Squawk Radio

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Liz Gets Highbrow for the Sunday Music Blog

A friend of mine who adores opera thinks it’s hysterically funny that the only opera music I own is this--The Three Tenors in Concert. She says it’s “Opera lite.” And she goes out of her way to spell it that way, too--L-I-T-E--to diminish it even more. I’m sure I’ve been the source of many amusing anecdotes she tells to her opera-loving friends, but hey, my job is to entertain, so that’s cool. Besides, she’s been the source of many amusing anecdotes I’ve shared with my punk-loving friends. That’s what friendship is all about.

It’s not that I dislike opera music, it’s just that... Okay, it’s that I dislike opera music. I’m sorry. I’m sure there is much to love. But when I was in junior high school, our music teacher, Mrs. Yahnig, dragged us to every dress rehearsal of the Kentucky Opera Association, and I honestly would have rather stayed at school and gone to TV Math instead. The costumes were great. The sets were awesome. But the music... Well, save an occasional rather riveting aria here and there, it just went right over my head. All I did was sit there thinking about how itchy the seats were.

Which is probably why I love this CD. It’s like they found all the opera numbers I could possibly like and put them in one collection. Then they made it ever better by operatizing (wow, I think I just coined a new word) a couple of Broadway show tunes, too. And then, as if that weren’t enough, they brought in the big three--Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras--to record it for me. (That fourth guy on the cover is just Zubin Mehta, who conducted the symphony playing for the big three, that’s all.)

It really is a wonderful CD, with what I assume must be opera’s greatest hits. Sort of a “Now That’s What I Call Opera!” thing. There are selections from everyone from Puccini to Leonard Bernstein, much of it stuff you’ve doubtless heard but could never identify by name. Making it doubly fun is the fact that I have no idea what these guys are singing about until they get to the Broadway selections. My favorite number on the CD is “Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz.” What’s it mean? No clue. Another fave is “No Puede Ser.” What’s that mean? No idea. But damned if these guys don’t give me chills when they sing it anyway. And the broadway stuff is just incredible. I guess I could read the liner notes to learn more about each of the numbers, but I kind of like having this nebulous sort of enjoyment of the music for music’s sake.

There’s one added bonus to being familiar with this CD. Every now and then, some famous opera piece will pop up in a movie, and you can impress your friends (provided they’re not opera-lovers like mine) by saying, “Hey, that’s Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’ from the opera ‘Turandot.’ I love that piece.” Of course, at one point, while you’re listening to this CD, you’ll also go, “Hey! That’s the Frito Bandito song!” Just don’t do that when you’re with your opera-loving friend. Trust me.

So Nessun Dorma, everybody! (Whatever the hell that means.)
Elizabeth Bevarly, 12:23 PM