exclaimed.

I have not thought of that in years!

What else do we have in our little bag of Valentine's treats today?

Oh, I remember. There is this little video sent in by Prof. G that shows Strauss himself, in person. Thank you, Prof. G, and may pink and white candy hearts rain down upon you!

In the video Strauss is being greeted at Bayreuth in 1936 by Winifred Wagner(the widow of Wagner's son Siegfried) and a crabby-acting Heinz Tietjen who was in charge of opera in the Third Reich. The circumstances are regrettable but it is so dear to see Strauss, so touching how he waves to the camera as he is getting out of the car. It is as if he is waving to us years later.

Now that is a romantic thought.

1 comment:

  1. Department of amplification re Richard Strauss:

    A wonderful book about 20th century music by Alex Ross titled "And The Rest Is Noise" makes the point that Strauss's accomodation to the Hitler regime was made partly because he had a Jewish daughter in law (and two grandchildren) that he adored and thought he could protect. He was mostly successful in doing so. Should he have left Germany with all of them? He could have. I don't know the final answer to that situation.