Monday, September 29, 2014


This time I veer away from the YouTube highway and stroll down pathways of my own devising. I guess I might call it phase one of DR. VON LYRIC'S OPERATIC BOOK OF LISTS. As I mentioned in my last post remembering Licia Albanese and her amazing 105-year life span, I am fascinated by chronology - the seemingly random or coincidental juxtaposition of events and people that are thrown together by the fortunes of the calendar. They might reveal mysterious cosmic forces at work (or not). Anyway, here is a list of "things" that happened in 1853 - the year of the premiere of La Traviata at La Fenice in Venice. 

  • First railroad through the Alps (Vienna - Trieste)
  • Wellington gigantea, the largest tree in the world, discovered in California
  • Napoleon III marries Eugénie de Montijo (Another fascinatingly long-lived figure – she was born in the year Thomas Jefferson died and died in the year Beniamino Gigli made his Met debut and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote This Side of Paradise.)
  • Vincent van Gogh and Carl Larsson born
  • Henry Steinway begins manufacturing pianos in NYC
  • Franklin Pierce inaugurated as 14th President of  the U.S.
  • Wagner completes text of the Der Ring des Nibelungen
  • The Crimean War between Russia and England breaks out
  • Georges-Eugène Haussmann begins reconstruction of Paris by tearing great swaths of it down
  • and...Verdi had ANOTHER premiere (Two months earlier than the La Traviata opening, Il Trovatore opened in Rome)  

A (inevitably partial) LIST OF OPERAS (familiar and obscure) set in Paris (or environs):
  • La Traviata
  • ·        La Bohème
  • La Rondine  
  • Il Tabarro
  • Manon
  • Manon Lescaut
  • Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame
  • Thérèse
  • The Ghosts of Versailles
  • Andrea Chénier
  • Danton’s Death   
  • Louise (and its sequel Julien)
  • Adriana Lecouvreur
  • Les Huguenots
  • Capriccio
  • Fedora
etc....etc....etc...fill in at your leisure.

Maybe this was a bad idea - as I type, the list now seems endlessly…fascinating?...pointless? Most certainly Paris is the operatic capital of the world (in this sense). Any challengers? Any nominees for second place? Rome? (oddly) Seville?

Well...enough for today...will follow up in our next chat with some more lists. 

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