Thursday, September 06, 2007


Luciano Pavarotti

The opera is now over, as the fat man has sung and left the building. Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti has died. Though the musical meanderings in these parts usually lean toward the three-minute ditty of imbecilic and repetitive tonic chords, the traditional arts are not lost on we cyber-Philistines.

Many in the classical community took Pavarotti to task for slumming with the pop crowd from time to time (he could have done better than Bono, I think). The Maestro represented to me, as a Gen-Xer, a time when it was still possible for strains of classical music or higher art to still creep into the most broad popular culture. I thought about this "cultural cross-breeding" last night while watching the Marx Brothers' movie Horse Feathers. In between the manic shenanigans and S.J. Perelman jokes, Harpo would suddenly break into a chamber piece on his instrument, Chico demonstrate his 88 keys ability to a music student, and even Groucho played the acoustic six-string (though he really should have left the singing to Zeppo). How many of us were introduced to Rossini, Stravinsky, or Bach from a Merry Melodies short or Fantasia?

I doubt that we'll see any more opera singers reach the pop-star status of a Pavarotti, our Western culture having become almost totally ravaged by the vultures of cognitive carrion like "modern" hip hop (do black folk even remember that jazz exists?) to the tone-deaf warblers and screechers on what passes for talent shows on the Fox network. With the passing of a Pavarotti, how will successive generations of rabble-rousers that have never stepped foot anywhere near an opera house be introduced to the wares of the Muse? When I was a child, my mother would often remind me that Leontyne Price was my maternal cousin as a way of encouraging my grammar school studies and to not fall prey to the defeatist mentality of so many young black males. Now, many of these black grandmothers are as familiar with the garbage videos on BET as their grandkids.  *Sigh*

On that note, a sampling of Price and Pavarotti

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