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Subject: Re: Popular Song and Opera: Poor Butterfly and Beyond
From: [log in to unmask]
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Wed, 21 Nov 2012 23:22:12 -0500

TEXT/PLAIN (45 lines)

Ah, the tactic of asking everyone to perform research one is unable (or 
rather, undesirous) of performing oneself, since there is no lack of sources 
which are online and freely available.

Up through the beginning of the 20th century, the notion of "popular music" 
versus "classical" music was much more fluid than it was even by World War I (I 
suppose you'll call it "The Great War").  There are plenty of opera arias that 
were adapted into popular songs prior to the war, and even a few dating from 

One song I've done a bit of research on was the one known as "Away With 
Melancholy."  This is an English "translation" (really an entirely 
new text) of the song "O dolce concerto," already sung by 1810 - which 
itself is an adaptation of "Das klinget, so herrlich" (the 'glockenspiel' 
sequence) from Act 1 of DIE ZAUBERFLOTE.  Most printed editions don't indicate 
the source of tune, and a great many don't even indicate the composer (not 
atypical of 19th century publishing practice).  It appears to have been a 
popular parlor song in the first half of the 19th century - and, amusingly, some 
composers/singers wrote variations on it, as if it were a bel canto work in need 
of elaborations (the tune is rather simple and straightforward).

And one mistake you continuously make is Wikipedia.  The name of the source is 
"Wikipedia."  A wiki is merely the software used by it and thousands of other 
websites.  If you can't clarify the sources, I dread to think of the resultant 

Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:   Twitter: @kos2
   Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-TALK ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
--- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---

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