I'm glad to be returning to "In the Wings." Over the next months we will be following the current BLO Season's intriguing round-trip from Paris to Devil's Island and back again (what a journey!) and checking in on YouTube for some perhaps surprising videos.
Musetta's delirious waltz-song from Act II of Puccini's La Bohème is certainly one of his most famous and enticing melodies. As I look back on the BLO production, which closed on Sunday, Emily Birsan's elegantly sexy delivery stands out—especially as the Marx Brothers (Karl and Groucho) gazed down (lasciviously?...censoriously?) from the walls of Café Momus on the BLO set. Here are a few variations on a theme.
The film Moonstruck is one of the most charming movies to employ opera as a central emotional thread.
Puccini has not escaped the reach of pop music (and maybe he's enjoying every minute of it).
A curiosity is up next. In a 1950 movie, Jane Powell sings the waltz (atrociously...she was only 21, but really that's not much of an excuse...and in what language is she torturing us?). She's introduced by Carmen Miranda (why didn't SHE sing this?).
Another variation: trumpet. Why not?
And now for some serious singing: Leontyne Price in 1971. Elegant, beautiful to be sure, but perhaps a bit overly-refined?
In contrast, Maria Callas in concert in 1958. Edgier and sharper.
And lastly one of my favorite singers, the utterly unique and idiosyncratic Concita Supervia...from a 1934 movie, Evensong.