02/29/2012 archive

Hi-Yo Silver

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.

His father Giuseppe was an inspector of slaughter houses until he was arrested in 1796 for French Revolutionary sympathies by the Austrians.  While he was imprisoned his wife and son moved to Bologna were she made a living singing in theaters and upon Giuseppe’s release he joined her as a horn player in the bands where she sang.

Because his grandmother couldn’t handle him while his mom and dad were on the road, Rossini was apprenticed to a pork butcher and received his first musical instruction, which was not of very high quality.  After about 3 years he switched to a blacksmith and found some better teachers.  He had composed 6 String Sonatas by the age of twelve.

By the time he was 14 he had already composed his first Opera (though it would not be staged until he was 20) and he also gained admission to the Bologna Conservatory where he studied for 4 years before the debut of his first commercial production.

Italian music is all about the Opera and it’s hard to find a composer of note who hasn’t written a dozen or two.  Rossini’s rise to fame was meteoric and by 21 he had already retired and had to be coaxed out of it at 23 when he received an offer from a Naples theater impresario he couldn’t refuse.  In return for one Opera a year, 200 ducats a month and a cut from the tables in the theater Casino.

The Barber of Seville, while one of Rossini’s most famous, premiered to some controversy.  Giovanni Paisiello had already written a fairly popular Opera with the same name and subject 25 years earlier and his supporters protested the opening with boos and cat-calls.

After his return to the stage Rossini produced about 20 Operas by 1823, some of the librettos of which were highly bowdlerized to appeal to the tastes of his audience.  In 1822 he married one of his leading ladies and made a trip to Vienna where he was highly celebrated.  After that he went to London where George IV gave him 7000 pounds for 5 months work, and then to Paris where he made 800 pounds a year as the Director of the Theatre des Italiens plus a contract from Charles X for 5 Operas a year.

He stayed there for 5 years before returning to Bologna in 1829.  After that he composed but sporadically.  His first wife died in 1845, he remarried in 1846.  After leaving Bologna in 1848 due to the political unrest he eventually took up permanent residence in Paris where he devoted himself to the life of a foodie.  At the time of his death in 1868 he was acclaimed as the greatest composer of Opera ever known.

The piece I have selected tonight is one of his Sins of Old Age, Salon Music he composed at his home in Paris after his retirement.  This particular one, La Regata Veneziana, is a three song cycle posted by GermanOperaSinger and featuring Renata Tebaldi.  She was born in Pesaro, the very same town as Rossini.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

New York Times Editorial: Women’s Health Care at Risk

A wave of mergers between Roman Catholic and secular hospitals is threatening to deprive women in many areas of the country of ready access to important reproductive services. Catholic hospitals that merge or form partnerships with secular hospitals often try to impose religious restrictions against abortions, contraception and sterilization on the whole system.

This can put an unacceptable burden on women, especially low-income women and those who live in smaller communities where there are fewer health care options. State regulators should closely examine such mergers and use whatever powers they have to block those that diminish women’s access to medical care.

Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, for example, recently turned down a bid by a Catholic health system to merge with a public hospital that is the chief provider of indigent care in Louisville. He cited concerns about loss of control of a public asset and restrictions on reproductive services.

Katrina vanden Huevel: Why the GOP can’t win Michigan in November

Tonight we will learn what pundits and politicos have been clamoring to find out: whether Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum will win the Michigan primary. And yet, for all the attention paid to the primary, especially given Romney’s Michigan roots, relatively little focus has been given to the more important story: that come November, neither of these candidates has much of a chance of carrying the state. After all, it is in Michigan that a battle over perhaps the defining issue of 2012 – the role of government in America’s recovery and it’s future – is playing out beneath the headlines. And it’s a battle Republicans are losing.

It hasn’t always been this way, of course. Bill Clinton was the first Democrat to win Michigan in twenty years, and even in the years since, the state has been a perpetual part of the presidential battleground. But this year it looks like it won’t even be close. A February NBC/Marist poll has the president beating Romney by 18 points in Michigan and Santorum by 26.

Jessica Valenti: The GOP’s Long War Against Women and Sex

Aspirins and short skirts and contraception, oh my! The last few weeks have seen a slew of Republican gaffes concerning women’s sexuality. From Rick Santorum’s billionaire supporter Foster Friess’s waxing nostalgic about the good old days when women put aspirin “between their knees” in lieu of contraception to an online furor over whether the young conservative women at CPAC dressed too provocatively-the GOP has a major woman problem on their hands.

Their fear of sex-of women’s sexuality in particular-has become a major media talking point, and a source of outrage among American women. But what I don’t understand is why anyone is surprised. Republicans have long based their agenda for women in a deep-rooted disdain for all things female. We’ve been down this road many, many times before.

When a picture of Congressman Darrell Issa’s all-male panel on birth control (the make-up of which prompted several Democratic women to walk out of the hearing) hit the Internet and mainstream media-I couldn’t help but be reminded of a similar picture of George W. Bush signing the “partial birth” abortion ban, surrounded by a group of smiling clapping men. All men. (Santorum was one of them.)

Maureen Dowd: G.O.P. Greek Tragedy

Rick should scat.

Mitt Romney needs to be left alone to limp across the finish line, so he can devote his full time and attention to losing to President Obama.

With Sanctorum and Robo-Romney in a race to the bottom, the once ruthless Republican Party seems to have pretty much decided to cave on 2012 and start planning for a post-Obama world.

Not even because Obama is so strong; simply because their field is so ridiculously weak and wacky.

John McCain has Aeschylated it to “a Greek tragedy.” And he should know from Greek tragedy.

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto: What’s the Matter With Arizona?

Nothing. My home state does not suffer from a fundamental political or societal flaw. There are a number of things that I do not like about Arizona, namely S.B. 1070, tent city Joe Arpaio and finger-wagging Jan Brewer. But to understand Arizona and that nothing’s the matter with it, you have to understand its Western personality, one that is volatile and quirky. It is a personality that is forged by an inheritance of populist politics and idiosyncratic political leaders.

One hundred years ago this month, Arizona was the last state in the continental United States to gain statehood. While the political machines in New York, Baltimore and Chicago were grinding out back-room deals, Arizona was only beginning to think about statehood. As Tom Schaller points out in his book, Whistling Past Dixie, the later incorporation of the Mountain West states meant a later start to political development in this region. As a result, states west of the Mississippi do not have deep partisan roots that anchor their political systems.

Politics in the West has been and continues to be candidate-centered. The same state that elected Barry Goldwater to the Senate is the same state that in 1974 elected Raúl Castro, Arizona’s first Latino governor. Arizona is also a state where in 2002 and 2006 voters simultaneously elected Democrat Janet Napolitano as governor and Republican Jan Brewer as secretary of state.

Ilyse Hogue: In Defense Of ‘The Help’

Standing at the center of a circle of women, a housekeeper tells of finally fixing herself a meal after working seven straight hours, only to have the mistress of the house storm into the kitchen and throw the pan of food into the sink, banning “that ethnic food” from her home. Next up, a nanny recounts the most recent day when after working eleven hours straight, her employers requested that she stay late into the night to care for the children. Unable to jeopardize her job, she stayed, going one more night without seeing her own children. The other women in the circle nod in weary recognition and, in turn, tell their own stories.

These are not scenes from the popular and controversial movie, The Help. These are twenty-first-century experiences being shared at the Los Angeles gathering of the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance (NDWA) this past weekend. The women present call themselves “the real-life help,” and the meeting was held in conjunction with the Oscars to remind Americans enamored with the Hollywood vision of civil rights era maids asserting their dignity that things have not changed as much as we might think.

The Slave of Duty

The Pirates of Penzance was the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera to have its official premiere in the United States. At the time, American law offered no copyright protection to foreigners. After their previous opera, H.M.S. Pinafore, was a hit in London, over a hundred American companies quickly mounted unauthorised productions, often taking considerable liberties with the text and paying no royalties to the creators. Gilbert and Sullivan hoped to forestall further “copyright piracy” by mounting the first production of their next opera in America, before others could copy it, and by delaying publication of the score and libretto. They succeeded in keeping for themselves the direct profits of the first production of the opera by opening the production themselves on Broadway, prior to the London production. They also operated U.S. touring companies. However, Gilbert, Sullivan, and their producer, Richard D’Oyly Carte, failed in their efforts over the next decade, to control the American performance copyrights over their operas.

Libretto a la Boise State.

Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here!

Part the first-

The “stage business” is not properly conveyed by mere reading or listening but is faithfully transmitted by our modern minstrels from the debut on New Year’s Eve 1879.

On This Day In History February 29

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 29 is the 60th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 305 days remaining until the end of the year.

February 29, known as a leap day in the Gregorian calendar, is a date that occurs in most years that are evenly divisible by 4, such as 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. Years that are evenly divisible by 100 do not contain a leap day, with the exception of years that are evenly divisible by 400, which do contain a leap day; thus 1900 did not contain a leap day while 2000 did. Years containing a leap day are called leap years.

On this day in 1940, Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar

On February 29, 1940, Gone with the Wind is honored with eight Oscars by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. An epic Southern romance set during the hard times of the Civil War, the movie swept the prestigious Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Film Editing, and Actress categories. However, the most momentous award that night undoubtedly went to Hattie McDaniel for her portrayal of “Mammy,” a housemaid and former slave. McDaniel, who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, was the first African American actress or actor ever to be honored with an Oscar. [..]

Her most famous role was as Mammy in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind. Directed by Victor Fleming and based on the best-selling Margaret Mitchell novel of the same name, the movie remains the highest-grossing movie of all time when inflation is taken into account. Although she was honored with an Oscar, liberal African Americans sharply criticized McDaniel for accepting a role in which her character, a former slave, spoke nostalgically about the Old South.

McDaniel’s film career declined in the late 1940s, and in 1947 she returned to radio as the star of the nationally broadcast The Beulah Show. In the program, she again portrayed an effervescent Southern maid but in a markedly un-stereotypical manner that won praise from the NAACP. In 1951, while filming the first episodes of a television version of the popular show, she had a heart attack. She recovered to do a few more radio programs but in 1952 died of breast cancer at the age of 57.

Michigan/Arizona Primary Open Thread

I don’t expect you to care about the Insane Clown Posse any more than I do, but I was born in Michigan so I suppose I should say something about it.

On the Yuper side my Grands had one of the very first cable companies since reception was extremely bad.  On the Troll side my Greats were early investors in GM and Smuckers and basically cut off my Grandad because he married a poor crippled girl.

We visited Troll side most often and it’s flat.  The big ski hill is a mountain of garbage and you can see the weather coming for miles and miles.  Gran knew Mike Moore and didn’t like him, thought he was a smart ass.

One thing a lot of people don’t internalize is that Michigan has a large population of Dutch Reformed Calvinists of the George C. Scott Hardcore type which explains their swing state status.  I’ve been to Grand Rapids and I found most of the people to be pleasant enough, but we didn’t talk politics.

Arizona has more Mormons than you think (like Nevada).

Whatever happens I’m pretty sure we can count on continued hilarity.