All in Favorites: Bonnie

Pre-emptively trashing the Tosca production that was replacing his wasn’t exactly sporting of “F-Zeff,” but his thesis matches one that John has advanced in this pages: Puccini’s original settings are too much fun to sacrifice on the altar of Regietheater. That’s why Puccini seems rarely subjected to directorial intrusion, and perhaps why messing with Tosca at the expense of the Zeffirelli production seems a particular affront to some members of the audience.  Add the fact that this opening was the season’s Gala (with an audience self-selected for perhaps a greater conservative tendency) and we have ourselves a big, fat “Boooooo…”
Whatever your political persuasion in the 2008 election, it’s beyond dispute that the inauguration of an American president of African descent is historic. Given that Obama has lived so long in, and represented, the Land of Lincoln, it was inevitable that he’d tap into the Lincoln mythology with gestures such as his train trip into DC and his taking of the oath of office using the same bible that Lincoln used in 1861. A piece of symbolism missed by the TV commentators, not to mention me at the time, was the backstory of Aretha Franklin’s performance of “My Country Tis of Thee.” As a lover of true contralto voices and a history buff, I’m a little sheepish that it took a belated visit to The Rest is Noise to remind me that Marian Anderson sang the same song on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Anderson, an internationally successful opera singer, had been denied permission to perform to an integrated audience in venues owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution and a local white public school.

Close-up of title page to the first volume of Singende Müse an der Pleisse, a collection of strophic songs published in Leipzig in 1736, by “Sperontes”, Johann Sigismund Scholze. JS and Anna Magdalena Bach may be the couple pictured.Martin Jarvis decided, as a 19-year-old violist, that the famed cello suites didn’t sound like J.S. Bach.

“Certainly in the first suite, the movements are short and very simple, in comparison with the first movement of the violin works. And I couldn’t understand why,” he said. 

After years of forensic study, the conductor and professor at Darwin University finally discovered this alleged slam-dunk: a manuscript with the notation “Ecrite par Madame Bachen Son Epouse” which says “written by the wife of Bach” rather than “copied.”

We already knew of Anna Magdalena’s role as a copyist. Obviously neither that word, nor the recognizable handwriting of Anna Magdalena would cut it as proof given her known role as a copyist — but in news reports Dr. Jarvis mentions “18 reasons why they weren’t written by Bach.” (Specifics would be great.)