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Subject: first opera recording
From: Robert Thomson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Robert Thomson <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:06:05 -0800

text/plain (95 lines)

Opera fulminated into my little world in 1952 when I was 12 and went to 
see "The

Great Caruso".  "Be My Love" was on the air almost every night so 
operatic music

or music which was sung in operatic style (like "Be my Love!") really 
cooked my goose. (I was hooked.)

My grandmother, who had actually heard Caruso (in Vancouver around 1912, 
I think)

soon gave me two 78 rpm records (for my birthday) which I played over 
and over and over. One was "Musica

Proibita" and the other was "For you alone."  There was another with "'O 
sole mio" with "La donne e mobile"

on the flip side. I drank in every note and every word, even

though it would only be years later that I would learn enough Italian to 
understand the

subtle adolescent eroticism of "Musica Proibita."  For my first 33 1/3 
rpm I have to explain

the context. By grade eleven we were studying the subjunctive in French 
and acquiring quite a good

grasp of the subject. I remember we did "La derniere lecon" (something like

that). It was by Alphonse de Daudet. We also did Maupassant's priceless 
story about

a woman who borrows a cheap necklace (which she thinks is real), loses 
it, is ashamed,

and then spends years working like a dog to buy a replacement. After 
many years the

woman she borrowed the "Parure" from tells her that it was blintz, more 
or less.

Anyway, bref, (as the French say) I loved French. It was soon after

this that I bought an LP (Rise Stevens sings "Carmen"). (Thanks for your 
note, Don!) The album cover was totally

alluring. Some dish! I loved the music and lost no time deciphering the 
libretto. In my French class I mentioned what

I was doing at home and the French teacher (a great guy named Neil 
McIntyre who had

is wowed with his M. A. and dissertation on Rousseau's "Emile") that I 
was enjoying "Carmen".

He made wry face face and said, "My style is 'Carmen Jones.'"  He was 
subtly trying to imply

that I was becoming too high-brow (and conceited) for my own good.   
Somewhat true, alas! Somewhat true.

Anyway, I loved Rise Stevens and, curiously enough, her voice has been 
going through my

mind often during the past month and a half that I have been in Carmen's 
city, Sevilla.  And Rossini's

city. And Mozart's cite. You know what I mean.

Roberto il Canadese ( I am writing a book (with lots 
of photos) of my impressions

of Seville and Cordoba and will load it on my website before too long.

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