The Corner

Music

‘Mozart. Holy Smokes.’

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, by Barbara Krafft (1819) (Wikimedia)

The latest episode of my Music for a While is titled “From Rosa to Mirella.” Who are they? Rosa Feola, a young Italian soprano, and Mirella Freni, a legend of an Italian soprano, who died earlier this month. She was from the same town as Pavarotti — Modena. Indeed, one of the most cherished, most cited facts in all of opera is that Freni and Pavarotti had the same wet nurse. TMI?

In between Rosa and Mirella, I have music by Haydn, Mozart, and others. There are even two Yeats poems, not by design but by coincidence. I wanted to play and comment on two songs, and they both happen to set verses by Yeats. One of the songs, or poems, is “Down by the Salley Gardens.” This leads me to mention John Salley, the onetime Piston great.

Are the Detroit Pistons — is the NBA at all — typically mentioned in classical-music podcasts? In mine, maybe.

I would like to cite you the reaction of a friend of mine, who had listened to this episode. She reacted to a portion of Mozart’s C-minor Mass in particular. Her text read as follows: “Mozart. Holy smokes. I know this is the understatement of the millennium, but he is so good.”

I loved that text, which put me in mind of Robert Graves: “The thing about Shakespeare is, he really is good.” It is important to remember and stress these things.

Again, my ’cast is here.

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